Afraid of speed?

A while back, someone posted on the Runners World forums this question (paraphrased, since I am not going to look it up right now):

How many people are afraid to be really fast; that is, how many people cheat themselves out of a PR and/or significant improvement simply because they believe that they are incapable of anything greater than their current best?

It's an interesting thought, actually. I have noticed, over the last year, that my race speed is significantly faster than anything I manage to achieve while on the treadmill. Some of it is undoubtedly due to the magic of race day, some of it due to the sheer drudgery and pace-killing effect of the hamster pad, but I wonder if there is something else there.

See, without a Garmin, I only have the vaguest idea of how fast I am going for most races. I may hit the split button when I pass a mile marker, but I have learned that I can either run a 4 minute mile in the middle of a half-marathon, or those markers are sometimes off by a tad. . . or more. I can do the math in my head to figure pace and splits, but mid-race, it's usually not worth it. If I am slow on that day, I know it - my pace is off, my stride feels "funny", and nothing settles into place. I don't need to know that I am 30 seconds per mile off my planned pace, because I am not going to catch up. Likewise, if all is going well, or really well, I want to paraphrase Han Solo, and say "Never tell me the time."

But I have a Garmin. So, I have been eschewing the heart rate monitor lately, and running an outside loop. I know the distance, and I try to ignore the pace. I glance at it from time to time, but I try not to speed up or slow down based on what it is saying.

The result? On a treadmill, a speed of 8 mph or more is difficult, and bordering on a tempo workout. Outside, my last short runs have all had an average speed of greater than 8.0, and most closer to 8.5. But they seem only moderately difficult.

Maybe I have been afraid of going faster. I'd like to break that habit, if it is true.


Ouch (or, Holy $%$*&, that hurt!)

So, because I was really tired on Thursday (like, almost no sleep on Wed night), I decided to skip my scheduled hill workout and make up for it today on a trail run.

I wanted to get in 16 miles, which would be two loops of the red trail at the Fort Custer Rec. Area. The red trail is a fairly technical bike course, and is actually pretty fun to run. I finished up the first lap in a reasonable time, noting that (1) it was just about 8 miles, so I was good with my plan; and (2) my Garmin lies. I'd be running a section, and suddenly notice that my average pace was 4.1 mph. No, it's because there are many series of switchbacks, and on the "take a reading every three seconds" setting, the Garmin just wasn't keeping up. On the other hand, it did a passable job of telling me afterwards that some of the hill sections are 40% grades, which feels about right.

So, on my second lap, I am going through an area known as "Granny's Garden," which can be described as "up, down, left, up, right, down, up, left, down, up, right, up, down, left, up, right, down" and so forth - but that section only describes about 50 yards. Somewhere in there, I must have landed poorly, because my knee started bugging me. I kept trying, but eventually switched to a jog/walk routine, and took shortcuts to avoid the technical sections of the course.

I still finished 13.41 miles or something in about 2:10, but the last 3 miles or so are pretty ugly. I think that I stopped early enough that I will be able to bike for the next couple days and not suffer a long injury. I'll avoid speedwork or hills for the next week, and maybe, if the weather holds, go back and try it again next weekend.


Schedule update

With the Trailbreaker cancelled, I went looking for another race. The best fit that I found was the Lake Geneva marathon, which gives me about 6 weeks to train and attempt to regain some of the fitness I lost over a couple of lousy months.

Now, looking at the elevation map for Lake Geneva, I noticed that there are some hills. So, in addition to getting in the long runs, and starting up intervals again, I needed to fit hills into my routine. I don't mind hills, or intervals, but both of them in the same week, while I am also getting used to long runs again, has me a little concerned. So, I'll take note of anything that doesn't feel right, whether it is on the treadmill, the road, the trails, or just walking around the house.

The other potential problem (aside from Lake Geneva occupying the #9 slot for "Toughest North American marathons") is that the race is on May 10th. On the 31st, I plan on running the Sunburst marathon, so there isn't much recovery time. I am not planning on "racing" either race, per se, though I'd be fibbing if I said that I didn't have time goals. At any rate, it will give me a good indication of how I would fare this fall, if I actually run the Detroit Marathon and then follow it up with the Lakefront 50-miler.

(Oh, and though I have few, if any, readers, I just wanted to congratulate Running Jayhawk and Leah on new PRs at the Shamrock Shuffle. Stop by and say congrats.)