#Sub60: 6 of 61

Sub 60 10k, Zaimu Challenge

Today I ran 4 miles at conversation pace. This was workout number 6 of 61 in my sub 60 10k training program.

Officially, my first training run was workout number 4 – also a 4 mile run.

For the past couple of years, I’ve run 3 days most weeks. Sometimes more and rarely less. Prior to that, with a different life schedule and on flatter land, I ran 4 days. I’d been planning to modify my workout schedule to add a fourth day, so this was an upside to the program.

I gave myself credit for workouts 1 and 2, as my standard running schedule mirrored those pretty well. I “skipped” workout 3 as that was the day I discovered the plan and it was too late at night by then. So Sunday was my first opportunity to run, and it was the mileage I would’ve run anyway.

Tuesday I ran 3 miles plus strides. That’s 3 miles at conversation pace, ending with cycles of 20 second sprits and 2 minutes of recovery (repeated 3 times).

Queen Harrison

That brings us to today’s 4-miler.

This program requires quite a few runs at conversation pace, which is what it sounds like – the speed at which you can hold a conversation with another person.

The actual pace varies by your level of fitness, but the program defines it as 11:15-11:30/mile. When I’m really talking throughout my run, my conversation pace is a little slower. When I’m running solo and pretending to talk to someone, this range is pretty much my pace. But on a typical day, my 4 mile runs are faster overall. That’s what made today’s run somewhat difficult.

At the beginning, it took me a few minutes to speed up to that pace, but once I was warm, I wanted to go faster. It took some concentration Tuesday and today to maintain a slow enough pace. It’s an interesting challenge.

Blue ran elsewhere this morning, but he surprised me by showing up on my last half mile. He took a few pictures, and I noticed a few things about my form. Food for thought as I get faster.

Next run: Saturday, 2 miles slow.

Running Buddha

Running Buddha, Sub 60 10k, Temple Building, Zaimu Challenge

A funny thing happened yesterday. While searching for the image to accompany my blog, I suddenly felt “some kind of way.” I’m not sure what that phrase really means (ha), but I felt excitement and a sort of recognition, seeking and finding yet another runner. Not just runners… I’ve been seeking and finding elite track athletes. Women who spend hours a week training their bodies to be efficient and fast. Side note: they’re all fine, too.  Yassss!

Mikele Barber

The feeling surprised me because although I was sprinter in high school, I didn’t really enjoy the work that went into it.

As a kid, I loved racing classmates and neighbors. Sprinting felt like flying, and I could count on being first or really close. But running varsity track wasn’t exactly fun. It was okay to run hills and stairs, jump boxes, pull tires and the like. Yet when it came to the conditioning runs, either long distance or endless sprint repeaters, I hated them.

I avoided running for years after high school because I had such unpleasant memories of conditioning. Occasional school yard races with my elementary students or fellow teachers? Sure. Distance running or any type of training? Hell no.

So I’ve found it surprising to come to running on my own terms and enjoy it. There’s much to love about it including the sights, smells and fresh air outdoors, and the overall feeling of accomplishment and fitness after a strong run. I can set personal goals and work toward them sans stress.

Me, finishing Tuesday's "3 miles and strides."
Me, finishing Tuesday’s “3 miles and strides.”

But this feeling yesterday, this connection or bond with women who work at running was certainly new.  And it fits with my current feelings and approaches to things, so I’m going with it.

During many of my runs, I learn lessons, and sometimes I share them here. Whether I blog about it or not, I’m always growing while running. When I’m absorbing lessons while running, I always think Running Buddha.

With all of this in mind, I plan to document my journey to a sub 60 10k. From the mental and physical discipline, to the workout specifics and rationale, and everything in between. I’m about one week in to a 16-week program, so join me!

Blogs about running lessons will be categorized Running Buddha. Blogs about the program, Sub 60 10k.

7, 8, 9…

Running Buddha, Sub 60 10k, Temple Building, Zaimu Challenge

In 2014, I began a running plan via my RunKeeper app. It’s a fat burning plan, and alternates intervals with steady runs to increase your fitness level. The app features several such plans for goals like run a 5k (3.1 miles), run a 5k in less than 30 minutes, and so on. Although I don’t enter races, I run 5ks and a rare 10k (6.2 miles), as part of a regular exercise regimen.

While perusing the plans back then, I noticed a 7-mile training run included to build endurance for a 5k. At that point I was a consistent 4-mile runner and 7 miles seemed daunting. It was a little too far outside my comfort zone, and after all, I was just a casual runner. The goal and the fear intrigued me, though. I filed it in the back of my mind to target later and stuck to the simpler fat burning plan.

Fast forward to 2016. One day, more or less due to happenstance than planning, I ran 7 miles! And then I did it again on purpose which was actually harder to do! After 7, the new uncomfortable, too-far-out-there goal I secretly filed away was 10. One day, I’ll run 10 miles. (I have zero or less than zero interest in training for a half or whole marathon, by the way, so don’t get any ideas). Anywho, 10 gives me the same jitters 7 did a couple of years ago, and I had no plans to hit it soon.

Sanya Richards-Ross

This weekend, I signed up for a new training plan via RunKeeper. Based on my current fitness and mental readiness for challenge, I selected a sub 60min 10k. This means running just over 6.2 miles in under an hour. It’s definitely doable, but unlike past running ventures, it will take actual training, rather than casual effort.

Before signing up, I skimmed the plan and noticed an 8-mile run in the mix. I felt the familiar tension, but brushed it off because of the two 7s under my belt. I locked in the plan and completed my first run (4 miles) on Sunday.

