A baseline and a stretch

Sub 60 10k
A PR! Or...
A PR! Or…

It was supposed to be an easy run. That’s runnerspeak for conversation pace, or kind of slow.  As in taking it easy.

We began that way, running a 12-minute mile to start. We sped up as we ran, and actually I started to tire out. We walked in a couple of places near the end.

With all of that, I still ended up running a PR!

Well, sort of.

I’ve only completed a handful of runs at 10k (6.2 miles) or longer. The first time was November 2013. I didn’t run that distance again until this year.

RunKeeper has my data since 2011. It  knows the truth – my 2013 run was faster. Garmin only has data since February 2016, so today’s run is the fastest it knows.

That said, today’s run was still a milestone. It serves as a great baseline for my training program. My goal is to run 10k in less than an hour. With 10-weeks left to train, I’m aiming to cut a solid 8 minutes off my current 10k pace. It feels doable, although a stretch. And that’s the reason I chose this goal in the first place.

My training runs have all gone according to plan, so I’ll trust the process and keep on keeping on.

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.

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.

Get ‘er done!

Zaimu Challenge
Dig deep. Get ‘er done!

Sometimes the day just slips away. Or the hours of the day more specifically. Today was one of those days.

I can’t exactly say I was productive – at least if we’re only considering deliverables or output. Simply put, I don’t have products to show for my time.  But I do have mental space cleared and three project plans in the works.

Moreover, I updated my goal list, transforming it to include bigger, yet more concrete goals. I even changed the name, now calling it a Victory List.

We’re nearly halfway done with 2016. It’s time to get it cracking! How are you doing on your 2016 goals? What will you do to make them reality?

Puzzle Pieces

Zaimu Challenge

lotus-304976_640If you pursue a question or an idea and are open to the myriad whispering voices in your midst, it’s almost miraculous how you’ll begin to receive information, encouragement, something to bring you closer to understanding.

Almost miraculous, but on further reflection, it seems more of an equation. The first part, of course, is the question itself. The curious mind, the curious heart, desires to know; to understand. If there is no desire, even if the information is close at hand, it remains invisible. Undiscovered. Present, but ultimately useless. It’s a glass of water for one who has no thirst presently, and none approaching.

So a seeking spirit is the first key.

Aside from the question, there’s the matter of receptiveness. This is related to a curious heart, but it’s a separate consideration. Many people express interest in this, that or the other, but due to trauma or maybe ego or the like, they can’t receive. She thirsts. Water is plentiful. But it’s as good as invisible. She cannot drink.

So openness/receptiveness is the second key.

But what of wisdom? It’s of no use to to seek jewels and collect them, never realizing their true value. This is when one foregoes the offered water in favor of something sweeter or bubbly, but ultimately unsatisfying. It may be yummy, but does not quench the thirst. You must be able to discern the truth when it comes, whether you read it in a book, hear it or overhear it in conversation, or simply come to know it in the silences of your mind.

So wisdom must be the third.

I jotted these ideas today over lunch, after receiving a few puzzle pieces this morning. What, if anything would you change or add? 

Next steps

Personal Narrative
sesimbra sidewalk
Nic taking steps in Portugal.

I long held on to something that was once a good stepping stone and source of support but it turned into something… much less productive. After a couple of years it became a crutch. And over the past few months, and most clearly the past couple of days, I realized it was more like an anchor.

In Nichiren Buddhism, once you realize you’re in a less than ideal situation, you seek to understand your role in it. You take responsibility and try to transform it. Hendoku iyaku, or changing poison into medicine, is a powerful approach. But it doesn’t work if you try to transform the wrong thing. You can’t change other people. You can only change you.

I’ve felt stagnant and frustrated for quite some time, but ultimately, I was allowing an external situation to weigh me down. I was the one holding on, and in effect, creating my own stagnation. My outlook and resulting actions were the poison I needed to change.

And so, Thursday, I resolved to let go. And Friday, I started the wheels in motion. Today I am overjoyed, looking forward to next steps.

40 miles

Temple Building
Today I hit my goal of 40 miles.
Today I hit my goal of 40 miles.

 

Each month during “running season,” I set a mileage goal. Most of the time it’s 50 miles, but this August I cut it to 40 so I could add strength training to the mix. Some months it’s down to the wire in terms of whether or not I’ll hit that magic number. In fact, one month it seemed so unlikely, I pretty much gave up.

Last month was another close call. On the very last day of July I ran a personal long of over six miles in order to pull out a victory.

I was very proud of myself, but I’m not a fan of close calls. I just can’t stand the tension. So although today would’ve been optimal for cross-training, I opted instead to head out for the winning miles.

For my troubles, I spotted a deer. And although I wasn’t able to snap his picture, I was able to at least say hi before he dashed back into the woods.

All in all a challenging but satisfying run.

runkeeper FB

Today I Ran

30 Day Blog Challenge, 30 in 30 April

Today I ran.

Mostly, I jogged, if you want to get technical. I wasn’t out there sprinting or going particularly fast. But I was out there. And it was great. Tough, yes, but really nice to be outside again.

My last run was a PR!
My last run was a PR!

It was my first run since my milestone of November 2013. Five months to the day. I didn’t realize that when I decided today had to be the day. I just knew it wasn’t too cold and the sun was beckoning.

I decided to just go out a mile and back. I hit my target pace of 10 min/mile. I had some difficulty breathing on a few stretches and some histamine reactions in my muscles. Both of these were to be expected.

The breathing will take care of itself as my lungs remember the work. The histamine reaction is a new/old problem I’ll have to solve, so I’ll be keeping the mileage low while I sort that out.

I’m not yet ready to set my monthly mileage goals, and I don’t know when my next run will be. For now I’m celebrating today’s return to the pavement as I look forward to many more!