Mile Repeats: Do I Love or Hate Them?

My legs are tired. I’m distracted (more on that in the next few days). I’ve been neglectful in reading y’alls posts and responding to your comments. It will make sense soon. Since my last post on Friday, I’ve run over 45 miles, all averaging less than a 9:00 mile. That’s pretty good considering I wasn’t doing any speed work just over a month ago. Speed work. Yeah. I’ll get to that in a sec.

OH!!!! Remember I told you that I got a Facebook message from Hal Higdon himself??? Well, I emailed him the information he requested. Then what do you suppose happened?? HE EMAILED ME BACK. EEEEK!!!! It’s like if when I was a teeny bopper and one of the band members from Poison would have LOOKED at me (or in my general direction). Uh. Muh. Gawd. If I could bronze an email, I would.

On Saturday, I had a 10 mile run at no specific pace. I decided to let my legs decide what to do and didn’t look at my Garmin pace at all. It felt really good, probably due to lower mileage the week before, and I ended up doing them at an average of 8:24 pace, which is right where I want to be for the marathon. Yeah!  Saturday evening, I had a swim lesson that went REALLY well. I’m actually looking forward to putting some of the learning into action in the pool.

To keep me entertained before the 10 miler, I had a Garmin race to see which one I would wear.

To keep me entertained before the 10 miler, I had a Garmin race to see which one I would wear.

Sunday was my 20 miler, and I was lucky to find some people to run with. Overall, it was a really good 20 miles filled with friends who made the time pass a lot easier than if I was running solo. Average pace was 8:54, which was faster than what I planned, but I was happy to go faster rather than slower.

I smile, but I'm not happy. My feet were frickin cold.

I smile, but I’m not happy. My feet were frickin cold.

I soaked in my 44 degree pool for 5 minutes, which is the most I could handle without my feet literally freezing and then they’d fall off and I’d have to go get one of those fake feet and it would probably look like one of those things you find in really nice men’s dress shoes.

Pre game cat nap. See what I did there? Cat. Nap.

Pre game cat nap. See what I did there? Cat. Nap.

I was happy that my long run fell on the Super Bowl Day, well, vice versa, so I was happy to eat a lot that night. I’m not a huge NFL team follower, more of a college fan myself, but we always eat, drink, and play silly games until the halftime show. I actually enjoyed the show this year, minus the Katy Perry beach ball outfit. I find it strange (at least for ME) that you are dressing your boobs up as beach balls. I guess she can, so more power to her.

My legs felt good on Sunday, even though I’d put 30 miles on them over the weekend. I ran an easy 4 on Monday morning and they still felt pretty good. Yeah for training!  I looked at my plan for Tuesday, which is tempo/speed day, and I had 7 x 800’s on it again. Hmmm. I really didn’t know if it was going to get me where I wanted to be for this marathon. I consulted a friend of mine who is VERY fast and has put together plans for herself and others. I asked her if I should do mile repeats, a tempo run, or more 800’s. She suggested I do mile repeats. Six of them. SIX. Oy. But after talking a little more, well, even before that, I knew it would be very beneficial to me if I did them. At a 6:55-7:15 pace. I think I threw up a little after reading that. But I want this marathon PR, right? Hell yeah! Well, you gotta do the work. It’s not going to be easy and it isn’t always going to be fun. So just do it.

Tuesday morning, I headed to the UNC-Wilmington track. There’s a one mile loop around campus that I wanted to run on so I wouldn’t have to look at my Garmin much and I could also grab water between each set. I was nervous. I always am, so there’s nothing new, but I got my game face on and prepped my mind to push hard. I’m glad my friend told me they were hard for her. I know they are, but hearing someone say it prepared me more. But running a marathon isn’t easy, so training for one shouldn’t be either.

I warmed up and started my first repeat. There’s some turns and a tiny bit of traffic to consider, plus a cold breeze, but I ended up finishing the first one in 6:52. Then the others followed. 6:55. 7:05. 7:05. 7:05. Then the last one. I have no idea what happened since I didn’t feel like I was struggling, but I ended up at 7:16 for that one, which pissed me off since I ALWAYS try to at least maintain if not pick it up for the last one, which is what I thought I was doing. Oh well. I did it. I freaking did it. And I wasn’t dead when I finished. I ran an easy 800 to cool down, and headed home to stretch, eat, and stretch more.

I love little teeny flowers.

I love little teeny flowers. I grabbed this pic after my mile repeats.

So anyway, do YOU like mile repeats? I don’t. But I do. But I don’t. But I do. I hate them AND I love them. You can learn a lot about your mental wherewithal during mile repeats. I went through all the stages of grief during those repeats. Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. It’s kind of funny how it works. All I know is that I wouldn’t let myself give up. I REALLY wanted to slow down, to quit, to tell myself that I couldn’t do it that fast, that I could just do five instead of six. But I didn’t. I REALLY want someone else to run with me for next week’s set of 1.5 mile repeats. Seriously, that could make a big difference in the perception of how hard they are. Hopefully that will come together, as I’m already working on finding a  partner in misery.

What kind of speed work do you love to hate?

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Categories: marathon, qualifying for boston marathon, running, training for marathon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “Mile Repeats: Do I Love or Hate Them?

  1. I haven’t decided yet how I feel about mile repeats because I’ve only ever done them on a treadmill. I’ve done two different sets in the past month with different goals. The first was 5xs at between 7:20-7:42 with active recovery followed by 3×200 @ 6:35. The one I did yesterday was 5xs with passive recovery with the first and last two at half marathon pace but the three in between 7:36-7:53. The idea was to have the last repeat replicate how I’d feel at the end of the half marathon.

    So… I like what mile repeats do for my training, but they are hard. One of these days I’ll do them on the road.

  2. I’m not a fan of speedwork, but I do it so I don’t turn into a turtle runner. I always dread the WOL speed practice, but am thrilled when I am finished! I finally bought wet suit booties so my feet can handle the cold water in the pool. They arrive Friday and I will be using them Saturday after my long run. I will let you know if they are worth the $27 and change from Amazon!

    • I’ve heard the booties are worth it. I can usually cringe through it though, but I was already cold. Anyway, I wish I was doing my speed work at practice! This solo speed is so hard!! Hope to see you soon and that your training is going well 🙂

  3. Thanks for this enlightening post! I’m considering introducing mile repeat workouts into my training schedule for the SF Marathon in July. What is your recovery distance or time between repeats and how long was your warm up? 6 repeats sounds intense, but looks like you could more than handle it! keep it up! =)

    • Thank you!! If I hadn’t just run ten and twenty on the weekend, I probably would’ve warmed up and cooled down with a mile, but I shortened them to half a mile. Recovery was 200 jog and stopping a few minutes. My friend told me to jog 400 between but I’m still afraid of too many miles.
      Best of luck on your training too!! I was thinking a marathon in July would be brutal but assume SF is pretty mild?

      • thanks! yes, san francisco summers are notoriously mild. average high temp in july is 65-70 degrees, although last year was unseasonably warm on marathon day with peak temp at about 77 degrees, which did affect a lot of runners.

  4. I like 800s repeats, but the mile usually feels a bit long.
    However, doing them with someone else really helps. Recruit someone!

  5. I love to hate LOTS of speed work. This morning it was the “4×4 minutes FAST with 4 minute recovery between” and I was extremely happy to be done with it. Holding 7 minute miles for 4 minutes is really tough for me…thankfully the treadmill kept the pace and I just had to keep up 😉

  6. Pingback: The Trials of Miles | The Modernist Cavegirl

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