Hal Higdon knows what he's talking about.
I was reading through his training plan for this week again before I stepped out of the house this afternoon, and found that he hit my issues right on the head. Essentially, he mentioned that an 8-mile run shouldn't be all that difficult for us (his trainees) at this point. The real trouble is finding the time mid-week to get that done. As I mentioned last night, this was my current issue.
Though I managed to get up on time today, I did not get out on the roads as I had intended. Instead, I went straight to work, hoping to get myself caught up to where I really needed to be. I busted it for nearly 10 hours, and at a little after my usual quitting time, I had gotten myself to exactly where I needed to be. And because I have a great wife, she immediately reminded me to get out on the road.
Now it was a matter of which run to complete. Obviously, I was only going to get one in today, so should I do today or yesterday's? I didn't have to think for too long. My slow five-miler is meant to be shared with my dear dog, and it was too warm to take her with me at 4:15pm, so that meant I was doing yesterday's 8. I stepped out the door into incredible heat and humidity, and wondered just how this was going to go.
I was a quarter mile in before I remembered that I was supposed to be working on my form these days. I corrected my arms and stopped kicking the back of my leg. The difference in speed is really surprising, but I wanted to be careful. I still had a long way to go, and it was really, really warm outside.
The entire workout was an experiment in contradiction. My legs and feet felt great, no pain whatsoever, but each step also brought a fresh wave of sweat down my forehead. There was a stiff breeze that felt great on wet skin, but also would give me a mouthful of pain heading up my final hill. I wanted to go faster to be done and get into some shade, but I wanted to slow down for fear of my body giving up before my miles were complete. And as I thought about any and all of these issues, my form would break down again.
At around mile 3, my brain told me to stop worrying about form today. I was squeezing a run into a too-small time block, and just getting through the miles was a victory. There was no point in giving myself something else to worry about when I was already tired.
Then it occurred to me. When I'm tired is when I have to worry about form most. And better that I do it 5 miles into an 8 mile run than have to learn it at mile 15 of 26. So I tried, when I could focus on it, to keep my form as best I could.
Even all this energy and focus couldn't change the fact that I had to finish with a half mile uphill into the wind with the sun on my back. And that's when Linkin Park took over. Yes, I took music with me today, feeling I'd probably need something to hold my attention around mile 6. ( I was right.) Surprisingly, it was one of their slower songs, "Leave Out All The Rest" that wins the honor of hero song today. Even with some Girl Talk and G Love, both of whom are still great running fuel, it was this LP song that had exactly the right tempo to give me a step per beat and get me up the hill almost without realizing it.
I ended up being late for rehearsal, and I'm sitting backstage still a little exhausted, but I got my miles in today, even after completing everything else that I had to get done. That's the victory that I needed this week. This means that I've got two fives in a row before Saturday's peak run of 20 miles. Every time I make myself get out there and start running, it's that much more confidence I have the next time I run. It's not just about the miles, but about developing the will to run them.
Of course, it helps to have a wife who moves you, too.
86 Degrees / Sunny, Windy
57 Minutes, 35 Seconds