Week #4: “I Always Take Direction…Eventually”

DAY | PLAN | ACTUAL
MON | REST | REST
TUE | 3M/STRENGTH | 3.2M (8:59/MI)/STRENGTH
WED | 4M | 4.2M (10:05/MI)
THU | 3M/STRENGTH | 3.2M HILL INT (9:33/MI)/STRENGTH
FRI | REST | REST
SAT | YOGA | BIKRAM90
SUN | 9M | 9.4 (10:35/MI)
TOTAL |19 MILES | 20 MILES

Have you ever realized that you’ve read or been given the same advice over and over again, but it hasn’t registered until you’ve had that click–that moment of clarity where you actually hear, understand, and receive the guidance you need? That’s exactly where I’ve landed here in week 4 of my marathon training. Let’s be clear, I am pretty stoked that it only took four weeks to have this lesson sink in–I’ve banged my head against the wall for much longer trying to learn other things–this is progress.

I feel badly because I cannot remember whose blog I read it on this week (thank you blogosphere!) but someone wrote:

One of the biggest mistakes people make in training is not running slow enough on their long runs and not running fast enough on their short runs.

I’ve heard this said many times before but for some reason, this week was the first instance I was really able to apply it to my training. It could not have come at a better time because Sunday was my first not “short”, long run. I’ve been running for a long time, but since this is my first marathon, I decided on a Novice 1 program for beginners. There have been moments when I worried that the plan started out too easy–but those concerns have absolutely subsided as I’ve let the program discipline me and slowly build up my fitness. This week, two of my three short runs felt amazing–I had great pop in my legs and was able to manage a really steady pace with a burst of speed in the last 1/1.5 miles–even with hills!

I just want to pause quickly to note something I will be doing from now on: I’m not going to belittle my speed or pace anymore by qualifying it every time I write–I’ve officially tired of that. I’m going to try to make an effort to no longer start sentences with: “I know I’m not fast, but…” You see my paces above–to some of you they may be slow, to others lightning. To me they are numbers that make me proud because they mean I’ve gotten out there and done the work. So when I say fast, and it’s about running a mile in 8:00 or 8:30 or even 9:00, understand that that is what I have defined as fast for me. 

Early in the morning, as I hydrated and fueled and prepared to leave, I reflected on those great short runs I was able to put together earlier in the week. My confidence rose even more when I remembered that each run followed a thorough and intense strength training session. So, with well rested and stretched legs–thanks to a rest day on Friday and yoga on Saturday, I set out on my 9 mile run on Sunday with the long run slow advice at the forefront of my mind. Instead of letting that anxious and egotistical voice of mine that says “your time is going to be embarrassingly slow”, butt in, I looked to balance out my Tuesday/Thursday fast miles, with some Sunday slow miles.

Rejoice! It was the most enjoyable long run I have had in a longgg time. When I was training for the Brooklyn Half I was so concerned about coming in under two hours that I never really let my mind get too far away from the run. On Sunday my brain was almost completely immersed in my podcasts and I absolutely loved it–it was the best me time I had had in a long while. For the first three miles I kept my pace between 10:30-11:15 and was delighted to enter Prospect Park light on my feet and breathing easy. It was a welcome change from pushing myself too early and arriving winded; I felt happy to hop into the flow of runners and cyclists and start my two 5k loops around the park.

My second 5k held pretty steady at around 10:45, with a bit of a slower 6th mile as I prepared to go into my quicker last third of the run. I have been trying to make my longer runs progressive and I did pretty well here: Mile 7: 10:12, Mile 8: 9:34, Mile 9: 9:43, Mile 9.4: 9:02. I was especially happy with these times seeing that the last 1/1.5 mile of this loop is the infamous hill in Prospect Park. There was a guy who insisted on racing that last mile with me and I happily obliged him–it was great fun and I felt thrilled to feel like I was flying up that hill even on “tired” legs. As I reached the top (after beating him, of course), I stopped my watch and walked off smiling–I had yet another example of awesome results from letting go and trusting the process. Thank you to all of you who have written about your successes and failures in training, and left me pointers and words of encouragement on my posts as well. Your place in my journey is already so prominent, and I’m so grateful to be guided by such a generous running community.

