Squeezing the Toothpaste

I heard a great analogy that can be applied to many things in life. I, of course, had to relate it specifically to my training.

It’s the “Squeezing the Toothpaste” theory.
Essentially, you know when you open a new tube of toothpaste and you barely have to touch it and tons of toothpaste comes out? However, the more you use it, the more difficult it becomes to get toothpaste out of the tube? You find yourself folding it and bending it and tweaking it every which way you can just to get that last drop of toothpaste before you finally throw it away and open a new one.

That’s how I’ve been feeling lately with my running workouts. I feel like I’m squeezing that toothpaste tube every day to improve; even if it’s ever so slightly. A second here, two seconds there… There are days where I find a new way to “bend the tube” and eek out just a little more. Of course, there are also those days where I practically wring it out and get nothing. Somedays, it feels as though my tube is empty.

Fortunately, I don’t feel like my toothpaste tube is empty right now even though I had a rough go of it on Saturday morning for our LAB Pace Run.

Two weeks ago, I did 3 LAB loops for a total of 10.5 miles. The first loop was a gradual warmup and the last 7 miles were at my Half-Marathon goal pace between 7:00-7:10. It was a cool morning and I felt well-rested.

This past Saturday was different. We were meeting a little later at 6:45am and the cool crisp mornings that we’d been having had all but disappeared. Plus, I had gone to another Carrie/Shawn wedding shower on Friday night and felt a little sluggish…definitely not well-rested. The goal for this pace run was also a little different. Our warm-up would take place first and THEN we would run the full 3 loops (10.5miles ) at pace. This would be 3.5 more miles at pace than just two weeks ago.

Our plan was to start off slow (7:30pace–which is not slow) and then gradually speed up and settle into a 7:10-7:15 pace overall for the run. Unlike the last time, I could actually feel the slight incline on Shoal Creek Road which is 1.5 miles of a gradual climb. Yes, it’s subtle, but I was definitely feeling it. The first loop was o.k. We were simulating race conditions so we just set water and gu by our cars. We’d grab it and keep going like a real waterstop. Even with our “waterstop,” we averaged a 7:02 mile. That’s when I knew I might be in trouble for the 2nd and 3rd laps. I tried to readjust and settle down, but could never really find much rhythm. Erine and Thon were pacing ahead of me at this point, and I was hanging on.

That’s when the usual demons started to appear and I started recounting my workouts for the week. 1200s on the track at a 6min pace, Wilke, two other recovery runs, Spin Class, 2 Corture classes, Swimming…

I could feel the wheels start to come off a little bit. My main problem was my quads were just not feeling it. They felt empty. Instead of prolonging the agony and risking injury, I told myself I would stop at 9 miles instead of the full 10.5. It was still an excellent increase from the week before even though I seemed to expel a ton more energy with this one. The second my watch struck 9 miles, I started to walk for a bit. I probably walked about .25 miles and then jogged the rest of the way back home.

While it didn’t necessarily achieve the intended goal, it still was an improvement from 2 weeks ago under a tough week. I somewhow managed to squeeze just a little more toothpaste out of the tube in preparation for my Half-Marathon on May 20th.

Mile 1: 7:33
Mile 2: 7:14
Mile 3: 7:10
Mile 4: 7:02 (with water stop)
Mile 5: 6:50
Mile 6: 7:25
Mile 7: 6:53
Mile 8: 7:18
Mile 9: 7:17

Avg pace = 7:11
Pretty erratic pacing.

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