Who moved my speed?

As much as I am enjoying my training and racing right now, I do have one little complaint. I’m allowed that, no? Here it is: I can’t seem to get up to speed this year.

It has been really frustrating to me, I’ll admit. And humbling. And confounding. I’ve been back from injury since last November. It would seem that nine months is enough time to get back to where I used to be. But apparently in my case, it’s not.

I’ve had slow race times all season. Almost every speed session this year has left me gasping for air and missing my old marks. I just don’t feel like me. Yes, I’ve dealt

IMG 0490 300x224 Who moved my speed?

The track has not been my friend this year

with anemia this year, but given the way I feel in general, I’m guessing I’m on top of that (near future tests will tell). I dealt with a bout of overtraining last spring, but that’s also behind me. Overall, I feel pretty good, just slow.

I can handle all my long runs just fine and all my easy runs seem to be right about “normal.” It really just comes down to any faster paced running I attempt. Not being one to just maturely accept this situation, I have been talking this over with a couple of wise friends and acquaintances (coach Jeff Gaudette being one) and I’ve learned this: speed is the last element to return when coming back from a long lay off. It doesn’t seem possible that after all this time that’s still the case, but I guess it is.

Now I need a plan of action to rectify the situation. Jeff gave me some suggestions for how to sort of begin speed work anew and I’m going to give it a go. I’d like to think that with CIM still a full three months out, I can save it from the crapper. Only time will tell. I think the biggest thing I’d like is to have a realistic goal of what I can do there so that I can pace it correctly. I’m planning to add a half marathon somewhere to the fall schedule and use that as my guide–now I just need to figure out where/when to do that.

Anyhow, I’m hoping my mystery is solved and that before long, I can start feeling like I’ve got my groove back. Then, I promise, I’ll be 100 percent happy when it comes to running!

Have you ever had a tough time getting your speed back post injury? Did you eventually get where you wanted to be? 


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  1. Bo MacPhee says:

    I’ve been enjoying following your blog for a while , but this if my first comment , so ‘Hello!
    I hope your speed catches up with your will soon. It’d be interesting to hear what suggestions you received for this? as I feel in a similar situation at the mo!
    Keep up the good work :) Bo

  2. I’d like to think that with CIM still a full three months out, I can save it from the crapper. Only time will tell. I think the biggest thing I’d like is to have a realistic goal of what I can do there so that I can pace it correctly.
    Kathleen recently posted..Relocation Services Around the USMy Profile

  3. It was a frustrating process but I did get it back. I had to work up to it slowly which is something I am SO not good at. I like results yesterday!! You’ll find it again but yes it does take time so that you don’t injure yourself again!
    Fancy Nancy recently posted..September Goals….My New YearsMy Profile

  4. I’ll let you know when I’m fully back into running! I’ll need all your tips since I like things done yesterday! ;)
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..August Foodie PenPals RevealMy Profile

  5. This is a sore subject for me. My speed dropped off precipitously. My doc dismissed it with menopause and guaranteed me I’d be in it within the year. That was 1-3/4 years ago. No sign of menopause (pushing 50 of course it could be perimenopause). When my low Vitamin D was diagnosed and treated, I felt much better and got a little faster but nowhere near where I was 2 years ago. It is frustrating and hard to accept (if we should accept it at all) for sure.
    Teamarcia recently posted..Calling Chicago Marathoners and Other Fun StuffMy Profile

  6. Speed? What is speed?
    BDD recently posted..Weekly RamblingsMy Profile

  7. I have been chasing some…any speed since starting running again a year and a half ago. I have found this summer to be VERY frustrating speed wise, I just haven’t made the kind of progress I’d like :( I guess I have to keep in mind where I was and how far I’ve come in a relatively short space of time and keep working away at it. But boy oh boy those 5k’s are really starting to give me the sh*ts! :-o Sorry no help, just shared frustration!

  8. 100% happy and running in the same sentence? Really? I think that’s happend to me for one day in the past 12 years!!!! :-) Hope you get your groove back soon!

  9. Yes yes yesy
    Darlene recently posted..The Elusive “P”My Profile

  10. As you know, I’m not speedy gonzales, but as you also know, our recent move stole all of the speed I did have. It definitely rocks your ego for sure. I have no doubt you’ll be back to your speedy self soon!
    Heidi @BananaBuzzbomb recently posted..True Food Kitchen PhoenixMy Profile

  11. Hoping your new program helps you in getting your groove back! :)
    Kierston recently posted..Part II ~ 8 Weeks Out: Being The Best Me!My Profile

