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Week Five: Rhythm is Gonna Get Ya

March 30, 2017

Week Five: Rhythm is Gonna Get Ya

I don’t have a time goal for the marathon. After many races chasing down arbitrary times and PRs, I decided I want to experience this one for what it is at the purest level - a 26.2 mile test of my abilities through the city I will always call home, no matter where my bills are sent. As such, my training has been mostly without time goals as well. Running on effort and “just for fun” is great - I highly recommend it, actually. It’s liberating and a good reminder of how simple running can be (and how it was when I first started)! On the flip side though, **FORESHADOWING** it can be real easy to slip into a cruise controlled lull while you're just breezing through mindless miles. I’ve found that injecting a little competitiveness, like registering for a race or racing an unsuspecting stranger on the trail, can help bring a dwindling fire back to life. That’s sort of what happened this week, during what I had written off as a total snoozer of a workout that I wasn’t super stoked to do. Turns out it was one of my best runs yet. 

Week Five:


10 miles with 8 @ MGP

Fleshman calls it: The Rhythm Finder

Sarah calls it: The Gloria Estefan

Effort: “Your hopeful race day pace, not your best-ever time or what you would run if you went out right now.”

Threat of puking: Threat of stabbing your eyes out in boredom: 4 - of - 5 

For me, running easy and steady without getting so bored I want to gauge my eyes out is the hardest part about distance running. Marathon Goal Pace isn’t hard. (It better not be, if you want to someday in the near future run it for multiple hours!) Eight miles isn’t hard. (At this point in the game at least, as ridiculous as that sounds.) But they’re all kind of hard, and combining their low-to-moderate sufferfest powers gives you a decent doozy of a workout. I said a little prayer to the ADD gods, buckled in, and ran off into the early evening drizzle* to tackle week five.

*contrary to popular belief, Bend is not ALWAYS beautiful and sunny

Underwhelmed by the intensity of the workout and already a little bored, I picked a speed (“effort”, because, no GPS watch) slightly harder than what I thought early miles of a marathon should feel like after seven more weeks of training. Seemed sensible, albeit pretty vague. And boring. A few minutes into that first MGP mile I felt a familiar little gremlin crawl onto my shoulder, and reach up to my ear.

"Turn on Strava."

My phone was in my pocket playing a new playlist I’d hurriedly made just for the occasion, which fittingly lacked in inspiration and flavor just like the workout so far. I pulled it out and flipped on Strava, skipping that terrible Broccoli song while I was at it, and slipped it right back in, vowing not to look at it until the workout was over. Just knowing that something was quantifying my effort made me run harder. Taller. Stronger. Even though I wasn’t getting any real-time info, knowing it was tracking me helped keep my head (and legs) in the game. And it worked. I felt relaxed and smooth, like I could run like that forever... Or at least for 26.2 miles. I focused diligently on how my body felt and what it was doing, yet somehow it felt like my mind was completely empty. There were no distractions, no worries about how I looked or fears about whether I could do it, nothing but the task of keeping this pace - whatever it was - for eight miles straight. I felt like a total badass, even though my pace was still very pedestrian and generally unimpressive. But it wasn’t about how fast or slow the numbers were, it was about finding that Estefanian rhythm. Getting into a groove and thinking, “Yeah, I could see myself running a marathon like this!” Starting to feel a wane in energy or attention, then instinctively snapping back to the task. I can say with 100% certainty that I have never focused so intensively on one thing and nothing at the same time, for such a long period of time, in my entire life. *thanks, ADD gods!* As soon as I finished I hurriedly checked and sent my Strava report card to Lauren, excited to have some data to validate my efforts. My paces weren’t necessarily perfect - there was almost a full minute between the slowest (#1) and fastest (#8) - but I’m proud of how ballpark they were without the numbers barking at me in the moment. And even though it wasn’t really part of the plan, I couldn’t help beaming over that fast final mile. This doesn't necessarily change my "no time goal" approach, but it did help break down my data resistance a little. Being reminded that measurements can be used in helpful, productive ways and not just to size you up against others was a good lesson I needed to re-learn. Now excuse me while I go unearth and attempt to resuscitate my GPS watch...

- Sarah

Here’s the playlist in case you're curious - not the best but definitely harboring a couple hidden gems. Also FYI MIA Paper Planes is 172 bpm - not bad for the ol' cadence!