Lesson learned during today's run: how "fast" I am is all in my head.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

I've been training for a 20K that I'm doing later this summer. I'm using a 14-week Smart Coach program. I didn't have a recent race time to put in when I created the program, so I just put in an approximate 10K time (this means I picked a random number out of the sky). Smart Coach did its thing and crunched the numbers, and it gave me a target pace for my easy runs, tempo runs, long runs, etc. And I've been following that just fine. When Smart Coach told me to run 5 miles easy @ 10:35, I ran 5 miles easy @ 10:35. Sure, it felt easy, but I thought it was supposed to.

Well, I finally did a 10K last weekend, and as I mentioned in my last post, I ran MUCH faster than I expected. This was my first clue that speed is all in my head. Then yesterday, I got back on Smart Coach, put in a REAL 10K time, and it gave me new target paces for my running. So today, I went out to do my long run (yes, a long run on a Tuesday morning. Planning ahead because I'll be out of town this weekend). Smart Coach told me to run 9 miles @ 9:29. So what did I do? I ran 9 miles @ 9:29. Hmmmm... Is it really all in my head? Could I have been running faster all along? What is going on here?

It will take many more runs for this to sink in, but I think I've maybe I've been running slow because I thought I was slow. I mean, I'm still slow, but not as slow. Ha! My point is that I have had a number/pace/10K time stuck in my head, so I have used that as my upper limit, my maximum, the fastest I could ever go. I get on the treadmill and set the speed, or I go outside and shuffle along. I haven't been trying to run faster, because I thought I knew how fast I could run. Lesson learned.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I read your blog this morning, and really liked it. I went for a 3 mile run today, and got so discouraged because I wasn't feeling I could finish strong. Then I remembered what you had written and I was able to get it together and sprint to a finish. 2 minutes faster than I did it last month!!! I don't believe I'll be doing a 9:36 mile any time soon, but I can AND WILL improve every time lace up my shoes and hit the trail!
    3248 days ago
    I wish I could say it is all in my head. I am slow and I know it. I am so excited for you that you can run that fast. I bow to your speed. I hope that I can sometime in the future learn your lesson, but I guess I should complain too much - I have only been running again since 3 months it will happen when it is to happen.

    A great big emoticon on your new found knowledge that fast is all in your head, but I betcha your legs had something to do with it.

    3248 days ago
    Maybe you're going to have to change your profile from a penguin. Great times.
    3248 days ago
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