I think of a gear in a car or bicycle as something that transfers energy to the wheels. In a car, you change gears and you gain speed while keeping the RPM's relatively low. Well, this week during my runs, I've felt like I have another gear. What I mean by that is in the middle of a run, something happens either with my mechanics or my stride or my mind or something where even though I'm at the same effort, my pace increases.
Very strange to me...on Tuesday, I planned to do an easy 3. My goal on these easy miles is to stay conversational and really just run easy. So, mile one, I really felt good. I did a 13 minute mile and felt like I was going sooooooo slow. But that's rally fast for me (in my mind at least) for an easy run so I say to myself, "Self, ease it down a notch. Just relax. Drop your arms a bit. Loosen up. Ease your shoulders down. SLOW DOWN!!!" Mile 2....12:42. What the heck? I didn't feel at all like my effort increased. No big jump in RPM's, but a much quicker mile nonetheless. Here are the stats:
Total distance - 3.0 miles
Splits - 12:59 / 12:42 / 12:47
Total time - 38:29
Average pace - 12:50
Then this morning, I did 6 miles. After yesterday's "too fast" 3 miler, I wanted to slow it down to at least 20 or 30 seconds slower than my goal marathon pace. So, I started out at 13:30 - 13:40 pace, very, conversational. I kicked back for 3 miles and kind of shuffled along, finishing in 13:39 / 13:46 / 13:45. Mission accomplished. So, I figured I was just right on my effort so I stopped looking at the Garmin and just ran. I relaxed, got up a bit on my toes, swung my arms a little bit and just tried to maintain my effort. Mile 4...13:10...What the heck? I did not want to speed up. Then, I ease off and BAM!!! 12:58 for mile 5. Still breathing easy. Still relaxed and loose. I finished with a 12:40 mile 6. Now I have an excuse for mile 6. I most likely suffered from back-to-the-barn syndrome. But the only way I can explain miles 4 and 5 is that I must have just switched gears. Again, no big increase in effort. I just settled down, relaxed, moved up onto my toes a little more, extended my stride and voila.
I think the difference is between running back on my heels, just shuffling along and when I move forward just a bit onto my toes and actually run. It kind of reminds me of something coach said at the beginning of the season. He said something changed with me from last year. He said the difference between last year and this year is that this year I'm acutally running. Well, I didn't know at that time what he meant by that but I think I"m starting to understand. :)