Back in middle school, a couple of times every year the gym coach would get his truck out and drive around the fields back behind the school using the tachometer to measure one mile and placing cones along the route in the grass. No one every really enjoyed these days but I never really hated them since I'd taken up running with my father occasionally starting in elementary school. I knew I could run the distance and even run it fairly quickly compared to everyone else. There were certainly the exceptions, like Michael Della-Russo (who now plays on an MLS developmental team in texas) who ran 6 minute miles in 6th grade, but for the rest of us 7 minutes was FAST.
That was probably the last time I'd ever tested myself in the mile so for the majority of the past 10 or so years I've believed I was a seven minute miler. No longer fast at all and certainly no where near a race winning speed. Recently I've started clocking sub-seven minute miles in some 5k's so now I know I'm faster then I believed for the longest time. A lot of that extra speed I'm positive has been developed just over the past year or so as I've upped mileage and actually started some running speed drills and such.
Last night I was supposed to get out for a long run but after dropping Aimee off at the airport and sitting in traffic getting home for an hour I'd pretty much be running in the pitch black which didn't support a 90 minute run considering the routes I like to run around here. So instead I found the local high school track just a mere 1.2 miles from my front door and then decided to do a mile test. I got about a mile and half warm up then picked it up for my mile. Took it pretty easy the first lap just kept a quick but steady cadence and not trying to kill myself still believing I'd try to do the full 90 minute run. lap 3 I still felt pretty good so I started picking it up a bit and by lap four I'd really turned it up. Held through and gave the rest of what I had for the final 75 or so meters and stopped the clock with my first sub six minute mile.
I know it's no Olympic record breaking speed but going from believing I ran 7 minute miles to below 6 I feel pretty damn good about things. It's also a great baseline to test myself with in the coming months/years as I continue to train. I really feel like had I known that would be my goal for the run I could have given a bit more earlier in the piece which I'm thinking would be another 10 to 20 seconds off but my time last night was 5:54.
I think the biggest boost this will give me is completely mental; I've been wishing lately I could post a sun 20 minute 5k but so far I haven't been able to, and thinking I could just barely break 7 minute miles it didn't seem like I'd officially be able to. but now with the mental edge of knowing I really can I should be able to convince myself otherwise during a race. According to the Runners World pace calculator I should be able to run it in just over 19 minutes which I should clock a marathon in a bit over 3 hours... My only attempt at a marathon was 3:48 though I was running with buddies and we weren't racing as much as we were bs'ing. I know I can only take so much from that but the mental aspect of my running I'm sure holds me back more then any other part. Saturday will be my first test of this hopefully helpful mentality when I do the DCTri Club practice sprint triathlon. We'll see how it goes.