Monday, July 27, 2009

I'm slow, but I'm getting it

Many people live by the whole "it's not the destination, it's the journey" philosophy. I am not one of them, to the point that I had to type the saying above very carefully to avoid my usual reversal. I do think the journey matters, but I have so much trouble focusing on that without letting the "when exactly are we going to arrive, anyhow?" attitude take me over.

Needless to say, as an unpublished author of three full novels and one second draft (yes, I finished Aardvark! :), I need to get with the journey-related program.

And I am. Mostly. Occasionally.

I'm pretty good with it on the writing front now. My last two books in particular were a joy for me at all stages of the process, even during the inevitable "there is NO WAY this random assortment of words will become a book" stages. I am far less stressed about the whole selling thing, since I'm loving the writing side so much, and having made "Polar Bear" available for free and the subsequent nice feedback it's received has made it clear to me that giving the books away for free is a viable option for me. It's not my first choice, but it's an option and a decent one.

Where I am not so good with the "smell the roses along the way" concept is my running. I am slow. Even my "sprints" are slower than most people's steady pace. And I don't want to be slow.

So what do I do? I go too fast, then take way too long walk breaks, and repeat this back-and-forth for the duration of the race. Of course, the "too fast" parts catch up to me, and near the end of the race I'm wondering how badly a broken ankle hurts and whether that'd be less painful than the running and how exactly one would break her own ankle on a flat race course. (Although, I AM the one who fell on the road during a training run and scraped up both my back and my cheekbone, so if there's a way, I could do it.)

This is obviously not the most fun way to run.

So today I decided to do a treadmill run at a slower pace without taking the walk breaks. I wanted to see just how far I could go without a break, and whether that would end up being a better speed.

I hesitate to give my running speeds, but what the heck, you deserve a good laugh.

My last long training run's speed averaged 8:09 minutes/km, according to my Garmin training watch. I remember that run as being a painful slog, and my pace varied wildly over the 7.35 km, from several 7 min/km bursts all the way down to a dreadfully slow 10:33 min/km which included a huge walk break because I just couldn't run any more.

Today, I decided to set the treadmill for 7:45 min/km. Slow, even for me, but I wanted to see what I could do.

I surprised myself. I ran for the first 15 minutes, then took a break because I'd said beforehand I wouldn't go longer than 15. (I am always afraid I'll overdo it on the running and hurt myself. This is oddly at variance with my insistence on boxing the life out of myself every time I go into the Wii boxing games.) Then I ran another 10 minutes before taking a phone call (I am so hardcore, yes?) and then another 15 after that!

Average speed?

7:55 min/km. And I felt great after and well able to continue.

So, the hard-fought run was considerably slower than the pleasant one, and much more painful.

Will I remember this the next time I'm struggling with a training run? I don't know, but I hope so.

When they say "slow and steady wins the race" they're right. Winning my own personal race, anyhow. And no broken ankles required!

Is there anywhere that slowing down would work a little better for you? Maybe give it a try?

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