I was a distance runner and water polo player in high school. Let me clarify, I loved racing the two mile in track. One year in high school, one of my track coaches (who clearly did not know me very well), decided I should be a sprinter, or at least run mid-distance. I will never forget the time I got back from a training run and he looked at me and said something like “How was the run? Ready for 800 mile repeats? Good!” and sent me off to do what felt like an endless number of reps after I had already completed my workout. It became so bad that I started to strategically place my bag outside of the track fence so that I could return from my run, grab my bag, and wait for my ride in the parking lot. I was always hiding from him! He suggested once that I run the 800m at a race and I cannot remember my exact reaction, but I made it very clear that it was not happening.
When Ben started to run with me, we would occasionally do fartleks. My favorite runs have always been long distance runs. To this day, I need a good several miles to warm up (sometimes 10-12) and then I settle into a groove. Weird, I know. A few training cycles ago, we decided to modify our training plan and use an adapted Hansons-Brooks plan, which, go figure, does include speed work. We decided to do our first speed workout at one of the local tracks. Oh, how inadequate I felt running with Ben (and unhappy my legs were!)! We continued to do speed work and somehow was getting faster and stronger (we also added plyometrics about this time). After several of these dreaded yet successful work outs, including one in which I had some of the most dreadful shin splints I have ever experienced, I ended up injured and side lined for what felt like a very long time!
I never have been able to figure out what exactly caused my injury and have wondered if something I did that night may have at least contributed to my injury. Needless to say, there has been a fear associated with doing speed work specifically. Since coming back from my injury, I have started to notice a general increased speed in the majority of my runs.
This week we started another training cycle and again are using an adapted and slightly different version of the same plan. And yes, it does still include speed work. Ben is still injured, which of course, means speed work on my own for now… which also means I have to push myself. Well, tonight was the first night of speed work, so I looked up my 10k race pace and decided to try to go a little faster than that for my intervals. I debated about using a treadmill or just going outside and opted to run at a park that has 1.5 mile loops.
The run started out a little rough, with some guy mumbling as I ran past (this of course, increased my warm up pace) but turned into an awesome run. I cannot remember the last time four miles went by that fast. I know I have a lot of work to do in terms of speed, but I had such a fun time tonight and even had to slow myself on a couple of the intervals to stay within range. Awesome!
Well, speed work and I might slowly be becoming friends. I am excited to see how this might pay off in the long run and look forward to the next speed workout with less fear (although some still exists) and more excitement. I guess training ones weak areas might not be such a bad thing after all.