I've always wanted to run faster. There are fast runners, and there is me, and I desperately wanted to be one of them. I've tried to take an intellectual approach to improving my time. I've read several books on it, when I had a free training session at the Y, I asked Les to make me a faster runner. Every time I've met a really fast runner, I've asked "How do I run that fast?" They always gave me a weird look and said "You just do."
Huh? What kind of advice is that? In order to run fast....you run fast??? Isn't that like the chicken and egg debate? How can I run fast, if my entire goal is to run fast?
I finally get it though, and they were right all along. To run fast, you run fast. For some reason I wanted to wake up one day and go from 10+minute miles to 7-minute miles.
I wouldn't expect or plan to jump from a 2-mile run to a 20-mile run, and speed has to have the same approach. I know to build mileage slowly and I have to build speed the same way. It won't happen all at once. I might focus on sub 11s this year, then consistent 10:30s for the fall. It might be a few years before I can do consistent 8s, and that's ok. Now that I know what I'm doing, my training feels like it's going somewhere.
Last week, my long run goal was to stay below 11:30 every mile. Slow? Absolutely, but it was a speed I could maintain indefinitely if I was paying attention and not just putzing along. I can't run any more "garbage miles," those done merely to log miles. Ain't got time for that. I need to have a speed focus for every run, whether it's race pace, or 10k pace, or a PR for a specific distance, etc. I need to be cognizant and pay attention to more than just the distance.
Running fast also means setting aside the easy way, and knowing it's going to hurt and be uncomfortable, but I have to do it anyway! Easy doesn't do it - hard work gets the results I seek. When I'm on the treadmill running at a 7:30 pace for a minute or two and it hurts and my knees feel wobbly, and lungs are screaming to quit, I plaster a big smile on my face and silently sing along with HaleStorm's "I miss the misery." That'll surely be my theme song when I quit running - a few lyrics taken completely out of context that will echo my thoughts when I'm done running: "I love the way that it hurts!...I miss the feeling of pains in my chest!...I miss the misery!"