When I left home to complete the last quality session before the 5K race, it was dark and desolate outside. The town seemed reluctant to step out of the new year’s daze, still simmering in the lazy bliss that I, too, wallowed in just minutes before. But I had something waiting for me: 3x1mi threshold work with 2-minute recoveries.
Pressing the start button, I felt oddly excited and hopeful—for the past week I’ve been noticing a gradual increase in my fitness. I was curious if it was something transient or rather a solid bump, here to stay.
After the customary 2-mile warmup, I did some dynamic stretches and jumped straight into the first tempo interval. I was supposed to be running at 7:15/mi (4:30/km) but I soon found myself dashing at 7:00/mi (4:21/km) and feeling excellent. In fact, my heart rate stayed well beyond my projected lactate threshold during the whole workout.
Halfway into the first interval, I realized how I missed the sensation of running fast and not getting tired easily—all throughout the holidays, I consistently underperformed in quality sessions (I even had to stop once in the middle of 5×1.2k intervals), and pretty much all my workouts in November and December were lousy.
Now I found myself flying effortlessly over the frozen asphalt, my breath even, my stride fresh and bouncy. On the course I had chosen, the first two intervals usually lead through a nice stretch of straight road. Empty fields and small woods run on both sides here, and it’s easy to focus on running by simply letting the mind rest from the city. As I ran, I reflected on the road ahead, using it as a metaphor for the new year. I thought about all the opportunities and possibilities awaiting me, challenges and hardships included. I felt complete.
As I was running the third and last interval, to my right, an intensely orange dawn began opening the day. I took it as a good omen, feeling the space and time lock in unison just for me. Here I was, running first thing in the morning at the crack of dawn. I breathed in deeply, savoring the taste of clean and crisp air. I didn’t want to stop. I added another 100 yards to the end of the last mile to prolong this delectable sensation.
Jogging back home, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that this run marked the beginning of something great. I felt immensely content and satisfied when I pressed the stop button and still had plenty of energy. I wanted more.
My fitness is back!