 

Any advice you’ve been given a million times that has clicked only recently? I want to hear it! How’s training going? Any struggles you want to voice? Feel free to talk them out here!

35 thoughts on “Week #4: “I Always Take Direction…Eventually”

  1. I had a moment like that during marathon training too!
    I would make my short runs longer than the programme stated because ‘whats 3 miles when you’ve been running 15?’ My coach would preach to me that those fast short milers are what make you a better runner… she was right!
    Post marathon I’m struggling to get out of my slow marathon pace and find those fast feet again? Its like my head is stuck in long distance!
    I stopped posting my pace because I found myself degrading it or putting myself down for being slow… a mile is a mile no matter how fast you are moving 🙂
    Well Done on another successful training week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so funny Angela–I am definitely trying to keep my head in the game and just take one day at a time–but my mind has wandered off and wondered about what running will be like after the marathon. Do you have different goals now that you are done with the marathon? It seems like some people come out of it clearer, and others lost about where they want to go after such a big accomplishment. Again–I’ll take it one day at a time–at this point I am just trying to make it to the starting line!
      And true that–that a mile is a mile–crucial mindset for training i think! Thanks Angela! x

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes! I really want to work on pace and have a couple of goal times for shorter distances like 10k and half marathon. I absolutely loved the marathon but I don’t think I’ll take on that distance again.. now if only I could push past my marathon pace!!!

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  2. That’s solid advice in that quote Cat & it’s taken me around 2 years to finally ‘get it’. I also used to worry about the pace of my runs and because I was using Strava, the ‘pressure’ to run faster was overwhelming. However this year, like yup, I’ve stuck to the plan. Today was a recovery run and it’s the slowest I’ve ever run – it felt great! You’re also spot on about pace – these paces are right for you, mine are right for me. We’re racing against ourselves, so how fast we run is kind of irrelevant, however again we feel that pressure. My goal for my first marathon is quite simple – to complete it. I really don’t care what my time is, I’ll worry about that for the next one 😊

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    1. Have you always been a runner Ali but just not raced? I couldn’t remember. I know you are quite the cyclist, but I can’t remember if you have always run as well. Do you find speed/pace goals in running and cycling to be similar, or are the sports very different? Just curious!

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      1. Hey Cat! No, I only started running in 2015 after I retired from bike racing. In cycling we trained to power, whereas in running it’s been to pace, so quite different. I geeked out at cycling, so much data!! I’m enjoying the simplicity of running….

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  3. I love this – all of it! That is advice I’ve heard too and try hard to follow it but still end up running my long runs at a similar speed to my short runs. I suspect, as the long runs of marathon training get longer, slowing down will be absolutely crucial.

    More importantly, I loved the part where you said you were no longer going to belittle your speed and just defined what you meant instead. This is also something I’m trying to do. I felt, in the past, like I said I was slow as some kind of apology and I’m now feeling strong and capable and have no need to apologise for anything. We all have such individual paces and different journeys that got us there – great to acknowledge that there is no universal ‘fast’ pace that will apply to all.

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    1. I agree Gill that slowing down gets crucial. I had my first “longish” run of training and decided it would be a good time to start slowing it down. Before I started training I was running 8-10 miles runs A LOT faster and would be crazy wiped at the end Now the realization is kicking in that I am going to have to run A LOT more than 8-10 miles, so I better start finding a pace I can really maintain.
      Strong and capable at any speed! I love it! I feel the same! A lot of learning going on for us I think–pretty great! x

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great article. Yes, I am recurrently amazed on the “ready to hear or learn” information thing. Its been there in the past and doesn’t stick, and then(seemingly) all of a sudden, the light goes on.I suspect in many cases theres been a lot of preparation along the way. I’ve experienced it both as student and teacher. A curious phenomenon, indeed.

