On Tuesday night, I had a tempo run on the training plan. The intention was to run a mile to warm up, run three miles at a pace of 14:33, and run a fifth mile to cool down.
For me, tempo running or speedwork is best done on the treadmill. That way, I get to set the 'mill to run at my goal pace and get it done without worrying about it. But last night ... oh, my, last night the weather was perfect. It was as if the air were begging me to get out in it, to let it dance past me for five miles. So, I drove to my dad's house and made my way to the Fox River Trail.
It. Was. Perfect.
And apparently, I was ready to go. Usually, my warmup and cooldown pace is in the 16-minute mile range. (Don't judge.) Yesterday, my one-mile warmup was at 15:24, and my one mile cooldown was 16:12. I averaged pretty much a perfect pace. But the real fun happened in the middle three - the "tempo training" part of the run. Remember, I was supposed to hit the 14:33 mark. Mile two was 13:37; mile three was 14:10; mile four, 13:44 ... for an average pace-per-mile of 13:50.
Not fast, by any means. But damn good for me, shaving 45 seconds per mile off my training time! This is progress.
The entire run felt successful. I felt good - if a little bit sore and fatigued now and then - the entire time. I pushed myself to run a lot of it, when generally I am a lot more generous with the walk breaks. I am improving. So the real success was not in the pace or the time, but in my ability to keep myself moving forward in confidence. It didn't hurt, though, that a few of the people I passed out there served up some great motivation. Like the lady who said "Keep going!" when I was about half way. The girl who told me I looked like I was having fun at mile three. And especially the dude who gave me a high-five when I was finishing up the last tempo mile.
It felt great. And I thought to myself, "Yeah. I'm a runner."