I started doing my long runs with a training group back at the beginning of August. My friend Elena was in charge of a training group for the Mo’Cowbell half marathon and when she expected to have a large group of people coming out for the Saturday training runs, she asked me if I could help out. Why not?! I was training for the same race, albeit the half marathon relay, so I’d be only running half the distance, but I’d be running on Saturdays anyway, so I might as well do it with a group.
I expected to be with the faster runners; however, it turned out the fastest runners we had averaged between a 10 and 11 minute per mile pace. Thankfully, I had been pushing MacKenna in the stroller for these runs, so I really didn’t mind the slower pace. In fact, the slower pace actually helped me become a faster runner.
Normally, I am an independent runner. Running is pretty much the only time I get to myself everyday, so I like the quiet, peacefulness to clear my head and enjoy my alone time. But, as time went on, I really started looking forward to meeting up with my training group. I knew they were counting on me being there, but they were also incredibly motivating. Even though they weren’t fast, most of these ladies were pushing themselves to run farther than they ever had before. It was amazing to see their progress over our 10 weeks of training.
But, after the race was over, I had difficulty forcing myself to get out of bed on Saturday mornings to go for a run. I was nearing the end of my volleyball season and had tournaments almost every weekend, in addition to MacKenna’s (and my) birthday weekend, and I was just plain exhausted. Any time I had the chance to sleep in on the weekends, I did. And I would make excuses as to why I couldn’t get in my long run later in the day, from wanting to spend time with MacKenna to needing to get the house cleaned.
But, since then, I’ve turned over a new leaf. I realized that I needed to stop making excuses and just drag my butt out of bed on Saturday mornings and run. I’m lucky enough that MacKenna sleeps in usually until 7:30 or 8 on the weekends, so I really had no excuse as to why I couldn’t get up before then to run 6, 7, or 8 miles on the weekend.
Some of my long runs have been mentally tough. I’m just not used to running by myself anymore or really even running that far after so much time off from long runs. Plus, with the winter cold starting to set in, it’s even harder to get myself out the door.
I’m really trying not to be a wimp and actually do most of my runs this winter outside, but after some ice and snow we got this past weekend, I knew there was just no way I was going to be able to get a long run in outside. Plus, it was bitterly cold. Definitely not my cup of tea…
So, I resigned myself to doing my 8 mile run – my longest run since September – on the treadmill at the gym. I was definitely not looking forward to it and I knew I needed to come up with a plan to make the time fly by. One of the things I decided to do was increase my speed every few minutes. I have to do this with any treadmill run, otherwise I will be bored out of my mind, so it was essential I did it on this long run. I decided to start at 7.0 mph (my normal warm-up pace) and increase by 0.2 mph until I reached 9.0 mph (my 5K pace) and then make my way back down. I also knew that this would put me at an average 8.0 mph pace (7:30/mile), so I could potentially run my 8 miles under an hour, something I’ve only done once before.
I also chose to forgo my normal treadmill I run on – one of the newer, fancier iFit treadmills – and went for one I could actually plug my headphones in to and watch TV. They aren’t the best treadmills, but if I could distract myself with an hour of the Saturday morning news (gosh, I’m such a loser – I freaking LOVE watching the news), I knew an hour could potentially fly by.
It was one of my harder weeks of training – logging 25 miles before my long run Saturday morning – and my body was definitely feeling the effects of the extra mileage. I was worried how my body would handle 8 miles on the treadmill, but I surprisingly felt amazing the entire run! Even as I got into the tougher paces, it felt almost effortless. It was definitely the boosting run I needed after struggling mentally on my long runs for the past several weeks. Plus, for the second time ever, I ran a sub-60 minute 8 mile… on. a. treadmill. Score!
I don’t plan on doing anymore than 8 miles for long runs on the treadmill or outside, but after that run, I feel like I can do any run on the treadmill without a problem. Which is probably a good thing since we are supposed to have one of the worst winters we’ve had in St. Louis in a long time, with a lot of cold, snow, and ice. Bring it, Mother Nature!