I can't help it – every dark 5am that I find myself outside and running around the neighborhood, every time I look at my watch to see how long until sunrise, wondering if I will finish before the sun peeks above the hills, all I can do is giggle and think I'm like a running vampire.
This last week, I added a mile so I really had to make sure I didn't sleep too late. On Wednesday, I decided to go at an easy jog since adding a mile to my four-mile training meant adding 25%! Eek! (All the training advice I've read says not to add more than 10% per week.)
Surprisingly, my lungs never felt the extra mile and, in fact, the slower pace had me breathing easier the entire way. My legs, on the other hand, felt much worse – and not just for the last mile, the whole time. John mentioned to me before that jogging too slow makes his legs hurt worse than at a faster pace. This was the first time I experienced that.
And so on Friday I decided to try to run at my normal pace (currently about 13 minutes per mile) for the five miles. I figured it would be difficult, and it was a beautiful, quiet (dark!) morning, so I didn't turn my music on. From the first step, I focused on posture and breathing.
I read an article in Runner's World magazine recently about breathing every five steps – inhale for two steps, exhales for three steps. This helps you to never be hitting one side of your body harder than the other, the author says. Because I was so fully focused on my breathing and trying to keep at my regular pace, I actually ran a bit faster! (I think this was partially since I didn't have music on, which usually has four beats, not five. It was difficult to breathe every five steps with music before. I'll let you know if that changes with practice.)
I was tired when I was done, but I felt really good about my accomplishment. And I even finished my run just before the sun hit my eyes. (I took this picture after running up an incline at my downhill pace. Awesome!)
Now the next thing I have to do is interval running – sprints and hills. Ack! I really don't want to! It sounds so hard! So I'm going to do it tomorrow. I am. Because it's going to help me get stronger and run faster.
And in the end, that's what I want.