When I first began running in 2009, I worked my way up to running a mile, and then two, and that's pretty much how I ran, all the way up to half marathon distance - sure, there were a few walk breaks for water and fuel, but I could keep a steady run going for miles and miles. I had a great year of running in 2010; then came the GREAT ANKLE INJURY of 2011 and my running career derailed and has never been the same...hence doing intervals for the past two years.
Now, there's nothing wrong with doing intervals (for those of you unfamiliar with intervals, it means to run, say, for two minutes and walk for one minute, over and over and over). And I know I wouldn't have been able to make it through my recent half marathons without them. But, I missed my old running self. And so, I'm going to see how much of that 2010 runner I can reclaim over the next few months.
Last Tuesday, I went out for my regular early morning run with Jeff. I planned on doing two miles. During our training season, weekday runs were measured in minutes (anywhere from 25 - 45) but since my one goal is to run miles, I switched it up. I started out slow, and figured I'd run as far as I could and then take a walk break when I needed it. Precise, eh? Anyway, I ran and ran and kept going. I ended up hitting one mile and then walked for a minute - I didn't particularly feel like I had to take a walking break, but I wanted to get through another mile and wasn't sure I'd be able to without a break. I finished the two miles in 27:23 - not speedy, but that wasn't my intent.
Then on Thursday, I ran with Cary. Since she's still in training mode (she has upcoming back-to-back half marathons in a month), we ran what works for her, which is 2:1 intervals. She runs pretty fast, and normally slows down for me, but I figured this could be my version of speedwork, so I just tried to keep up with her. We were so close to three miles when we returned to the park that we decided to keep going - I finished three miles in 41:39.
On Saturday, we met up with a small group to run, and I ran three miles by myself, which wasn't terrible, because I really didn't need to be trying to talk while I was running since I wasn't getting a break every two minutes. I ran one mile, took a one minute walking break, then ran the second mile and took another one minute walking break, and then, for the first time in years, I ran a third mile without stopping! I finished in 40:21 - not much faster than when I did the 2:1 intervals, but I was working on endurance, not speed, and I was pretty happy with myself for running three miles with only two short walking breaks!
Yesterday, I set out for a two mile run, and ended up running the entire time! Not gonna lie, it wasn't a walk in the park. And it wasn't fast. I finished the two miles in 26:12, which makes my average pace 13:05. Long way from a 12 minute mile...long way from where I was five years ago, that's for sure.
I don't think I'll ever get back to running as well as I did in 2010 - my old injuries (ankle and hamstring) still let me know they're hanging around in the background, and I don't want to push myself into making them come front and center again. But I'm interested to see how this progresses - and if I can truly make some progress.