Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Slingshot Effect

I have always thought of rest being a lot like pulling a slingshot.  My theory is that rest prepares my body, developing momentum and the itch to run so that when it is time to run (or race) again, I am ready to fly!

This theory works for me because while I see the benefits of rest, I still find it hard to do.  If it were up to me and if my body would cooperate I would run every day.  And some weeks I do.  But I know if I want to perform well, I've got to give my body a break.  This past Saturday I was sort of forced into a rest day by the weather.

And then this week I got to experience the slingshot effect... 

Sunday's run with Shannon and Kristi was a good one, despite the weather still being on the nasty side.  I felt a little tired afterward and even told Jason it felt like I'd run much farther than 10 miles.  When Monday morning rolled around, I did not really have an agenda.  Another gray day greeted me as I stepped out the door and I thought, "Just get through it."  I took off and and felt surprisingly fresh.  So I pushed.  The first mile was 7:46 and I thought it would be good if I could keep it there.

I seem to run these inverted tempo runs when I run alone.  The first and last miles are the fastest, with all the miles in the middle being slower.  I had some tough hills to climb on my route, but I told myself to hold it as best I could.  I did a total of seven, running miles two through five around 8:20 pace or faster.  When I turned around for the final two miles home, I decided to kick it up.

Sometimes I use a mental trick where I tell myself to forget what I've already run and to think only about what I am about to run.  That left me looking at only two miles.  Mile six was 7:32 and mile seven was 7:23.  I was pretty excited about that.  Those miles pulled my average down to an 8:02 and, for me that is a rare average when I am not racing.

This morning I met the girls at 5:00 a.m. and we tackled what has been dubbed "The Dragon."  This is a steep hill about half a mile long sitting amidst lots of other hills.  One of these other hills is called the Little Dragon and it is equally as mean, just shorter than the big guy (or girl as it was decided this morning).  We ran the little dragon twice before and after the big dragon, returning to our cars at 5.5 miles.  I wanted a few more, so after a few minutes of stretching I stuck my earphones in and headed back out.  It was still early and the sky was just growing light.

My total for the morning was 9 by the time I quit and the average pace was 9:06.  That too is rare when the dragon is involved.  At the end my legs felt seriously fatigued, but I liked it.  It is rare that my legs actually burn during a run these days, but they burned today and the feeling afterward was pleasant.  The morning was pleasant too and I would have liked to continue running these tired legs until I couldn't anymore.

These last three days are why I love to run.  The friendships, the miles, the work, the paces.  That feeling when my body is ready to hit it hard once again and see what it can do.  That feeling of fatigue in muscles that have worked hard to climb and push and dial it up a notch when asked.  I love that.


  1. So glad you are feeling so well! I literally am so ready for next Saturday to get here I can hardly wait!! I hope it's not too cold b/c I got a new Nike tank for race day. You have to go to Dick's...they have the cutest green Nike tanks!! I got pink and gray.
    You did some great runs this week and that's great that your legs feel so fresh. I did a fast 3 miler with Jane H today and it felt good! I felt like I cheated only running 3, ha! Went by quickly.

  2. It is nice, but I am going to have to start cooling it soon, or I won't get to use my theory in the marathon. :) It will be fun to have a lighter week! I enjoy those little 3-4 milers when it is time to taper.

    Can't wait to see your new tank! I think it is great that you bought something for the marathon. I always enjoyed doing that. :)

  3. I like this theory and think that tapering definitely supports the idea too. You know I love my rest days! I hope it pays off for you and that you have a great race! And Shannon too!