Overcoming the Plateau: Distance vs Speed vs Time

So in my younger days, I was a competitive diver (coached by the fabulous Cynthia Potter). The reason I joined the dive team was because of what happened on one random day in 7th grade during the swimming unit of PE.

We had some extra time at the end of PE class to play on the diving boards. I remember thinking “Hmm, I wonder if I can do a flip.” So I did. Then I thought “I wonder if I can do a one-and-a-half…” And then I did. My PE teacher, Pete Higgins, whistled and said “Amazing the things the body can do!”

Well, I had another one of those “Amazing, the things the body can do!” experiences today!

I’ve been hitting this wall with running for a few weeks now. I’ve been stuck at 2 miles, but getting faster with each run. I’d do 2 miles, then stop and walk a bit, then run some more. I’d end up doing a total of 4+ miles, but wouldn’t run consistently after the first 2. Frustrating.

My new friend over at The Weight Run Down (check out her blog, it is very inspiring!) posted a few days ago that she ran a new 4 mile PR, so I asked her how she built up to that mileage. My approach has been to set a distance goal (2 miles), or a speed goal (9 min/mile), but she suggested setting a time goal.

So off I went this afternoon, determined to run for 30 minutes straight, at whatever pace I could sustain.  Never mind the outrageous pollen or unseasonably warm 81 degrees, or the fact that I have only run on a treadmill (read: flat, propellent surface) in the past 3 months.

And would you believe it, I ended up running longer and farther without stopping than I have since college! For some people, these numbers won’t be impressive, but I am feeling quite proud of myself! Amazing what the body can do 🙂

Victory: 3 miles in 32 minutes 15 seconds

It was so freeing to just run, knowing I could slow down or speed up, with no distance in mind. It’s all about perspective. If I’m just trying to survive 2 miles and am running too fast, I won’t be able to go further. If I’m just going to run 30 minutes today, 32 minutes tomorrow, 34 minutes the next day… That I can do!



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