I managed to complete another 40 mile week - albeit 45 this week - with a speed session yesterday afternoon. I realise that speed is relative for each person. 6 minute mile pace comes easy to some. 9 minute miles is tough for others. For me - I consider myself a plodder that can every now and then go a little faster than I usually like to.
I have a competitive nature though and would not deny that I would like to be faster - faster than most others. But I am equipped with dna and body parts (short legs) that don't allow 6 minute pace to come easy and certainly not often. I have learnt though that if I focus on working at getting faster - I can marginally get faster. It hurts though - so I often don't follow through with it for long.
Yesterday I talked myself into a speed session, an 8 mile run with 1/2 that distance being an attempt at speed, the other half with attempting to recover and see straight. I parked at the Air Force Academy North Gate entrance and ran on the relatively flat section of Santa Fe trail that heads South for just over 2 miles. Went down 2 miles and back, then did it again. It is slightly downhill on the way out and there was a slight breeze behind me on my way back. It balanced out well.
First mile was a warm up at 9 minute pace and then I went into a 7 minute mile which is about my limit right now for a mile. I did okay and held to schedule. I turned and did the next mile at a 9 minute pace again and then went to work on another 7 minute mile. I could have done with more of a tailwind to help - but I managed to hold on and nail the 7 minutes spot on.
By now I was back at the start and tempted to call that good - but abandoning sound reason and better judgement, I turned around and headed South again. The next 1/2 mile was at a 9 minute pace again, followed next by a 1/2 mile at 6:30 pace. Eeeeek, that was not fun at all and yet somehow I managed to push through and get there. After another 1/2 mile at 9 minute pace I was on tap for 1/2 mile at 6:30 again and by now my legs were getting jittery in an uncomfortable way. But I somehow managed to get through the 1/2 mile at the desired 6:30 pace.
As I turned with 2 miles to go I was now thinking of doing 1/4 mile repeats - faster than the previous longer ones. Now with only a 1/4 mile recovery, I then set out on a 6 minute paced 1/4 mile and great googily moogily was that not fun, nor easy at all. But I did it. I walked 1/2 of the next 1/4 mile and then did the same 6 minute paced 1/4 mile again. I walked almost all of the next 1/4 mile. By now I was shot and even though I wanted to do 2 more 1/4 mile repeats at the 6 minute pace again my body declared that I was not capable of that - they ended up being at 6:08 pace and the last at 6:14 pace.
My version of a speed training session was over and I was reminded why I don't do these often - but was encouraged by hitting all but the last 2 repeats on time that I might do it again - or not. I may just stick to nice and slow 13 mile long runs - they hurt too but at least I can see where I am going.