Remembering How to Run Uncomfortably

I am slowly starting to feel more and more like myself when I run.  I’m not at my pre-pregnancy shape or pace (and don’t expect to be there for some time), but I feel stronger each day I run.

Since my son was born (almost 2 months ago!!!), I have tried to take it one day at a time and not push myself too much physically.  Although I started running almost immediately, I didn’t want to overdo it with mileage or speed.  Over the last 7+ weeks I have focused on:

  • Very slowly increasing my long runs (up to 12 miles)
  • Decreasing my pace on my easy runs
  • Decreasing days off in between run days (I’m back to running 5-6 days/week)

I occasionally would pick up the pace for a mile or so but decided to hold off on doing any sort of speedwork until I felt I ready.  I made the decision this past weekend that I was ready – partially because I feel great running, partially because I’m back to getting a good night’s sleep (Ryan sleeps 6-8 hours at a stretch now) and partially because I have my first “race” on the calendar for this year.

First real "race" postpartum

I didn’t even know this race existed until I saw this:

Twitter has all the answers!

So a huge thank you to Samantha and Erica for the heads up!  (I will go into more details on the race and the significance in an upcoming post.)

In order to train for this race (I have ~5 weeks), I am doing some speedwork – something I haven’t done in almost a year.

Wednesday’s workout was 400m repeats.  The workout called for a mile warmup (8:45 pace), then 6 x 400m repeats (6:00 pace) with 2:00 jogging recovery (~9:15 pace), followed by a mile cooldown (8:30 pace).

I completed the 6 repeats in: 1:30, 1:30, 1:30, 1:29, 1:29, 1:28.

It was NOT easy (or fun). 

Halfway through my 3rd repeat, I was out of breath. Tired.

I. Wanted. To.  Stop.

I was close to hitting “stop” on the treadmill (yes, I do some speedwork on the treadmill when I have to).

I hadn’t been this uncomfortable on a run since January.  

My body was telling my mind it was tired and my mind was telling me that I had to stop….that I couldn’t keep up the pace.  My mind and body are used to shutting down when I reach that point.

For the past ~10 months, my mind was programmed to stop or slow down the moment my heart rate started to get to the uncomfortable territory.  Even since Ryan was born 2 months ago, I have not let myself get uncomfortable.  There have been plenty of runs where I had plans to run X distance or a certain pace and would literally STOP and run/walk home the moment I felt tired.

I forgot what it felt like to be THAT uncomfortable.

I forgot how to keep pushing even when my mind and body want to stop.

And I forgot how much I actually enjoy workouts that push you to your limit (I did a post on Embracing the Pain over the summer).  Workouts like this are what make me faster, make me a stronger runner.

I walked away from this workout knowing that I need to reteach my mind and body that it’s not only okay, but good, to feel this uncomfortable again. 

Do you enjoy speed workouts? 

What is your favorite speed workout??

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Don’t forget to sign up for the RACE FOR RECOVERY 5k/10k!  

We have over 125 runners from across the country participating already (and have raised almost $5,000).

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    Comments

    1. late to the post but this NONRUNNER found it so interesting.
      I cant imagine I could ever mentally push to SPEED WORK.
      Miz recently posted..My tattoo stories.My Profile

    2. Okay you inspire me so much. I need to start speed work. Dang. I’m so used to just being comfortable all the time. Time to shake things up, yes? You rock lady and the Hot Chocolate races are FUN!!!!!
      STUFT Mama recently posted..Sunday Morning Confessions and a LOVE GiveawayMy Profile

    3. Honestly I have no idea how to do speed workouts. And I really need to increase my speed. Is it doing sprints for a certain distance? I guess you time it.?. That’s kind of what I’m gathering from reading posts like yours.

