I usually don’t head out on night runs, and I usually run by myself. Tonight I broke both of those habits and went out for a run under the moonlight with a pal of mine who is training for a 1/2 marathon (which, as it happens, I’ll be running as well). From a fitness perspective it ain’t even close, he’s ridiculously more in shape than I am. However, generally, he runs much shorter distances. I wanted to go 8 miles tonight. He raised his eyebrow. We settled eventually on 2 – 3 miles at a decent clip with a mile cool down.
My usual pace for most distances above mile repeats is in the 11 to 12 minutes per mile range. I feel comfortable there, and can basically keep that going for hours. We did not run at 12 minutes per mile.
Nor 11. Nor 10. Mostly we sat between 8 and 9 minutes per mile for a solid 2 miles, and then tapered way off to cool down.
Had I gone out on my own, there’s no way I would have pushed myself at that tempo, but having someone there who was just so much faster than me really made me dig deep, and as it turned out, I was actually able to sustain that. It took a lot of concentration on form, but (oddly) not a huge amount of exertion. Could I keep that up for a 1/2 marathon? No chance. A 10k? Probably not, but we’re delving into the realm of possibility. A 5k? Sure. In fact, we weren’t that far off, and I had plenty left in the tank.
The lesson here is that sometimes you need to shake things up, and sometimes you need to chase someone (or get chased), or just have someone there to prod you along. Its been a while since I ran that fast for that long. I forgot how fun that was. Time to step up the game.