Has Anyone Seen My Speed?

I swear I was fast. At least, for me, in my age group, for my distances. I spent a good chunk of time and effort working on speed and got to a very comfortable place this year where my ‘slow, easy’ run was at 8:40, my 5k pace was near 7 minutes and my other mid-distances paces hovered somewhere between 8:00-8:15/mile. But alas, I seem to have regressed back to a 9 minute pace and just logged a long run averaging 9:15/mile. This rut, if that is what it is, is both frustrating and enlightening.

I spent the winter training for a March marathon and focused solely on that event for quite some time. However, as soon as it was complete I was already behind in training for a May Olympic distance triathlon. My transition from constant running to swimming, biking and running was ‘ok’ at best. As much as I love training, the quick switch from one event to another with no down time meant that I didn’t have the mental energy to go after tri training with gusto. As best I could, I swam, I biked and I continued to run. And mid-May I finished the Columbia Triathlon in under three hours which was my goal. But the 10k part of that event was disappointing. The course involved hills that I was nowhere near ready for and though happy with my overall time I was bummed with my overall performance.

The next weekend I ran a 10 mile race. And the weekend after I ran as a pacer for the Zooma Half Marathon in Annapolis for the two hour runners.

Burned Out?

Maybe a little. I backed off the multi-sport training and the six days a week of running. I thought I’d give myself a bit of a break knowing that as soon as July hit so would the start of a nice 16-week training plan for the Marine Corps Marathon in October. While intentionally slowing down my schedule, my runs started to unintentionally slow down and I have my theories (otherwise known as excuses).

I have been taking my pit bull puppy with me on every morning run. The dog has more energy to burn than I can possibly help with so the guilt level is high if I leave her at home while I’m out running. However, running with a spastic dog (squirrel! rabbit! walker! gotta poop!) hardly makes for quality runs. But can I really blame the dog for my decrease in speed?

Then it got hot. Summers in Annapolis do tend to be in the high 80s with strong humidity but streaks of 90+ days have made for incredibly sluggish runs. But that’s what getting up early and fuel belts are for right? Beat the heat and stay hydrated. So can I really say it’s summer that’s slowing me down?

In between blaming my dog and the heat I have also been putting in long days at work and trying to keep up with friends and family which means that my typical tunnel vision focus on training has widened to include…life. While I have a sense of disappointment and frustration when my Garmin watch shows an average pace that I have spent the last two years running away from, I am also trying to settle into a new mindset of ‘slow and steady.’ I am looking at the Marine Corps Marathon training as a fresh start. I have my base and I am following the latest Runner’s World ‘first-time marathon’ training plan. Currently, my goal is to keep to the schedule, build the mileage, stay injury-free and on race day, simply enjoy and finish.

So have I really slowed down? Or I have discovered a bit of balance?


3 thoughts on “Has Anyone Seen My Speed?

  1. Alexis

    HI! I have recently just come across your blog when I was in a frantic search for traning tips for a half iron man and became to intersted that i have been catching up.

    Reading your latest blog makes me feel a million times better! i was training hard in the winter for the DC half marathon then as Spring rolled around i just started getting burned out. Then i pushed myself to fo the Brooklyn half and it was my ONLY race ever that i didn’t PR. After that humbling experience i decided to take a break. Now as a result of a bad brekaup i decided to train for a half ironman! however, i only have 10 weeks to train. i looked at the plan you followed but swimming 3x a week! i am no NEMO in that water. i have done a few tri’s before and running saved me then my biking. my mentality is why not keep what your best sports are strong? and the swimming at medicore? I never follow plans, bc everyone is always different. coming from someone who has completed the training what are the key workouts to do? the bricks? what about those 2 sports a day? did you do mornings/ nights or just stacked the sports at night??

    let me know!!!!

  2. Susan Schweers

    I really enjoyed reading this Natalie, you are very inspiring with not only your writing, but with all the balancing acts you have to juggle in your life! You are, and always will be FAST to me…and I can’t wait to hear how you do for Marine Corp!

  3. Natalie Post author

    Susan, you are too sweet. And you are my inspiration so we have lots to follow together! 🙂

    Alexis–this blog and all the comments and readers of it, like Susan, are great resources for your questions. If you have a really strong running and biking base, I agree you’re ok to not have your swim also be killer. However, if you don’t have a really strong base in any of those I honestly don’t think 10 weeks is enough to train for 70.3 miles. You could get away with not doing double work-outs but only if you had a longer time to train. Your body really does need time to adjust to building endurance. In addition, you need time to figure out your nutrition plan and how to manage the race mentally. I do think the bricks are most important, and the bike/run bricks specifically so if anything, try to get those in. You will want your body to get used to going for 3-4 hours with fuel on the go. However you choose to train and race, I wish you the best of luck and healthy, injury-free training!


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