Back in November I had a major breakthrough. I ran a 5-miler on Thanksgiving (affectionately known as a turkey trot), and I did it fast. Well, fast for me. At a 7:49/mile pace, it was astronomically speedier than any other race I've ever run.
Surprising myself, I decided to test myself again the next day. I went to the trail in my hometown that I ran my first-ever consecutive three miles on. And I did it again. Except this time, 8:00 splits for 4.5 miles.
I was digging it. Understatement. I was proud of myself. When I hopped on the treadmill the following week, I knew that running sub-8 minute miles on a hamster wheel would be a whole other ballgame. I dialed the speed up slowly. 6.0. 7.0. 7.2. 7.4. 8.0.
At 8.0, I was running a 7:30 mile. After three minutes there, I hadn't died. In fact, I was sort of ... cruising. In that moment, it hit me like a ton of bricks: the effort's hard, but isn't that part of the fun? I thought to myself. For the past five years, whenever I wanted to run sans intervals, I've been a 6.6 (9:05 pace). I'd hop up on the machine, instinctually set it, and forget it. On this day in early December, I challenged that. On this day in early December, I said no thanks to 6.6.
For years, I had been unintentionally self limiting. It wasn't that I was newly capable of running 7-something miles. It was that I never really tried before. And while there's nothing wrong with 9:06 miles (or any speed miles, as every mile is a victory in itself if you ask me), these faster miles felt invigorating. These faster miles made me wonder what else I was unintentionally sabotaging for myself.
We do that sometimes, right? We think things are supposed to be a certain way, so we don't experiment. But I say screw that. I say maybe it's about time to scratch that well that's how it's always been mentality. Shake things up. Try something ... different.
When I woke up this morning, my quads ached. I foam rolled. Then, I went to Equinox. I got on a treadmill. I ran three 9:06 miles. And you know what? Those felt pretty great, too.