Tuesday, November 11, 2014

From slogging to sprinting

If I'm going to be slow, I might as well go long.

For a long time, that was my thought process. I wasn't consciously thinking it but looking back that's exactly what I was doing.

It's not so impressive to say I ran a 36 min 5k as it was to say I ran a marathon!

I don't believe I was doing it so much to impress everyone else. Maybe I was. After all, no one is really impressed with someone running a 5k as much as they are a marathon. Maybe I needed to feel like I was accomplishing something because I was so slow.

Over time (and really only in recent years), did I learn that I just don't like going far. It's boring as hell. To me, there's no real challenge in going far....slowly. (Again, I respect people who do go far.)

That's me now. But it was a process to get there.

In committing to shorter distances, I was also committing to do things that I hadn't done before. Run for two hours? easy peasey....all day long.

Building output to over threshold for 7 miles? That was going to hurt.

Mentally, it was hard to get there. I would always back off. I'd want to get there, but IT HURTS. I had to be willing to feel like I was going to collapse.

I was NOT at that point.

I wasn't used to it. I was used to plugging along. Speedwork meant going a little bit faster than a long run. It didn't mean gut wrenching workouts that ended with me being dizzy, light headed.

You could always see it in my race times. My 5k was faster than my 10k, but my 10k was not much faster than the half marathon.

Because the 10k is SCARY. The 10K means going super hard for 6.2 miles. With the 5k, you know it's over soon. It's over before you really feel pain. NOT with the 10K. The 10K requires a pacing that starts that a high level and only builds from there. The 10K means jumping in to pain, relishing it, looking forward to it and wanting it more.

It's not until you're miserable, that you know you're racing a 10K.

It's not only running. On the swim, being willing to go there requires strength. Moving your arms fast, doesn't get you anywhere. Pulling hard and pushing off.....it's exhausting.

On the bike, it requires being able to handle the burning in the legs and lungs. Knowing that when you get off, you get to run a 10K.

ALL OF THAT. I wasn't willing to do. I wanted to do it.

I knew I would have to take it in pieces. I couldn't just go from plodding along to being able to handle such intensity.

This year, I made progress getting there.You can see it in my times this year. I can podium at the sprint, but I'd dropped off dramatically on the Oly. I'd hold my own on the swim and bike, but I didn't RUN the way I was supposed to run.

In 2015, I want to make even bigger strides.

When I asked Coach if we'd be doing a swim focus, I was thrilled when she said, "You don't need that. We're going to make you an explosive and strong runner."  I'd always done a swim focus in the winter....but do what you've always done and get what you've always got.

My winter schedule has filled up with 5ks/10ks strategically placed throughout the coming months. I know that this winter is big for me. If I can bust through and learn how to really run stand alone 5ks and 10ks, I can take that to my tri's this year.

In training, I've been willing to go there, go to that place of pain. I've learned that I can go there. I've learned that I can run when I feel like I should fall apart. I just have to embrace the discomfort knowing that it means I'm really racing. THIS IS EXACTLY HOW RACING FEELS. It means that I'm doing things I haven't done before, great things.

Now, that I'm learning how the whole thing feels in training, I know what to expect and look forward to in a race.

Things are looking good so far. I keep making more strides toward racing instead of merely doing triathlon.

I can't wait for my first race.