Hell yes they do! Today was a free run workout, meaning no heart rate cap, just run at whatever speed my heart desires for 60 minutes. These free runs have been on the plan since I started with the pre-plan workouts (HR101) and I’ll admit right now, I definitely didn’t get them right at first. Initially I read “free” as “fast” as in, I can go my “normal” pace for an hour. The problem was, I found that my old normal pace (around 9:30 for the average, no-goal run) felt challenging. I chalked it up to the heat (this was still August), residual burnout from marathon training, and of course, running super slow the rest of the week. So being the brainiac that I tend to be, I would try to force myself to go faster, which felt like shit on my legs, my lungs, my…wherever. And I grew to dread free runs.
Today as we walked out the door to start the run (I totally forgot my pre-run workout – dang it), said to Dar “maybe we’ll just keep it at 140bpm today.” That’s the effort at which I do most of the other runs in this plan. I didn’t feel like being demoralized by my lack of speed. So we started out at a slow plod; I didn’t worry about heart rate at all; instead I focused solely on “feel good.” Because I’ve come to feel really flipping good at 140bpm. The first mile was on the slow side (10:45); it felt great, it felt like a proper warmup. At the start of mile 2 of every run on this particular path (which is, like 90% of my runs) goes straight up a hill for about .2 miles. Instead of trying to maintain pace, I focused again on maintaining feel good. My overall pace for mile 2 was 10:15.
That trend continued – run at feel good pace, slowly get faster: 10:08, 9:40, 9:45. By the time I got home I felt amazing! At some points my pace actually dipped down to 8:55, enough to get some drops of endorphins in my brain! Speaking of my brain, it was nice to know that I could still feel good at those paces – and not just my “old” good, but dare I say it, at paces that felt downright easy. I guess “trust the plan” it is!