Ask mostly anyone that knows me as a runner and they’ll reassure you that I hate speed workouts. Work out days are the days I’ve never looked forward to in all of my running life. I’d rather run 12+ miles than run six 1/2 mile repeats at a fast pace. Yesterday however has left me on a speed workout high. I felt strong yesterday, I felt in control of my pace, and my legs didn’t feel sore. After finishing the workout I felt confident for my race and happy that the workout went so well.
I told Josh on Tuesday that I needed to do a speed workout. I needed to either do a 6 mile tempo run or a 6 mile progression run, either with a mile warm-up and a mile cool down. I was leaning more towards the progression run and Josh seconded my choice. He even told me that he loved doing progression runs at his local park. So it was decided, I would be doing a 6 mile progression run.
Since Josh is recovering from his marathon in the Cat Skills, he would accompany me during the workout on his bike. It was a brisk fall evening and I was worried he wouldn’t be warm enough through the next 8 miles. Turns out, I should have also worried for myself not being warm enough. I ran .75 miles to the park and reached the mile mark in 8:49. That warm-up mile set my pace for the rest of the run – all my miles had to be faster than 8:49.
My first progression run mile was an 8:02. It didn’t seem like an 8:02 and I was still having a full conversation with Josh at this point. It didn’t even seem like I picked up the pace 47 seconds from my warm-up mile. I had no choice but to pick it up once again into the 2nd progression mile.
I clocked the 2nd one in 7:49. Once again, I never felt like I picked it up THAT much. I was honestly only expecting to pick it up about 5 seconds faster per mile. I was still talking to Josh every so often at this point as he told me a few stories from his work week.
3rd progression mile was in 7:40. Another 9 second drop. I still felt strong and I tried to limit myself to a 5 second drop for the next mile so that I could actually finish all 6 miles in some sort of progressive pace. Josh’s hands were numb from the cold air coming off the river. I wanted to run faster so we could get back into his warm house faster. But 3 miles was still a long way to go.
4th mile: 7:29. An 11 second drop. I told myself I only had 2 more loops to do in the park. Only 2 more times that I would have to push the pace. Only 2 more times until we could run home and get warm. I wanted Josh to be warm.
5th mile: 7:16. A 13 second drop. Well, shoot. This was the mile Josh told me to catch up the another girl that was running around the park. I knew I could catch her so I focused on doing so, and I did. That resulted in the 7:16. This is also the mile I thought about the huge Reese’s peanut butter cookie I had bought us from my visit to Smithville earlier in the day. That cookie would taste so good once I got done this workout.
One final mile. Josh told me to push the pace hard. It was only one more mile. I told myself I could try my hardest to get a sub-7. That would be INSANE. Josh knew a sub-7 mile was within my reach. He believed in me more than I believed in myself. Knowing my luck, I had this feeling I would run a 7:01. Close, but not close enough. This loop Josh told me to catch up to a guy that was running around the park. This made me mad because I was tired. He seemed so far away. But I caught him. I went by him with my strained breathing and he probably thought I was having an asthma attacked. I forced out a “hello” and a smile. Josh told me once we crossed the park’s driveway that I had to pick it up. Only .25 miles to go. He told me that I have a marathon to PR. He was right so I had no choice but to listen to him. My watch beeped to tell me the mile was complete.
6:55. My watch flashed a 6:55 up on the screen. I yelled out “DONE!”, threw my hands up in the air, and laughed. A 6:55. How did I manage a sub-7 mile, 7 miles in to my 8 mile run after clocking an 8:02, 7:49, 7:40, 7:29, AND a 7:16? I couldn’t stop laughing. A mix of happiness, relief, shock, love, exhaustion, and strength flooded down on me.
And then I realized that my arms were completely numb from my fingertips all the way up past my wrists. My fingers could barely push the buttons on my Garmin Forerunner. My hands and wrists hurt more than my legs. Josh and I were both excited but freezing. We needed to make our way a mile back home. He was shivering, I was shivering, we needed warmth.
I finished my mile cool down in absolute ecstasy. For most of my cool down I was still in absolute shock that I had finished with a 6:55. For some people, a 6:55 isn’t a big deal. That might be their norm. Speed is relative. I haven’t ran a sub-7 mile since 4th of July when I ran a 6:45 as the 1st mile of a 4 mile race. Some people run 6:55 miles during marathons. Some people run faster than 6:55 miles during marathons. But for me, I push myself to get to a 6:55 and I couldn’t be happier with achieving that.
That 6:55 mile left me feeling strong, confident, and more ready than ever to take on this Philadelphia Marathon in 23 days. Although I don’t plan on running anywhere close to 6:55 pace, knowing I can progressively push my body even when it’s tired or cold is powerful in itself. I’m still on a high from yesterday’s workout. The workout showed me that hard work pays off, sometimes you just have to be patient.
You might not be able to run a 6:55 at first, but over time as more and more miles are ran, you might just progressively reach that 6:55 – even if it takes many miles into your workout.