I did mile repeats yesterday, which wouldn't be noteworthy - even in the context of a personal running blog - were it not for the fact that, as best I can recall, this was the first time I'd done such a workout. That's something of an embarrassing admission, if I'm being honest. Nominally, I'm a runner. I present myself as such, and that's the lens through which many people see me. If you're reading this, you very likely know me as little else.
And yet... that's a pretty basic thing to have never done, yeah? For a runner with the occasional result I'm not ashamed by - even down to 5K - to have never really run a hard mile, much less a series of them, seems sacrilegious. And this is Lawrence, former home of Cunningham, Santee, and Ryun (though in Lawrence, the latter is much better known as a generally despised politician), each the best collegiate miler of their time.
So it feels a bit stupid to sit here and write, as a not exactly new 26 year old runner, that I ran mile repeats, and guys, it was really fun. Three easy to start, then four reps, each around six minutes, with full rest (three minutes or so) in between, then another easy three to finish. It feels a bit stupid, because it's hardly a novel thing I've done. You've done such a workout. Very soon, countless high schoolers and collegians will as well. Not to mention the hobbyists, targeting their fall marathons, 5K PRs, or whatever.
Those who might not, I'd wager, are primarily the ultra folks, a term I've never really embraced, though it's largely defined my training for these last three years. I've never embraced it, first of all, because I've always raced plenty of other stuff, and my ultra results really haven't been that frequent or that strong. (In that regard, I don't feel wholly as if I've earned it.) But, like the off color in white paint, it takes only a little to create something else entirely. So, you run high mileage - at the exclusion of anything else - and refuse to shut up about one good 50 miler, and people notice.
That said, the races which first romanced me into taking running somewhat seriously were all long, and they still capture my imagination more fully than anything else. Though as a nod to my stress fracture, I'm focusing on shorter things for the moment, I'd be lying if I didn't acknowledge a temptation to do the opposite, to say fuck it, and sign up for a 100 in two weeks, probably crash and burn, but eh, it happens. (I'm pacing instead. Spring, though...) So perhaps I reject the label because it's accurate, and I'm simply being a contrarian hipster? Could be.
All of that is functionally irrelevant to the training discussion at hand though, because mile repeats, or any kind of consistent work at faster than "steady" pace (which I've always been happy to indulge in) is probably helpful. At least, willfully neglecting anything is probably explicitly unhelpful. Magness talks extensively (as Canova) of "never leaving anything behind", even as your focus changes. With that in mind, I followed up today with 10 easy, and then strides post.
Strides. Fucking strides, seriously. Another revolutionary ingredient in my training, that really should be anything but.
Tempo (or threshold, or steady state, or whatever. Hard. How about that?) tomorrow, and then we're damn close to something that might resemble an actual week of training. Hope for me yet, perhaps.