I was thinking of a quote from Brad Hudson's book "Run Faster" during today's run. He said: "Ever notice that when running intervals the first one or two are never the fastest?" And I remember thinking, "No. That's not my experience, because I go into interval workouts rested, I do a proper warm-up and I'm running a challenging pace." I get what he was saying - it's a common experience - it just isn't mine.
Among other aches and pains, I recently developed pes anserine bursitis. It's a pain below and medial to the knee, where you think there isn't anything. If you ask experts, they'll tell you that it takes 4-6 weeks to recover, with no running. I'd had it before, knew what caused it, knew how to treat it (stretching hip adductors and hamstrings, and correcting some running form errors that came from running tired and babying other injuries) and I was recovered in three days. That's unusual, but not unique. I wouldn't tell others to expect a 3 day recovery, however.
Today was a day of hard hill repeats. I was worried, because I'd had two weeks of poor training and a bunch of minor aches and pains, including the bursitis just mentioned, which running fast and on hills could cause to become worse. I'd run the Snake Hill in 3:58-4:14 (four repeats) earlier this year, but my pace had slowed down to about 5 minutes of late and I was hoping to run 4:05-4:12.
I did the first one in 3:37. Oops! All the nervous energy from fearing that I wasn't ready to run fast had me go out too fast. I intentionally slowed the second one. I ran it in 3:40. This was going to be a major problem; I knew I wasn't in good enough shape to maintain that (there's always the thought "hey, maybe I am that good," which usually leads to disaster. So I slowed down, way way down and just "jogged" the next one... in 3:53. The fourth one had me falling apart and I ran about 4:25, barely able to keep from quitting. I couldn't do a fifth one.
So, no... I didn't notice that the first one or two were not the fastest. If I'd the first one in 4:10-4:15, maybe I would have. That's just not the way things work for me.
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