Let’s get one thing out on the table…
I don’t know what I’m doing.
I started running after hearing about the Warrior Dash in 2011. Want to know how much running I had done before signing up? Pretty sure my last sprint was in high school… in 2000… for a fitness test. And I hated it. I hated every minute of it. I logged an 18 minute mile in high school, shuffling along as best I could but running a block was a nightmare.
My husband patiently taught me how to use a treadmill. I was terrified of it, and the first time he got me set up on it, I almost started to cry. I remember arguing with him about how I couldn’t do it. It was moving too fast… how was I ever going to stay coordinated enough to not fall on my face? I mean, I’m not the epitome of ‘accepts new things willingly’, so this was way harder in my head that it actually was in person. New things frighten me and send me into a flight response. I have a lot of anxiety when it comes to not knowing exactly how something will work and what to expect from in… so this treadmill was like that walking naked into a test I hadn’t prepared for dream everyone has.
Still, I kept at it.
Still, I hated it. But I wanted to run the Warrior Dash so bad!
I decided to try running outside. The app Zombies Run had just come out, and I gave it a go. It made the time pass quicker, and it made going for a run more exciting. I wanted to run, because I wanted to know what was happening in Abel Township. Still, I walked most of my miles, and my pace was only slightly better than high school, averaging to 16ish minutes.
I remember telling a friend I ran a 16 minute mile. Their response was “you must be doing something wrong, that’s not very fast”. I remember being proud of my 16 minute mile, knowing where I’d previously been, but this comment crushed me. They told me to come running with them and they’d help me get faster. Cue the anxiety girl again. I felt like I wasn’t good enough, suddenly, and running with friends became something I actively avoided. I didn’t want to be made fun of or criticized, and pushing myself made me feel faint and sweaty and awful… so I made excuses to keep running alone.
Going it alone is something I resort to, a lot. And in this case, it probably wasn’t my smartest choice. I’ve been fairly stagnant, thanks to trying to just run how I thought a runner should run – but what the hell did I know about running? Literally nothing other than right foot, left foot, don’t fall down.
It’s been quite some time, now, and I have just been running however I feel like running. Sometimes it’s intervals. Sometimes it’s slow and steady for distance. Sometimes I push myself as had and as fast as I can. Still… Not much has happened in the “Kat Getting Faster” camp. I now run about a 13:30 fast pace, but a 14 minute long run pace. And I want to be faster. This is where the struggle comes in.
I don’t know how to get faster.
People tell me “interval” or “do fartleks” (hehe, fartlek), or whatever have you, but I can’t seem to figure out how these things work for me. So I just… run. I have yet to find someone who tells me ‘this is a plan I have used to get faster, follow it’.
What I have learned I that I can’t be trusted to just do it myself. I have to have a plan. While training for the half marathon, I followed my plan and that was easy. It was less scary to me to know there was a path laid out, and all I had to do was follow it. It wasn’t advice coming from someone who doesn’t know what running with a heart murmur is like, or advice from one of those people who just naturally run fast… it was just a piece of paper telling me “go 8 miles today”.
I have learned that running is not an easy sport. Running is hard. It’s challenging. It’s mental AND physical, and it can break your spirit one day and raise you up the next. What I want to do is have a better relationship with running… with clear goals and a plan to get there. So here is my plan:
After the half marathon, we’re working on speed. Somehow. We’ll figure it out. We’ll develop a plan. And we will do our best to take advice and stop going it alone…
PS: I know I’ve been pretty awful at regularly posting – consistency in blogging hasn’t ever been my strong suit. I’m working on that!