Mind F*$#s & Mile Repeats

I don’t know what I don’t know. That’s so simple and so obviously applicable to every aspect of my life–yet I forget it, often. I think one of the best surprises and also greatest gifts I’ve received from completing my first marathon almost 6 months ago is that I’ve come to understand how much I still have to learn about running. It’s almost painfully humorous that in an activity chock full of finish lines–there is no real finish line. There’s always more to learn.

Don’t get me wrong, I get that part of the appeal of the sport is it’s simplicity. It’s not at all a necessity to enter races or go for PRs or even to try to improve. There are certainly runners who insist on not being constricted by any of these things; they run free–when they want to and how they want to. Still, running shares a quality that can also be found in yoga, in personal relationships, in academics, and really almost anything: You get out, what you put in. If all you want from running is to be able to clear your head at the end of the day and get a good night’s sleep, a brisk 20-30 minute jog will probably get you there. If you want more, you’ll probably have to do more.

Running has given me so much over the years: health, joy, companionship, belief in something bigger than myself, sanity. Still, I continue to want more. Training for and running the marathon altered my perception of life in ways I didn’t foresee. I thought finally crossing that finish line, after seventeen years of dreaming about it, would feel like an end to a chapter I never thought I would finish. Instead it felt like a beginning; like I’d had gone to the back of the wardrobe expecting to find a wall and found Narnia instead. The world of running is vast and the realization that I had barely scratched the surface was for a moment dispiriting, but quickly became exhilarating.

When training for the marathon I ran four times a week, essentially adhering to three different types of runs: Intervals (speed work), hill intervals, and the long slow run. For almost the entire duration I thought my longer weekday run was a tempo, but discovered later that I wasn’t doing it correctly. When I actually started completing true tempos  the understanding of what I could gain from them kind of blew my mind. Without a marathon in my foreseeable future, I’ve been able to let go of the “get the miles in” mindset and instead concentrate on the minutia of different types of workouts. I never saw the value in that before when I was only going for distance.

I think up until now I always kind of knew what my ceiling was with running. I knew I could get in better shape and improve my speeds and extend my distances a bit, but I really thought my ability was pretty fixed. I don’t believe that anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I’m realistic. I’m not dreaming of Olympic medals or even BQs. But I know now that I don’t know what I don’t know–and that because I don’t know, I no longer want to put a limit on what I think I’m capable of. Life is surprising. I think it’s the most delightful when we surprise ourselves. Challenging myself to do difficult things–things that make me uncomfortable and tired and even frustrated, is the only way I really know how to tap into that delight.

The difficult workout I tried for the first time this week was mile repeats. Since my next race up is a 10k, I’ve been working at trying maintain my endurance at a higher speed. For those of you who don’t know what mile repeats are (I didn’t know so I’m not gonna assume that everyone else does, you experts, whiz on by this) they are actually just what they sound like. You complete a mile at or a little faster than your 5 or 10k race pace, then you recover (jog or walk) for 2-3 minutes, then you repeat for however many miles you are going for. The idea is to build race specific strength and dial into the precise endurance required to maintain your goal pace.

The workout is hard as hell. I ran my first mile at an 8:42 pace which is a little faster than what I will be going for in my race. In the middle of it I thought, yeah, there is no way I am doing 6 of these, maybe I’ll start off with 3. Yeah, 3 will be fine. It’s a more intense workout so 3 will be fine for today. I think the smartest thing I did is something I almost never let myself do: walk. It’s mostly my ego that usually doesn’t allow for this break in stride–I don’t want to be seen as a walker, I want to be seen as a runner. It’s bullshit. Who cares? Fortunately I got over it for this run and walked at about a 13:30 pace for the 1.5-2 minute recovery I took between each mile. This is what really allowed me to complete all 6 miles of running and 8 miles in total. The start of the workout is a total mind f*%$. When I do intervals, near the end I run up to a 7:20 pace. While this is only for two minutes, I think it’s given me false expectations about the pace I can maintain for a full mile. When I was huffing and puffing 4 minutes into the first 8:42 mile, it made me feel out of shape and out of my depth. I felt frustrated and completely unsure that I would be able to complete the entire workout. It rightly put my expectations in check. 8:42 is really challenging for me to maintain. That is where I’m at right now and that is okay. What was cool about the workout is that the recovery and the progression built up my mental strength as much as it did my physical endurance. I went from doubting I could even complete the first mile to feeling confident at mile 5 that I could complete 7 or 8 if I really wanted to. To me that evolution is what makes these workouts so valuable. Pushing through what I think is exhaustion (and is often more panic) and learning to steady my breath without slowing down is strengthening my legs, my heart, and my mind. With each mile I complete I overcome a bit more of my doubt–I break down what’s been holding up those limitations I had previously set for myself in my head.

