Posted by: libbith | February 18, 2009

Need For Speed

I have alluded to this already, but something I have been struggling with from about week two of running is my speed, or lack thereof.  It seems to me that, in training, you can have one of two goals: distance, or time.  So far, my goal has purely been distance.  I couldn’t run when I started, and now I can run nearly five miles.  That is a huge distance accomplishment. The entire time, however, I have been running somewhere just a bit faster than an 11-minute mile.

When I started running on the treadmill, I arbitrarily set the speed at 5.5 mph.  I had always “run” at about 5.0, and though I should go faster.  Much more than that, I couldn’t handle, much less didn’t feel quite like a run.  Even though I stopped going on the treadmill about a month ago, I still run around the same speed.  I seem to be physically programmed that way now.  Even during my race, with all the adrenaline and motivation of others around me, my pace was around 10:30-minutes per mile.  This entire time, my boyfriend has run faster than me.  He set his treadmill at 6.0 and just seems to keep getting faster.  Every friend I run with also runs at about that speed, or faster.  I seem to be the slowest one around.

I was told by everyone at the beginning to forget about speed and just build up endurance.  So I did.  Or I tried really, really hard to.  But now, while I’m no where near a real long-distance runner, I feel like I’ve completed a distance milestone and I want to get faster.  And I don’t think that is wrong, nor do I think I should feel ashamed by that goal.  A little bit of it is about feeling like the slowest one on the road, but a lot of it is just about improving what I can do.  My problem is, I don’t know how to get faster.  If I run faster, I feel like I can’t go anywhere, let alone a fraction of my current distance.  Plus, I’ve worked so hard to get that distance, I’m afraid of scaling back in order to get the speed.  Finally, everything ye olde internets says about training for speed warns of not trying it if you don’t consistently run at least 15-20 miles per week and have been running for a long time.  I run somewhere between 13 and 15 miles a week, and have been doing it for two-and-a-half months.

So where does that leave me? Feeling fairly uninspired as I do the same run over and over.  We have a 5k race coming up this Saturday and I am hoping it goes well and I can push myself in the speed department.  My mom will be there, and she and I run at a similar pace, so it may help to have her nearby.  Or it may make it worse.  It is also in Prospect Park and, since I have never run there, I have no idea what to expect.  Again, could be a good thing because I can’t psyche myself out, or could be a bad thing because I won’t know what to expect and how to pace myself.  I am curious to see what happens.


  1. …and why is there a possibility that my presence may make “it worse”???!

  2. Because I didn’t know if we were going to run together or not! Turns out, you’re faster than I am! But, your presence clearly made it that much of a better race.

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