Friday, December 14, 2012

#415: Intervals: Just Keep Going

There are a lot of different kinds of runs. One of my favorites is the Long Slow one. I usually schedule one a week, at least 8 miles: longer if I'm training for a race. This is pure endurance training, miles for their own sake. I always record my time and pace from these runs, but I rarely pay much attention to them while I'm on the road. More often than not, I'm enjoying the scenery or the company if there is any.

A Recovery Run is great after a hard workout or race. 2-4 distance. Easy jogging. Lots of walk breaks. I use it to keep the joints moving and get the blood flowing. A Recovery Run is a healing run.

Tempo Runs are more aggressive. They're all about speed. If you have a time goal for an upcoming event, you might try to hit your goal pace for part of a run or even the majority of your workout. Tempo Runs can take you a little beyond your threshold of comfort.

Then there are Intervals. Intervals take you way past the threshold. Yesterday's was an interval workout. I jogged about a mile to warm up, then set my timer to go off every thirty seconds. For the next three miles, I tried to hit progressively faster speeds, for half a minute, with walk breaks in between. By mile 4, I was running at 8 MPH: that's a pace of 7:30 per mile. That's about as fast as I can go no the treadmill which makes it about as fast as I can go.I was pleased that I could keep the intervals up for the entire last mile.I guess the next step is to start making the quick ones a few seconds longer. In any case, yesterday had more than it's share of frustrations, so I was glad for the chance to blow off some steam out on the trail.

The run got me thinking about "intervals" in general. You know, the way life can sometimes feel like you're either going full speed or not moving at all? I'm sure everybody has times like that. During a depressive "spell," it seems like that's all there is. You're either frozen, not daring (or wanting) to move, or else everything around you seems to be moving at light speed and you don't see any way in the world of keeping up.

One of the hard lessons a runner has to learn is "Run Your Own Race" If you have a competitive bone in your body, you always feel a little tug when another runner passes you. You don't want to get left behind by that kid or that old guy or that pregnant lady pushing a stroller. But the truth is that sometimes, runners are just faster than you are. You have to learn to let them go. I guess that's how I manage my dark times nowadays. I remind myself that I'm running injured. I can't go as hard as I'm used to going. There are some parts of life that I just have to let run on past me. That's tough. I may not be a champion, but I'm pretty driven to always give my best. It's tough to take when your "best" only feels like 45%.

I started on the new, higher dose of "nerve pills" yesterday. The chemistry takes time to adjust. Time. It's just one more of those things that you have to let go at their own pace and trust that you'll catch up eventually. In the meantime, the people who love you suffer right along with you. Harsh words are spoken, promises are broken, plans fall through. At its worst, the disease tries to convince you that the only solution is to stop running and get out of the race. I know that voice well. It spoke to me with screams around mile 16 of my marathon when my legs started cramping at every stride. All I could think, all I could say was, "Just keep moving." Every time my watch beeped for another walk break, I just wanted to put my hands on my knees, fall to the curb, lay down in the gutter and quit. But I knew people were counting on me. I was counting on myself. "Just keep going."

On the track, you can make it through the intervals by reminding yourself that they don't last forever. Your lungs burn and your legs ache, but you know that the sprint only lasts for a few more seconds. You know that the hard part doesn't last. You can make it. You just keep going.

And in the end, what's left is the strength. Your heart comes through stronger. You recover faster. You move a little quicker. That's why you run intervals on the track. And I guess, I do them in life for the same reason. I just have to trust that they'll be over eventually and I'll be stronger for having gotten through them.

Just gotta keep going.


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