  12. I feel your pain! I’ve been trying to come back from injuries and illnesses for almost a year (Oct 29: partially torn adductor, Feb 29: aggravated injury, late summer illness and my dr telling me not to exercise at all because of the nature of the illness). I’ve yet to have a 10 mile run since Feb 29 nor a 20 mile week since late Feb. Speed? I haven’t done a speed work session since early fall last year. I haven’t been able to do any speed this year- not a single mile under 8 minutes, let alone 7. I wish I was in your spot and was only missing some speed! I will have to keep this post in mind when I can finally start a come back ans stay healthy!!
    Erik recently posted..Test results!My Profile

  13. I felt like I was just beginning to find some sort of speed (for me) when I hurt my knee. I’m frustrated that I had to cut everything off right when I felt like I was getting somewhere!
    Hope your mojo finds you soon!
    Heather@Just a Colorado Gal recently posted..Did You Say Shoes?My Profile

  14. I just mentioned this yesterday actually! I feel much, much slower these days. It’s humbling and frustrating, but I’m trying to focus on getting back there, while still keeping my other goals in mind. Just one setback that I’m confident I (and you!!!) can come back from eventually!
    Kara recently posted..My Fake Christmas MorningMy Profile

  15. Oh wow – interesting on the speed post injury. I’ve been so incredibly slow since my injuries and I do know our heat has played a major roll, but I swear, a 9:20 min/mile sometimes felt like a 7:20. It just felt so much harder than it should. I’ve been running with a friend and doing some speed work, slightly cooler temps and am finally noticing sub-9′s don’t feel like sub-6.
    Heather (Where’s the Beach) recently posted..Hitting the Wall & Spaghetti Squash and "Meatballs"My Profile

  16. I’ve been chasing my speed since I started running 2 yrs ago…it still eludes me though since working with my coach I’m seeing some progress. I hope you find your groove soon!
    Michelle @ Running with Attitude recently posted..Thursday Thoughts: Vacation EditionMy Profile

  17. I hear this all the time… So what to do? well there are a number of things you can do:

    1) First up don’t settle for slow when you hit the track… eg, say your old session went 4 x 1mile at 6:30 (don’t know what time you would aim at) do 800m in 3:15 half the distance, half time time, get use to running at the right pace, and stop before you get tired.
    2) Keep easy easy, and then end with 4-6 x 100m fast just to get the legs turning over at a faster rate.
    3) 10 sec hills… very steep and as fast as you can, it is only for 10 sec

    Oh, another way to look at the 1st point is to just to 2 x 1mile at the right pace then stop (but keep the distance up with a longer warm down)

    Good Luck
    Coach Dion recently posted..WEEKEND ON THE TRAILMy Profile

  18. I had a tough time post-baby…but I think I was being too impatient at the time. I was expecting to go from 9+ min miles back down to my usual pace overnight. That definitely did not happen. LOL. I found that I really started to feel like I had my speed back (and even more) about a year after he was born…Perfect timing since I got pregnant when he was a year. LOL.
    Michele @ Nycrunningmama recently posted..Hospital Packing ListMy Profile

  19. I’m working so hard to become speedy just from the start. Do you remember how difficult that was? Just keep that in mind and hopefully it can give you some perspective! Speed is so tricky and tough that of course it’s gonna give you problems coming back. Hang in there!!

  20. I’m dealing with that right now! After taking most of August off or cutting way back, it’s crazy how hard it is for me to find some speed again… I guess it’s encouraging that speed is the last to return… I’ll keep building endurance and start working on speed soon. But I hear you, it’s frustrating. After 9 months, I’d be really annoyed!
    Laura recently posted..Virtual Race Kick-off!My Profile

  21. Yeah it is frustrating. I just wrote a post on this subject today. For me, I think the key is my heart rate. I just wasn’t getting faster and I was pushing too hard. Although it might seem counter intuitive, I think slowing down is what’s going to eventually bring some speed back for me.
    Shut Up and Run recently posted..Can You Become a Faster Runner? Probably.My Profile

  22. oh I am right there with you on this one. I was just telling my running buddy the other day that speed work used to make me feel strong because I was hitting great times – but now it just makes me feel weak because I’m struggling to hit times that are slower than where I was at before. I’d be really interested in hearing what your coach suggested.
    kathy recently posted..Goodbye sweet girl…My Profile

  23. I hate that feeling of a goal being just past your current reach. You’ll get there, and you’re obviously still totally amazing. But I know it’s all about reaching what you know is your potential.
    Yo Momma Runs recently posted..Shawntel Jones 5K, August, 25 2012My Profile

  24. I’m not even timing my recent runs for fear of how slow I’ve become this year. Speed comes and goes, but that’s not what keeps me a happy runner. Cheers!
    Viper recently posted..Flashback Friday: Racing MeMy Profile

  25. Touch wood I’ve never been injured badly enough to take off much time from running. With that, though, I’ve never been naturally fast (fast being relative of course, right?) This time I’m actually going to the track and doing real tempo runs, forcing myself harder than I ever have. I can feel my age sneaking up on me and I pretty sure I have at least a good 4 years in me but sadly what goes up must come down. I’m trying to get it in! Are you fueling before your speed work? Maybe drink an extra cup of coffee! That helps me! Crazy still 3 months till CIM

  26. Lucky you’re not a sprinter. :)
    Kovas – Midwest Multisport Life recently posted..Friday Funny: Wine and RunningMy Profile

  27. I injured my knee years ago and it took a long time for my speed to come back. Well, it actually never did, but other factors, (like getting older!) can assume some of the blame. I did get faster than I was when I first started training again, just not as fast as I was before I hurt my knee (go that?).

