Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Need for Speed

Of all of the words I might use to describe myself and my running, “fast” is not one of them. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I was slow either. It seems to be a universal truth that there will always be people faster than you and slower than you, so it doesn’t do too much good to compare to other people. But I would like to run faster. I’m envious of people that simply run for fitness rather than to race but do it at a pace that would leave me clutching my chest a 1/2 mile later.


For me, it’s not just a lack of Shalane Flanagan-like physical giftedness. I’M AFRAID. I’m afraid of running fast. Well, not the actual running fast. I’m afraid of crashing and burning or passing out or throwing up. True story.

So I’ve been running consistently for about a year and have just started to do actual speed work, things like intervals and tempo runs. Because I don’t have access am too lazy to go to a track, I do my intervals on the treadmill. It’s better for me mentally because I just set the treadmill to the speed prescribed by my SmartCoach and try to hang on.

Last Thursday’s speed session:


1 mile warm-up, 3 X 1600 @ 8:44 pace (essentially 5K pace) with 800 jogs in between, 1 mile cool-down.

Joe asked me how I felt, and I said, “Well, it was hard, but I didn’t fall off the treadmill or puke.” He looked at me like I was crazy. I realized that I actually am afraid of puking or falling off the treadmill. It’s why I don’t want to go fast. I don’t really trust that my body can go fast. My body does other things well like climbing hills or running for a long time but fast is kind of a foreign and uncomfortable concept.

Doing some speed work has actually taught me that I’m faster than I think and that speed work can be kind of fun. I NEVER run sub-9:00/mile when I’m just out for a jog. That’s reserved for race speed only, so it’s cool to see what I am capable of.


With the Women’s Half less than a month away, I thought it would be useful to see where I’m at race-wise with a 10K. So on Monday, I’m running in the Franklin Classic, a race I’ve never been able to participate in because my graduate institution didn’t believe in celebrating Labor Day. I’m pumped but a little scared. This is my first race in several months, so I’ll be interested to see how I do and will definitely give you a race recap!

Is anyone else afraid of running fast or is that just a weird me-thing?

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