Running just to run is awesome. But so is running to challenge yourself. No one on earth will ever be able to convince me that doing hard things does not make me better. When I purposely place my body and my mind in situations that create discomfort and mentally eliminate quitting as an option, I force myself to grow and increase my capacity for experiences I thought were out of my reach. Experiences that weren’t even on my radar when I was living within the limitations of my comfort zone.

 

Anyone currently breaking out of their comfort zone–whether in fitness or some other aspect of life? I’d love to hear about it!

Whose done mile repeats? Have they kicked your ass? Any tips for improving in them other than “keep on doing them”? I’d love to hear some success stories!

What other types of workouts outside the long slow run have been really challenging you lately?

What did it feel like the first time you didn’t let doubt or exhaustion stop you? When you went through it instead–what did it feel like on the other side?

 

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76 thoughts on “Mind F*$#s & Mile Repeats

  1. In regards to breaking out of your comfort zone- Yes, and running has allowed me to do that. In a couple years I’ve gone from walking a mile at the park, to a 5k, to my first half marathon the weekend before Boston Marathon this past April, to trying my first yoga class, and now I’m working on 25k. I saw in other posts you did your first marathon so if you have any “things I which I would have known before I did my first marathon”, I’d love to hear it. As of right now my goal marathon is a trail marathon next fall.

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    1. I am BLOWN away by your progression, that is amazing and so inspiring. It really is one step at a time, right? If you look through I’ve got a ton of posts about the marathon–I actually did a weekly check in post when i was training and then I did this project where I had each of the miles represent something in my life. The weekly check-in’s probably give the most insight to a first time marathoner–but if there is one post I might recommend reading (if you have time) it’s “November 5, 2017”. That’s sort of my marathon story. Sorry, not trying to just promote my blog to you here but you asked about “things I wish I would have known” and because I’ve written so exhaustively on the experience it’s hard to just narrow it down to a couple of things. I’m glad to be following you now though and am happy to chime in when I can along your journey. A trail marathon–SO ambitious, especially for your first! Congrats on that drive, that is awesome. Marathon training takes everything to another level–you definitely discover that you are capable of things you didn’t think you were–that you’re made of stronger stuff than you could have imagined. Putting in all that work changed me–I looked at the world and what I could and should do in it, differently. Enjoy the ride. Can’t wait to follow along! x

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  4. As you know I’m never one to stay in my comfort zone 😂 but then I started to wonder if my comfort zone is actually being uncomfortable! I never feel happy unless I’m pushing myself either physically or mentally, to the point where too much boredom in my life pushes me into depression. I used to go out on the motorbike in crappy weather just to feel alive again!

    I think I’m finding a better balance now, but still find I suffer when work is dull or I can’t train because of injury. However I have entered a different kind of challenge, and maybe that’s not the right word. I’ve found myself in a relationship I never saw coming. An amazing woman who has made her way out of a mentally abusive marriage, and had an autistic 12 year old lad. I never wanted a family life, but I’m feeling this is right, and though it is hugely out of my ‘comfort zone’ to be an almost ‘step parent, I want to help them both, so I’m learning lots and I’m actually alot more patient than I thought I would be 😂

    The universe works in mysterious ways 😉 x

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    1. That’s really amazing that you can recognize that in yourself lady–that discomfort might actually be your comfort zone. I definitely think you are not the only one. In some ways, that seems like a good way to be–makes for an adventurous life! I am sure it has it’s obstacles though too, many of which you have begun to share with me. Sounds like you are figuring things out though and as you say, “finding a balance.”
      I am so happy to hear about your new relationship! Very exciting! Awesome to know you are feeling challenged, but also like you are in the right place. That’s a great way to be! x

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  5. I hate mile repeats so I don’t do them but I know they are so important to build speed so really I should!!
    There was a woman in my training group who never wore a Garmin or tracked any runs, she had been running for years and never tracked a thing, so when our programme said 11 miles I asked her how she knew she’d run 11 she said ‘ I just estimate, my trainings not over because I ran 10.7 instead of 11’ when it was speed work she knew her paces and could run them without anything beeping at her to tell her! That’s when I realised I know nothing about running haha!!
    I’ve been using 5ks (Parkrun) to increase my pace I try to beat my time every week, I’m sure it will plateau eventually when I get back to my original fitness but for now it’s working!

