October 23, 2010

No Pain, No Gain

Time to make it hurt.  Yesterday I had the day off so I did some speed work for the first time in months.  The late summer and fall included some of my most time consuming rotations, studying for Step 2 exams (national medical exams), applying for residencies, and training for my past 2 marathons.  I try to be as efficient as possible, but efficiency isn't always enough and there are often things you have to cut out.  (I do my best to make sure sleep isn't one of those things.)  While I continued to do Fartleks, pace runs and tempos here and there, I cut out speedwork and in the end I think that hurt me on the Towpath marathon.

So, now I'm back in the saddle and I started out with 7 x 800, jogging 400s in between.  I also made sure to warm-up and cooldown.  A lot of people like to skip those components (I'm certainly guilty of that sometimes) but when doing speedwork it's particularly important to warm-up in order to avoid injury.  I used the popular strategy of using your desired marathon time to determine my goal for the 800s.  The idea is that if you want to run a 3 hr marathon, you should run your 800s in 3:00 minutes.  (Or 4 minutes 45 seconds for a 4:45 marathon, etc...)

I had a goal in mind, but I seemed to keep finishing 10 seconds too fast despite many attempts to slow down.  Once I was halfway through the runs, I figured I was feeling good so I might as well keep up the pace.  And by feeling good I mean that my lungs and legs were burning and felt a little nauseous after each lap but I knew I could continue the pace.  The last lap required a little internal yelling at myself but I did it.

Yup.  That's the track I where I was running.
One thing that helped get me through it?  I ended up with an accidental audience.  I hadn't thought about the fact that they would be setting up for Voodoo fest at City Park, and the track was surrounded by at least 40 guys setting up stages, structures, fencing, etc...  As is often the case in New Orleans they weren't working continuously, so they frequently stopped to watch the runners on the track for entertainment.  There were only a couple of us, and I was the only woman, so I kept hearing them talking about me as I would run by.  If it had just been me and the couple of older and overweight guys at the track, I might have let the pace slip a little.  Compared to them I looked like a speed demon.  But now there were people watching and that kicked my competitiveness into overdrive.  Thanks to them, I made sure the last lap hurt.

I will be glad, come December, that I'm back to speedwork.  In the meantime, I remind myself that it could be worse.  At least the heat index isn't 115 anymore.

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