Pace Yourself

On Tuesday I tried my very first speed workout with my Garmin watch. 4 x 800, which is a 1/2 mile or two laps of a 400 meter track. It was rather challenging. I had no idea how fast I should run during the speed intervals. Fortunately my dailymile friends had some good advice. One of them even gave me a link the Macmillian Pace calculator. All you have to do is plug in a distance and time, and it calculates what pace you should be aiming for on different types of runs. I learned that I’m not very good at pacing myself. I shouldn’t be pushing myself so much on all of my runs. Now I have a target pace for short runs, speed workouts, medium runs, and long runs. I can already tell it’s making a difference. Instead of being tired and barely making it through runs at top speed I now feel comfortable during runs and still feel like I can go further after I finish. I need to pace myself.

I haven’t always been good at pacing myself. Okay, I’m still not really good at it. This week has been no exception. Friday I strained some tendons in my left arm. I pushed myself and kept practicing despite the fact that my arm hurt. Big mistake. I know better, but I wanted to do better at my lesson, which I eventually ended up canceling because my arm was bothering me too much to even play. I needed to pace myself. I always feel like I push myself to meet the expectations of others instead of pacing myself and making sure things are right. Before my senior year in high school I was at a summer program when I ended up severely straining my left forearm tendon. I still had concerts, and an audition coming up and I kept going. I did 5 concerts in three days. It landed me in physical therapy for the next four months trying to get rid of the pain. I missed the audition, and my college auditions didn’t go well. I pushed, and I had bad technique.

Fast forward to grad school. One day I was walking from the library and a lovely gust of wind turned my violin case into a kite. I strained a tendon in my right shoulder three days after my graduate violin recital hearing (thank goodness it was after the hearing!). The doctor I saw gave me a note to all of my music teachers. He didn’t want me to push, and he was going to make sure no one else pushed me either! I had to take a week off. My violin teacher wasn’t happy at my next lesson (he was out of town when I hurt my shoulder so I at least had a break from lessons), but I had paced myself and was pain free and working hard toward my recital which was three weeks later.

You would think I had learned my lesson after all of this. Even when I’m not hurt I still push. I feel like I disappoint people a lot when I’m not at the level they want me to be, or doing what they think I should be doing, but I’ve learned that it’s more important to do things right than to have all of my pieces up to tempo, or anticipate what people think I should be doing. It’s better to do things right than to push and only do them half way. I keep reminding myself of that. Yesterday I practiced for the first time this week. An hour and a half all pain free. I didn’t get to everything, but what I did do was good. I’ve set a foundation for the week to build off of as things get better. I keep reminding myself that it’s more important to make sure things are right than to push myself with the amount of material or speed. This week I’m focusing on pacing myself!