Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Why Tough Run Workouts Make Me Happy

Today is the day I leave on my Epic Road Trip! I'm headed to Seattle to pick up Katie and start on our adventure.

I am SO SUPER EXCITED about exploring Portland for the first time, running on Pre's trail in Eugene and the Embarcadero in San Francisco, driving the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway, and hitting the beach in Los Angeles. And that's all happening before the intense mountain viewing that will occur in the following two weeks (that route has changed a bit -- will update more later!).

We've been having some stereotypical Washington weather for the past two days, so I'm eager to hit some sunshine. However, I love cooler temperatures and overcast skies when I'm doing killer speed work.

On Monday, Coach Jess had me doing mile repeats again. Since I'm sure you're all absolutely avid readers of my training recaps, you'll recall that Jess had me running mile repeats on Friday as well, and I'd squished in an online Physique 57 workout since I'd pushed back strength earlier in the week. Then yoga Saturday and a slightly faster-paced cutback week long run on Sunday. I assumed my Monday speed work would be a disaster since Jess added an additional mile repeat.

Back to the beginning... my mom and I drove out to Semiahmoo, a spit surrounding Drayton Harbor with views of the ocean, Canadian Cascades (they call them the Coastal Mountains), and White Rock, B.C. across the bay. There's a great path that runs from one end to the other, which is about a mile. The perfect place for mile repeats!

After a warm-up mile to one end, my first mile was 8:07, faster than any of my Friday mile repeats. My legs had felt so tired in the first half mile that I was shocked I could be hitting a pace like that. However, when I do speed work, my goal is to never go slower than the first repeat, so I pushed harder for the second mile and ended up with a 7:59. The third mile slowed down a bit, 8:06, and I was unsure if I could do one more mile.

I took an extra minute of recovery (three minutes instead of two) and then put on my favorite speed work song: Mumford & Sons's "I Will Wait." I started out fast, I could tell, but for some reason I decided not to check my watch until the very end of the mile. I was kind of sure it was my fastest mile, but I was still shocked when mile 4 clocked in at 7:49. HELL. YES.

Why did I decide to spend a long post on a single speed workout? Because these mile repeats completely encapsulated what I've loved about marathon training so far.

I keep seeing workouts and mileage that completely freak me out, to the point where I'll procrastinate a run or workout until noon because I'm so scared that I just won't be able to handle it. Only every time, I've proved those nagging thoughts wrong and left the path feeling strong and capable of anything.

Well, that's a partial lie. I sat on the sidewalk for about 10 minutes after finishing my fourth mile repeat and then I ran my slow cool down mile and felt strong and amazing. It's kind of the most amazing feeling to continually be proving how incredible your body is.

Okay, I'm off to Portland!!

Does tackling tough workouts make you feel stronger? What's your favorite tough workout weather?


  1. Nice going, Jen! Doing the "impossible"--and redefining your limits--is so fun and rewarding. That's one of the big reasons I love running and triathloning. Have fun bopping around Portland! :)

  2. This Fall weather is the BEST workout weather. And they do make me feel stronger, but I always get a knot of dread in my stomach at the thought of speed workouts.

    Hope you're enjoying your road trip, LOVE the obligatory stop in Eugene, can't wait to see THOSE pictures

  3. I am learning to absolutely love the tough workouts. I HAVE to get them in early early morning and love the mixed sense of dread/anticipation/excitement as I fall asleep for what is to come in the morning.
    WAY TO CRUSH IT!!!! You are kicking ass :)

  4. Nailing mile repeats is the best feeling in the world! I loved doing them while training for Vermont! I had no idea I had 7:xx splits in me.

    Great job, Jen! Have fun on your awesome trip!

  5. Awesome!!! A 7 is amazing! Great work and keep it up!!! Your training WILL pay off!

  6. Beth @RxBethOnTheRunAugust 28, 2013 at 11:30 AM

    Amazing job! You CRUSHED those mile repeats. I couldn't agree more that feeling intimidated by a workout or long run distance and achieving what you didn't think was possible is one of the things I am loving most about marathon training. The BEST feeling! Keep up the great work, Jen! You're going to rock your first marathon!