Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Too slow for too long?

Hello internet people!

Just curious about your opinions on this....but first a little history for you:

I have been running since the summer of 2001. I began running because I had a "to do" list of things I wanted to accomplish before my 30th birthday. The goal was only to be able to run a 5k without stopping...little did I know that little goal would turn into an obsession. If you would have told me then that I would be running a marathon a little more than a year later, I would have told you that you were C-R-A-Z-Y!

By October of that same year, my friend Marlina talked me into training for Houston's very first 1/2 marathon. I decided to go for it! I ran that 1/2 marathon and was hooked. Later that year, I joined Houston Fit and trained for my 1st full marathon - the 2003 Houston Marathon. My friend Marlina and I were running buds. We didn't get to see each other during the week, so we could catch up on everything during our long runs. I was a "social runner"....I didn't realize it then though. We didn't care about our time all that much, we just wanted to have fun and finish. She had an injury and couldn't run Houston with me in 2003, but we ran NYC together that same year and Houston in 2004. After that my good friend stopped running. Well, I did too, but only because I got pregnant with my sweet Kiddo. I came back to Houston Fit in the summer of 2005 to train for Houston again. That's when I decided I didn't want to be slow anymore. I still enjoyed socializing during my runs, but I also went to the track and hill workouts and ran my arse off. Coming back from my pregnancy was one of the hardest training years ever for me. I made it back to my previous pace, but had an injury before getting much faster than that.

I ran 3 marathons in 2006 - Houston, Austin and Chicago, but then started grad school and knew right away that I did not have time for marathon training anymore. But, I did continue to run with the intent of doing 1/2 marathons. At the end of grad school, I got preggers again with my lil' Munckin. :-) Again, a loooonnnnggggg break from training. A little over a year ago, I returned to training. I was slower than ever last year. It was depressing.

And then came the triathlons! Triathlons ignited a spark in me that hadn't been there before. It's funny, because in running I've always been a mid to back-of-the-pack runner. But in triathlons, I was in the top 1/2 and top 1/3 of the group - and that was fun! (Of course, these were mostly smaller triathlons, so that makes a difference too.) I realized that if I could increase my mph on the bike a bit and get my running faster that I could rank even higher. Don't get me wrong, I am not looking for an AG win or anything, I am just competing with myself...that's what matters, right? So, this year I have been working harder and have decided to stop being such a pansy ass runner. I really do feel stronger.

So why am I bringing all this up? Well, I guess I want to know is this - is it too late to get faster? I've been slow all this time...I've read up on the whole slow twitch/fast twitch muscle fiber thing. I am just wondering if I've been working those stupid slow twitch muscles for this long, is there any hope for the fast twitch ones? Am I wasting my time trying to get faster, or will it eventually happen with more hard work?

What's your take on this?


Jamoosh said...

Yes you can get faster. But what you need to do is decide whether you are oging to be faster at short distances or longer distances. You can't do both. Granted, one will help you a little with the other, but it won't be an apples to apples improvement.

TX Runner Mom said...

Hmmm, something to ponder Jamoosh. I am thinking I'd like to be faster at shorter distances since I will probably not be doing more than a 10K in next year's triathlons.

Meg Runs said...

I was a social marathon runner for two marathons and they were fun but I knew I could do more. This is when I was 40 yrs. old, by the way. I started working out with the track club doing speed work, running with faster people once in a while and generally, just building up my fitness with tempo runs, track runs and the weekly long run. Things changed! I don't think about fast/slow twitch muscles anymore, I think about running fitness. Am I fit enough to run a 6 mile tempo at 7:45? Not yet? Well, then I'll start at 8:30...and I've just kept working at it for the past four years. IT DOES HAPPEN, it can happen! It's a matter of planning, pushing yourself at the running/pace thing and staying relaxed to avoid injuries..and rest too. I don't do a lot of cross training while I"m training for a race because it tires me out for speed...that's just what has worked for me! Don't know how valuable it is but YOU CAN DO IT...I'm working on a goal WAY outside of my "limits" and comfort zone right now. Won't know unless I try.
Sorry this was so long, I have strong feelings about this.

Steph. said...

I don't have experience with this, but I am fascinated to hear the responses. As a 39-yr-old who wants to make a sprint tri my birthday present for turning 40, I am curious about the speed thing--especially with respect to avoiding injury so you can continue to compete....

Jenn said...

Sure you can get faster. My dad is 57 and took 30 minutes of his half marathon time this year and 4 minutes off his 5K with a hard training schedule this year. The day I stop believing I could do better is the day I stop running!! Good Luck and work hard. I really enjoy reading your blog BTW!!

Tara said...

You can absolutely get faster!! Just make sure to mix up your runs each week with the slow recovery run, a tempo run or track, and the long run. You won't get faster until you learn to go slower and recover. Good luck!