Monday, September 24, 2007

Aren't distance runners supposed to get faster as they age?

This summer I was all...I'm a triathlete. I'm so healthy. I don't care how well I do, it's all about participating and loving it all!! I'm so well-balanced. Joy!!

Um, that lasted until this month. B/c what I DON'T like is being slower than I used to be. And. I. Am. And I don't like it. Yes, I'm finally running in all the fall races I usually miss b/c I'm injured. But yes, I'm slow.

Basically, I've been comparing the conditions surrounding my 23 year-old self in 2003 with my 27 year-old self.

was doing speedwork for the first time in my life
a long run every week
lived in a very hilly area
set PR's at distances from 5K to 13.1 miles
[but then got patellar tendinitis that lasted a year b/c i was way overtraining]

5 pounds lighter
but my diet sucks. it's lacking in nutrients/variety
less junk food which is good
long run every 9 or so days
never run fast
weekly running mileage is 2/3 what it used to be.
live in a very flat area. NEVER run hills.
only race when it's hot.

Sooooooo. I could run more. But then I might get hurt. But I don't like being slow. I have to find some hills. I ran in a 10 mile race today. 80 degrees. Hilliest course I have been on in my entire life. 1:29. Personal worst for the distance by 6 minutes 30 seconds (and I ran the 1:22 time with bronchitis). In some ways I'm like...BOOO. This bites. In other ways I'm just really can't compare this course to the Cherry Blossom 10-miler in DC in April. That is way easier and cooler. And I just need to run more. And faster. And if I want to get faster I need to put in these slower miles until I get there. Sorry I'm rambling. But I'm WAY MOTIVATED right now. BRING THE RUN!! (and for the love of god hopefully in cooler temps).


Fran said...

But could you swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles and run 13.1 miles when you were 23? It's just a matter of perspective.

Danielle in Iowa said...

I know the feeling - I am staying out of a lot of fall races I usually do because I am afraid of how slow I'll be! (Plus, I don't really have money to be registering for races anyways :-))

Al Dimond said...

Ya, I know the feeling too. I set a late-fall goal of getting good in the 5k again... I think part of the reason I haven't done that since high school is because I'm afraid of the training that I did then to get good in the 5k and the kind of injury risk it involves... of course, it's easier to do that kind of training when you're part of a team of 100 people with a coach and a track reserved for your use every day at the same time. Harder to do that kind of training when the only track within warmup distance is a poorly-maintained and congested cinder track (everyone seems to resent runners that do speedwork on congested tracks, but I don't understand why anyone would run long distances on a track in the first place, especially a track surrounded by a beautiful park), and the only hill is bumpy and frequented by, oddly enough, families with small children on bicycles (the kids on bikes on this hill aren't as crazy as the ones that rode all over the track in San José, so... I guess it's not so bad).

When you have a pretty good set of PRs at a wide range of distances, even if you set all of them within a couple years in the past, I think it's not a bad idea to pick one of them as a target and focus on it for a season. Then move on to a different race next season. Pick one final race as the one where you go for it; run other races, but only really taper for a couple. Sometimes you might have to tip your cap to your past self or just vow to get her next year, and move on to a different distance or type of event for the next season... whether I make 16:20 in the 5k or not this fall, I think I'm going to focus on learning to swim well over the winter and do a tri in the spring. The farther I finish behind my 5k goal the sooner I'll come back to the 5k, but I definitely won't focus on it once I declare the season over.