What do you do when you need a confidence boost, running-wise?
All this spring weather lately has made me want to run long, but I wasn’t feeling up to the task mentally. My mileage had gone down over the winter, for one thing. I was also worried that after having gotten used to the constant distractions of trail running and the variable settings on the treadmill that my brain was no longer wired properly to just get lost in a long slow road run with minimal gear shifting.
Thank goodness for last year’s run/walk time-trial experiments. Up until some marathon maniacs clued me in to how strategic walk breaks could actually increase your overall speed on distances of over 5 miles or so, I was stuck in the old school runner’s rut of thinking of walking on a run as a humiliating disaster.
This past week I did a 4:1 run/walk ratio on a 7-mile run, and it was both liberating and confidence building. First of all, this eliminated any worries that I might poop out and have to walk at some point. More importantly, because I was only running 4 minutes at a time, I could go much faster. I also “reset” my form on every running segment so that I wasn’t getting hunched over as I tired.
The miles passed quickly and I wasn’t tense about whether or not I was going to struggle. I figured if I needed a slower jog pace for one of my 4-minute sessions I’d do that, but even after starting a couple of them out at an easy pace, I wound up getting fired up and finishing strong.
I don’t think I’m ready to make this my main means of locomotion, but I’m sure glad I had it in my repertoire to help get me over the hump.