I feel fast. It's a good feeling, this feeling fast. It's great to wake up, go to work, and think, I sure feel fast today. I'm not sure if I'm as fast as I feel--I'll have to run an actual race to know that. The numbers, though, seem to indicate that I'm faster right now than I was when I ran my last marathon.
Over at Feet Meet Street there was a great post about whether you're a numbers runner or not, and I am definitely a numbers guy. I look at my SportTracks and compare my average miles per week, miles per month, my pace, and what kind of workouts I'm doing to previous months and weeks. Do I look at my shoes and see how they feel to decide when to switch pairs? Yes, but that doesn't stop me from tracking how many miles I run in them.
There's a intuitive and an objective component to my feeling of fastness. I can look at my tempo runs from this spring and compare them to last spring and see how much faster I'm running (~10s / mile), but there's also the feeling of being able to put the gas pedal down a little at the end of a long run. Then, of course, I have to go and confirm my fast feelings by checking my downloaded run to see how fast my last two miles were (6:26 and 6:30).
Sure there's an aesthetically pleasing quality to running--something that's not quantifiable on SportTracks. Obviously there are purely emotional, psychological, and undefinable qualities that don't show up on a Garmin, but are no less satisfying. I love running outside, being active, and the elusive, every once-in-a-while feeling of the "runner's high."
So what is it about checking the watch, shooting for PRs, tracking miles per week, reading training books and crafting training plans that take up so much space in my running psyche? Why do I think about workouts weeks in advance when I know what workout I'll actually do is going to be based on how I feel that day? Why do I insist on asking rhetorical questions rather than make statements?
I like making training plans. I like reading books about how to make training plans. I like coming up with workouts and running the workouts. I like to set PRs. Why? I don't remember who said it, but I believe it: It's more fun to run fast than to run slow.
Of course, there's a matter of subjectivity on what constitutes running fast. I do 800m interval workouts a minute per mile slower that an elite marathoner's pace for 26.2 miles. Breaking three hours for a marathon would feel fast for me. For some people, breaking four hours would feel fast.
Some days I feel like garbage; my legs feel heavy, I want to walk whenever I get to a hill, I pray for a red light so I can take a break, . Sometimes it's a struggle to get myself out the door. Not today though. Today I feel fast.