There’s Hard and then There’s HARD

For me, running a 20′ 5K is not easy. It’s hard. It hurts. Sometimes I feel like I might pee myself. I am, every time, 100% convinced there is no way I could run any faster. It is not possible.

And, yet, I have run an 18:58 5K. Which hurt on a whole other level of hurt.

Running four or five 800s in training at 5K or faster pace is hard. For me, that’s somewhere in the 3:03 range. It’s challenging. It hurts. And, yet, I am capable of running 10-12 at that pace — and subsequently not being able to pick my arms up the next day.

There’s hard and then there’s HARD.

I have this conversation with my high school kids a lot. They’re always telling me that they ran their hardest, that it is not possible to run any harder. And, I’m always like yeah, well. It is possible. Apparently, though, I need to have this conversation with myself.

I bombed a workout yesterday. Or, maybe I didn’t bomb it. Maybe I was just physically incapable of hitting the times. I’m still not sure. There’s no sign that tells you when you’re crossing over into HARD or when you’ve actually already passed that line and are about to run off a cliff. So, you have to guess.

I was supposed to do 5 x 3′ at 5K pace. Which should have been fine. The problem was that the day before, Wednesday, I did my first hardish workout of the season on the bike in the afternoon. It wasn’t supposed to be that hard. It was supposed to just be some big ring, low cadence hill repeats. You really aren’t supposed to do those HARD. But, I went nuts. I was feeling good. Or, rather, I just wasn’t feeling terrible. Even as I was on the last two repeats I realized this was killing my legs. I thought, hmm, tomorrow’s run workout is going to be rough.

And, it was. Halfway through the second 3′ effort I just couldn’t hold the pace. I stopped. I tried to pull it together and rest a bit and go again. I stopped again.

The problem is if some coach had given me this workout I probably would have done it. It would have sucked and I may have screwed myself up, but I would have done it. I can count on one hand the number of workouts I’ve bailed out in the middle of that someone else gave me — and one of them I was apparently not supposed to succeed at, but I didn’t know that and then it sort of killed my confidence and for another month I kept wondering if I was ‘supposed’ to bail this workout too. But, when you coach yourself you’re never sure if coach messed up, if coach gave you too many hard workouts in a row, if this is too hard. If this is just hard or HARD.

Partially, yesterday, I probably just wasn’t ready for that, my legs were beaten up. Partially, though, I need to just need to remember it is possible to go faster.

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