Some things in life are hard. Some things in life are difficult. I learn the difference for me as it pertains to running this morning. In addition to getting my legs, and my mind, accustomed to turning over quicker my trainer also has me running a few runs easy in my aerobic zone two. That would be in a heart rate range for me of 110 to 121. A range I usually pass within the first five minute of an “easy” run. By running in the easy zone a few things are accomplished. Primarily I teach my body to burn more fat than carbs and I should become more efficient. I experienced this myself last fall when I worked on running with my heart rate under 140. At first I could only average 13:15 minutes per mile. As much as I was able to run faster, my heart rate would climb. Now I am able to run 11 minute pace or so and still have an average heart rate around 135.
After talking it through with my trainer we decided to keep the heart rate under 130. If I tried for zone two at this point I would be walking more than running. So this morning I set out to run five miles. A thunderstorm met me two miles in so I looped around and went home with three miles behind me. Jogging slowly while being pelted with rain and hearing thunder is difficult. I wanted so badly to sprint home. I already was walking every time my heart rate went to 130. Having to walk when I felt perfectly capable to run was difficult. When I got home I hopped on my treadmill and finished the last two miles. It was a bit more manageable, I didn’t have the hills or the elements to deal with. It was still difficult, seeing the low numbers on the treadmill when I knew I could run faster was difficult. When I finished I had run five miles averaging 13:41 minutes per mile. I did not feel despondent however. When I did this last fall I did see an improvement quickly. I am hoping I experience the same this go around.
My speed workout on Tuesday was hard. It tested my limits of what I am able to do. Speed sets in the pool are similarly hard. I am out of breath as I push myself to swim faster. Climbing steep hills on my bike is hard, I continue to strengthen my legs as I push up the hill. Hard workouts test the physical limits. Difficult workouts test the mental limits. My lungs felt fine while I
walked err ran. My legs are still a bit sore from Tuesday and the light run felt good. My pride took a beating. That is what it comes down to. I want to be faster. Run fast, right? Well doing that is what got me at this plateau. Running hard and fast in every run taught my body to burn carbs over fat and taught my heart to work hard at higher levels. I was a more efficient machine before I started training as much as I do now. I was slower, yes, but my body burned fat – the easiest fuel to burn – better than it does now. So I am retraining myself.
Getting faster is an important goal, but so is staying healthy and staying in the sport of triathlon for as long as possible. I want to be in the 70 and over age group one day (far far away of course). There are hard things in life that make us stronger. There are difficult things in life that teach us lessons. For me it is to put pride aside right now and work on my “easy” runs. Even if I have to hide in my basement and run on my treadmill….