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    1. Yeah, I don’t think i will ever be a totally intuitive runner that can gauge my distance and speed like that. I feel pretty good about my gadget use though. I ran for a long time without it. Now I use it, but i don’t obsess over it. I more think of it as a tool that i am free to put down whenever i like!
      That’s so awesome you’ve been improving at parkrun every week. there is a speed series at one of my favorite parks that i am going to try and participate in a few times this summer. hoping that will help as well!

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    1. You’re so right Emilio–there really is no finish line for anything–and yet we all keep reaching for it! Something to think about. Actually something i need to remember every day. Thank you for chiming in, glad to have you!

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  6. AHHHH, mile repeats!! I have to say that I have not done any specific runs during training since my last IT band injury. Every time I would do some type of speed work, I would end up injured, it happened three times!! So I just run, nothing special, just run.

    I have decided that I am backing off the mileage after this weekend to concentrate on strength, I can’t run all the miles if I’m weak!! I plan 2-3 runs a week, no more than 5 miles along with 80 Day Obsession. We’ll see how it goes!!

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    1. Sounds like you’ve been smart about what types of runs to do Jodi and have found what works for you. It’s interesting how we are all so different. I actually think I’ve had less injuries since i’ve added more variation. That might be because i have put a heavy emphasis on strength training though. That’s awesome that you are going to be concentrating on that coming up. Can’t wait to hear what that is like for you. I was kind of annoyed when I had to focus on it (to stop getting injured) but now I am kind of obsessed with it and getting stronger. I love the idea that the stronger i get, the more i am sort of building this defense against getting injured. Makes me feel good! Anyway, Hope everything is going well and you guys are getting settled into the new house! x

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  7. Sorry if I posted two comments – my first one did not seem to post! But I just wrote that this was so relatable, as I recently started doing speed work and tempo runs, and already see a difference in my easy pace. And it is so mental. For the longest time, I thought I wasn’t a “natural runner” who wasn’t capable of going fast, but it turns out there was more room for improvement than I had thought. It’s great to discover that about yourself!

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    1. After reading your comment I realized that it’s been quite a while since I’ve done a longer “easy” run–or long slow run. I’ve kind of been doing all speedwork. I am sure the running gods are shaking their finger at me! It’s just not what I feel like doing right now. Although with what you have said, I kind of want to do one now and see if my easy pace is naturally any faster!
      I am also with you on the not being a “natural” runner. I still think that all the time and I do think for me it is true–my body is def not built ideally for running. But for sure I am discovering as I go that runner’s body or not, I’ve got loads of room for improvement. That’s pretty freaking exciting, right?

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  8. Top work Cat! Getting through six repeats is a serious effort!!

    With any of the repeats the key (to my mind at least) to getting better at them and getting the most out of them is to keep your consistency. I know for example on hill repeats I would start a little too hard and fade towards the end of the hill – my overall average speed would be on track but it would be a gradual fade. I’ve learned to go out a little easier and then maintain and (on rare occasions) increase pace slightly at the end of the repeat. It’s a theory that seems to have held true for short sprint repeats also. I find that my recovery is better and that I can manage the later repeats a little easier.

    Other tip I would give is to build them up slowly – 2 or 3 consistent repeats are probably better than 3 on the ragged edge and the 4th one a struggle!!

    Trail season starts for me right about now so lots of slow hiking and the occasional jog in my future haha!

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    1. Thanks Nik! You are not the first person to hint that six repeats is a lot. Too much? Idk, my research consisted only of reading two articles that both seemed to say you do them for the distance you are trying to race–so that is what I went with. I think since I’ve already started with that many and am able to do it, I will stick with it. Like you say, I am not overdoing it in the beginning or going too fast so I do have some juice left for sure for those last couple repeats. I’ll be doing my third workout this weekend, hoping to have a wee bit of improvement each time!

