Thursday, July 16, 2015

Running by feel

During training for my last marathon, I became a little obsessed.  It's easy to do.  I had a time goal and reeeeeeaaaaally wanted to achieve it. As I trained, I watched my trusty Garmin very closely, over analyzing every run.  And I realized that running an 8:15 pace required a very different effort every day.  I became so wrapped up in the numbers that I lost sight of how each run was feeling.  I didn't know how to trust my body.

I was looking at different pace bands to try out for the marathon and then it dawned on me.  Worrying so much about pace was making me crazy.  I was so worried about numbers that I forgot to just enjoy the run.  

About a month before the marathon, I made a bold decision.  I was not going to watch my Garmin during the race.  I didn't want to be comparing my time with my pace band every mile and then find myself getting discouraged if I fell behind where I wanted to be. My fear was that if I figured out halfway through that I wouldn't hit my time goal, that the rest of the race would be torturous, so I simply took that option out of the equation.   I even changed the Garmin display to show me only distance - no time, no pace.  

This was scary for me, I am very much a numbers girl.  But running the last month of training by feel only was very freeing.  I still wore my Garmin so that after the run I would have an idea of where I was, but it was so refreshing to not look down every mile to see my pace.  

On marathon day I started questioning this logic, but I had read enough marathon training advice that said not to change any part of your plan on the day of the marathon, so I held firm.  Based on data from my last long run I wasn't sure I would hit my goal, but I was going to enjoy the day and not obsess.  

And guess what.  Running by feel brought me in to the finish NINETEEN minutes UNDER my goal time!  I was thrilled, and more importantly, I felt great. I used up every ounce of energy I had in my tank, but I didn't hit the wall.  Running by feel helped me to keep at a reasonable pace that I could maintain for 26 miles, and I surprised myself with what that pace is.

I haven't worried about pace once since then.  I always wear my Garmin and check it after my run, but with the exception of speed work on the track, I don't check it.  I've noticed that my recovery run pace has stayed about the same, as has my long run pace, but my tempo runs are getting faster.  I'm not sure what that has to do with anything, but it's interesting to note.  

I am still getting the feel of how different paces feel (whoa, that's a lot of the word feel) - I'm not very good at guessing how fast I went after I finish each run, but it's a fun game trying to guess what my pace was before I check.  I'm starting to get a little better at it.  There are days I am disappointed because I ran slower than I thought I should have, and days like today where it's exciting to have run faster.  

I'm enjoying tuning into my body though.  I'm enjoying listening to my breathing and feeling my legs and running accordingly.  I'm still afraid that this may bring me in over my goal time and keep me from qualifying from Boston, but I think I'll enjoy the journey so much more.

Today I did my tempo run - after speed work on Tuesday and a faster-than-usual run yesterday, I wasn't sure how it would go.  I ended up with a pace I was excited about.  Here is my run after a one mile warm up.  

Then I spent the rest of the day snuggling this little guy because he wasn't feeling too hot.

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