Getting out of your comfort zone

If you want to progress with your running then you have to make yourself uncomfortable every so often to push your body that little bit further. For me uncomfortable means running fast, I know I need to do it if I have any hope of improving my marathon time but I’m sure my legs aren’t designed to move quickly. Either that or 10 years of sitting in an office has screwed my hips permanently. But we all know that learning to run fast will mean that marathon pace feels easier so I’m trying to be disciplined and push myself once a week.

With that in mind I was quite excited to discover that the company next to my office have a running club and they do a monthly 3km time trial. It’s run in a handicap style with the slowest person heading off first and then the rest at intervals depending on their target time with the goal being for everyone to finish roughly together. Such a great concept and the perfect way to get some faster running into my week.

I rarely run hard efforts longer than a mile so didn’t really know what target time to set so guesstimated at 12 minutes and duly set off at my allotted time. The course is a loop with a decent enough hill on the way out and then back down the other side of the hill on the way back. This of course makes pacing an interesting decision, how hard do you go at the start knowing you need to climb the hill? The organisers advice was ‘go hard at the start, push up the hill then pick it up on the way back down’ or in other words run until your eyeballs pop out.

I have to say despite some apprehension of doing such a short sharp race I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I loved trying to hunt down the runners in front of me and knowing people were behind me doing the same certainly gave some motivation to push up the hill. I loved being completely focused on just running fast and not thinking about splits or mile markers. I loved trying to push myself to run faster than I ever have (Strava tells me I did!). It also turns out I may have been sandbagging a little with my time estimate as I finished in 11 mins and 7 seconds. Pretty darn happy with that and a great marker to put down as I think about an attempt at a marathon PB next year.

I’m going to make this time trial a regular part of my training now, a monthly test of my pace and fitness that could give some interesting insight into how I’m progressing. If I could take 30 seconds off my time before my Spring marathon that would be a real confidence boost. Having done this race I also have a better idea of what pace I can run my speed sessions at now also.

What do you do to get out of your comfort zone?

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