      Funny you mention hill repeats–that is also something I am going to try and get into. I’ve always made myself run hills and bridges (we have lots of those!) on my long slow runs, and I’ve done treadmill workouts where i do hill intervals–but I do think I want to get outside and do some true hill repeats. There is a park about 2.5 miles from my apt that has a great hill that’s a really steady incline–not sure how long it is but it usually takes a good few minutes to get up. I am thinking I can do a warm-up run to the park and then work on some hill repeats in there and then a nice cool down home.

      Do you enjoy hiking equally to running/jogging? Obviously it is different. I always just wonder if as a runner, it’s hard not to start jogging out there. Or is it just a totally different thing? Just curious. I don’t know that world at all! Enjoy those trails!

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      1. I think the key with all the repeats is listening to your body and keeping it steady – and it seems like you are doing that! The hill repeats have been massively beneficial to me in terms of endurance and (funnily enough) speed. Doesn’t have to be a massive incline – when I first started them I was covering a stretch of about 250m and now it’s closer to 450m I guess. I always find the second one the easiest – feels like you loosen up on the first run and then bounce into the second one. I’d like to say the feeling continues into the 3rd and 4th for me but I’d be lying haha!!

        I don’t generally go hiking intentionally – it was more a reference to those parts of a trail run that I simply cannot even get a slow jog going on! Generally we’ll jog to one of the known routes on to Table Mountain and then it feels like endless steps for about half an hour and then some jogging once you’re up there. Gives me good leg strength – and it’s a sobering experience to cover 10km in 2 hours or more!!

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  9. SIX mile repeats? Wow, that’s an intense workout! I don’t even think I did that many mile reps in the heart of marathon training!

    Mile repeats is a very tough workout, probably the toughest I’ve ever done, but it really does pay off. The biggest thing for me was learning to do them properly. I always ran mine too hard, because it’s so easy to think that just because the interval is short (as opposed to, say, a tempo run, where you have to maintain a pace for several miles with no rest breaks), that you can just blow through it at all-out effort….but that’s a sure fire way to overtrain a workout. Mile reps are usually best done at 10k pace. I always used to do mine at sub-5k pace…oops.

    If it makes you feel any better, 8:42 is a bit of a challenge for me right now, too – and that’s slower than my marathon PR pace! Yikes. It’s amazing (and humbling) how much running fitness can change in a short amount of time!

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    1. All the articles I read (a whole 2) said for 5 and 10ks you should try and do as many mile repeats as the race–so that’s what i did! I am kind of glad I’ve started out tough–did the second one on Sunday and it was the tiniest bit easier (not really physically but mentally i was a bit better).
      I am glad to know from you that they pay off–regardless of my race time I am just really trying to whip my butt into shape. Also I think the challenge of the workouts is really a blast–hard, but a blast. I love the feeling afterward!
      I hear you on the doing them properly. I was doing my tempo run wrong for a long time so I tried to study up on these a bit more before I started. I think i am doing well on the not running mine too hard front. By miles 5 and 6 I am even able to push the pace just ever so slightly, so I think that is a good sign that i am training at the right pace. At least I hope it is! The truth is I don’t really know what my 5k pace or my 10k pace is so admittedly, there is a bit of guesswork going on!

      Also, I don’t feel bad about my 8:42–but I do feel pretty badass being in your company–even if you feel like that’s slow ;).

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  10. Awesome lady! I’m so so glad you weren’t one of those people who did their marathon and stopped running. There are so many of those people and it makes me so sad.

    My challenge right now: looking after myself. I ran a DIY marathon after being sick for three weeks, and only running twice in those three weeks. Then I tried to carry on running a bit. Hm. Then I went on a Run Leader Forum at the weekend and learned loads about marathon recovery. Oh. Right. So right now not too much rushing around, lots of sleep, lots of good nutrition. I really got run down and have to work on that with care and patience and being kind to myself.

    Good news though: I qualified as a Level 1 Endurance Official. That means I can use that whistle at road and cross-country races! I can give back to the sport I love when I can’t represent my club by running fast in pressured situations!

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    1. So awesome about your endurance official qualification lady–how fun is that?
      Also, proud of you for taking care of yourself and getting the rest and nutrition that you need. You had been kicking ass for a while–I am sure your bod needs a little recouping!

