‘Round the ballpark

I would have liked to have got­ten out the door before I start­ed my work­day, but there were things that were bro­ken and had to be fixed first thing, and I did­n’t get out the door until after 5 o’clock.

I took a basic loop out past the ball­park and back the oth­er side, very sim­i­lar to many of the ball­park runs I’ve done this year. The sun was hot and my knee does­n’t seem to be ful­ly recov­ered but it also does­n’t seem to be get­ting worse.

At about sev­en-tenths of a mile out I felt like I could­n’t go any far­ther. That’s per­fect­ly nor­mal; it usu­al­ly takes a mile and a half or more for me to get warmed up and get into a rhythm. I pushed on and even­tu­al­ly things smoothed out. I admit I find it a bit annoy­ing that every time I go out I have to push through what feels like fail­ure before I get to a lev­el I can sus­tain. And of course, that has its own set of ques­tions: if I feel like I can do this all day, does that mean I’ve hit the right lev­el of inten­si­ty or does it mean that I’m just not push­ing myself hard enough?

Those are ques­tions that won’t ever be answered, but I did take six­ty sec­onds a lit­tle after mile three to push hard­er. I won’t say it was a full sprint—my pace for that six­ty sec­onds aver­aged an 8:45 mile—but I did step it up a notch or two from the 11:30 pace I’d been main­tain­ing. If I’d put in more than one of those bursts I might be able to claim to have done fartleks. It would prob­a­bly do me some good to start push­ing with inter­val train­ing, but we can con­sid­er this the toe in the pool.

I real­ly would like to start build­ing speed. Right now I’d be over­joyed to get back to where I was four years ago, run­ning a con­sis­tent 8:30 – 9:00 mile pace. But that’s no lim­it. Run­ning is not an exclu­sive­ly young man’s sport. Of the forty-eight fin­ish­ers of Sun­day’s 5K that came in under a sev­en-minute mile pace (21:47) sev­en­teen were men my age or old­er includ­ing the #4 fin­ish­er who came in at 17:15. That’s a 5:33 pace over 3.1 miles! I’m not going to get there soon, but I also don’t need to set­tle for nine minute miles as any­thing oth­er than a short-term goal.

What I need to do is start look­ing at past weeks and set­ting goals for the com­ing week. These need to be real­is­tic goals but always push­ing myself a lit­tle fur­ther. I have the begin­nings of a for­mu­la but I need to do some num­bers and see how they come out. I’ll post them here when I’ve got it.