I'm not quite ready to say, "I'm back, baby," a la George Costanza, but I do feel more myself this week, after three runs that were just what they ought to be, and much less back talk from my ankle and achilles tendon.
After my long run on Sunday (which counts as last week), where I finished feeling tired and achy all over, I really didn't know how Monday's recovery run would go. I was prepared for sluggish and slow. I just started out easy and tried not to stress about pace.
After a couple miles of warm-up, I decided to incorporate some fartleks, pushing the pace a little for a block or two, jogging the next block, and so forth. I figured this would add a little fun (runner fun) and make the run go faster--both psychologically and literally. I wasn't paying too much attention to the pace on my watch, so I was pleased to find out when I got home that I ran each mile a little faster than the one before! From the beginning--10:56, 10:21, 9:55, 9:38, 9:24, 9:16, 9:08 and 9:07 (half mile). Total 7.5 miles, 9:46 average pace.
My next running day was Wednesday, speed work day. I had already decided to switch out hill repeats for a re-do of last week's failed 800's (6). Once again my first few miles were slow. I did four miles warm-up on the way to the track.
The first half mile interval was not encouraging--4:06 and an 8:11 pace. But from #2 on things improved. I tried to focus on running well, landing on my mid- to forefoot and pushing off, rather than just trying to make myself run faster. I was jogging about .2 mile in between laps for the first four, then knocked it down to .1 mile for the rest because I was running out of time. My remaining intervals:
2 - 3:53 (7:43 pace)
3 - 3:54 (7:52 pace)
4 - 3:55 (7:44 pace--lap was long)
5 - 3:53 (7:43 pace)
6 - 3:44 (7:25 pace--woo hoo!)
Total run distance - 8.51 miles, 9:23 average pace.
Finally, today. Today was really the best day of the running week, just because it went well even though it was a second consecutive running day after somewhat hard speed work. Today's run was a progressive tempo run. After each two-mile segment I attempted to increase my pace by about 30 seconds (roughly), starting with 10:30+ pace and finishing sub-8:30.
Miles 1-2 - 10:56, 10:32
Miles 3-4 - 10:08, 9:56
Miles 5-6 - 9:29, 9:33 (Mile 5 was a special triumph because for the first .4 mile I thought I was still in the 10-minute segment. So then I had to speed up enough to correct my average pace. I was a little stunned that I succeeded!)
Miles 7-8 - 9:10, 8:52
Mile 9 - 8:20
Mile 10 - 8:54
The reason I split up the last segment was because I knew I would arrive home before finishing mile 10 (it was at 9.5). I wasn't sure if I'd have time to finish out a mile or would need to just quit at 9.5 (and get ready for work). If I did finish off the extra half mile, I knew I couldn't keep up an 8:30 pace just running around the block! So I intentionally let the final mile drop to closer to a 9 minute mile.
I did make the extra loops around the block, though. Total distance, 10.10 miles, 9:35 pace.
So, so far, so good. Of course the biggest challenge of the week remains... 18 miles on Saturday, including a half marathon in Seattle (I'm not planning on running race pace though). And, just to make things extra fun, Saturday is supposed to be hot, probably the hottest day we've had this summer! All the more reason to take it slow.