Before I get off on my tangent, I wanted to celebrate an anniversary. It was 14 years ago today (Oct. 22) that I ran my first marathon (Chicago, finished in 4:27:42)! It's hard to believe, and in a way kind of strange. That's almost a third of a lifetime ago for me. What a journey it's been in so many ways.
Anyway, my two runs this week have been oh so different, as they involved different kind of efforts but returned kind of similar results.
So today, I ran down to my favorite route, Hawk Hollow, and back home, for a total of 6 miles in 1:04:07. All around it was a great run, the weather was perfect -- 53 degrees with a little wind and crystal clear skies -- and I actually ran a negative split, going out in 32:36 and back in 31:31.
The best part is that I didn't really feel like I pushed myself, it was just a good, solid run. A little faster than the infamous "run all day" pace, but not much more. While I was out there, I was even thinking of a few goals -- maybe mileposts might be a better word -- that I want to accomplish on my way to the Mini next May.
One would be to be able to run 9-10 miles at a 10-minute pace. Today's run averaged 10:41, so I feel like I am on the right track for that.
It was a good pick-me-up type of run, because Monday was a bit of a disaster. I headed out on my 3.75-mile route looking to do a sort of time trial in advance of my 5K on Sunday. So from the jump I was going at it really hard, just trying to get a gauge for the weekend.
I mean, I went at it HARD: legs hurting, breathing heavy and trying to stretch out my stride. I hit the 5K mark in a little over 32 minutes and finished in a total time of 39:45, good for a 10:26 pace.
It was a bit disappointing as I felt that I could go faster than that. I have to acknowledge that there were hills in there that won't be there on Sunday's flat course, but given training had been going well I felt like I should be going faster.
But here's the weird thing: I ran what I thought was hard on Monday night, and tonight I ran two-plus miles further and despite running a more comfortable pace was only about 15 seconds per mile slower.
Odd? You bet. But after some deep thought the reasoning was pretty simple...I was trying too hard!
Like any sport, you get the best results when you stay relaxed and focused. That helps keep your muscles nice and long, and lets your ability take over. If you try and press the issue too much, you end up tying yourself up and working way harder while getting worse results. It's the paralysis by analysis of the athletic world.
That's what happened to me. I was so focused and cognizant about trying to run a time that I kind of self-sabotaged the whole thing. Tonight I returned to one of my mantras -- "Relax and Flow" -- and just tried to glide along instead of trying to almost fling myself forward. And it worked out.
It was a good reminder ahead of Sunday, and I'm sure it's going to lead to good things!