A few bad days aren't anything to worry about, I guess. After a few questionable workouts and one very bad one, I was still left wondering why things weren't improving. After yesterday's run - which went well - I realize my mistake was thinking like an ultrarunner (which is fine, if you're running ultramarathons).
I got into the "I need to run x miles in y minutes this week" frame of mind, when that's not terribly important for what I'm planning to do. As an example of this kind of thinking, imagine a runner wanting to do her first marathon, running 40-50 miles per week and with a longest run of 13 miles; how fast do you think she could finish it? Dos your answer change if I mention she recently ran a 31:30 10K? That's what happened with Grete Waitz setting a world record with her first marathon.
I haven't been running many miles and the miles I've done haven't been fast. I'd think of what my weekly average was, calculate what kind of a mile race that corresponds to, then look at the individual workouts to see if they were too hard or too easy. That only works when dealing with races that require a lot of endurance, not the mile.
I'd been doing my hill repeats, letting the Garmin Forerunner measure my miles and record my mile splits, then figure out how fast I must have been going on the up and on the down sections. I wondered if I was getting good numbers. Yesterday, I decided to run repeats, but do them slowly (as I felt I'd been training too hard) and record the actual times of the repeats. I thought I'd been going up in about 5:10-5:15 in the previous week. This time, running easy, I was doing them in 4:40. I was way off!
The hard workouts I've done recently point to a mile in 5:50, rather than the weekly mileage and pace measurements, which are stuck at 6:25. That may not sound like much, but it's like the difference between a marathon in 3:15 and one in 3:35. Improving by almost a minute per mile in a marathon on a few weeks of training would be impressive.
What I'd overlooked was that I only need to be able to run hard for a few minutes, so how far I run in an hour isn't important. My body seems to respond faster to hard fast running than it does to long and slow runs; the endurance takes forever for me to build [I know the opposite is true for almost everyone who reads this], but the short distance speed is coming along nicely. And that's what I'm working on.
The bad days? Well, the weather was bad, I'd been doing things I wasn't used to when not running and I wasn't in the best of moods.
Back to work I go.
Sunday Night Musings
5 days ago