    Just stick with it. Time and hard work will tell.
    Debbie @ Live from La Quinta recently posted..Why I Need a Go ProMy Profile

  28. Mine has taken awhile too…since my injury pre-Cle. But I think my legs are finally coming back. Although, the heat has not helped at all this summer. And I’ve kept that in the back of my mind. Have you considered this? I’m running a 5K on Monday and it will be interesting to see how I do… will be a good gauge.
    Kristy (@KrisRunTri) recently posted..My FearMy Profile

  29. I hear you. Since my injury I have had to take it slower. I had been hitting mid-7′s and 8 min/miles on my short runs, but now that is gone. It will come back though. I believe that. I am not supposed to push and I will listen. As for the anemia I HEAR YOU!! I am anemic too and take my iron everyday. I also found out I have low Vitamin D last year and take that as well. Who knew? I do feel better with the supplements, but still not the same. Perhaps it is being 37. Who knows. The week before my period is the worst.:(
    Jolene Cannady recently posted..It Will Not Be EpicMy Profile

  30. I’m still waiting for my speed to return. And I’m still pretty sure I could get a lot of it back if I could string some good intense sessions together without fear of falling apart again. But I’m an optimist.
    Char recently posted..Ticking Off GoalsMy Profile

  31. I’m right there with you…

    still not back to my 2010 speed…

  32. Well, I hope your CIM isn’t destined for the crapper because if that’s the case for you, my CIM is already in the sewer! :^)

    Seriously, though…you’re entitled to be frustrated, and you are so fast that it’s probably even worse for you than for the rest of us coming back from injury. Just be patient, like all those coaches are saying. I still think you can uncork a good time in December with patient targeted training and enough rest (this is what I’m telling myself, too, by the way!).
    Terzah recently posted..Lactate Threshold Test ResultsMy Profile

  33. Amanda, You know what you have to do – big ass mileage weeks at slow paces.

    Pretty sure in the past you and me talked about how the speed gains come once you start hitting the 50mpw number or the 60mpw or the 70mpw – Large volume seems to be a cure all for all performance issues. Well, except if those issues are injury related then it most certainly is not a cure all (-:

    Or you could just get some EPO and load up – heard Lance’s Doctor is available (-:
    Jeff Irvin recently posted..Ironman Mont-Tremblant Nutrition and Predicted TimesMy Profile

  34. I’ve had that problem before and it is incredibly frustrating. Stick with your training and you’ll get it back :)
    Beth @ RUNNING around my kitchen recently posted..Confession timeMy Profile

  35. Interesting post because I have been feeling like I am lacking in the speed department lately. I’m even having a hard time doing just marathon pace runs for a few miles. Yikes!

    I’m running NYC so I hope this turns around soon. I am cutting myself some slack since I’ve been doing some other things (like cycling 157 miles!), but I have a half marathon coming up in two weeks that I would like to do well at.
    Beth @ Miles and Trials recently posted..157 Blissful Miles – Day 2My Profile

  36. I am horrible because I cannot remember what your injury was. I do know that sometimes after an injury (especially one that requires surgery) we are never quite the same. So that is one thing to consider.

    I am not going to tell you what speed work to do because I don’t know what you are currently doing. I will tell you to switch it up and tax your body in a different way and see if that doesn’t jump start your speed. Usually we can see some gains when we challenge the body in a different way rather than the same ol’ same ol’.
    Jamoosh recently posted..Bridges and BeersMy Profile

  37. Are you doing that speed work with minimalist shoes or barefoot too?
    Jason @ Cook Train Eat Race recently posted..It’s Not Just Pasta…..My Profile

  38. I can relate to this. I’m totally back to my pre-baby mileage and only a couple pounds heavier. Yet I’m still much slower. Most days I can accept that I have to be patient… but not everyday!
    Laura recently posted..Sixteen barriers brokenMy Profile

  39. I’m so incredibly far off of my old pre-injury times it isn’t even laughable. It’s sad. And pushing 50, I don’t think I’ll ever see them again. It’s just a fact and I’m starting to be at peace with it. Somewhat.
    Jill recently posted..August’s Top Ten…..Or ThirteenMy Profile

  40. I guess I have to keep in mind where I was and how far I’ve come in a relatively short space of time and keep working away at it.
    Born27 recently posted..Software videoconferenceMy Profile

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