A couple of weeks ago, I did a 3 mile tempo run. It wasn't easy, by any means, but it also wasn't that terrible. I did it at Centennial park and just ran around the measured mile loop that I have there. I know all the quarters and was able to easily keep on pace.
No big deal, just cruising through my baby workouts.
Last week, I was given the same workout. Instead of going to the park, I decided to hijack The KoB and I's Wednesday night run and run it on the road. I knew it would be a little tougher, but I just expected it to be tough at the end, because there's a hill to climb. The first 1.5 was pretty much all downhill.
We started the tempo and from the first step... things didn't feel well. I started to freak out a little, because, this was the beginning of the tempo and it was downhill. Yet, it felt like shit. What was the last part of the tempo going to feel like going uphill?
Not looking good.
By the time we turned around, I was pretty convinced that I was going to either die trying to continue on with the tempo run, or I would end up slowing down to a 13:50 pace or something. We climbed up the hill and it felt like I was crawling. When we got to the top of it, I tried to speed up to make up for time and when we finished, I was pretty close to throwing up all over the road.
It was practically this by the end.
We finished with about a 15 second pace increase from the previous week. So, not a failure really, at all. I was pretty defeated though. I mean, it felt 100x worse than the previous week. Even the downhill part. WHY?
The KoB made a great point. He said that it's tougher to do a tempo when you don't really have any idea what pace you're going at any given time. When I run at Centennial, there are two bonuses: 1. I know what I'm running every quarter of a mile and can adjust accordingly and 2. Checking my pace every quarter of a mile gives me something else to focus on.
I have really been thinking about this a lot. In past training cycles, I have been so concerned with getting my workouts done by the numbers, but, I haven't really been taking into consideration, the mental benefits of workouts. I need to train my brain, that I'm not going to be able to focus on my pace for every quarter of mile during races. Hell, I'll be lucky if there are mile markers to focus on. Training my brain to be able find somewhere else to go during races could be very valuable for me.
Physically, I feel like I am a really tough and can gut my way through a lot of physical pain. But, mentally in races... I am so fragile and weak. Any little thing can set me off and get me down and make me want to quit on my goal. And, I'm starting to think that my past training has only made that worse.
All this to say, I think doing these tempo runs on the roads is going to make a HUGE difference for me. As much as I crave the soothing rhythm of a flat, well marked loop for workouts, I think it's time to start thinking about training my brain just as much as I think about training my body.