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.