I met Tim and Lee for a 6 mile run this morning at 4:15 a.m. Actually, I should say 4:20, since I was 5 min late, but...they waited on me. Nice guys. So anyway, we didn't have much of a plan. We took off and realized it was colder than it was supposed to be (< 20 degrees), we had some good Bonnaroo conversation, with the 2009 lineup coming out and all, and all was well. I had no clue how fast we were running - I haven't worn my Garmin Forerunner since before the Ironman. I knew the pace felt fairly swift, but hell, the pace always feels swift with them...so I just kept scooting along. At some point Tim asked if we wanted to do 5 or 6, and I said I didn't care - secretly hoping, as always, that it would be the former, but never being so bold as to actually let them know I am wimpy like that. Of course, Tim and Lee chose 6. Tim asked if I was okay with that, and I replied, "Sure." On we went to the 3 mile turnaround, and headed back towards the rec center.
I am a 9 minute miler for training runs, mostly. Sometimes a bit over that, and sometimes under that depending on how motivated I am or who I am chasing. Nine minutes per mile, plus or minus, is fairly comfortable for me. 8:30, and I am hurting, anything close to 8 is race pace - never training pace - for a 10k or less.
I have these limits in my head, and they define the kind of runner I am. When I wear the Garmin, and I am on my own, I magically hit these numbers in a comfortable and consistent fashion. But it hit me today, after we finished 6 miles with no problem, and they informed me that the pace was 8:08, that regardless of whether you are a 15 minute miler or a 9 minute miler, you immediatlely incarsarate your abilities if you define yourself as a runner by these numbers. It's automatic; it's subliminal; it happens even if you don't want it to.
So what if you've been a 10 minute miler for 2 years straight. Who says you can't be an 8 minute miler someday?
So what if you are doing a run/walk program and don't think you can break a 12 minute mile.
So what if you are struggling to get a sub-5hr marathon. Who says you can't get a sub-4hr one sooner than later?
So what if you never thought you could qualify for Boston.
So what if you are just struggling to get the distance.
The point is, don't let yourself get stuck. I do this all the time. I define the parameters by which I can operate within, and I don't consider that I can be bigger and better and faster - until I get suckered into it by a couple of speedy guys who happen to think I can run faster than I think I can.
Train with someone faster than you think you can go, or set a goal you don't think you can reach. Because running hurts - it was meant that way, and it should be that way. I get nowhere when I lolly-gag around in my comfort zone, but I feel like a rock star when I break the hell out of it.
One of my favorites by Pearl Izumi:
IF YOU RAN WITHOUT SACRIFICE, CONGRATULATIONS. YOU JUST JOGGED. Running hurts. It always has. Woolly mammoths didn’t just roll over onto a plate and serve themselves up to prehistoric man with fries and a shake. They had to be caught - and running down woolly mammoths was a bitch. Guess what? Running is still a bitch. But one with a purpose. It teaches us that good things do not come easy. It teaches us that hard work will be rewarded and laziness will be punished. Don’t expect to learn those life lessons from running’s shiftless stepchild; jogging. Next time you suffer on the roads or trails, suffer proudly. It means you run like an animal.
1 year ago