      I can’t imagine ever wanting to stop running. Perhaps those people who stop after running one marathon weren’t so into it before they went for that goal? Running is seriously one of the loves of my life–I’m gonna do it till I can’t!!

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      1. I know, right? But lots of people do. I think yes, their goal was “Do a marathon” rather than “love running forever”. I mean, fine, do the distance, find you don’t love it as much as other stuff, don’t do a mara again, but don’t stop running!!

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  11. Ha preach it sister. There is a happy zone of getting uncomfortable to really challenge and change yourself. I kinda like that place. Miles repeats. I seriously need to get into doing those. And your pace? Geez. I could only hope to do that. My best mile ever tipped into the 8’s but I was in my peak training. Keep doing what you’re doing, only growth can occur 🙂

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    1. Thanks lady! Try the mile repeats and let me know what you think! It feels like I am getting some feedback on here that 6 is a lot and I should be doing fewer. Not sure who is right on that but they are definitely TOUGH! That kind of tough we love though where you can feel yourself growing!

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    1. Let’s see if they do whip me into shape Kelsie, I’m hoping so! Time will tell. And yes, SO mental. It’s crazy, that is perhaps what I love AND hate the most about running, SO mental! I suppose if all it did was challenge our bodies we wouldn’t get nearly as much out of it, right!?

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  12. I’m a fan of a Pftizinger (& Douglas OR Latter, distance dependent) plan. They specify for reps, be it mile or less, that you give yourself 50 – 90% of the repeat time for recovery. Previously if I’d done reps it would have been with club and I’d have struggled to maintain the pace as it would be 3 mins for 1500m reps – this equates to just over 50% recovery time if you’re super fast but for the rest of us is less.

    I tend to take around 50% now, sometimes a little more depending on how I feel, and I then hit the pace on each rep. It’s not done me any harm – the first time I followed the marathon plan I got a PB, then hitting PBs across every distance from half down to 5k subsequently.

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    1. Sounds like a pretty solid testimonial for this type of work. That’s amazing that you’ve achieved PBs across every distance. Did my second mile repeat workout yesterday and it was still hard, but felt like i was making some progress. I will keep at them! thanks!

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  13. I’ve been running for many years but never have run for speed. Although, I am interested in doing it because I for sure want to get faster. I only run on the trail so for now I’m learning to stay nimble enough to not fall on my face! 🙂

    My biggest challenge in coming in a few weeks when I leave for the UK to hike 192 miles in 14 days. I’m really not even sure I can physically do it!

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    1. Yeah, I think if you’re running on trails, there are a lot of other more important things to concentrate on for sure!
      Wow, 192 miles! That’s incredible. Think of it this way, it’ll be exciting to see what you can do. If you can, then that’s awesome. If not, you’ll have something to work towards, if you want to. Either way, sounds like an adventure! Good luck and have fun! x

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  14. I’m still learning things about running and my body! Lol I’m glad I’m not the only one who has trouble walking in a run just because you don’t want to be seen as a walker. It’s like when someone calls me a jogger, grrrr!

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    1. LOL, I never thought to be offended by someone calling me a jogger. In mainstream people’s defense, I think they consider and runner and a jogger the same thing–we’re the only ones who think about it that in depth!

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  15. I am training for my first official 10k race. I love to run just to run and sometimes I have to remind myself of that. The challenge and progression is so awesome and I do try to challenge and push myself to get the gains I know I can achieve.
    Funny timing that you should mention mile repeats because that is my plan for the coming week! I haven’t really done them before. I have been alternating tempo, speed, slow and easy, and progression runs. I am seeing great results and I’m ready to throw in those mile repeats!

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    1. Sounds like you’ve got a good variety of workouts going already, I feel like mile repeats are going to work in there perfectly! Let me know what you think! Or actually, if they are super easy for you, i don’t wanna hear it, LOL. (jk)

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  16. Why did you have to explain this? Now I think I need to try it. I just recently started with running 400 meters at like 10 minute pace (I’m more of a 13 run/walk loser ha) and then slow for x minutes. I finally got to where I could slow jog between and now I hear about this. All kidding aside I will try this at the track……eventually. Keep running.

