The Joy of Running

It’s been a long time since I’ve really enjoyed running. The last time I can really remember is before I hurt my knee in September of 2013. Ever since then, it’s been a long and painful process to get back to being able to run a competent 5K or 10K, but it’s always at least sort of painful and involves some level of dread. I kept putting in the work because I wanted to finish triathlons, but I rarely actually enjoyed a run.

Well, I’m happy to report that I’ve found the joy again, and I think I have the Fleet Feet SpeedPLAY group to thank for it. I’ve attended three sessions so far. I was originally so afraid and intimidated to join, mostly because whenever I’ve tried to run intervals on my own, I ran the first one very quickly and then felt terrible the rest of the workout. And then never did it again. My impression or prediction of what the group would entail was a lot of feeling like I wanted to barf while skinny people ran laps around me and my hair fell out. Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but most fears really don’t.

But I’ve learned from swimming that interval training absolutely works, and I would really like to drop a couple of minutes from my 5K time to be a bit more competitive at the sprint distance, so I signed up and I even managed to attend all three weeks. The first week, the pressure was low as the coach emphasized repeatedly that the point of the session was just for him to get a sense of how we ran. We were doing 800 m repeats with 1 minute of rest. It was hard, but it was totally achievable. And with a warm up run to start and a cool down run with pickups to finish, it was surprising how easily my body was tricked into running 5 miles without realizing it.

The second week we did hill repeats, and I went into hunker down mode without realizing it and was able to crank through 8 repeats while feeling generally okay.

Last week, I was introduced to fartleks, which other than being the most hilarious word in sports is apparently also something I didn’t know I love. Fartleks, I learned, actually mean “speed play” in Swedish. Based on what we did, I would define them as intervals without actually stopping in between. We did 1200 meters running hard followed by 600 meters running easy, x4. Our coach encouraged us to make the first one the slowest of the day, so I intentionally took it out easy. We were supposed to go between 10k pace and half marathon pace. Well, I’ve never run a half marathon, but my best 10k is 54:xx, so I aimed for that. I finished my first 1200 in 6:45, about 9 minute mile pace. I knew I could do better, so aimed to pick it up a bit. I ended up knocking ten seconds off each one, finishing the subsequent ones in 6:35, 6:25, and 6:15. And you know what? I felt strong, powerful, and pretty great, even though it was windy as hell and actually snowing (yay, spring!). Great enough that two days later, on my rest day, I was texting Josh and asking if it was crazy that I really, really wanted to go for a run.

My next running race is the Twilight 10K on May 23 and I can’t wait to see if I can take it down a notch.

Current triathlon struggle:

I’ve been working really hard on my biking this winter, in spin class at the gym and on the trainer in our living room, but for some reason I’m having a hard time getting motivated to get out in the REAL WORLD on my bike even when the weather is beautiful. Today it was in the 60s and sunny and I was slated for an 80 minute ride. I moaned and whined for a bit until I finally just got dressed and got out there. I’ve been having a hard time this spring getting on the aero bars. I was starting to get kind of concerned that I’m somehow now afraid of riding in aero, but was trying to rationalize that the real issue was that it’s been an incredibly windy spring and that I was actually just showing good judgement by not riding aero when I was at risk of being blown over. Well, today it was calm and sunny and I still had to talk myself into getting down in the bars. By the second half of the ride I seemed to be more comfortable in aero and was even taking some turns down on the bars. Did I suddenly develop a phobia of riding in aero? For the sake of my wrists, I hope not. My bike is fitted for me to ride in aero and riding on the hoods puts a lot of pressure on my wrists. (Although, *TMI alert* riding in aero puts a lot of pressure on the, ahem, “soft tissue.”)

Hot triathlon tip:

I swim with a woman who’s done iron-distance and 70.3 distance triathlons, and she mentioned last week that the way she keeps on top of her nutrition is to test herself while she’s biking or running to make sure she can do simple math. If she can’t add up the numbers on a mailbox within a reasonable amount of time, she knows it’s time to eat or drink more.

Weeks until first tri of the season:

7

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