Mile repeats were on the training plan earlier this week. In my opinion, mile repeats are the most painful speed workout. Running pretty darn hard for ~6+ minutes – with not a ton of rest (2:30) – and then doing it all over again. And again. And so on. 600s and 800s hurt – but I’m only running hard for 2+ or 3+ minutes, respectively. Mile repeats are more of a slow, painful death.
But despite all this, I kind of love them. I find that I get almost giddy with excitement when I see them on the training calendar. I think part of my love stems from my history with them. I began doing mile repeats when I was training for the 2007 Army Ten Miler (as a member of the Fort Hood team).
I remember the first track workout we did – 2×1600, 2×800 and 2×400. And I vividly remember my legs shaking uncontrollably by the last couple of laps – where it seemed like I was walking. My split times were not impressive and I am fairly certain I was the slowest girl on the team that morning.
But over the course of that summer, my splits got faster and faster and eventually, they were consistently between 6:10-6:15. During that time, my 2-mile run for the Army PT test dropped from about 14:30 (7:15 pace) to 12:40 (6:20 pace). And I remember that I went from hating those Tuesday morning track days to absolutely LOVING them.
I’ve been single parenting all week which has meant treadmill running – and even worse, a treadmill day for mile repeats. Coach had 5x on the schedule for me – all with 2:30 active recovery. My little guys are really terrific when I am forced to run on the treadmill. We have toys down the basement and I will often put a show (or two) on for them while I get the last couple of miles in. But it’s tough to do a speed workout with them. I like to get in the zone and focus – and unfortunately, you can’t do that when you have a 4 and 2 year old running around in front of you. Especially when any object becomes a weapon for fighting.
I started on the conservative side to begin and gradually picked up the pace. I haven’t done mile repeats since early October so didn’t know how I would feel.
The first two were pleasant – or as pleasant as 6:30 of hard running could be.
The middle repeat of any workout is always my “do or die” repeat. If I’m going to quit or give up or stop working hard, it will usually be around the middle or just past the middle. If I make it past those, I can almost always finish hard.
The third one almost broke me. I was getting tired, had just picked up the pace and was trying to focus on my stride and breathing. But my little guy had other plans. He was trying to put in a DVD and was getting frustrated and asking for my help. When you are tired and working hard during a run, sometimes all it takes is an outside nudge to throw off your concentration – and get you off the treadmill. I didn’t want him to whine but I also couldn’t have a discussion with him since I was so out of breath. There was a lot of One. Word. Sentences. And hand movements. The #1 (“give mommy 1 minute”), the hand up (stop what you are doing) and some blown kisses (so I could distract him).
But we got through it. He figured out the DVD player and I finished the workout with negative splits from start to finish.
Warmup: 8:11, 7:55
Splits: 6:31, 6:27, 6:25, 6:22, 6:15
Cooldown: 8:13, 8:06
All at 1% incline
I know the misery that mile repeats cause. The burning in your lungs. The pain in your legs. But, in some crazy way, I welcome the discomfort because I know that it will make me faster and stronger. And isn’t that the whole point of doing any type of speedwork to begin with?
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