Couch to 5K Week 6 Kick-off: The Need for Speed

With 20 minutes of continuous running in the bag, Week 6 is the final set of intervals in the Couch to 5K program.  Days 1 and 2 set you up for a 25 minute run on Day 3 and every run after that is just increasing time until you are running 30 minutes three times a week.

I felt great about running 20 minutes, but my pace was just north of glacial.  My favorite thing about running intervals is the ability to run at a pace that isn't sustainable.  All you have to do is make it to the next walking set.  I decided that I would use the first two runs of week 6 to work on my pace.  After all, at my current average pace it will take me 35 to 38 minutes to finish a 5K–and that's on my everyday route.

When the signal to start running came, I pushed a quick pace for me.  I glanced at my iPhone and it registered a 9:25/mile pace.  I decided to see if I could maintain a better than 10 minute mile for the entire 5 minutes.  When the time to walk came, I was using everything I had to keep 9:50.

I was huffing, but I did it.  I decided to not allow myself a "comfortable" pace the rest of the run.  Whatever my body wanted to do, I would push beyond that.  I would also run the entire interval no matter what.  Basically, I took away my ability to sandbag.

This went great for the first half and I absolutely demolished my distance record.  Then came the signal to turn around, and I faced an uphill climb almost the entire distance home.  Every step was agony.  It was some of the hardest running I've done.  My pace suffered, but I forced myself to beat my pace from last week.  Sweat poured down my brow and stung my eyes.  At times, it felt like I was breathing fire ants.  I reached the point where I felt like I could not continue.

I took a different turn and finished my last 60 seconds downhill.  Even that was tough but it was the kick I needed to finish.  The end result was 2.8 miles (not counting warm up and cool down) and a 10:57/mile average pace.

I feel good.

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