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    1. I like how you put that Steph–“preparation along the way.” That’s such a more positive way to look at it. Instead of months or years of being hard-headed or not listening–I am just preparing to implement :). I like it!

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  5. I feel like I’m running long runs too fast, but slowing down hurts me. I feel like my stride changes and while a 9:30 minute mile was a “fast” time for me last year when I was running 5ks, I have a hard time carrying the pace now without feeling tired. Weird, weird, weird.

    I will say my latest post about the mental pain of the marathon, I’m not optimistic about sustaining my current pace for the marathon. I’m honestly not even optimistic about sustaining a 10-minute/mile pace. Which is why my goal is to go out there and finish, no pressure, just get my butt across the finish line.

    Anyway, I’ll know November 4 how things worked out for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Erin!
      I will have to check out that post you are referencing–I think I missed one :). That is interesting though about your stride.
      Definitely my goal is to finish, especially since this is my first marathon. With that though, I would just like to be in the best running shape I have ever been in, healthy, and happy. I am kind of excited because the other day when I was killing a long hill at the end of my run I realized that I don’t actually know what i am capable of. It is sort of useless for me to keep going back and forth or worrying about my time because I really have no idea what I can do. It’s kind of exciting to find out! I am November 5th–I’ll be thinking about you on the 4th for sure!

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  6. You’re kickin’ booty! Similarly, I’ve really focused this training cycle on letting my easy runs feel easy. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that it felt hard at first to put 10:30-11/mi on Strava… I felt like I wanted to show “the internet” that I was always fast and aspirational, but that’s boo boo. One way I got past that in building up my base (when I knew I would be tempted to speed through a short easy run) was to focus on time vs distance goals, and to use my Garmin HR monitor to guide my effort. At the end of the day, 45min or 60min is what it is; no more, no less. I’m now way past feeling embarrassed or weird about posting slower times. Why do I care what a hypothetical judgmental person on the internet thinks?! It’s been fun to see how my pace is now faster at a similarly lower HR than it was 6mo ago. Keep crushin’ it!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww, thanks girl! I am tryin’! That is so funny you mention Strava because I deleted that app just as quickly as I downloaded it. I’ve had enough trouble with the comparison game on other social media apps, just didn’t want to bring it into my running–my place that is a release from all of that! I think I’ve gotten a lot better about not giving a shit about what people think but I just figured why invite those thoughts in? I always try to remember that what anyone else thinks about me is really not my business anyway!!
      That is so smart about focusing on time vs distance. I know someone else that does that and it seems to work really well for her.
      Thanks for the encouragement–as always!! xx

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I haven’t written about it just yet but I think I finally grasped the importance of the tempo run in the last week. Sure, they’ve been on my training plan for nearly every race I’ve trained for but I also thought “My pace is going to be my pace on race day no matter what so who cares?” In other words: I ran on those days but I just kept my normal “slow and low” pace. When I finally sucked it up and did a proper tempo run last week (3 miles), I realized that I could be a lot faster than I was letting myself be. I swear I think that little bit of confidence really helped me later in the week because my weekend long run (7 miles) was not only the longest on the program, it was also my FASTEST long run of the program!

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    1. That’s so amazing Justin–I feel like so much of that is just “trusting the process.” I am super hard-headed so sometimes it takes me a while to take direction and recognize that plans are made a certain way for a reason–they have been formulated from the experiences of others and have worked!
      That 7 mile run must have felt so awesome–woohoo for gains!

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  8. It’s awesome that you’re finding joy in your long run, even during training. The plan I’m on is only 3 days a week, but every day is challenging. I like the feeling of accomplishment, but I haven’t been enjoying the runs much.

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      1. It’s cool you are stretching yourself and trying to do something different–I think it’s awesome that you have set some goals and are challenging yourself in a new way!
        Let me know when you get that joy back :).