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    1. LOL, I am sorry Rach! I just felt like I hadn’t seen someone really explain them in a way that i could understand before, so I thought I would give it a go!
      Also, please stop with the “loser” talk–you’re nothing of the sort! I am starting to become a big believer in walking–it’s all about doing what we’ve got to do to keep it moving, right?
      Try this, and let me know how it goes. I can’t wait to hear! x

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  17. Stephen Christie

    Your write-up has inspired me to try mile repeats. I will probably go for a metric equivalent, so I suppose that will be 1500 m repeats. I’ve focussed too much on just clocking up distance.

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  18. Mile repeats suck!! Lol. I mean, congrats to you for doing them! My best efforts during marathon training included Yasso 800’s and those were a trip, but I feel they were pretty essential in building up the right kind of endurance for that event. I’m thinking this year I may work on 10k’s myself, because I want to train for a “respectable” distance but not run SO many miles all the time with my creaky old knees… Way to go in challenging yourself. You rock!

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    1. LOL, girl, you DO NOT lie. They do kinda suck. I guess I’ve been embracing the suck pretty hard lately! It’s just like you say though, I am trying to build up that endurance. I do think it’s working. My second mile repeat workout, which i completed this morning, was tough, but different from the first–an improvement, i think!
      And yes, join me in working on 10ks, we will have lots to discuss I am sure!

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    1. Hi David! No I haven’t. That’s the same as VO2 max training, right? I have heard a lot of people say it’s really effective. For me it feels like i would have to dive too deeply into numbers. Not sure if this could just be done with my Garmin too? Don’t really have any interest in wearing a heart rate monitor.
      All my complaining said–perhaps down the line it is something i will look into. Should probably do some more extensive reading about it. Thanks for bringing it up, was a good reminder for me to check out!

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      1. Hey. All good. It’s not too hard to sort out.
        There are some simple spreadsheet calculators on the web – all you need is a time trial for 1 mile and the spreadsheet calculates the distances you’re required to cover for all of the workouts.

        Good luck…

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  19. Mile repeats. Impressive, Cat! I’m not there just yet. But, its been interesting with my current tai-training program–for beginners, sprint length. Just finishing week 4/12. This has been my introduction to running other than LSD. Doing strides and short intervals has been fun, which surprised the hell out of me, I expected to hate it, and its fun. Too early to tell if it will make a difference in speed, but I notice that my general way of moving in the world is quicker and easier, like I’ve gone back in time 10 or 15 year–now if only the mirror would corroborate this (I don’t actually care much about looking my age, its just surprising to look considerably older than I feel). The program has also added in some weight work, and its been gratifying as well, as my strength is improving fairly quickly. Who knew?

    As far as taking on hard, I’ve never particularly minded hard as long as it was fun/interesting enough along the way. Other times, I’ve started something and discovered that the idea of something was much more fun than the reality, or that it was someone else’s agenda, and I have gotten much better about letting go of stuff sooner rather than later if its not a good fit. Perhaps that is the advantage of age/experience.

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    1. Ah! I love that you have been having fun with the speedwork, it’s awesome to be surprised and actually really enjoy something you thought you might not!
      It’s hard not to have any attachment to the mirror–have been dealing with that today actually. Still, for the rest of my life if I have to choose between feeling younger and looking younger, I am 100% choosing the feeling every time! To me that’s part of the essence of “it’s the inside that counts.” To be able to use your body out in the world and have it carry you and feel strong, I just think it’s the best feeling!
      I am a little jealous of the strength gains you are seeing from starting a new program. I feel like i am beginning to plateau a bit in that department. Prob means i need to shake things up a bit, yet again. Working on incorporating some kettlebell exercises lately, hoping that might put me on the right track!

      I am glad you mentioned the letting go of stuff if it’s not a good fit. I think I am improving in that too. I am just constantly having this feeling of how short life is and it’s definitely making me less willing to waste any time on something that doesn’t serve me or doesn’t feel true to me.
      Good stuff Steph, as always .Thank you!

