A little over a year ago, I wrote about reaching a “new normal” pace. Up until that point, I had been struggling for quite a while to get past the 9:00/mile barrier, but once I did, that pace became normal to me. I no longer had to push to get there, it just became the pace my legs would take me when I went out the door.
Since then, I’ve gradually improved my running and, yes, even gotten a bit faster. When I was heading out to run the Ragnar Relay in Arizona in February, I had a simple goal: don’t embarrass yourself. Meaning, try not to be the slowest guy out there! Once I had completed my first leg and handed off the bracelet, I was surprised when I checked out my Garmin: a little over 4 and half miles at a 7:40/mile pace. That was the fastest run I had ever completed. Ever. The next two legs went just as well: 6+ at 7:41/mile and about 5 and a half at 7:43/mile. To be clear, before landing in Arizona, I had never in my life run at a pace under 8:00/mile, but somehow managed to turn in three runs in a row at better than that pace.
Last Sunday, I went in to the Heart Half Marathon feeling pretty confident that I’d be able to run a good race. So confident that I lined up with the 8:00/mile pace group. Granted, I thought I’d be hanging on for dear life, but I also didn’t think it was crazy either. Again, I managed to run that race (a 13.1 mile race) at an average of 7:50/mile.
I don’t know this for sure yet, but each time I’ve gone for a run since Ragnar, my legs just seem to want to run at a pace close to 8:00/mile. I’m kind of hoping this becomes the new normal. We’ll see.