Fortunately, the commuting runs are all I'm doing besides our class runs, and I've been running them very slowly (new record for all time slowest commute was set this morning). So those aren't kicking my butt.
But the actual workouts? KILLING ME.
Our schedule is basically running three days per week:
Tuesdays, standard warm-up/cool down, workout is hill loop, with heart rate in zone 4 (just one level below zone 5, which is your lactate threshold).
Thursdays, standard warm-up/cool down, workout is tempo run, with heart rate in zone 4 again.
Sundays, the most pleasant day, alternating weeks of fartleks in a park (run hard til you're exhausted, then run easy until you've recovered, then run hard again, then easy, at will), and "long" but easy pace (heart rate in zones 1-3). And long isn't even long -- only 10 miles this past weekend. The whole point of speed training is not to do much distance so your legs are okay with working harder.
There are other solo "recovery" runs on the schedule some days (maybe Wed and Sat?) but I kind of ignore those workouts since I get the 19 miles of commuting and that's plenty of outside class running to be doing in any given week.
Pretty much every Tues and Thurs, I have doubts about whether I can finish the workout. Serious doubts. Doubts when I start the run, but doubts that get even louder in the middle of the run.
Last week Thurs was 3 miles of tempo, and I felt like I was bargaining with myself every half mile, to just go one more half mile, then we could slow down. But I managed to finish, keeping a fairly consistent pace and having my heart rate do what it should.
Yesterday was 4 hill loops, and after the first loop, I said to my buddy there was no way I could do 3 more. He said to take them one at a time. I gave that a shot. I managed to do my first 3 loops at a steady pace -- 4:29, 4:30, 4:29 (the loop is obviously less than a mile). Nice. But I really struggled for that last 4:29 loop (loop 3), and so my final and fourth loop was agony. My heart rate was near zone 5, and my pace was slowing involuntarily. I just felt like there was no way I could keep going. My buddy was nearby and he was encouraging me, but he grew further and further ahead of me. Loop 4 ended up being a 4:37 that felt more like 10 minutes of death. Overall split, not bad. I'm quite happy to have less than 10 seconds of variation between my fastest and slowest loops, But during the run, that last loop seriously felt like it would never end.
But then it does, and I survive a slow cooldown (on Thursday I had to ask my friends to walk a minute because my heart rate just wasn't coming down, but no one complained). And then when I'm back at my care, I realize that I have ended the workouts so proud of myself for completing them. It seems like a small miracle every single time. I almost can't believe it when I make a checkmark on the paper copy of the schedule that I keep in my car. True, the commute to work a couple hours later is basically a slow jog (which mentally is 100% no problem, I seriously don't care how long it takes, I just don't want to drive), but the point is, I've been able to finish the scheduled runs, giving the scheduled effort, much to my own amazement.
Anyway, since my bro and his wife run and they're coming to visit this weekend, we have a lot of running planned. First, on Saturday, we'll do the St. Pat's 5k, my favorite Dallas race of all time. My bro and I plan to run the first mile together since he likes my goal pace for that mile, then he said he may speed up, and I will inevitably hold steady (well, that's the plan, haha, I love how I claimed it was inevitable. What I meant was it's of course possible I'd slow, but I don't see being able to speed up.). I've already told him that the second I cross the finish line, I will be tearing off my chip and running the course backwards until I find my accounting buddy, and then I will walk (and maybe run a little!) to the finish line with her. But it should be a manageably hard effort for the 5k. No chance of a PR, but that's fine, I may go for a legit 5k attempt after all this speed training is over.
Anyway, I'm taking a long time to get to the point... Anyway, I'm planning on bringing my bro and sister-in-law to the park with me for Sunday's run, since we pretty much run at any pace we want. We'll be able to easily split up or run together, whatever we want.
I figured it would be fun to have a bunch of my running buddies meet us for breakfast after the race, so I sent an email to the whole group. I said that since we have a 30 minute late start (so we don't run in the dark in the park, which would be a recipe for a sprained ankle), we should celebrate with breakfast.
The responses I've gotten have given me so much comfort:
“I would say 3 weeks of survival is cause for celebration.”
“This is a brilliant idea! I'm looking forward to actually talking with/getting to know people since my efforts are usually focused on not dying every morning. :)”
“Personally I am thinking that death might just be an option for me………..At least I could stop the workout! :-)”So bottom line is that I feel like I'm dying when I do these workouts, but now I feel better to be reminded that I'm not the only one who feels like dying.
I run toward the middle of this speed training group, so there are people faster and slower than me out there, but it's just a nice reminder that 100% effort is 100% painful for everyone, regardless of what that pace is. I just look around me and think everyone else has it so easy, they're such natural runners, or they're hill monsters, or they don't seem to be struggling at all. But in fact, they are struggling, maybe they're even making deals with themselves about "just one more half mile" too.
Ahh, the joys of commiserating about shared uncomfortable circumstances. It makes everything better. One of the great things about running with friends.