You’ll be happy to know I did NOT soil myself on Friday’s 4-mile run. There was nary a bit of intestinal distress. Success! Is this the world’s way of telling me I should only run in Colorado? I hope not!
My training plan (I’m basically following Runkeeper‘s 2:30 half marathon plan) called for me to run 8 miles today – 4 at a steady pace in the vicinity of 11:40, 3 miles a bit faster in the 11:20 area, and then one more mile at the steady pace. Denverites may notice I almost made it all the way to the mall! I’ve got a 10-miler coming up in a couple weeks; I may have to do some mid-run shopping. [The photo above is just before I hit the turnaround; Denver has an amazing trail system.]
My first mile was, like always, my hardest. My body takes a while to warm up and knock out all the kinks, so I spend the first mile debating whether or not to call the run a wash, wondering if my knee or my ankle is going to feel like that the whole way, rearranging the cord on my earbuds so they’re in the right spot, attempting to scratch an itch positioned so perfectly between my shoulder blades that it’s impossible to reach… basically, anything but focusing on my running. My first-mile pace is always much faster than the rest or much slower; today it was actually not bad. Not as fast as Runkeeper would have liked, but not terribly slow either. Slightly faster than my average of late, but that’s good – my average needs to start going down if I’m really going to clock a sub-2:30 half marathon in nine weeks.
For some reason, my third mile was very slow. I felt fine – my body had turned itself on – but my cadence sucked, and I’m inclined to blame my running playlist. It was great when my target was a mile between 12 and 13 minutes; now that I’m consistently below 12 regardless of the length of my run, I need to rejigger things and work in some faster songs. I tend to match my cadence to the beat of the song I’m listening to, so slow songs will make me a slow runner. But at least Runkeeper keeps me informed of my average pace, so I can consciously speed up my cadence during slow songs if needed.
Every five minutes, the app lowers the volume on my music and tells me my distance and average pace, and I made it my goal to decrease that number every five minutes. Hello, negative splits! From the three-mile mark on, I focused on getting that average pace number to come down, even if by only a couple of seconds. And – math! – the more miles you run, the harder it is to move that average unless your current mile is a lot faster than the previous one. So I got a lot faster. A LOT faster. So fast that mile seven was just over 10 minutes. 10 minutes! And I didn’t even feel like I was pushing myself other than picking up my cadence. Man, this form stuff is cool.
It was an effort to keep the last mile steady, and I swung too far the other direction and popped back over 12. It didn’t help that the last quarter mile to our house is almost entirely uphill, and at anything but a gentle incline. When I mentioned to Jason that I ran up the hill to home, he was impressed with my resolve and admitted he doesn’t start his runs until he gets to the bottom of the hill so he doesn’t have to include the climb in his run on the way back. Clever boy.
So, here are my splits. You can see my pace turn around at mile three, and my insane (for me) speed in mile 7. Improving my form, being able to interpret this data, making changes to my stride and pace on the fly… I feel like I’m becoming a “serious” runner. Also – no pooping!
Something to note: I’ve been using the Runkeeper app instead of my Garmin lately. I love my Garmin, but it was creating a mental distraction for me. I’d check it much more often than I needed to, and I became fixated on how much distance I had left. By letting Runkeeper inform me of things at regular intervals without me being able to constantly check it (the phone stays in a pocket), I’m more able to actually focus on what I’m doing while I run. I’ll definitely pull the Garmin back out, but for now I’m refining my mental game.