Today was a hill repeat day for my run. I always do this workout on the same hill - Walter Reed Drive - from the same Point A at the bottom of the hill to the same No Parking sign at the top. It's a good way to compare my splits from each time I do these hill repeats.
Biggest lesson learned from today - it is January and there is NO winning in January. And even if there was winning, it doesn't count because it is JANUARY. I shouldn't expect my fitness to be what it is during the summer. Even knowing this didn't make it any easier during the repeats when my mind was absolutely convinced that the Walter Reed Drive hill had somehow gotten steeper since the last time I ran it. Or that the No Parking sign at the top had been moved back a good ten yards since the last time.
Every time I do hill repeats it is a battle between my mind (the hill is steeper, the sign is further away, your legs feel terrible, why don't you cut this one short, so what if you only do 6 of the 8 repeats) and my body (quads on fire, glutes burning, you hate this workout, your form is falling apart). Fortunately there was a little tiny corner of my mind that had a louder voice which kept reminding me how crummy I would feel if I gave up, cut things short, or stopped trying. It's that whole saying pain is temporary, pride is forever. Not that there is a ton of pride in hill repeats, but you know what I mean. I hate how I feel after a workout where I mentally or physically gave up. Usually remembering that crummy feeling is enough to keep me going when I'd physically like to pull the plug.
Today wasn't any different. In fact, I felt my legs were made of lead and picking up my knees and hustling up the hill became a chore. I felt winded after the first two - how was I going to do six more? My splits were relatively consistent - as in, they were staying exactly the same, not getting any faster - even though I felt like I was working 10x harder with each one. By the middle of the last one I felt like I was going to implode and I thought for sure I had slowed down by at least 5 seconds. So close to giving up. But when I clicked the lap off at the top, it was two seconds faster than any of the ones I did previously. And when I looked back at all of my splits for the 8 laps, I didn't yo-yo up and down with my times, they either stayed the same or got faster. And when I got home and looked at Training Peaks from when I did these repeats last January, I found that I executed the workout MUCH better today than I did a year ago. Last year I was all over the map, several times I got slower on some of the repeats rather than consistently faster like what I managed to do today.
All in all, I initially arrived home with my tail between my legs, feeling defeated by how tired today's repeats made me feel and how sluggish I felt throughout the workout. But after mulling it over this afternoon and seeing my splits, I feel better about things. And besides, it is just a workout (not a race) and it is JANUARY for crying out loud.