As a runner, my relationship with speed has evolved quite a lot in the past three years. My speed has moved in one direction–down–with each marathon training, as I find a comfortable marathon/life balance.
I kind of think of 2020–before any marathon training–as my fast year. With the lockdown, running became the main way that I got out of the house! It gave me an emotional uplift during a challenging time. Plus, I came into the year riding on a lot of positive momentum from 2019, in which I ran two half marathons and began to think about running a marathon. For these reasons, I ended up running further and faster in 2020 than I ever had: I ran my first 20-milers* and completed 1350 miles at an average pace of 8:45. Now that is speedy!
In 2021, I took on marathon training with gusto. I quickly realized that slowing down was the key for me going the marathon distance. Yet slowing down was not easy. Even going 9:30 for an 18 miler was a revelation. I still struggled with a “need for speed”**. This showed during my solo marathon, where I attempted to run 9-minute miles, struggled to finish, and ended up with something closer to 9:30. Overall, training was intense, exciting, sometimes overwhelming, yet thrilling.
Last Fall for marathon #2, I slowed down to 10-minute miles or slower. I did this because a) I wanted to handle the higher weekly mileage load of the program I was doing, and because b) my coach said I needed to slow down in order to stay healthy (!). This adjustment helped dramatically, and I had an amazing and very intense training experience. The marathon itself went very well, and I ended up going just above a 9-minute per mile pace.
This year for marathon #3, I care more than ever about endurance over speed. I also wanted to ease up on the intensity of training and better enjoy myself throughout the process. Taking on Galloway’s approach, I added walk breaks and embraced the 11-minute mile long run pace. Despite a few bumps along the way, these changes are significantly helping to make training for a marathon quite manageable with the rest of life. Completing the Galloway program also sorta gives me bragging rights, since I completed a 20 miler, 23 miler, 26 miler, and a 27.5 miler over a ten week period in preparation for CIM 🙂
All in all, it has been a satisfying progression that is growing my abilities as a long-distance runner.
*In fact, I did three of them…that’s 20, 20, and 20 in 2020!
**This is ironic, because “go slow” is literally my name!