Last week felt like the classic tale about The Tortoise and The Hare.
This comparison is slightly tenuous, but roll with it for now, ok?…
When running, I’m usually the hare. I want to get stuff done and tick it off the list. The quicker the better. And you know when he takes the nap in the middle of the race? I can’t say I’ve done the exact same thing, but I’ve certainly participated in some over-indulgent afternoon naps instead of training for previous events. Sometimes the temptation to get horizontal is just too real. But if you don’t need it, I don’t recommend it.
Anyway, this week my role was the tortoise. I had two goals. Run 30 miles with a max heart rate (HR) of 155BPM. This translates to running much slower for longer.
Now, we all know the tortoise wins the race, but what was he thinking along the way? I ran a total of 35 miles and feel like I got a bit of insight…
HE PROBABLY ENJOYED HIS RACE A LOT MORE…
Going slow means you’ve got more time to take in your surroundings and appreciate the views around you. It makes for a more satisfying session. On Sunday, I stood for a few minutes looking over The Meadows, Arthur Seat and Edinburgh Castle. They are landmarks I see daily and take for granted, but stopping to look at them reminded me how lucky I am to run around this amazing city.
You also say hello to a lot of other runners, releasing that little hit of serotonin. So, you know, you’re happier.
AND WAS MORE AWARE OF HOW HIS BODY FELT.
At points, I felt very tortoise-like, particularly when my HR was over 155bpm and I needed to lower it by going very slowly. But the point is, I could feel that it needed to be lowered. On my Sunday long run, I could feel when my HR was faster before looking at my watch. I was more aware of my breathing and how my body felt. Two weeks ago I didn’t even know where the heart rate function on my watch was and my chest monitor was still in its packaging.
Running at a slower pace also made me check in with myself a lot more since I’m on my feet longer. I’d ask myself “Does anything hurt?” “Is my foot sore?”. More often than not, everything actually felt fine.
I DOUBT HE FELT 100% AFTERWARDS
That doesn’t mean to say I felt brilliant at the end of the week. I wasn’t in any pain and nothing hurt, but I was so tired. Not just physically, but mentally too. Doing this much in the week alongside work and the rest of my life took a lot of planning and strict timekeeping. By Thursday, I had three bags of clothes and a mountain of Tupperware at work. I ran home (the long way) from the office a lot so I could fit the sessions in and make my other commitments. By Monday, I was a heap on the couch watching a film about World War 2 with a cat trampling over my face as I tried to stay awake. Running five sessions between work and travel took it out of me, but hey! I think I’ve unlocked a new planning superpower, and it demonstrated why rest days are so important.
BUT I BET HE RECOVERED QUICKER.
Back to that bit about pain, or lack of. My worry was that I wouldn’t recover enough to go out again the next day, but that was never an issue. What I realised this week is that 10km is the new 5km for me. I remember when I’d run 10km and be ruined for days. My legs would be sore and my hips ached, but now I feel fine. Once I’m out of the shower and changed, normal service resumes. This week did open my eyes to the progress I’ve made since the start of the year and it meant I didn’t go into the next day dreading my run because I felt alright.
THAT TORTOISE PROBABLY RAN RAIN OR SHINE.
This week I can safely say I went out in the worst weather ever. The first run of the week was 70 minutes of constant horizontal rain, wind and cold. At one point, a car drove through a puddle causing a wave of water to hit me, and I didn’t even care. That’s how wet I already was. My husband put me on the bath mat when I got home and I could physically wring my clothes as if they’d just come out of the washing machine. However, two podcasts and a pile of drenched gear later, I was sitting at home proud that I’d gone out. There’s nothing like a goal to get you moving…even if it’s slowly.
FINALLY, HIS STRAVA PROBABLY LOOKED GREAT.
He was probably really proud of his HR stats and frequency of his training runs, I would imagine…
So be the tortoise. It’s a really good learning experience…