Like most runners, my training and paces are not identical to any of my running mates. However, it's very nice when you can make a workout work and run with someone else. Sam and I are likely most comparable with our paces on the track; however, we are often at different stages of training and don't have the same workouts scheduled. Sam also doesn't do as many tempos, and I do most of mine in the wee hours of the morning. She does hers at night on the treadmill. We LOVE to do easy and long runs together. However, if I need to add some quality to my long run, like marathon pace miles or a fast finish, I do that on my own.
As much as I love Sam and our miles and miles of running together, I work better with the guys. There are a few speedy guys in our group, one with a sub 2:50 and the others with some really fast half times. The reason why I like training with them? They don't BS around. They don't involve feelings; they get out there and run the workout. Period. If it sucks, it sucks. If it is awesome, it is awesome. There isn't a constant reflection going on or that roller coaster of "Wow, I am really in shape" that goes to "OMG, I will NEVER break 3 hours!" Prime example last week:
I did my interval workout with the speedy guys. They were doing 2 mile repeats at just under 6:00 pace, which was perfect for my 800s. We did the workout at the park, which is an 800m loop. Usually with the girls, there is a socialization period before we actually start the workout. Not here. I had run to the park from school (to get in some extra mileage), but I arrived right as they were warming up. They chit-chat about typical guy stuff- sports, work, blah, blah, blah. Never ONCE mention the upcoming workout. Girls (including me) are usually running their mouths about how they dread it. Haha. One guy changed shoes, and we were off! We *maybe* said 3 words the entire workout. They would give me an occasional grunt of "good job" when I pulled ahead to finish my 800, and I would return the compliment to them as they approached my "pick up" area. And I think someone mentioned having to go #2. Ha. Logistic wise, it worked out great, and I got my bootie handed to me. I saw some times on my watch that I haven't seen since my college days. After the workout, I am used to fussing over my splits, rehashing EVERY moment of the workout. Not this day. The guys start cooling down- more talk about sports, jobs, blah, blah, blah. In fact, none of them even looked at their splits! (Um, I was about to have some sort of inner OCD fit to look at mine. Haha.) We said our good-byes, and I ran back to the school. That was that. No thinking; no worrying; no *feelings* wrapped around the workout at all. Just pure and simple running. And I WORKED, and it felt awesome.
Now let's move to my 2nd workout of the week- the tempo run. Let me preface this by saying I LOVE my girlfriends. I wouldn't change my experiences with them for anything in the world. And when I run with them, I truly feel that I can be myself. Moving on. My bestie from Texas came in for the weekend and she also had a tempo workout planned. I had a feeling she could wax me, being that she's a natural speed demon, in phenomenal shape, and the amount of work I had on my legs already for the week. Anyway, we discussed the workout Friday night- where, when, what, etc. etc. We talked about paces, a plan, and exactly how it was going to go down. So, the next morning we set out on the workout. I'm bot going to lie, it felt AWESOME to be stride and stride with her. We were like synchronized machines, blazing down the Mobile Bay. *SIDENOTE: when guys do workouts, they don't actually run next to each other. I'm not sure why, but this is a definite difference. It must be some sort of understood man code. Anyhow, I was having one of *those* days, where you know it's going to be rough, and you are going to hate life for over an hour, but somehow, some way you will get through it. Yeahhhhh, one of THOSE things. Once again, we sputtered out words of encouragement to each other, and then she turned around. She absolutely BLAZED it back, unlike me that struggled to keep pace and suffered through the rest of my workout. When I finally finished the death workout, Adrienne and I had to recap the deets, in full girl manner. And then... we got to enjoy the rest of our day- lunch on the water, shopping at the outlets, local brewery, and a grill out.
I also appreciate my guy running buddies because they can really put things into perspective for me. For example, Sunday's long run... Coach always give me a distance for my long run, and unless it's a key workout, I have a fairly large pace range to hit. However, I do run my long runs very consistently. I usually don't wear a Garmin, but a regular watch. I then calculate my average pace when I get home. Low and behold, it is almost ALWAYS within 5 seconds of other long runs. My favorite running men, Larry and Brad, taught me that all I need to pace my long run is my own common sense. They also taught me not to get hung up on specific mileage. In all honestly, I usually run an extra mile or two (or three or four) from what coach tells me to on the long run. So, what difference does it make if I run 18.29 instead of 18 or 17.88? When you are doing 90 miles a week, is that quarter going to make a difference? Long gone are the days of looping in the parking lot to get the distance exact. The guys don't let you toot around at water stops or do the 50 bathroom break thing. (I think this is a stalling strategy we ladies use. Haha.) Of course, they always understand if someone has that OMG.have.to.go.right.now feeling.
And being a male runner has its own list of positives.
*Monthly visitor. I once started "girl time" DURING a race. I finished the race with "it" all over my shorts! It even showed up in the race photos. Can we say MORTIFICATION? And not to mention the hormone changes. Ever meet a man that would kill someone for some chocolate?
*The hair. Oh lawd, my friends can tell you what my hair does in this humidity. "Rat's nest" doesn't do it justice. White Girl Afro maybe? And there's no way I am going back to short hair.
*Sports bras. I have a scar from bad sports bras. Enough said.
*Fat. Yeah, most men have less of it. Women keep it in the hips for future babies. (Side note: I WANT TO GET FAT WITH BABIES!)
A whole different subject is how being a coach is easier for men, but when it's all said and done...
At least I can cry, say "yay", and wear pink. AND... when you beat boys, people really think you're a badass. :)
Run Happy, friends!