I mentioned in my post yesterday that this season is about getting the fundamentals down and increasing my speed. Well, the only way to get faster is to swim/bike/run faster in training. My coach's secret (or not-so-secret) weapon for running faster is mile repeats. If you've never done mile repeats before or are not a runner/triathlete, this is how they go:
- 10 minute warm-up at a slow Zone 1 pace (about 10:12 for me)
- a few strides (strides are 30 second bursts/sprints, with a full recovery walk) to get the legs firing...if you've never tried strides before, work some into your next run; they really wake up the muscles!
- then the fun starts...map out a one-mile stretch on the road (it helps if the cross-streets are low traffic so you don't have to stop) and run at a pace that is a bit slower than 5k pace (for me it's 8:12); start with 2 repeats and then build from there (I'm currently doing 3 1/2)
- 10 minute cool-down at a slow Zone 1 pace
And let me tell you, if you're doing it right, it will HURT. These workouts hurt me so much that they terrify me. They hurt so much that I sometimes puke right in the middle. It hurts so much that it takes every bit of mental will that I have to keep going. And that's why I love mile repeats.
I love them because they scare me. I love them because they make me tougher. And I love them because they make me faster. After this morning's session (in which I pulled out an 8:08, 8:04, 8:17 and an 8:15 paced 1k), I felt like I could collapse on the ground. But the pain quickly dissipated and was replaced with a tremendous feeling of confidence and accomplishment. And that's what I'll carry with me into the next training session or race...not the suffering that I feel during the workout.
More than a physical workout, mile repeats are a tremendous mental workout and during each session I promise you'll be pushed to places you can't imagine and be forced to dig deeper than you ever have before. I know I am.