My first month of boot camp in September 2010, my coach timed me in the mile. It was on a track and we were supposed to run “as fast as we could” and by the time I was done I wanted to die. I was SO exhausted but I was also SO PROUD because I did it in 10:30. Since my long distance pace was always around 12-minute/miles, A 10:30 single mile seemed great. When we measured again in 3 weeks I cut about 15-30 seconds off, if I recall. And I’ve just been getting faster since.
Tuesday night my training required me to do a 2-mile Tempo Run. This article describes that as a bit slower than a 5K race pace.
Exercise physiologist and coach Pete Pfitzinger adds: “For very fit runners, the pace is between 15K and half-marathon race pace.” For those fond of using heart rate monitors, Daniels notes that tempo runs are done at 90% of maximum. However, most runners seem to find it easier to use running speed as a guide.
For me? It’s just my 5K pace. I don’t have that much of a differentiation in my speeds yet. I have a solid 5K pace that I can kinda feel, and I’m getting to the point where I can kinda feel my “easy” or “long run” pace. I extrapolate everything else. So, I did 1 warm-up mile and then my 2-mile Tempo using my 5K race pace and DO YOU SEE HOW FAST I DID IT? That picture is a screen shot. I did my first mile in UNDER 8 MINUTES. I might have done the second one that fast but I had to wait for a car so that slowed me by about 6-10 seconds at least. Seeing that blew my MIND.
Last night, my coach wanted me and a few others to do a time trial because we didn’t do the local 2-mile race this weekend. He wanted us to “race” it. I’m still not sure how to extrapolate the 2-mile race pace from the 5K, so I started with that. Since we were doing laps on the track and he was calling our times each time around (Those are “splits”) then I figured I could make adjustments.
The first lap was 1:57. They stayed right around there the entire time. It was tough during the first lap to find my pace. I didn’t think I could sustain a “Huffing and Puffing” pace for 8 laps, so I wanted to avoid that. I ran where my breathing was heavy, but I was able to control it. I finished those 8 laps, those 2 miles, in 15:39. That means I did each mile in 7:50. That’s 2 minutes and 40 seconds faster than that first mile at boot camp a year-and-a-half ago.
I owe this to a combination of 2 things.
1) Exercises like burpees and jump squats in boot camp – moves that train me to get used to that heavy breathing sensation you get when you run fast;
2) Speed work with these Fleet Feet training groups. Things like repeats, but also hills, and tempo runs.
I mean, I’m not going to be invited to join a racing team any time soon, but DAMN if I’m not proud of myself. My goal is to race a 5K in under 25 minutes. I hit 25 minutes even on New Years Eve, so I should be able to come in under, especially with that 2-mile time. I’m just super proud. I never knew you could get that much faster. It teaches me to never trust my instinctive limitations. If I did that, I would have never been able to feel this AMAZING at something I accomplished.