I have spent the past few years developing myself into a faster runner. I shaved 18 minutes off of my marathon time, ran Boston, and completed some speedy 5k and 10k races. I was able to hit paces that I never thought possible. I found myself wondering how much faster I could be, and excited to find out.
Then I signed up for a 50 mile race. I am finding day by day that high-mileage training and speed do not go hand in hand, in fact quite the opposite is true. Last week I hit an all-time high of 67 miles. That’s not a lot for some serious runners out there, but it is for me. Broken down:
Monday – easy 7 mile trail run on a snowy trail
Tuesday – group run, 6 miles easy
Wednesday – 8 miles hilly, faster pace
Thursday – 10 miles flat, faster pace
Friday – rest
Saturday – 15.5 miles very slow with the group I coach
Sunday – 20 mile trail run slow and incredibly difficult
Come Monday, I ran a 5 mile recovery run and couldn’t even break a 9 min mile. My body was tired, my legs exhausted. Could I get by with running fewer miles? Yes, I’m sure I could. But I am experimenting right now to find out what my body can handle. If I continue to feel abnormally run down, I will cut it back. I have a feeling that after a couple of weeks I will begin to adapt. In any case, I have learned to embrace the slow.
During my 20 mile trail run on Sunday, I knew from the beginning that I would be out there a long time.
It was a beautiful day with temperatures warming into the 60’s, so I decided to take my time, walk when I felt like it, and enjoy the run. When I took the pressure off of myself and ignored my pace, I felt freedom. Though I had my ipod with me in case I needed a little pick-me-up, I never took it out of my pack. I took in the scenery,
made friends with some giant birds,
scared them away by getting too close,
and finally ran into a snowy/icy section of trail that forced me to turn around a little early.
By the time I returned to my car I had been out on the trail for 3 hours and 40 minutes. That is 20 miles at 10:50/mile average pace. Translation: it was a long run. But it actually went by faster than some of my 20 mile road runs at nearly an hour faster. I am loving the trails, the time to myself, the scenery, the animals, even the mud. Something about the woods just makes the miles pass by without much thought. I know that someday I will be itching to get my speed back, but this is what feels real to me right now.
“The farther you go outside, the farther you go inside.” -Unknown