Jessica and I were talking last night about tempo run, specifically about how much we dislike it and how it feels like we aren’t really improving. I even started thinking about this blog entry, and how I would title it “Tempo Run, How I Loathe Thee”. But alas, today’s 4-mile tempo run wasn’t too bad, was (egads) pleasant even, and I may have even shown improvement.
I started Gazelles (the beginner group) in November of last year and I vividly remember the specific moment I felt like I could run and not hate it or feel like collapsing. It was during my first tempo run, a 3-miler, right after turning the corner of Lou Neff point headed towards the foot bridge over Barton Creek. I was passing a few people, I felt light on my feet, I wasn’t laboring, and, gasp, a smile started brewing on my face. A smile while running? Unheard of. Usually it’s grotesque contortions. I remember thinking, “Hey, I can do this. This feels good.”
Only two months before I had loathed “jogging” and would never do more than a couple miles. And now, here I was enjoying a timed run, and feeling “fast”. I remember looking at my mile splits: 7:20, 7:30, 7:10. I’d never run that “fast” in my life. Afterwards, my friend Aron came up to me and asked, “Where in the hell did that come from?” Aron had seen me throw up after every off-season baseball workout in high school, had seen me get fat, and had always seen me slow. I don’t know where “that” came from.
Wherever it came from, I never really found it again. I stayed in that 21 to 22 minute range for 3 miles, and 28 minutes for 4 miles for the next 6 months. Worse than not getting faster though, tempo runs were torture. I’d always start too fast and do awful splits like 6:40, 7:30 …. Tempo runs, how I loathed thee.
Back to today, I won’t go through the boring details, but I told myself, as usual, not to start out too fast. I ran the first half-mile in 3:15, and my mile splits were 6:42, 6:52, 6:36, 6:33, for a 26:44 total. So there’s actually some semblance of a negative split, though that second mile is always tough for me until I get in the groove. The last mile was fairly rough too, as I was sitting on Michael’s hip for the first half of the last mile, then tried to turn it up a notch for the last half mile. I started too hard too soon, mostly because I was running past some other Gazelles who were encouraging us, so the last quarter-mile was pretty torturous.
But overall I’m pleased. Most importantly to me, I stayed with it mentally for the whole run. I can always tell in the first half-mile, maybe less, whether it’s going to be a good run, and today I felt positive the whole time. So I didn’t loathe it, I didn’t fade, and I showed some improvement. Tempo run, not so bad.