Last night’s speed session is one I should mark in my running logs, for sure. We were set to do 6 Yasso 800s, with the standard 2 minutes rest in between each one, and bookended with a warm-up and a cool-down. I was shooting for 3:40, or pretty close to it, and I hit the following, in the following order: 3:30, 3:38, 3:36, 3:34, 3:33, 3:27. Our group decided that we didn’t need to go balls-to-the-wall (our way of saying 3:30) right from the get-go, so we aimed to keep as close to 3:40 as possible and work our way downward as we were knocking out each 800. And alas, we did — and alas, my last was my fastest for the set and the fastest Yasso I’ve ever done (that I remember). And it wasn’t totally gut-wrenching. Tiring, sure. But dying-worthy? Not really. This is super encouraging, for (what I hope are) obvious reasons.
If I haven’t mentioned it before, I should now: the folks I run with and I are the caboose of our training group, both on Wednesday night speed sessions as well as on Saturday morning distance runs. This is a first for many of us (myself included), since many of us have come from other teams or training programs where we were the “leader” or “pace setter” or the “speedy Sally.” Getting used to life from the back–which, in our case, results from running ~3:40 800s or between ~8-9ish minute/miles on our long runs–has taken some getting used to (especially because we’re not going all that slowly, by any account!). The realization I’ve come to is that we should do what the pros do: keep our fast runs, fast; our slow runs, slow; and everything in between, in between.
Many a runner and coach has written about the beauty of doing long runs slowly, around 1-2 minutes slower than goal race pace. Knowing that gives some solace to me, even from being in the back of the pack, because I know that how I’m running is good for a) my body, b) my mind, and c) perhaps most importantly, my training. There’s no need for me to go balls-to-the-wall when I don’t need to, when my work-out doesn’t dictate doing so, and having this mentality keeps me honest to my training and quells my urge to push harder.
I’ve read articles recently that attest to how Kenyan pro marathoners really do a good job of keeping their slow runs, slow — to the extent that they’ll run around their local village with the neighborhood kids — and their fast runs, fast — giving 110% of whatever’s in their tank that day. I think that’s a brilliant training approach and makes them, the pro marathoners that they are, avoid injury, stay fresh, and enjoy the variety their training brings.
Besides… come race day, there will always be someone a) faster than you and b) slower than you. Once you come to the conclusion that you *probably* won’t win your race, or you realize that no one *wins* a training run, it makes for a much more enjoyable experience… one in which you focus on yourself, your body, and your own goals.
Next up: 17 miles, hills, Barrington. Saturday!