Runner’s remorse

Today I did a set of 1K repeats on the treadmill. I had planned to do four of them but I felt so darned good (and not tired after the fourth one) that I decided to tack on a fifth. I know that you are supposed to end such a session feeling as though you could do another — and stop there — but I felt like I could do three more. I don’t have another hard day until Saturday so it seemed like not a terrible idea to expand the workout.

Since I am an overachiever (at least in running, although in few other areas) I also decided to do the last one faster, which is something Coach Sandra encourages, if not requires. Want to run faster at the end of races? Then run faster at the end of training runs. Brimming with confidence and energy, I launched into the fifth repeat, punching the “go faster” button on the machine with gusto.

Everything was going well until about 300m into the repeat and I suddenly thought, “Well, this is kind of hard to do.” I had runner’s remorse. I had to decide if I was going to bail on that fifth repeat or stick it out. It would have been easy to bail — I was doing extra credit, after all. No one was looking. No one would care. But there I was (now at about 400m) — I’d chosen to do this repeat. I had to commit to it or spend the rest of the day feeling like a slouch.

I should mention that I have a better attitude about doing “track work” on the treadmill these days since I no longer have to do complex distance calculations beforehand (since repeats are in kilometers and our treadmill only displays miles), then suffer mental agony if I fuck things up during the run by punching the wrong buttons or otherwise spacing out, which I often do. It turns out that we have a little graphical representation of a 400m track on our machine, made up of lights. A blinking light moves around the track as you run, showing your approximate location.

Just to demonstrate how dense both of us are, we’ve had this treadmill for about six years and Jonathan just noticed this feature the other day. I just thought it was a meaningless blinking light going around a circle. Anyway, now it’s easy to do weird distances. You just look at the blinking light and figure out where you stand based on its location. So, for example, when the light makes 2.5 trips around, you’ve run 1K. It’s so easy, even a moron can do it. It’s too bad even two morons couldn’t notice it for six years.

I committed to the impromptu repeat, watching the little light go round the track 1.5 more times, and ran it 12 seconds faster than the previous one.

The technology is the easy part. The running is the hard part.