To sprint or not to sprint

Do you ever have a day when everything lines up perfectly? I got 8 hours of sleep for the first time in a week. I got out into the beautiful winter sunshine at lunchtime. I finished up a huge project at work, one that’s been dragging on for the past five months. It’s been with me through at least 10 countries and 3 continents, and I was thrilled to send it out the door. Thrilled!

As a celebratory treat, I went to an afternoon movie. (Just me and the senior citizens.) First, I thought, it’d be good to squeeze in a quick 5K. Now, I’m still quite slow (averaging an 11:15 minute mile for a comfortable run), so “quick” turned out to be the wrong approach. After starting out too fast, my lungs protested, I developed a miserable side stitch, and everything kind of fell apart. So, instead of pushing it, I let myself off after 2.5 miles and headed to the movie in my running clothes. Gross, I know, but I didn’t sit near anyone. 🙂

The thing is, my body was just fine. My legs weren’t tired–a bit sore from the 30-Day Shred yesterday, but not much. Amazing how much of running is mental. So after the movie, I headed back and did two perfect miles. To mix it up, I varied pace for half-mile intervals: 8:30, 9:30, and 10:30. For the last half mile, I did “sprints” (not really, just running relatively fast). I read somewhere that it’s good to do speedwork at the end of a run to condition your body to running fast when tired.

And it was FUN! Just what I needed to bring some interest  and excitement to the run. Plus, I ended up at 4.5 miles for the day rather than 3.

So, even though everything I read advises against speedwork for a beginning runner, I’m going to add it in one day a week. My baby brother, a.k.a. track star extraordinaire, suggested alternating 200m sprints with 200m walks. He also said that I would be pushed to improve if the sprints were a race…now to find someone who wants to race with this slowpoke. 🙂

A comment from Carrie today got me thinking about how surreal it is to be looking at a half marathon training plan and thinking that it might not be challenging enough. In early December, just two months ago, the idea of running just 20 minutes seemed like a challenge! How’s that for progress?


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