We Don’t Have To Slow Down

I am well into my 16-week marathon training program.

The Pittsburgh Marathon is now just eleven weeks away. I have ramped up my training mileage each week as I prepare for this, my 24th marathon, but my first Pittsburgh.

I’ve run New York City nine times, but I have also run a ton of races in Pennsylvania:

  • Run for the Red (Poconos): 2008, 2009
  • Philadelphia: 2008
  • D&L Trail: 2011
  • Lehigh Valley: 2014, 2015

Outside of New York City, it seems that Pennsylvania is my favorite place to run marathons.


I woke up today looking to get some good miles in. Last week I had my first 40-mile week in this training period. I’d like to reach 40 again this week. I didn’t plan to do a long run today. I only wanted to cover some miles.

It was early, and cold out, so I jumped on my treadmill to begin logging some miles.

I started modestly, at just 6.0 miles-per-hour. After three laps at that speed, I decided to up my speed each .05 mile for the final lap – nothing crazy, just a little speed work to finish the mile. 6.1 MPH, 6.2, 6.3, 6.4…

For my second mile, I slowed back down, but not to 6.0. I went to 6.1 and then followed the same pattern. I thought I was on to something. I found a pattern I liked.

I have said, a lot, that much of running isn’t physical, it’s mental. I felt early on that I had a lot in the tank. I arrived at the thought that ten miles would be a nice goal, but I wasn’t sure if it was attainable following this same pattern.

A runner can be confident and have his doubts at the same time.

Confidence won out as my second mile ended with another faster and faster final lap.

I started my third mile at 6.2 miles-per-hour.

And then my fourth mile at 6.3 MPH

And my fifth at 6.4…

Each mile I felt stronger. I was pushing the pace, running negative mile splits, and feeling more and more confident and strong.

The test, of course, I knew, would be the last five miles. If I was to keep this up, they’d be tough.

Faster and faster, mile-after-mile.

Mile 6 was at 6.5 miles-per-hour. I was also still keeping up the final quick .25 with a strong kick and increasing speed.

Mile 7, Mile 8, and Mile 9 followed along just fine.

With just one mile to go, I pushed harder. I began that mile at 7.0 miles-per-hour. After a lap, I went to 7.1. The next (penultimate) lap was at 7.2 I ramped up the final lap and finished at 8.3 MPH.

Yeah. I did it. A very fast (for me) ten miles.


If you saw lightning this morning, it was just me.

If you heard a sonic boom, yeah, that was also me. I went faster than the speed of sound.

(Hey, someone had to.)


This was my fastest 10-mile run in a long long (long) time. I finished at 1:31:46. For a guy averaging slower and slower miles, this fast ten gives me new found confidence.

I’m thinking that soon I might be able to break 90-minutes.

I used to be able to do that with regularity… but I was much (much) younger then.


Sometimes we get ideas in our heads. These ideas are perfectly reasonable and logical.

“I’m older, I must be slower.”

“I retired. That means I’m not young. I should be happy to just reach ten miles.”

On and on.

But sometimes, when we throw caution to the wind, we can see that our greater self is looking not far off, hiding quietly in the shadows.

Today I let that better self come out. I defied the self talk and reached a new speed mark, at least for now.

I might not be as fast as I was twenty years ago, but that also doesn’t mean that I have to slow down. I can actually get faster yet.

It may not be tomorrow.

It may not be next week.

But it will come.

When we seek to be better, when we want to improve, we often find that… we can.

When doubt looks me in the eye, I like to be able to rise above it.

I’m not slowing down. Not yet.

I might not run as quickly as I used to run. But today, in a different way, I was faster.


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