Treadmill Hills and Getting Faster

When I map out runs or rides, I always look at the elevation changes. If I am training for a relatively flat race, like the California International Marathon (CIM), I do my best to avoid hills. Especially repeating, rolling hills.  As I mature (err get older), I realize that I do not always know what is best. That is where my trainer comes in with the running plan she has prepared for me. This morning was a treadmill run – which normally would be a flat run – but I did eight intervals of running for 45 seconds at a 6% grade and fast enough pace to get my heart rate in to zone four. For recovery between I ran 90 seconds at 1% at a slow pace. Believe it or not, I enjoyed it. The variety eliminated the boredom that comes with running on a treadmill. I liked the challenge of the 6% grade. Since it was only 45 seconds, I set the pace at what I thought would be challenging enough to get my heart rate over 158. The first 6 intervals I would hit 157 before going to recovery. I increased the pace three notches up for the last two and finally was able to max out at 160.

My workout this morning shows me that I am getting faster. But even as I write this, I am shaking my head with a little grin. I still am having trouble believing it. After running for 13 years, now I am seeing progress in as little as three months. I guess my way, run fast as often as possible until I have to walk, is not the best way. Fortunately I have a smart trainer to set me straight. Now I am getting anxious for my next fast run to test my ability. Just what pace should I aim for within my zone four range? I want to try it out and see. But once again, my training plan is making me slow down for a few more workouts before I can do this. Now I know what the child who wants to eat an entire bag of Tootsie Rolls feels like when mom says only a few.

This experience is teaching me so much more than what my physical body is capable of. I am also learning to overcome the doubts I have had most of my life that I could ever possibly run faster than a ten minute mile pace. Feelings that I am not an athlete and don’t belong at the races. I am learning that regardless of my pace, I have it within me to improve. I belong. The group of athletes that I spent time this past weekend reenforced this too. There was such a wide variety of abilities and all were welcome. Some of the very nicest ones are the fastest too. My biggest critic really is myself. And she is learning to take it easy on me too.

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