Run Doodle Run

The long road to 26.2

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Run Like the Wind

One of the biggest “newbie” questions (other than “When Will I Feel Like a Runner?“) is probably “How Do I Get Faster?”

It sounds a little asinine, but the honest answer is you only get faster by running faster. There’s, of course, a long, complicated journey that most runners must endure in order to get faster, and it often includes slowing down and running longer before attempting to run faster, but ultimately it comes down to one thing – you have to practice running faster in order to run faster.

Probably one of the biggest hurdles to most runners’ speed is the mind. We as Americans (and residents of many other developed countries) tend to prefer feeling comfortable. Running fast is inherently uncomfortable. Even when your’e awesome at it, it’s uncomfortable. Sure, some of the Olympians probably fall over at the end of their race for dramatic flair, but I’m sure it’s because most of them are truly pushing themselves to their limits and making themselves truly uncomfortable.

I know this first-hand because it took me many years to realize that I could run faster – if only I embraced the suck. My body was never the limiting factor, but my brain convinced me that I couldn’t go further – until I learned to silence that inner critic.

This was brought to my attention again last night. It was a nice cool evening (although it was super muggy), so I decided to go out for a 5 mile tempo(ish) run. I started off at my LSD pace, around 10:45-11:00, for the first mile. My legs ached and my body just didn’t feel in to it. That little voice started to gain traction, but with the mileage I have ahead of me I couldn’t afford to let it take over.

For the next three miles, I basically ran 800s – with one half mile at a fast-but-not-sprinting pace, and the other half mile at around my half marathon pace. Once I got through the first fast segment, my body just woke up. Everything felt so much easier, so much more comfortable. Even my last mile, which I did at an easy-by-feel pace was faster. Surprisingly, the fast segments felt easier than the easy segments.

I can only assume that’s because the body is more efficient at speed (?) than at a slower, plodding pace. The difference in form was noticeable – I definitely feel more comfortable with the mid-foot quickstep cadence of a faster run.

Over the last few weeks my long runs have been around an 11:00/mile pace and they’ve felt harder than the long runs I was doing last year, closer to a 10:00/mile pace. With the long distances ahead, I’m not sure I’m ready to up my speed just yet for long run days, but it’s something I might start playing around with more often, looking for that sweet spot between fast enough to keep the body efficient but not so fast that I can’t sustain it for the duration.

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It was a little humid out there…


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Net Time Calculator

I’m not the most advanced Excel user, but I learned quite a number of tricks while I was working on my MBA (we has entire courses that focused on Excel). For weeks I’ve been working on formulas to add up my split times so I can figure out what my net time for any given distance is, but to no avail. 

Well guess what I just stumbled upon – a cumulative time calculator!! Oh my gosh this thing is such a lifesaver! I can’t add splits to save my life (and apparently neither can Excel…). I don’t need it often, but this thing is such a lifesaver for those times when I’m trying to add my splits for a shorter distance than my total distance. It has some other functions as well, but I’ve found other sources for those functions. Totally worth bookmarking. 


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Race Report!

On Saturday I ran in the Sole of the City 10k put on by Charm City Run in Baltimore. It was my first 10k race, so no matter how the day went it would be an automatic PR. Since deferring my half a few weeks ago, I’ve been focused solely on this race. Despite the improvements I’ve made this winter and spring, I was not feeling at all confident going into the race. Even though I’ve done 4 half marathons, for some reason 6 miles still spooked me. All week I’d been worry about my leg acting up, whether or not I could do well in the race, and how I’d feel during/after the race.

Well, I have no idea why I was worrying so much – I kicked ass on Saturday!! It was chilly, much chillier than the last two weeks have been, and there was a persistent cold wind, which felt fantastic after about 10 minutes of running (even though it was cold enough I had to start to race with gloves on). The course started out downhill, then was basically flat for about 3-4 miles as we ran around the Inner Harbor, with the last two miles or so on some rolling hills through Baltimore’s Federal Hill neighborhood and one small bitch of a hill at mile 6. Once my legs got warmed up, I couldn’t be stopped. Running without walking is something I’ve been trying to work on all along, but on Saturday it kicked into over drive, and I ran almost 4.5 miles without a walk break (except for the 20-30 seconds we had to wait as the course bottlenecked under a bridge). There were plenty of times where, out of habit, I thought I should slow down or take a break to save my energy for later, but then I realized I felt fantastic and had no reason to stop what I was doing. I ran the fastest average pace (~11:20)and the fastest miles I have ever run. Hills that would have brought me to my knees last year were barely noticeable. At the 5 mile mark, I checked my Garmin and realized that I had cut almost 5 1/2 minutes off of my 5 mile PR – I got so excited by this that I almost started crying, until my throat closed off and made breathing difficult; I took 10 seconds to compose myself and kept pushing through the last 1.2 miles.

My goal going into Saturday was to finish in 1:15:00 or better; 1:12:00 or better if I was having an amazing day. My official time was 1:10:47!!!! I couldn’t have asked for a better day if I had written the script myself.

enjoying the post-race festivities :)

enjoying the post-race festivities 🙂

According to my Garmin, my splits were:

Mile 1 – 11:15
Mile 2 – 11:32 (there was a bottleneck going into Rash Field that ate up about 20-30 seconds, so I was actually faster)
Mile 3 – 10:52
Mile 4 – 11:02
Mile 5 – 11:46
Mile 6 – 11:20
Last .2 – 2:58 (9:57 pace)