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  20. Mile repeats have kicked my ass many times and it is like you described, really freakin tough to start and seemingly impossible at the beginning but as you get into the workout confidence is gained and the mindset changes. The more I do them, the more confidence I have going into that first one… I think it takes one or two for the body to get used to holding target pace so knowing that going into the workout helps. : )

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    1. You are def one of my inspos for mile repeats! I know you’re pretty into kicking your own ass so i had no preconceived notions that they would be easy! I really want to improve though and get faster and just become a more efficient runner, so I am willing to put in the work. Following your lead (slower, but still following ;))
      I am going to trust in what you say–the more I do them, the more confidence you gain. I already feel like that is coming true after my second mile repeat workout today. Now to get on those hills…

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  21. I love intervals and think they are one of my favorite parts of training. I was amazed at the mile intervals you went into, though! Woah! I actually only do 6-8 sets during marathon training. For a 10k 3 or 4 are fine. I also take longer recoveries… about half of the time it takes for the intervals. It allows me to push myself more for the intervals and go for a faster speed. That said, mile intervals are not as much fun as 800s or 400s 🙂
    Great job and cool break down of the experience!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree Dorothea, mile intervals are not quite as fun! But i do feel like i am developing mental and physical muscles that weren’t totally being utilized before. I am not what you’d call a “patient” person, so this workout really challenges that. Intervals are my favorite because you can build speed, recover quickly, and really never get bored. This is definitely harder for me. In themselves they lack much appeal to me but after so many blogger friends have sworn by them and credited a lot of improvement to them, I thought I would give them a shot!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. definitely worth keepingin the mix. If you do intervals once a week, with one day off intervals every four weeks, then the mile intervals could be one of those other three weeks.

        Liked by 1 person

  22. I feel like my relationship with running is a duality that is both to push myself and to run for the joy of it. I’m getting better at recognising when I’m veering too far to one side of the spectrum: it’s easy to get down or frustrated when everything is time/PB focused and I feel it opens me up to excessively comparing myself with other runners, whereas not enough drive can leave me feeling as though I’m going through the motions. With this recognition and approach I think I’m able to steadily challenge myself and build towards future goals (50K) without mentally and physically pounding myself into the ground and scrutinising every run.

    The types of training runs are so numerous, and honestly, I don’t really know the specifics of what most of them entail! The long slow run is a staple of course, and I’m familiar with hill repeats, but when it gets to tempo, threshold, lactate threshold, fartlek, etc the definitions seem to be a bit different depending on who you ask. I haven’t done mile repeats, but my club hill session is a 1/3 mile stretch that is a steady uphill. Besides the obvious of keep doing them regularly, what’s really helped me is pacing myself to try and get faster in each subsequent rep. In races up to the half marathon that have gone well for me, I’ve generally got quicker as the race progresses: being able to speed up towards the end of the session (even if you initially have to reign in the earlier reps slightly) is a mental boost I can think of during a race.

    In terms of pushing out of the comfort zone: I completed my first ever mile race yesterday. It was so painful! Managed 5:32 which is just under half a minute quicker than my PB, my throat is a little sore and I think the exertion had something to do with it. Distance running for four hours plus is an incredible feat and stress in itself, but yesterday was a reminder that short distance athletes who go all-out have a different kind of stress! Outside of running, I’ll be leaving my job in the middle of May in an attempt to make a career change, try and get some direction and passion in my work and social life. My current boss and colleagues have been great and I’ll finish on good terms, but I need to make a change. Times are a bit uncertain for me, but I have to keep reminding myself I’m extremely lucky to have a home over my head and a supportive family (who are very patient with me when sometimes I don’t deserve it). A positive step forward each day is my goal.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. wow, are you doing a lot of big changes, Paul. Good for you! I really appreciate your articulation of the balance between goal orientation/obsession and fun in training and running. We often think of balance as static, but its really very dynamic with many frequent adjustments.

      That’s a pretty darn fast mile, 30 seconds off your PR. And just coming off a marathon. You kids!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You summed that up perfectly 😀 Balance is not static, but dynamic with frequent adjustments – that’s going to be the line I use in my internal dialogue going forward! Its constant awareness and recalibrating rather than “I’ve done it, achieved it, no more to learn”.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I think I agree with you about the duality Paul–I just enjoy running so much that even when it’s hard or “painful” I still love it. The hard is a part of why I love it, but so is the feeling of freedom that it gives me.
      It’s so interesting for me to hear from other people since i have started to bring up goals in a lot of my posts. It seems a lot of people share a tendency to scrutinize themselves or individual runs when they have goals. I think marathon training helps a lot with that because although you take things day by day and run by run, you also start to look at the bigger picture, and you understand that not everything has to come together perfectly to have success–whether that success means hitting that specific goal or just trying like hell for it. (I’ve gotten pretty good at considering trying like hell to mean success!)

