I used to love my tempo runs. Loved them. They made me feel powerful and fast and invincible. Until last week, when it just made me feel beat up and depressed.
A little bit of the shine came back this week, though.
One of the things I was struggling with last week were tight, sore leg muscles that no amount of stretching seemed to loosen up. I cursed them every time I went down the stairs, but it wasn't until Tuesday night that the painfully (pun intended) obvious solution finally hit me - it was foam roller time!
And it was just what I needed. A whole lot of rolling Tuesday and Wednesday did the trick, and my legs were finally feeling good again.
Tuesday's track workout, despite the legs that felt like lead, went pretty well. One-mile repeats, at 7:00, 6:58, and 6:59.
I can't say I wasn't nervous about today's tempo, though - especially when I saw that I was going to have the added bonus of running those 8 miles in a 20 - 30mph wind (gusting up to 40mph). At least it was warm, though. Close to 60, in fact!
As I started out, I decided that I was going to be kind to myself today, and not get upset if the first few miles were on the slow side. I knew I'd be better off with negative splits.
The first mile is relatively flat, but then miles 2 and 3 are down a long stretch of road that, while not exactly ALL uphill, is a very slow, gradual, steady climb. I've run this route many, many times now, and I know that part is the worst. And I know that as I approach the halfway point, I'm at the end of that stretch, and that's where I always want to throw in the towel.
Every week I know it's coming, and I'm prepared for it, and I spend most of mile 3 reminding myself that I'll soon be rewarded with a nice, flat stretch. Today I had the additional challenge of fighting the wind the entire time, too - there were even a few spots where I actually had to steady myself, the wind was blowing so hard.
I got through that godawful 2 miles, though, and it was such a relief to turn the corner and be out of the wind, and not climbing anymore.
I had been averaging between a 7:25 and 7:30 pace up to that point, and continued at that pace for miles 4 and 5. Then came mile 6, and a glorious, wonderful downhill, where I was able to pick it up to a 7:13 pace.
Miles 6 - 7 have a couple of small hills, and I was back down to 7:21, but I knew those were the last 2 inclines I'd have to tackle, and it was all flat from that point on. And I only had a mile left, and I was going to make it count. Mile 8 - 7:10.
Eight miles completed in 58:57, for an average pace of 7:22.
I can't say I enjoyed it, but it wasn't as painful as last week, so that's something.
This is really the work phase of training, as far as I'm concerned. Motivation is lacking, enthusiasm is waning, and I just want to be done. I think I wrote almost that exact same sentence when I was at this point in my training for Hartford. It's like deja vu.
Once again, I find myself counting down constantly. Only 5 1/2 more weeks 'til race day. Only 3 more weeks 'til taper. Only 5 more track workouts. Only 3 more tempo runs. Only one more 20-miler.
And I grit my teeth and get through the workouts - because in the end, I know that it will all be worth it. If it wasn't, I wouldn't do it.