Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Janet Jackson is a weird creature, isn't she? I used to think she was pretty normal (relative to Tito, Michael and LaToya, anyway), but then I heard all about her secret baby back in the 80's, then there was the nip-slip which was just plain odd, and then there's the fact she's just another Jackson with a nose job. I don't know. I actually always kind of liked her. Especially, in the early dancing on the chairs Control and even Rhythm Nation (although I never got her and her brother's strange military inspired looks--I prefer a less structured Janet).

Anyway, I have been meditating on the word "control" lately and that's what had me thinking about Janet. Ms. Jackson if you're nasty. Ok, I'll stop. Yes, back to the running... I remember running track workouts last summer and I would basically just start running really really fast and hope I hit my target split. Hard running was this weird exertional chaos--arm wonking wildly, feet slapping unelegantly, and all that wonderful stuff. Tempos are somewhat new to me. I really didn't do a lot of true tempo running until last training cycle. My same run-hard-and-hope-for-the-best approach was taken with them too.

I think it started with my long tempos last month. I was given a very specific pace to hit and it wasn't a particularly fast pace, although it really wasn't slow either. This sort of hard-not-too-hard pace maintained for a very long time really taught me how to run hard but controlled.

At the beginning of last month I attempted my coach's faster workouts and really struggled. On one in particular, I was supposed to run 3 x 1 mile at 6:35 pace with 1:00 rest in between. I thought this would be so easy! So, I went out hard for the first mile in 6:24. Well, with one minute of rest (plus getting used to higher mileage and the heat of the day) I was fried by the time it was time to do the second one. I felt like a failure.

Fast forward to this past week. On Wednesday I was to do a short tempo of 3-4 miles (after warm-up and before proper cool-down* of course) at a new pace--short tempo pace(just about Jack Daniels tempo pace) or about 6:40/mile. I was very fearful of this workout as I had become quite content with my 4 x 2 miles at 7:00 pace. But, I used my mastery of the 7:00 pace to figure out about how I should feel at 6:40 pace and off I went. My first split was 6:39. I held steady and the next mile was 6:40. I was feeling surprisingly good. I turned around and headed back making sure to maintain. I finished in 6:35 and 6:36.

Then on Friday night I did what all of us party-people do. I headed to the track for a CV workout. I was to do 6 x 800 in 3:13 with 1:00 recoveries. Again, this is considerably slower than my 5k pace so this shouldn't be killer. The first couple were 3:10. Then I slowed all the way to 3:11 for the rest. I was really pleased with the consistency. I really noticed that as I got tired it was harder and harder not to go crazy and run them really hard. I had to consciously hold back. I don't mean that to say it felt slow, because it didn't. It's just sometimes easier to just go all out crazy gritting your teeth to the finish than it is to maintain a solid even effort at a particular pace. This is key for races, especially longer ones. You have to trust yourself at the outset that you'll hit your pace, rather than running like a maniac out the gate and hoping to end with a fast time. So, next time I run a 5k, I'm not running the first mile under 6:00! I get it!

And this new found wisdom helped me this morning. I headed to the park at 6:00AM to do this week's short tempo. It was already 83 degrees and humid when I got there (luckily, the park pervs aren't up that early because there was no way I was going to wear anymore clothing than necessary!) After my warm-up I headed out at what felt to be exactly the same effort level as last week's run. Well, instead of 6:39, I came to one-mile at 6:48! Yikes! The second wasn't 6:40, but 6:42. The third and fourth weren't 6:35 and 6:36, but were 6:45 and 6:45. I was a little freaked out after seeing the first split and started to pick it up, but it just didn't feel like the right effort level. I still had 3 miles to go and then I was going to have to do 6 x 100 in my cool-down* so I knew it would be idiotic to run anything other than the effort level I was prescribed. So, I maintained my pace and was satisfied when I was done even though it was slow. Sure, it's cooler to run fast times, but sometimes it's better to be a nerd and do the right thing. Control!

*I refuse to use the lingo of these modern hipster runners who call it a "warm-down." I'm old-school in my running jargon, and proud of it!


Jim said...

Still pretty dang fast. I wish I wish. Sigh.

E-Speed said...

I think we have been on the same wavelength lately. I have been aiming at these more controlled paces in track rather than the FIRST speed fest I was doing earlier this year. Now if my controlled pace could just be as fast as yours :)

Papa Louie said...

Thanks for your comment on my latest post. I appreciate what you said, "Our loved ones just want to make sure they're number one in our lives and that's a good thing!!" Good reminder.

When we think we have everything in control something happens and proves otherwise. But we tri...

GP said...

You know, I really dug Janet around Rhythm Nation (come on &mdash "Love Will Never Do...), but she did start catching the Jackson thing in recent years. And did she or didn't she have a child in the 80s? I'd hate it if my famous mother were continually denying my existence.

But control: I used to swim the all-out-crazy-speedy way you've described (until I figured out the controlled and more efficient approach to speed) and can guess that if I wanted to run super fast right now I would probably have flailing arms and wonky feet.

It's been my impression that control~experience — it's your subconscious familiarity with the activity and your body's movements. And I can only imagine that a runner of your caliber and experience greater harnessing her control can only spell out danger for other racers. Look out!

So, I think the gist of your experience is that you're becoming a running yoda and we should all bow down ;-)

GP said...

P.S. My first comment wasn't long enough, so I thought I would add on!

Definitely get a cupcake! Believe it or not, Main Street Cupcakes is on Main Street in Hudson. If you're heading down Clinton Street by the Heinen's in Hudson, you take a right onto Main Street and it's in a little blue house all the way down (I mention this because I couldn't find it the first time). It's very cute, and their hours are posted on their Web site. (I swear I don't work for the place!)

Finally: I have been to Bistro 185. It was small and chic, and a little higher priced than I had anticipated for the area (not overpriced or bad at all; just unexpected). But the food was quite tasty &mdash I think I had mussels in a pesto sauce, a huge salad with chunky, chunky blue cheese, and bread pudding for dessert. It was wintertime, so the menu may have changed. We ate in the bar area because we didn't have reservations. But the service was just as good.

Ginger Breadman said...

Janet Jackson had me laughing sooo hard - oh my. I like the CV workout concept - I gotta say I've never heard of it - I've always been sort of a naturalist runner. The whole thing makes a lot of sense though, and how it all works out in the end with teaching you control is pretty amazing.