WOW! Tuesday's morning workout was GREAT!!! I don't know if it was simply the fact that I was outside or if there was more to it, but I really enjoyed getting up early and running some drills through a drizzly fog.
When I run outdoors in the morning it's usually dark, at least this time of the year, and so I strap on a headlamp. Depending on what time I get outside, the headlamp isn't so much for me to be able to see where I'm going as it is for other people/cars to see me. Tuesday I was out around 6:45, and so there was a fair amount of traffic along the road I was running, which meant quite a bit of light due to their headlights.
The weather was pretty rotten, but it was WARM! Around 40F, my thermometer said!! This meant that even the sidewalks that hadn't been properly shoveled to remove the snow from the day before were fairly clear and not too slippery.
I definitely found this Tuesday's workout easier and more enjoyable to perform than the similar one last week. Tuesdays in this training regimen are for "if you've properly recovered from the weekend run, work on footwork & going fast!" When I first read about this workout I thought it would be awful -- doing running-based drills was always the worst part of sports practices! But after some thought I realized that the drills could actually be FUN! They're kind of a game, in fact.
The basics of the workout are:
1. Warm up with easy jogging.
2. Pick up the pace a little bit -- run for 30 seconds counting left-footstrikes, then walk for a minute; the next 30 seconds, try to hit the ground 1-2 times more than you did the first 30 seconds (a.k.a. run slightly faster). Repeat a few times.
3. Work on transitions: go several steps slowly, then several steps faster, then over the course of several more steps work up to race-pace -- and then stop trying and let momentum carry your legs back to slow jogging. I'm not sure that I really see the point of this yet, but it's okay. If nothing else, it doesn't take long.
4. Run a mile at race pace. I've settled on shooting for 10:30 miles for the May 5 half-marathon. I have a feeling I could go faster than this if I really pushed it, but it's already a 25-second-per-mile faster speed than I did my first half at, and that's a pretty good jump. Tuesday's race-pace mile was actually rather faster than the goal pace (...refer to the report on the weekend speed work...). While it's splendid that I can run-walk-run a mile in less time than I want to, the goal is really to do this all SAFELY and gently! So I still need to work on knowing how race-pace feels so that I don't go too fast.
5. Jog some more until the total time is 45 minutes. I set out a bit late Tuesday morning, so it was more a total of around 40 minutes. Close enough.
While wandering in to work thinking about the morning run, I realized that it wasn't that much different from a sports practice. The difference was that I was the coach! I was the one keeping track of the time for the repeats and internally yelling to myself "GO!" and "keep moving!" I got a better appreciation for why doing such drills in other sports was useful. Just like for the half-marathon I'm training for, the drills work to make muscles stronger and more responsive...and give a mental challenge to keep going to reach the end!