Upping the Running Intensity

Dinner tonight was a no-brainer. Leftovers on Christmas colored flatware.


With last night’s soup, I also made some brussels sprouts. I used to hate brussels sprouts and I think it’s because the only way I’d had them was steamed or boiled. Sauteed or roasted is the way to go. I cut these in half and tossed them in some grapeseed oil and salt and pepper. Then I sauteed them for about 7 minutes and mixed them with some parmesan cheese and chopped olives. The olives were an afterthought; I had them leftover in the fridge from the soup and thought why not? It worked. We also had some un-picutred homemade hummus with triscuts.

I decided to work out at lunch today instead of after work so I could spend some time with Jason. The gym was extremely crowded for lunch time. Who are all these people that get the entire week off and why can’t I be one of them?

Sometimes when I see people on cardio machines talking on their phones, I think that person isn’t working out hard enough, if they can talk on the phone, they are wasting their* time. And then it suddenly occurred to me; I’m not working out hard enough! Sure, I run and I probably can’t talk on the phone while I do it, but I’m really not pushing myself as hard as I should be. I go to the gym regularly but I never seem to achieve the results that I want. Sitting in my sweatpants on the couch should be comfortable but working out shouldn’t be. I’ve been running at the same speed for years and for one reason. Because I’ve been running at the same speed for years! I guess I thought that I would naturally get faster. I thought that what was once almost a sprint would become a casual jog. But what I’ve realized is it doesn’t work that way unless you make it work that way.

My 10K PR is 58:42, (oddly enough, it’s double my 5K PR to the second) which translates to roughly a 9:30 mile. If I can keep up that pace for 6 miles, why am I running 2-mile training runs at 5.8mph, almost a full minute per mile slower for a run that’s a third of the distance?! Because I’m comfortable running at that pace. But if I want to get faster, which I do, I have to run faster. I sometimes repeat that over and over in my head while I’m running.

I’m not a morning exerciser. I’ve tried it before. I even went to a 6:30 am bootcamp for four months last year. But working out in the morning is just not my style. I prefer to go after work. But sometimes life gets in the way. I’ll try to fit in a workout where I can, which is usually at lunchtime. It takes me 10 minutes to get the gym and another five to change, double that and add an additional 5 for a shower and I only have 25 minutes to work out. Not a long time. So, what I really need to do is maximize those 25 minutes. Otherwise, I think it’s sort of a waste. I’m just wasting my time and my energy. Long runs are different. Long runs are slow, but short runs don’t have to be.

I don’t know why I didn’t realize this years ago when I first started working out regularly. I guess the simple act of working out, or in my case running, was enough. And for beginners, it absolutely is. But my body is used to this. I need to up the intensity. Unfortunately, upping the intensity is not fun. But hey, it’s only 25 minutes, right? I just need to remind myself of that the next time I try to jog.

*Also, I know it’s incorrect to say “their.” I don’t care!


18 responses to “Upping the Running Intensity

  1. Such a smart realization!! Unfortunately that’s the way it goes with running. If you always run the same speed, you’ll always stay the same speed. And a lot of time, for many people, that’s fine. I admire your decision to ramp up your running! I hope your new strategy pays off. I have to say, the runs where I push the hardest are definitely the toughest to motivate myself for and get through, but once I’m done, they feel pretty amazing.

  2. Nice brussels! Yeah, I grew up on boiled and steamed sprouts… not the best!!

  3. I found your blog after roaming the blogosphere and have been following you for a bit. Coincidently, we are practically neighbors.

    I just got into running and then gave it up. It’s amazing how quickly you lose any progress. I started back up and I’m at ground zero. I was running a 5k under 30 min and it takes me 40 min now. I guess, I learned your lesson early, push yourself to improve improvements.

    I find your blog very inspiring!

  4. this will be a gret challenge for the new year. Pretty soon 25 minutes will feel like nothing. Excited for you!

  5. Handstand Push-ups are exactly what they sound like. You get into a hand stand, lower your head to the ground, push back up to a full handstand.

    They’re no joke, for sure.

  6. Great post, I like your honesty in this one especially (not that you’re not honest all of the time but you know what I mean). I find that I can get that way with running too – not lately since it’s been hard to run with the weather and since I am having such a hard time with my hatred of the treadmill. It’s so easy to just get “comfortable” with your running pace and not push yourself harder. I think it’s human nature really. You’re in great shape anyway and now you just have a reason/purpose to push yourself harder – for a faster 10k!

  7. Blech, speedwork sucks. It’ll all pay off when you start setting new PRs though. Good luck with your new training goals!

  8. I hear you, I am excited to get rid of my winter sickness so I can get my sweat on…running AND strength training, which I’ve ignored for a VERY long time now.

  9. Roasted brussel sprouts is my all time favorite veggie. I have eaten them the last 4 days 😉

  10. I think its really hard to up the intensity with running because it is so uncomfortable at first, but I bet if you do you will see results.

  11. I love brussels! My fave way to cook them is actually boiled first, then cooled and then sauteed and glazed on the stove. Mmm.

  12. loved this and the previous post. thoughts:

    — not every run should be a push. look at training plans – you will get to have easy fun relaxed runs AND faster intervals/tempo work. i think a mix works best and it’s nice to have the easy runs to look forward to. also, i read magazines on the treadmill even if i feel like i am about to die, so i never understood that ‘if you’re looking at a magazine, you’re not working hard’ thing. i could NEVER hold a phone convo though!

    — re: mail – can you get in the routine of just immediately throwing out unneeded mail and sorting daily? then there’s never a pile 🙂

    — your social life seems awesome compared to mine =D

    — maybe someday i’ll get to be in a blogger exchange! i don’t know how i missed out again this year. i promise, i send really good gifts!

  13. I don’t know how I lived without roasted brussels sprouts for so long. I eat them like every other day now!!!!

  14. People who talk on the phone while on cardio equipment make.me.CRAZY!