Today's Run: ~ 12 miles on Heartbreak Hill - tough run but kept up ~ 8:30 pace
Notes: Misty rain and fairly warm for late December. Nice running weather.

Running Resolution #4: Run faster farther (no wimping out on long runs)

I started marathon training in October 2008 as a challenge to myself. I had just run my second BAA Half Marathon and my time was considerably worse than it had been the first time I ran the same race. I wasn't running regularly. I was only half committed to my running regimen. I was disappointed in my performance and knew it wouldn't change without a lot of hard work. So I signed up for my first marathon - Big Sur International Marathon - taking place 6 months later.

Nothing like a kick in the ass to get in gear. All I knew about Big Sur was that the views are incredible and it is supposed to be one of the hardest marathons in the world thanks to a steep 2-mile climb in the middle and numerous, mountainous hills throughout the race. All the better for me. I was too scared to miss a training run for fear of losing it on any one of those hills.

So I stuck to my training plan and ran 25-35 miles most weeks. However, I didn't try to run fast. I only cared about going the distance and being able to finish that marathon. Most of my long runs fell into the 9:30-10:30 range. I was hardly even winded when I got home.

Then the day of the race came. I spotted pace groups and decided at the starting line to join the 4:30 bunch. I figured I could run about this pace and thought the group would help me get over those hills. It did. The one thing I wasn't expecting was my surge at the end. I hadn't run any part of the race that hard so I had a ton of energy. I left the group at mile 24 and beat the 4:30 pace by more than 5 minutes . It shocked me (I loved it) and that's when I knew I had it in me to run faster.

A few short months later I ran the NYC Marathon, another toughie, and took about 35 minutes off my marathon time. Now I'm just 11 minutes shy of a Boston qualifier and I'm not slowing down.

This resolution, which I've already started working on, is to tackle my training runs stronger and faster than I did last year. I'll still account for recovery days and planned easy runs, but I want to be sure I'm making the most of everything I do. No more wimping out on long runs!

Oh, and I did run the BAA Half Marathon again this past October. This time I finished 10 minutes faster than last year. The extra effort and dedication is paying off.

How about you: Do you run for speed, distance or both?