With the NWMDC Half coming up in just under two months, my focus has started shifting from building a base to building some speed. In order to finish that race, I need to meet a specific time goal – and it isn’t crazy fast or anything. In fact, before I got hurt last year, I could have easily met the time goal.
But I DID get hurt. I was in such a great training cycle, and something (or several somethings) just went wrong. I spent the entire summer nearly bedridden (I could get up for a couple minutes, but that was it – I couldn’t drive or sit long enough to even eat at the table). It was pretty horrible. Naturally, and unfortunately, memories of that time have been affecting my training. I have been VERY slowly building up my mileage – getting up to half-marathon endurance over 5ish months rather than the typical 2-3. I stretch all the time, and foam roll daily (sometimes more than once each day). I’m trying to train smarter, not harder. I pushed myself all winter, but not like I used to – I was so scared of getting hurt.
Now, I’m getting stronger. Also, I have a deadline. I have to let go of the fear, look at the numbers, and move toward my goal. So, since pace is my biggest issue, I am focusing on that. I will still do some long slow distance each week, but my other runs will focus on speed. This week, I started using a metronome to help with my stride rate. Lots of articles say that we can get the best running economy with a stride rate of roughly 180/minute, so I decided to work toward that. Knowing that I haven’t been working on speed at all (in about a year!), I set the metronome for 150 bpm and headed out for my 3.5 mile run. I kept everything pretty much the same as usual – followed my same route, kept my run-walk intervals the same, and just focused on staying on the beat. I found that the pace wasn’t too tough most of the time, but there were several times that I simply dropped off the pace. Maybe I was getting fatigued, or maybe I was just losing focus. Either way, I finished my run at roughly 20 seconds/mile faster than usual. Whoops – I guess I found my problem. So, on my shorter runs, I will work on keeping on pace and will also gradually increase it.
But, running with a metronome in my ear is simply no fun. I usually listen to audiobooks, but I’m thinking that I will revisit this once I get more confident in maintaining my pace. Maybe I will find some music that has a quick beat and use it as the same way as a metronome.
Either way, progress is being made. I was feeling pretty discouraged, because my pace wasn’t naturally improving, but I’m feeling more confident about it now. Onward!