      I’m amazed how quickly you got back into a fitness routine after baby.
      Carli recently posted..My Cat Can Open Doors #FitnessFriday No. 4My Profile

    4. confession: I HATE being uncomfortable when I run. And that’s probably why I’ve stayed in my happy little comfort run-zone for so long. Sometimes I wonder if I need or should push myself more or stay in this happy zone. I’m not out to race, or beat times or anything, just run. It’s what makes me happy. Is that a bad thing?? PS LOVE your running posts, they always always get me thinking!
      jobo recently posted..FEF: volume IIMy Profile

    5. You’re kicking butt! Great job. That first workout back is always hard and that was an ambitious one for busting the rust. If you did that same workout next week it would feel way easier and so on and so forth. It’ll come back fast :)

      PS I am so glad to see you back up and blogging and hear you made it out relatively unscathed. Bravo for raising so much money and for being such a great and giving member of your local community and this greater community of running. Hugs!
      Salty recently posted..5 Post-Race Indulgences Because, Girl, You Earned It!My Profile

    6. I am just now trying to incorporate speed work into my routine and it’s been really fun so far. However, until recently, I don’t think I’ve ever truly known how it feels to run uncomfortably. Just recently, I’ve been really pushing myself to the limits and it’s making me a better runner!

      So exciting about the success Race for Recovery has seen so far!
      Hyedi recently posted..Girls on the Run Twin Cities and Give to the Max DayMy Profile

    7. You’re inspiring! One of the many articles you have written that have really resonated with me was “Embracing the Pain” and in fact, I thought of that post many, many times on my tough workouts this summer. Keep at it! xoxo
      Lisa @ RunWiki recently posted..Malibu Marathon Race Recap- November 2012My Profile

    8. Sarah @ RunFarGirl says:

      You are so right! There’s a point where you have to cross that threshold into the uncomfortable: it’s necessary if you want t improve as a runner…or in anything for that matter. Hill repeats are my favorite way to get myself back into serious training. When your staring up the hill you are about to run up, you have to make a decision:push yourself to the top or turn around and take the easy way out. Love this post! Maybe cause I kinda like pain…the good kind:)
      Sarah @ RunFarGirl recently posted..Grateful and a Race for RecoveryMy Profile

    9. Great run Michele!!! Running is SO mental and it IS hard to teach yourself how to push through being uncomfortable and even in pain. But I know how tough you are and know you will be faster than ever in no time. :) Good luck at your race!!

      Oh, and i Love your virtual race and will be blogging about it asap. Hugs!
      Erin recently posted..Random smilesMy Profile

    10. Great run Michele!! Running is SO much mental and it does take time to teach yourself how to embrace being uncomfortable and push through it. I know how tough you are though! Very cool about the race. (And I love your virtual race and will be blogging about it asap!) :)
      Erin recently posted..Random smilesMy Profile

    11. So great you are up to $5,000! You are doing great things.

      And nice work on the speed work! It’s SO hard to get back into after a break. I think mentally getting yourself to a place where you can accept and push through the pain is hard–your brain wants to fight against it. You started with a smart workout and soon, that neuromuscular connection will be back to normal and you’ll be breezing through those workouts!
      misszippy1 recently posted..Count to 10…My Profile

    12. Speed workouts are one thing I really miss since getting pregnant. I know for a fact the interval training I did last year is what shaved so much time off my half marathon pace. I miss the feeling of sweating my butt off because I got my heart rate up and made myself uncomfortable and part of me misses being able to hammer out such a tough workout in such a short time. It took me a long time to realize sometimes quality over quantity is best. I’m itching to crank that treadmill up to a speed I can barely tolerate but I’ll have to wait until next summer when my little boy makes his arrival.
      Carissa Dukes recently posted..Baby Fun Fact – Week 18My Profile

    13. Wait! I want to (maybe) run that race too! I want to do a 5K this year – not necessarily “race” it but it would be fun. Have to look into it now. I know what you mean about being uncomfortable. It’s been a LONG time for me too but it’s kind of scary and exciting at the same time. And seriously? Ryan is 2 months old already??
      Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Friday Round-up: Gifts and GratitudeMy Profile

    Pings

    1. [...] mantra for this training cycle is Embrace the Pain.  I’m re-familiarizing myself how to run uncomfortably.  I wear these words on my wrist for all of my runs and have been repeating the words to myself [...]

    2. [...] already tired and wanted to stop.  I told myself that I would be in pain on race day.  I need to practice running uncomfortably more.  I need to embrace the pain.  My last mile was the fastest (6:35) and I finished at a 6:14 [...]

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