Race pace, tempo, interval. Three terms for ‘just run fast’.

Tuesday night workouts are fast becoming the sessions Amy and I love to hate.  Last night wasn’t much different.  We dragged our sad, tired selves to the park at 6:30 and, as usual, Dash was the only one of our trio who hopped happily from the car and spun himself in to circles of excitement at the prospect of running.  Amy and I should probably try peeing on multiple trees during our warm-up…maybe that’s the key to boosting running enthusiasm? 

(Side note:  Dash becomes borderline psychotic at home when he senses a run might be in his near future.  He whips himself in to such a frenzy, banging everything in his path with the Tail of Death, that Amy can’t even get dressed for a run until she’s literally ready to walk out the door.  Last night, I got a photo text as I was leaving, a blurry image of Dash with socks in his mouth, and the caption ‘here’s your sock!  Please can we go now!’  It’s seriously a level of excitement that shames the both of us.)

We set off for our one-mile-ish warm up, toward the high school track.  On tap for the evening:  after a warm up, run two laps around the track at race pace, followed by one lap of recovery jogging.  Repeat three times.  Cool down.

I’m noticing, three weeks in to this plan, that interval training can be disguised as tempo runs or the term ‘run at race pace’.  I’ve done plenty of reading and flipping through dog-eared pages of TLAM, only to reach the same conclusion each time…you need to run fast.  You need to run fast, and hard, until your chest burns and, until you think you can’t go any further, and then you need to keep going for another lap, or another 30 seconds, or until your knees buckle.  

“These runs teach you to run through fatigue.”

So very true.  Tuesday evenings are dreaded only in part because they challenge or push our physical fitness.  The bigger challenge is in our mental fitness.  Because let me tell you, after one lap of a two lap race pace/interval/tempo/sprint, it’s my mind that is telling me I need to slow down, not necessarily my legs or my lungs.  My brain is crying ‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING, YOU CRAZY PERSON?  SLOW.  DOWN.’  But, when pushed, my body can almost always give a little bit more.  It’s tapping in to that mental reserve that is the greatest challenge. 

We finished our four speed-up-slow-down rotations although, as usual, I was ready to quit after the first one.  I gasped out as we ‘recovered’ at a very, VERY slow trot, “you mean…we have to do…THREE. MORE. OF. THOSE?!” Amy assured me we could.  And, as usual, we felt badass and accomplished when it was finally time to walk off the track.  Happily spent, we joked that, between the two of us, we are the perfect runner…I go out fast and pull ahead in the first lap, but lose steam quickly.  Amy builds up to her speed slower but can finish faster because she hasn’t used all the gas in her tank.  We used our cool down time to slowly walk back to our cars, chatting about the upcoming Rainier to Ruston relay, stopping to let Dash sniff and pee as he chose.  

And, while I always love to check another box off the training plan hanging on my fridge, I am particularly proud to check off the Tuesday boxes. 

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