Monday, January 14, 2008

Those pesky miles

I'm getting slower. It's a fact.

2001 and 2006 were my good years. I guess good years come every half-decade or so.

In 2001 I set my 5K and 10K PRs, 21:58 and 46:01. I wasn't much good at longer distances then (my marathon PR was 5:05:20) because I didn't train "long." Most mornings I would just sprint helter-skelter for 2.1 miles and that would be it. Done for the day in 16 to 18 minutes. 12 miles was a big week for me. It kept my weight down and my speed up.

Then I turned 50 and started focusing on longer distances. I ran more miles. I threw 4-mile runs into the mix as my concession to going long, and in 2003 my marathon PR dropped to 4:16. My "speed" suffered though as my 5Ks crept into the 25 minute range. But then all of my times stagnated.

In 2006 I got serious. My long runs started having a base of at least 10 miles. No longer did a scheduled ten mile training run seem like a date that I had to circle on my calendar and watch with dread as it approached. I started track work. I did hills. I brought my marathon time down to 3:52:34. Even my 5Ks and 10Ks revved up as I came within 24 seconds and 48 seconds respectively of my old PRs. But after 10 months of hard training, I crashed and burned. I haven't been the same conscientious runner since returning from setting my then-marathon PR at the NYCM in November, 2006.

My 10-milers tell the story. From my 1:14:34 PR at Army in 2006, I slipped to a 1:16:05 GW Parkway Classic last year. This year I fell to a 1:22:44 at the Al Lewis club 10-miler.

I will tell you this, I don't think administering club training programs, which I have been doing for a year now, helps your own running much. But that's my choice, my notion of helping the community and "giving back."

I still run 5 times a week. That has always been my one constant, my interjection of discipline into my running routine. Some days it's only a mile, but at my age each mile counts. I feel each run the next day now, especially as I descend the stairs on those mornings after.

Solitary miles seem labored nowadays, even beyond the burning lungs. You know, leaden legs, feeling like I'm running underwater, the dreamlike flow of the landscape passing slowly by.

I keep at it. Yesterday I did a new mile-route around my neighborhood that involved a hill. I labored to bring it home in 8:58. Huh! My standard of a "good" solitary mile used to be a sub-seven.

Today I went back to a more familiar mile-route in the 'hood. I arrived huffing and puffing at my driveway in 7:22. Better, but I still have work to do.


David said...

Yeah,well, age happens.
I hear you on the gradual adaption to longer long runs. If it's less than 10 miles on a weekend run I feel like a slacker now.
I think the commitment to training others does sap your own ability. You must be adapting to their needs more than yours.
Maybe you need to take a little training time for yourself and prove you can still PR.

Rainmaker said...

Still sounds pretty good to me!

Plus...nothing a few good months of carefully placed intervals couldn't fix. ;)

Bex said...

Running slowly with one's training group definitely makes one more pedestrian. I bet if you did weekly speedwork, your mile times would start descending.

Just12Finish said...

Well a little variety here and there ain't so bad to keep the motivation going - the best is yet to be.