So today I took began my morning run with a goal: to beat an 8 minute mile. Most of my running as of late has been in preparation for longer distances, so I run at a comfortable pace for about 30 minutes. Over the course of a few months my comfortable pace has changed from roughly an 11 minute mile/34:30 5k to a 9:30 mile/28:40 5k. But today I wanted to go for speed.
Never again (well, this month).
I start off my mile pushing myself pretty hard but not sprinting. Based on how my 9:30 "comfortable" pace normally feels I mentally guessed my "hard" pace was just below 8:00 which meant I had to keep it up for the full 8 minutes. After .5 miles had passed (my iPod tracks the distance and informs me audibly) I couldn't keep it up so I slowed down. I still felt faster than my "comfortable" pace but I knew I wasn't going to make the 8 minutes since my pace had to be above 8:00 now. Finally, with just .05 miles left I began to walk, thinking it was better that I didn't kill myself trying to get an time that was definitely over 8 minutes.
Then I checked the amount of time I had been running:
"CRAP! I can still make it!"
I sprinted and 20 seconds later heard "Congratulations, you have completed your fastest mile at 7:47"!
And then I collapsed on the nearest bench..
After syncing my iPod I found that my "hard" pace was 6:45 and my slow down was right at 8:00. Even with a small walk at a 15:00 pace I was still able to beat my goal of sub 8 minutes. This astounds me because it means even after a 3 month break from running, my speed is faster than it was in the fall when I ran "full out" for the mile and only made it at 8:15. Given a few more weeks of practice, I may be able to push my comfortable pace to sub 9 minutes and beat a 27:00 5k.
I also learned that sprinting is a bitch. (pardon my French).
I tried walking after the run but had to collapse on the bench. After a few minutes I was able to make it up two flights of stairs to my bed and collapse there for 20+ minutes. I've decided that long distance running is my exercise of choice. I can run a 30 minute 5K, take a small 5 minute walking rest and feel great after a total of 35 minutes of exercise. But if I run an 7:47 mile I am collapsed/exhausted for at least 10 minutes (those being absolutely miserable) and semi-mobile for another 10-15 minutes for a total of 33 minutes of exercise (at about 1/3 of the calorie loss). No thanks!