Training Journal: Day 16 - progression run

Marathon Training Journal: Day 16

Speed Workout: The Progression Run

Generally I like these runs. I do much better with a faster finish. That allows me time to wake up with a slower start.  This season I have a new challenge to master in my Progression Run. You see, I would start out at a pace that was easy and gradually accelerate. In theory, that is fine. The trouble is, I didn't have enough of a difference in pace between my first and last mile splits.

A Spin of Concerns

I felt a bit lethargic when I started so keeping my pace down was surprisingly easier than usual. Actually, I was surprised at how hard my effort level felt considering my starting pace.  But that's fine. That's the whole point of the exercise and my heavy legs and tired feet helped me a lot. This gave rise to a new concern: would I be able to hit the paces I needed for my final miles?

Progression Run

I started to reason with myself. Not every run has to be completed to perfection, but a best effort regardless of how I feel is mandatory. There are times when psychologically that is easier said than done. The self-pep-talk worked though. I relaxed into it and figured I would check my pace at every mile alert and a couple of times in between.

Let's Pick Up The Pace

Flying out of the gate and starting out too fast is not something I have to worry about. I have the opposite problem. The same goes for starting the speed portion of my workouts.  Maybe this is why I love progression runs. I can build up to it and by the time I hit the peak, it's time to stop. It was much harder to put in the very marked differences in pace for this run. I felt a bit controlled by my watch at first, but I started to get into it. Around Mile 4 there is a bit of an incline that continues steadily. I started to feel it and my confidence about this run began to flag a bit.

When the ground leveled out, I picked up a gear. What's the worst that could happen? I get too tired and don't complete the whole run? Or maybe I won't hit any of the target paces. Is that really such a big deal?

I tried to stop thinking about what I might not be able to do and just focus on what I was doing at the time. The gift of self distraction. It works.

Distracted by Reminiscing

My run was approaching 10K race pace speed. Taking a deep breath, like something scary was about to happen, I started picking up my feet.

One of the local runners passed me going in the opposite direction.

“Morning, speedy!” he called, as he breezed on by. That always tickles me. I don't think I could catch this guy on my fastest day if I tried, but he's always super friendly to everyone. I don't think he knows how good he is. So humble.  My mind drifted back to the fall and winter season when several of us who run this route around the same time were all training for different marathons in January.

I'd often turn a corner on my way home and see him just ahead of me. I would try my best to catch up with him. Sometimes I did.  Those were days when he was doing an easy or recovery run and I had a threshold or some type of speed workout on the plan. I'd try hold a conversation with him without sounding like I was dying, while he cruised along, seemingly without effort. My lungs were about to explode and my legs felt as if they would drop off of my body at any moment without notice.

Some Runs Are Full of Surprises

I suddenly remembered I was supposed to be watching my pace and glanced at my watch. I was running much faster than it felt. In fact, I was pretty much right on pace. Lucky!

Progression Run

A fresh boost of confidence and energy rushed in and it didn't seem so bad to be checking numbers on my watch. The harder part was to stay focused. These carefully paced runs are mentally tiring. At least, they are for me. Running and daydreaming mix perfectly together; running and thinking … not so much.

The next mile was even better. After a while it seems like my body just accepts the rhythm of the program and gets into it.  My Garmin beeped the next mile alert. I looked at it, struggling to focus with my arm swinging so quickly and saw what looked like a 6:56 average for the previous mile. It can be hard to tell when you need to watch where you're going

I was starting the steady ascent towards the big intersection where I end my run.  I had just over a mile to go. Determined not to lose what felt like it might be my best progression run to date, I gave it all I had. Mile 9. Quick look: 6:38.  All I had to do was push hard for the last section and get to the lights. I could see droplets of sweat spraying off of me in all directions and my face felt hot. My legs were burning and aching.

Nearly There Means Stop

I saw the traffic lights coming closer and then …. I quit.

Yes, I have this strange mental battle right at the end. It's the weirdest thing, but if I think I've still got a good way to go, I can keep myself going. As soon as I'm closer than ‘nearly there' it's like my mind gives my body permission to wrap it up and be done with it.  There had to be less than 0.2 miles to the end and my brain just said: “You're done.”

Progression Run

It looks like there will be some mind training thrown into this season for me. But for today, I am absolutely ecstatic about my run. It wasn't perfect, but then it's hard to pace exactly perfectly unless you're on level ground or at a consistent incline or decline.

There was a bit of time pressure when I got back so I took my post-run photo and apparently I turned my head away and was looking elsewhere. I couldn't get the screen on the phone to slide back to take it again so that's what I got.

The photo actually looks more than just a little narcissistic! I didn't realize how much so until a few hours after I'd posted it on Instagram. Of course I could have taken it down, but once you put something on the internet, you can delete it, but it is always out there somewhere.

Now I need to get some coffee in for today and calories for tomorrow. Wednesdays are like Mondays. They are pretty tough, but I will get through it.

Carefree Runner

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  • Rich August 11, 2017   Reply →

    Great job! A 6:38 in mile 9!!! That’s hauling ass! Love progression runs. Trains you for negative splits. So very important for a strong performance on race day!

    • Lee Beem August 11, 2017   Reply →

      Thanks Richard! I generally always run negative splits and I think in part it’s because it takes me a few miles to get going so it’s a bit of a cheat setup for success in a way. But as you saw, I got very lax and comfortable about it because I know it’s my natural preference so I’d push a little more at the start and not put in the full effort at the end. And everything in between was affected. Not sure I will do this too often. It really wiped me out!

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