18 miles. I've run this distance only a handful of times in the build up for the marathon. Usually feeling broken down and exhausted by the end, starting to hunch over as my form gave in, and watching the watch closely waiting for it to hit the mark so I could stop. Thinking about the fact there would be another 8.2 miles to make it to the marathon finish line.
That is worlds away from how I felt today.
I didn't know how I would feel after Fridays weight lifting and monster bike ride, I actually woke up this morning feeling some heaviness in my legs that has been lacking for a while.
Last week was an eye opener; I wasn't allowed to wear my heart rate monitor, and even though I was running through a hail/rain/snow storm, It was so freeing just to run, with no pace, HR or distance in mind. This week I had a HR monitor and a ceiling, so I just set my watch to Alert me if I hit 175 bpm set it on a screen that told me nothing of importance and just ran.
The sun was out (a rarity in Scotland), I had zero expectations on pace or distance and took it nice and easy to start. I felt so relaxed, just smiling to myself that it was a beautiful day and everything felt smooth and efficient in my body. Its so easy to get tied up in numbers and expectations, putting more stress and pressure on yourself to perform. While structure is needed, and you cant always run nice and easy if you want to race fast, its nice just to have that run where its all about how you feel and enjoying just being out there.
I let my body dictate this run completely. I started out easy, in zone 1 for the first bit, built up to zone 2. I let my effort ebb and flow, pushing a bit when it felt right and backing it off when I felt like it. Smiling to myself as everything was feeling good, no tightness, no soreness, I've never run this distance without feeling like something was breaking down before today.
Even better, once I got home and uploaded the data, I ran the same course I did last week, with an extra 2 miles and more hills at 7:46/mile pace, compared to 7:53 last week. I cant believe some of the numbers I'm seeing, my Half Marathon PR was at 8:00 min pace!
I love seeing the improvements each week, but even better how good I've felt doing it. Between training at MAF, and incorporating strength training I have a foundation that can now be built off of. I don't remember the last time I've had an ache or pain, that I just assumed was part of running before.
Off to visit my friend the foam roller, and focus on recovery so I'm ready for some intensity next week. One thing I'm looking forward to is a Retul Bike Fit on Monday. Time to get some free speed by fine tuning my bike fit.
Run with a smile!