As athletes, and as people, we tend to build walls around ourselves. In one hand, the walls offer a sense of security. On the other hand they put up finite barriers for ourselves that require immense emotional strength to topple down. One of my walls was the 8 minute mile.
Growing up I was never a runner. In fact, I hated running. I had terrible eczema as a kid and most of the time my feet were covered in open sores. Needless to say, swimming was much more my thing. As I grew out of the eczema I slowly started jogging. I was never speedy, but I would occasionally test myself to see how fast I could run a mile. Up until I was 27 the fastest I ever ran a single mile was 8:00... and I just about threw up afterwards. The 8 minute mile became my fortress. A very wide and torturous moat separated me from miles that began with 7.
When I started triathlon training a few years ago I ran more. And occasionally in a race I would run a sub-8 mile. The first time was in a 5-miler in 2006. Then the next time wasn't until my 5k in December. And don't think I ever ran faster than that in training. No way.
Coming off my knee injury this year I ran with unwavering consistency. Almost every single day for 2 months. But every run was short, and every run was slow. I knew I needed to build up a really good base before I tested things out with speedwork.
2 weeks ago today I did my first Paulo run. In it was 20 minutes at 7:30 pace. 20 minutes! It was the most mentally draining workout I have ever done. Including 8-9 hour Ironman bricks. It took every ounce of strength I had not to decrease the speed on the treadmill. Afterwards I was completely spent.
Today was my third attempt at the dreaded zone 4 workout. And you know what? It was easy. I finished the interval and wanted to keep going. Have I gotten that much faster in 2 weeks? I highly doubt it. I think the whole trick was breaking down the mental barrier that I had around that elusive pace. What it boils down to is this: If you think you can't do it- you're right. If you think you can do it- you're right. It's all about controlling your attitude and breaking down the walls that you build around yourself. Sure, they're safe and comfortable. But don't you want to see what's on the other side?
A Few Good Swims
2 hours ago