      I also hear you in trying to progress in each subsequent rep. I agree it definitely helps you finish stronger in the race situations. I really think so much of it is a mental boost. Physically it actually sometimes feels better to go faster, i think my body gets antsy and likes the variance. But mentally, that’s where being able to push the pace as the miles go on really becomes key. To go from feeling exhausted earlier on at a slower pace, to feeling strong later at a faster pace–it really makes me believe in myself, it’s what keeps me going when the going gets tough!

      I am so happy to hear about your work changes Paul. We have a lot in common lately I think! I’ve got some changes coming along on that front as well and for really almost identical reasons. I definitely don’t have everything figured out yet, but just like you, trying to take a positive step forward each day! I am sure we will discuss this more soon! x

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, the magnitude of the marathon really forces you to consider the whole picture. I think serious pursuits of most hobbies and activities ultimately lead to that broad view, but to me, it seems like you arrive there a lot quicker with the marathon due to the immense physicality of it.

        It sounds like there is some symmetry on our paths lately, yes! As long as we stick to that principle, a positive step forward each day, I think we’re on the right track.

        Liked by 1 person

  23. Yessssssss! I was so excited when I saw your post title I had to read right away! You did great! Way to start with a challenging goal and go for it. You know how I feel about mile repeats and what they can do for you. I hope you’ll keep with them. I love your understanding of what it means to be a runner and how it can be SO different from runner to runner.

    I think many of us move through both ends of the spectrum (hungry for improvement/goal oriented vs. running to run and for the love of it). The best times are when the two sides somehow blend together and we are able to love the suffering and love the challenge.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dude! I totally thought of you during my first workout, and of course when I was writing this! I actually laughed to myself thinking of you during the first mile because i was like “fuck this is hard…of course Randy likes this shit!”
      They really were tough for me–but in a really great way. I am going to stick with them. Just completed another one this morning. It was still really hard–but i do think i brought a stronger mental game to the table this time just accumulated from last weeks try. Can’t wait to see what a longer term incorporation of this type of run can do for me physically and mentally!
      I think you are spot on talking about the magic of when those two sides blend together. I think I am sort of in that right now. On my fourth mile today it was hurting SO good and I kept thinking, “if I want something I haven’t had before then i have to do things I haven’t done!” Definitely helped me get to mile 6!
      Thanks so much for always sharing your knowledge and being encouraging–it helps a crazy amount! x

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes! I can’t wait to see what it does for you either. I’m honored to know you thought of me in times of great suffering haha. Glad you’re in the sweet spot mentally. Stay as long as you can 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      1. i mean you’re an athlete. now granted, there are different levels of athlete, but anyone who sacrifices for the sake of their sport and trains in a serious and consistent way to improve, is an athlete. you’re an athlete. no getting around it.

        Liked by 1 person

  24. Lately my yoga teacher training has been challenging me to grow in new directions — mentally, emotionally, and spiritually (and physically, but less so than the others). That immense growth was not what I had expected going into the training. I thought I would learn to become a yoga teacher. It has become so much more, and really life-changing.

    I trained for and completed a half-marathon this spring. Now I’m taking a break from long runs and concentrating on speed work. I hate almost every minute of it! Running long and slow is meditative and comfortable for me. Speed work, hills, intervals — much more challenging. Thank you for reminding me that it’s those challenges that allow us to improve!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so interesting Rachael how you list your physical growth in your yoga teacher training as perhaps the least significant. I always think that’s something a lot of people don’t realize they will get from yoga. Specifically, I do Bikram yoga and a lot of people are anxious to participate in hot yoga for the “exercise” part of it. To me though the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspect are just as if not more rich.
      Sounds like you and I are on a similar running path–taking a break from the long distances! Although I am sad you are not enjoying it like I am. But i totally get it–the long meditative experience you had with long slow runs is tougher with speedwork! I must admit I’m starting to have some appreciation for those again too even though I am not doing them. I think when I take a break from something I start to appreciate it more. I am so grateful for you to sharing this part of your journey, really relate!

      Like

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