The Need for Speed

I'm not a fast runner. The second-most impressive running feat I ever did as a kid was running the "600" (does that mean 600 meters?) in two minutes and nine seconds. Don't ask me how I remember that time. I remember most numerical things in my life. I wasn't the first to complete the 600, but I was one of the first. So it sticks out in my mind.

Anyway, after coming in dead last in nearly all of the shorter races the P.E. coaches forced us to run, I actually did all right when the races required us to run more than once around the track.

Yes. I'm all about endurance. That piddly little "600" in sixth grade. A 2,167-mile hike in 2000. A 13.1-mile race last December. Maybe a 26.2-mile race someday.

I've decided to look into really training for my next half-marathon, which isn't until nearly six months away. I haven't started an actual training program, though I've definitely been running ... more or less.

The training programs I've read about (not that I've done a great amount of research) incorporate speed and hills into training. I run hills all the time anyway. I love running hills. I haven't done "hill training" per se, but it's kind of hard not to run hills when you live and run in Western North Carolina.

But this speed thing is relatively new. Usually, for me, "speed" is somewhere around an 8:34 pace. In other words, when I run "fast," I don't really run as fast as I can. I just run as fast as it takes for me to start feeling out of breath. I keep going a little longer, then I slow down and recover. (For the record ... 8:34 isn't very fast at all, if I were to compare myself to Everybody Else, which I won't do.)

So today I did a couple of faster intervals: a few 8:00 and 7:30 paces, just to see what they felt like. I felt a little silly, a grown woman like me, one who is decidedly not athletic, and my short, bulky little legs moving like a bear is chasing me. But it also felt wonderful.

Well, woo hoo!

Remember when you were a kid, how much fun it was to run as fast as you possibly could?

That's how it felt. My late-thirtysomething body knows better than to go all out from zero, but after a couple of miles of brisk jogging, I ran spurts of a few hundred meters faster than I've probably run in 25 years. Maybe it wasn't the fastest I could run. Maybe it was. But it felt great.

So I'm kind of excited about working "speed" into my training, whatever that training plan will be. I'll keep y'all posted, if y'all are interested. Heck, I'll keep y'all posted if y'all aren't.


Paul Nichols said…
My friend Julia just finished the Boston Marathon. Her link is in my blogroll.

I'm not a runner, either. Never was. I'm a walker though. Can you tell me where I can read about your 2,167 mile hike?
Waterfall said…
Paul: Click "Appalachian Trail Journal" under "My Writings" in the right-hand column of my blog. You can find it there.

I'll be joining your ranks in a few weeks ... more to come on that.
Joan said…
In Runner's World magazine, I like reading the column from the guy who calls himself the penguin. That's me.

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