Sunday, June 8, 2014

Increasing My Pace on the Long Run

     "Mom looks like a train wreck!" my daughter shouted when I entered the house this morning after my Sunday morning long run.  She and my son giggled and danced around me as I hobbled to a mirror.  I was sopping wet, muddy, red-faced, chafed under my arms, and I had last night's mascara dripping down my face, making me look more like a sad raccoon than a train wreck.

     "I look like a train wreck," I thought, "but I feel like a goddess."

     I had just run ten miles in a torrential downpour, without music, and my average pace was 10:16/mile.  For the most part, I was comfortable during this run; the proof is that I was able to maintain a conversation with my two running peeps the whole time.

     We ran along the Towpath in Canal Fulton, a place I had never visited, and it was my first time running that part of the Towpath.  During our run, we saw three snapping turtles.

This looks exactly like the turtles we saw: poised, ready to bite off our toes.

We saw a few Great Blue Herons.

When they fly, they look like pterodactyls.

We saw lots of frogs.  We saw geese.
Geese are scary and nasty.

  We also saw two deer.  I won't show you a picture of a deer because I always show you pictures of deer.  I know your limits.

     When you need to increase your pace, there are lots of ways to go:  fartleks, intervals, ladder drills, tempo runs, hill drills.  I try these on at least one short run a week, but I know I should do more.  The best way to increase your pace is to get comfortable with running faster.  Period.  I have been slacking off on my long runs by going much more slowly than I should, even with the advice of going at least one minute per mile slower than half marathon pace.  I knew I could do better, but how could I push myself?  Shelby, from The Ohio Runner's Network, advised me to hook up with Jen and Michael on my long runs and my tempo runs, and today was the day I was finally able to do it.

     One of the best parts about this run was that my Garmin crapped out on me (yet again) because of the rain (It was a monsoon, I tell you!), so I had to rely on Michael and Jen to dictate the pace.  I'm not a good follower, so it was good for me to match their cadence, and I listened when they told me to slow down or to maintain our current pace.

     They were so kind to slow down their regular "slow run" pace for me, and at the end of the run I followed our badass high fives with a truly grateful hug for them both.

     You wanna increase your pace?  Run with someone faster, and run naked.  No, Dirty-Mind, I didn't mean without clothes; I meant without a watch or music.  Let the faster person dictate your pace and give you the information you need when you need it, not when you want it.  Carry on a conversation while you run.  Look at the scenery to block out your discomfort.  When you need to, go deep inside your head, concentrate on your feet and your breathing, and look ahead to the finish.  That is what I did, and it got me through.

     I look forward to getting more and more comfortable with a faster "slow run" pace.  If my mascara streaks didn't scare off Michael and Jen, I hope to run with them again!

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