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  9. If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that running is a journey. What works for someone may not work for someone else. We all have to find out what works for us personally. I think that’s what makes it more fun, and definitely more interesting! It’s awesome when we have an Aha! moment while out on a run. So glad to hear it clicked with you!

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    1. Thanks lady! You are so right about running being a journey-it always has been for me and marathon training is taking it to a whole other level–I really love it. I think my favorite part of it all so far is just how much I am learning about myself. Coincidentally, that is my favorite thing about travel as well ;).

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    1. Yeah Kwame you are right, it can be tough to find that sweet spot. I think I was so excited because this Sunday it felt like I had finally found that spot. A big indicator for me was that 3 miles in, when I got to the park, I just felt warmed up but not at all winded. When I am going too fast I am breathing heavy when I get to the park and not excited about running loops in it!

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  10. Loved this post Cat. The one thing I have learnt with setting goals whether it be a Half Marathon or Full is Patience. You will get there and it’s always best to take your time. Rushing just leads to tiredness and possible burn out. Sometimes running without a watch and just listening to your body’s natural rhythm is great. I try and do that once a week. Smash it!

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    1. Haha, thanks Ayesha. Running without a watch–I’ve now been given that advice a couple of times, let’s see how many more times I have to hear it before I do it 😂😝.
      I get what you are saying though, really! I’m glad you used the word as well–patience. I think I a, actually doing well with this right now and taking one day and one workout at a time but it’s always good to be reminded! Thanks lady!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course Paula–so glad it might be useful! I actually realized last night after I posted where I recently read this and I discovered that I quoted it wrong. The way it was written was: “One of the biggest mistakes people make in training is not running their easy runs easy enough or their hard runs hard enough.” I guess I sort of just translated it to how it made sense for me but hopefully both statements are helpful!

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  11. Hanna @ minimal marathoner

    I appreciate the whole not qualifying paces thing. I’ve taken it a step further in my own blogging and I actually rarely talk about my paces and times at all. There are a lot of people who would kill to be able to run my “bad day” pace, and I try to be mindful of that instead of bitching and moaning about how “slow” it is, or humblebragging about it. We all run at different paces and have different standards for ourselves, but I think it’s important to be tactful about how I talk about running speed/ability. I always think about how I feel when I see someone run my dream time and then proceed to whine about how “OMG so slow” it is, instead of just a simple “I didn’t run the time I trained for and I’m feeling disappointed about it.”

    I also took a while to internalize the concept of taking easy days slow and getting over my ego about my paces. I like to remind myself that it’s just training, and there is no prize for Fastest Easy Run Pace.

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    1. Hey Hanna!
      Your example of someone running your dream time and then whining about “OMG so slow” is exactly what happened to me. It almost felt hurtful to read it but it was actually a great lesson for me-I never want to make someone else feel like that!
      That’s cool you’ve decided against blogging about your times/paces at all, i totally get it!

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  12. I love the idea if not qualifying your paces in your writing. I’ve noticed that I do that all the time – even in conversations – and it’s really serving no purpose. Thank you for pointing that out! I also like the point you mentioned about being sure to work hard on short runs and hold back on long runs. I was thinking just this morning on one of my short runs lately I’ve gotten so relaxed on the short runs that they’re hardly workouts! I picked up my pace after that thought this morning! Thanks for that reminder too. 🙂

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    1. Hey Michelle!! Yes, just like you I have been making an effort to pick it up in the short runs–if I do work in speed and hills even a 3 mile run feels really worthwhile and even taxing. If I don’t push it, I walk away feeling like “what did I just do exactly?”
      It’s funny about then qualifying paces–I do it in convo too as well as writing, and it follows a pattern with other things in my life–anything positive I do I tend to preface with “oh but it’s not really an accomplishment because…” I realized this week that I was sort of tired of myself, lol. I’m ready to own what I think, what I feel, and what I do!
      Thanks so much for reading, and for the follow 😉. Please come back and chat!!

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