But today, while looking at the run calendar to confirm date of said 8-mile run, I blinked, observing there was much more in the offing. This 16-week plan starts off comfortably, but quickly ramps up to regular long runs – something I’ve never done with any consistency. There are two 7-milers on tap, and after a few weeks, not one but two 8-milers, two 9-milers, and shock of all shocks, yes a 10-miler.

I said it was time for a challenge. Wow. Here it is.

Setbacks and setups

Zaimu Challenge

A wise person once said,

A setback is just a setup for a comeback.

Now, I didn’t really have a setback, and I’m not looking to come back from (or to) anything. But I heard this phrase in my head as I got myself in gear late this evening.

Today was sort of a bust as far as productivity goes. Because of my work schedule, my Mondays are usually pretty streamlined and predictable. But because I didn’t set myself up for success last night, I paid for it in lost opportunities.

I’m up later than I’d like to be, but I am syncing my Garmin to be ready for my run tomorrow. After that, I’ll mix my endurance formula and lay out my running gear. There are a couple more things I need to do to get my projects ready to hit full stride first thing, and then it’s off to sleep for early rising (4:45am).

 

One step. 10k.

Running Buddha, Sub 60 10k, Temple Building, Zaimu Challenge

Today I began a 10k training program.

I started on Day 3, as I’d already completed the equivalent of the first two days on my regular regimen. I ran my standard distance – 4 miles – so it was an easy entry.

IMG_8426My distance running has been primarily self-taught/self-guided until now. I’ve been comfortable, and now that I’m fully settled into my new life, I’m ready to break boundaries.

I want to prove to myself that I can set and accomplish goals with consistency and commitment. These ingredients are sometimes lacking in my creative endeavors, and the combination of structure, challenge and discipline will reap benefits in the weeks and months to come.

Today’s run was to be conversation pace, defined on this plan as 11:15-11:30 minutes per mile. I nailed it at 11:20 average pace, but it was interesting to note that my conversation pace was more like concentration pace. Because I usually go much slower at the beginning and much faster at the end, I constantly checked my pace to make sure I was on target. I made mid-course adjustments the whole run to make sure I remained on track. I had to remain focused to keep pace.

The plan is a sub 60 10k. That means my goal is to run just over six miles in just under an hour. This is a doable stretch for me. Although I’m confident I can be successful, I know it will take more effort than I’ve given in the past. Normally I run just for fun. Now I’m running for excellence. I don’t plan to enter an actual race, but I do plan to run faster, and longer and increase my overall fitness.

Today I took a step, and won. My next run is set for Tuesday…

In progress

Running Buddha, Temple Building, Zaimu Challenge
Ajee’ Wilson

Today I ran another 4 miler. I don’t generally run two days in a row, but rain is forecast for tomorrow, so I had to get it in.

I had modest goals – namely maintaining yesterday’s performance with the addition of a slightly faster warm up mile.

To my surprise and delight, I crushed it.

I pushed the warm up mile and was progressively faster on all miles thereafter. I even dropped my average pace by 30 seconds.  That’s pretty shocking, and in truth, I hit my target. As in, what I expected to be doing after a couple of weeks of effort.

Next steps? Keeping this up long term, and not just as a quick trick a couple of days here and there. I’m still taking breathers on mile four, so I’ll also plan to build endurance for speedier runs.

I’m excited to see my mind and body work together to create an outcome. This is one of the things I most appreciate about running. It shows me I can visualize and enact things in the real world.

Now to apply this to projects in progress…

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Read about Ajee’ at the 2014 Penn Relays here.

Beyond the usual

Running Buddha, Temple Building, Zaimu Challenge

My usual run is four miles at a steady pace.

Sometimes I do a faster three, or a slower five or six, but on a typical day, it’s four – two out and back. I strive for negative splits, each mile faster than the last. But I haven’t focused on overall pace in ages.

In the past couple of months, I’ve added some interval training. So some days I do my steady four and others it’s sprint work, or longer faster bouts, with periods of low intensity to recover. I selected a fat burning plan, rather than one for speed building. That said, it’s reasonable to expect speed gains when you put your newly optimized lungs and legs to the test.

Monica Hargrove being badass.

I haven’t done that.

On my four-milers, I take it easy on purpose. I warm up the first mile, and lock into a comfortable stride for the next three.

But last night I reflected on that.

I’m stronger and more flexible than I’ve been in years. Yet here I am, still doing these slowish/easy runs. I can go faster like I used to. I think I’ll try…

This morning I arrived at the greenway in the same state of mind. Walking toward the start I thought, Every run can’t be conversation pace. And off I went. I wasn’t after a tempo run, but I was going for a push.

My first mile was faster than usual, but still within range for my warm up pace. I locked into a zone and began to kick things up a notch.

Mile two, faster.  In fact, nearly 40 seconds faster than my usual pace for mile two.

Mile three is where I usually slow things down. Typically, I have to concentrate to maintain my pace. If I don’t run negative splits, it’s usually because of the mile three bust. But I kept pushing, and when I heard the Garmin chirp, I’d dropped another 30 seconds. I’d run a minute faster than my usual mile three pace.

By mile four, I decided to take breathers. I pushed the pace but stopped the clock when I needed to rest. That said, I dropped another 50 seconds from the previous split, still a minute faster than my usual pace for mile four.

I felt great! For one, I accomplished what I set out to do. And two, a strong workout feels great when you’re up to it.

Now I’ve got my work cut out for me… I have a new target pace for non-stop runs. Because every run can’t be conversation pace.