After 4 months, I have finally finished a major project at work and on Saturday, I ran my first 5K since January.
What is interesting isn’t the 5K, but the short training I did leading up to the 5K.
I have been doing hill runs for about 3 or 4 months with my son. We go out each week and run 6 – 7 miles of hills in a neighborhood next to ours. These hills are big and exhausting. Sometimes (like yesterday) I don’t know how I’m going to make it home. All in all the runs are about 8 miles.
Rewind to last week. With our 5K on Saturday I started to really get concerned. I had increased my mileage a lot over the winter, but had also slowed my pace. In fact in April of 2014 I averaged just over an 8:30 pace. This April I was closer to 9:45. This slow down was intentional. I really wanted to gain mileage, build my base and stop getting hurt. I accomplished all three!
With the 5K less then a week away I was concerned that my slow pace would really mess my race up. Monday last week I ran hills run with TJ. Tuesday I just ran 4 miles. I was tired to say the least. I finished my run and noticed that I ran near a 10:00 pace. I was so disappointed. I wondered if my 22 minute 5K were over for good.
Then it dawned on me. I had just finished my run. I was breathing heavily and tired. But in less then a minute my breathing returned to normal and my heart rate slowed right down. Hmmm, I thought. If I can recover in less than a minute, maybe I’m in better shape then I thought. So Wednesday I went out for another run. I started slowly the first mile as I always do, but I ran faster then my normal first mile. I got into the second mile and picked up my pace. The last two miles I ran much faster with my last mile under 8:00. I was tired and breathing heavily, but once again, as soon as I finished I recovered. By the time I got to my car to go home, I was breathing normally. Thursday was the same. I ran, I recovered and I felt fine.
So the hill runs and the distance runs did what I wanted. They build my base and gave me the ability to run hard and not get hurt and recover quickly. I simply lacked the confidence and speed work to get me going faster for my 5K.
How’d the 5K go? I ran it slower then my usual pace a year, but I also ran it 1:13 faster then my 5K in January. I came in at 23:20, 2nd in my age group and 33rd overall out of 500 runners. I’m pretty happy about that considering I had only 2 speed workouts and had gained some weight during my 4 month project.
I am going to keep doing what I am doing. I’m going to add some speed workouts in the mix to train my body (and brain) to run faster. I’m going to lose the 5 lbs I gained and try to bring my time down below 22:00 this year.
Hopefully this will help someone else in a similar situation. Listen to your body and your recovery. It may be telling you something that your brain is not!