Along with today’s post, I’ve been spending some time updating the blog overall. (I realised over the summer it could use a little spruce!) If you feel so inclined, do take a look at my updated Running Goals for 2017/8, and a new page featuring links to classic bits of running kit I really like. Any thoughts on the latest smart watches / wearables, or indeed any kind of running gear would be very welcome…
In the meantime, I’ve been reflecting lately, as I so often do, on why I run. Apart from the obvious (because I love it), I’ve noticed that there are many elements to running which bring me energy and happiness, and one of the big hitters is the discipline and self control it’s developed in me, in various different ways.
One of these ways is pacing. I still find running as slow or as fast as my training plan requires to be really difficult. I mean—really difficult. It’s so much more natural to me to just bumble along in my personal comfort zone of somewhere between 8.50-9.20 minute miles, and that’s where I find myself instinctively, unless I make a concerted effort to slow down or speed up.
Now that I’m following a training plan again for the first time in a couple of years, rather than just doing whatever I fancy on any given day, my lack of pace-discipline has become much more apparent.
The restraint and focus required to quell the run-as-fast-as-you-can impulse on slow run days is so much greater than the energy it take simply to peg it for a bit. And even harder, I find, is to resist the gradual acceleration after the first ropey mile or two, when you start to find your mojo, and get into your happy place in the run.
Practically, what’s helping is knowing that I have a pace run (what I think of as my nearly-Foxtrot: slow, quick, quick, quick, slow), five miles midweek, which bizarrely becomes super tough. The rest of the time I’m chafing at the bit, and then when I’m supposed to be running fast for those three or four miles in the middle of the pace run, all I want to do is slacken off.
Another, bigger-picture way I handle my pace stressing is by thinking about some of the many, many other things about running which bring me joy. I’ve been running a lot this year with a friend who has a totally different pace to me, and it’s been so great to just hang out, completely forget about times and distances, and just enjoy her company whilst doing something I love. It’s good to bring that mindset to my slow runs, and smell the roses (or the rain) when I’m out there on my own, just stretching out…
So why do I have to fight the urge to either go slower or faster than planned?
I wrote the plan, for goodness sake—there’s no bossy coach breathing down my neck. And if there were, they’d be doing me a favour, because it’s smart.
I guess we don’t like being told what to do, even if we’re the ones doing the telling.
That’s why it’s called training. Submitting my will to something which doesn’t feel comfortable; curtailing my preference because there’s a bigger picture beyond how I feel in the moment. This kind of self control builds something stronger and longer lasting than good cardio.
So—I’m going to keep running hard, even when that means running gently. Ask me how I’m doing!
Running streak total today is 275 days, 1040 miles. #runeveryday