I love long run days, which for me are almost always Sundays. The fact that it is winter in Chicago IMO makes it even more luxurious. First of all I get to wake up without an alarm, since there’s no rush to beat the nonexistent heat. Then there’s breakfast. Lately, I’m all about warming up from the inside out. I’ve gotten into plain oatmeal with peanut butter and a tiny bit of sugar, and bananas if I have them around. I can’t do coffee before running, but a large, steaming mug of green tea is perfection…just the right combination of hydration with a hit of caffeine.
Today, I followed breakfast with a quick dynamic warm-up of leg swings, squats, calf raises, side kicks, high knees, and butt kicks, then headed out for a blustery, slightly snowy seven-miler. My past few runs, I’ve consciously been trying to keep my pace in check. I am definitely guilty of not taking my easy runs and long runs as slowly as I should, so lately I’ve been making hefty use of the pace alerts on the Garmin watch my parents got me for Christmas (thanks Mom and Dad!).
I set today’s pace for 10:00-11:00. Still went out too fast on the first mile, but it was closer than some of them have been. I was also proud of myself for keeping my speed up even when I turned around and spent the second half of my run running directly into a 17-m.p.h. headwind. The most exciting part, though, was I felt good enough heading into the final mile that I decided to try and hit my projected half marathon race pace or better, just to see if I could do it. Ended up going well under pace, about 8:35, and didn’t feel totally trashed by the time I got home.
It was the first time I’d done anything like that in training, and I’m still riding the high from it. It’s like I’ve gotten a taste of what is possible, and I want to keep going just to see where my limits are. Can’t wait to get back out there this week and continue putting in the work, one step at a time.