A little disclaimer before I start this blog. For those of you that I regularly see at the gym: I know, my face has been missing from classes, open gym, and oly practice. And to be honest, part of me feels like a fraud for writing for Solcana, when I haven’t been around for the past couple weeks.
In my mind, I was in Costa Rica with Coach Hannah. But in reality, taking breaks has always been a part of my journey. And I think that it’s a healthy part of any cycle. In the past, however, I would use these cracks of fitness to binge junk food and basically undo everything I’ve worked for.
This time, though, I’ve simply focused on another health goal: making my feet to be as fast as they used to be (or at least, close to it).
All of this is to say, I miss you all and I’ll be coming back very soon. Next time we see each other, don’t hesitate to stop me, so we can catch up and I can tell y’all how buff you look.
Anyway, here we go.
This story starts two weeks ago, on the heels of my personal triumph with Run Club that I wrote about in Problem 15 & Solution 16: Being My Own Cheerleader and Being On A Team. After that amazing 5k, I looked at my pace and felt good, but not great.
Sure, it was under 10 minutes per mile, but it felt like I was putting in 100% and got a 70% result. So I looked back on all of my runs and paces recently and realized something: I’ve hit my glass door.
I’m not going to call it a wall, because it was something I could see through. And on the other side, there it was: a sub-9 minute pace. And there I was, barking at my reflection like a cute puppy.
Luckily, later that day, an old friend reached out to me and asked if I would want to run with her. It’s actually the same friend that I wrote about in Problems 7, 8 & 9: Every Mile of a 5k. When we first started training together, a few years ago, she was just dipping her toes into running as a sport. Whereas I had just stopped competing with my college track team.
Let’s just say, when we (literally) ran into each other on the corner of 36th and Grand, it was clear that she did not participate in the same running hiatus that I have. Right out the gate, she took off and I was struggling to keep up with her pace. But I had to keep repeating myself, There’s only one way to get faster. Train faster.
Kicking it in, I couldn’t believe it. I looked down at my phone, and for the last few hundred meters, our pace dipped below 7:30. But at the end of the run, we poured ourselves glasses of water, I left her apartment. And there I was again: in my trail shoes and running clothes, all by myself.
When my final track season was ending in college, I asked my coach if he had any tricks to make sure I didn’t do what I did every summer break: become a sedentary being, whose sole purpose in life was asking for guacamole and extra cheese on his burritos.
Among the many tips he gave me, the one that has stuck the most was, Whenever you find yourself not moving enough. Just wake up one morning and call it Day One. And there, right there, you will have started yourself a streak.
This story starts a little more than a year ago, the last time I started a running streak. I had just completed five runs in a row, when I went on my first date with my boyfriend. Let’s just say I got distracted, because, y’know (Problems 5 & 6: Boys and New Year’s Resolutions). It was more than a month until I got out on the sidewalk again, but even then, I only completed five runs in the course of the entire summer.
This story starts four days ago, when I made a concerted effort to rack up some miles every day, no matter the circumstances. And it was not necessarily pretty, by any means.
It started with what I call a “laundry run”, which is something I just made up, when I decided to go out while my clothes were in the dryer, rather than taking my typical trip to Liquor Lyle’s. It was a short sprint, but I was still on the wrong side of my glass door (2.01 miles, 9:57/mile). Again, the next day with quick stint around Lake of the Isles, it was a little bit longer, but no discernible progress (3.70 miles, 9:34/mile).
Then, I decided to tackle a longer run, head-on. I figured that in order to train faster by myself, I needed to up my milage. And it was the least cute of them yet. I was dehydrated and might as well have been lost the entire time. It felt like my feet were Velcroed to the sidewalk, or that I was just sliding them along the concrete the entire time (5.15 miles, 10:51/mile).
Until finally, it was yesterday. I’m not exactly sure what happened, but I’m calling it my “booya breakthrough”. Well actually, I do know what happened, I had put time and miles and effort in, and it paid back with interest.
When the run started, I thought that I was lagging again, so I decided not to look at my phone to check my pace. Which made me a happy puppy when I was cooling down. I had run faster than I have in the past year, and beyond (4.03 miles, 8:34/mile).
So, to be honest, I’m nervous to go back out, because I’m not sure that I will be able to replicate this result. But at least I can say now, that the sub-9 pace is more a screen door. Because now, not only can I see the outside. I can smell it. And if need be, I could just punch out the screen, entirely.