How Did I run a 6:00 Mile? I tried

Two months ago I issued an APB for my missing fitness

I had been somewhat of a wine guzzling couch potato slug with the exception of running around with my beloved dog, Banjo! in the fair weather season.  This happens with age but every so often it gets to the point of feeling exceptionally listless and it’s time to take action.

Well, two months have gone by and I’ll give y’all the good and bad and ugly update.  This is the original post in case you missed it like most of America.

Has Anybody Seen My Fitness? It Must Be Around Here Somewhere

My running background was listed here in a guest post I wrote for the talented Kate Nesi.

Lessons From 38 Years of Running – Guest Post on KateNesi.com

I turned 50 last year and still feel pretty decent, despite all the self-inflicted damage over the years, but after hitting 200 pounds (on a skinny frame) in November I started back at ye olde work gym.  I don’t do much more than run other than a few stretches and some dips or pull-ups.  I also don’t care too much about how the extra weight looks but how it feels.  I’ve said it before but that vanity ship sailed away from here a long time ago.

I’ve run 20 workouts since November 5 which I suppose is not terribly consistent over a 60 day period.  Here’s the thing though:  It turns out doing something is better than doing nothing!  That time also included the Thanksgiving and December holiday where we, like most people, eat and drink more than medically recommended.  I was able to work up to 3 miles pretty quickly even though I slowed down from my former standard/easy pace.  I used to run what I call “base level fitness” workout around 7:13 per mile for 3 miles but at first it was somewhat slower but progressed quickly due mostly to muscle memory I suppose.  The two weeks away from working out over Christmas and New Years probably took away quite a bit.  When we were travelling and visiting I recall eating a whole bunch of salty snack foods that aren’t normally around our house.  It turns out you shouldn’t eat a whole holiday meal and follow that up with more wine and then munch down 3/4 of a box of Wheat Thins with a cheese ball.  There’s a reason we don’t have that stuff around our house and that is that I can’t resist all that delicious processed goodness.  Even with the holiday setbacks, I started up the new year around the same level where I left off around December 20.

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This jug head is a decent running companion if you take into account all the stopping to sniff, poop, and whiz.

The Test

A couple of days ago I decided to test whether or not I could run the base level workout.  I was able to do that and did the 3 miles in 21:39 and was pretty happy about that.  Then, yesterday, I was kinda bored and hopped on the treadmill and thought “I wonder if I can run a 6 minute mile?”  I don’t know the last time I ran one or even tried because I’m not really doing track workouts the past 10 years or competing with anyone.  I just fired the speed up to 10.0 miles per hour and ran a mile.  It was harder than I remember but I was mildly surprised it didn’t seem all that uncomfortable or “all out.”  I still had a little left in the tank and I was glad I challenged myself to the test.  Running faster than your normal speed is great to extend range of motion and lung capacity too.  It also makes your normal everyday training pace feel a little easier.  The proof was today when I went back and ran a more reasonable 3 miles in just over 22 minutes and it felt particularly easy.  My heart and lungs will tell another version of that story as my heart rate in the 160’s and recovery time to 140 beats were not that great but the perception was still one of relative ease.  Maybe next month I’ll try for 5:30.  Time will tell.

In so many ways this fitness thing is analogous to finance.

  • Doing something is better than doing nothing in fitness, just like investing something is better than spending your whole check.  Worse still would be building up huge consumer debt which would be the equivalent of a lifetime of Wheat Thins and cheese balls and never breaking a sweat.
  • Had I not attempted to run the 6:00 mile I would not have known if I could do it.  Remember this one from William Shakespeare?  “Our doubts are traitors that make us lose the good we oft might win for fearing to attempt.”  It’s not like I had doubt or fears about trying but to know for sure you have to make the attempt.  It doesn’t feel like some huge accomplishment but I’m glad I tried.  It’s like boosting your savings rate from 25% to 30% or something similar.  You wonder if it will make your life uncomfortable but you don’t know until you try it.  It’s not like you sign some contract when you take a stab at it that says that if it’s wrecking your life you can’t go back to the old status quo.  You  can change your mind, just like the world would not have ended if I didn’t make the nut in my mile test.
  • It’s easier to maintain this saving and investing thing than it is to rehab busted finances.  The same goes for fitness, especially as you get older.  I just turned 50 last year and it takes a lot longer to turn this battleship around from time on the couch than it did in my 20’s.  In the same way your saving and investing habits have momentum and even if you slip up but are still progressing in the positive direction it’s 10 times better than going to the other (debt) side of the ledger.

So, that’s my story of trying something hard and somewhat challenging just to see if I could.  Have y’all ever attempted a somewhat hard activity on a whim?  It doesn’t have to relate to fitness, but maybe something else challenging.  How did it work out?  If you failed the first time, did you keep at it and conquer in the end?

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If you can kick my ass in a mile race I’ll mail you some poutine.

12 Replies to “How Did I run a 6:00 Mile? I tried”

  1. Nice dude! I need to try it one day, I “think” I could do it but not sure. Right now I’m still dealing with some sciatica which hurts more when I push the running pace so my runs have been in the high 8’s or even 9 minute mile pace recently. Too much sitting.

    1. gotta get that sciatica straight and give it a shot. i would know better to sprint against you on a bike, i know that. i’ve always been drawn to middle distance. in fact, over the summer i was looking for local rec. track meets where i could go run an 800. being fiddy i think i could whoop most of the other oldsters.

    1. my pace is surely not 6 minutes but it’s fun to try and blast one out every now and then just to see if i can. a little bit of lighter interval training can sometimes help quicken you pace, but you gotta be careful not to get hurt with that. you look much fitter than me, T$.

  2. My problem is injuries. I have trouble getting below 7, because I usually manage to get hurt. Over the years, I have switched to more strength training to compensate while I recover. If you don’t pause long between reps, then you do get a good cardio workout. I try to keep it to 30s or so between sets.

    That being said, I am a huge fan of opening up the throttle once in a while. Its exhilarating. A good hill run always did that for me.

    I am hoping to get back to pain free running again after my last injury.

    1. i hope you get back to full strength soon. i can’t do sub-7 for longer runs any more but am working in that direction hopefully. i did enjoy doing my little one mile test and followed that up with a couple of easy miles after a little rest, as you mentioned. i’ve said it before but not having a nemesis to compete with keeps me from training hard.

      thanks a lot for stopping by.

  3. Preach it, reverend! Getting back into shape (other than round) is much more difficult than staying there. Though speaking of round, Wheat Thins and a port wine cheddar cheese ball are nearly impossible to stop eating. So kudos to you for only going through 3/4 of a box.

    I’m doing Orange Theory Fitness, which boils down to me paying someone to make me workout so I don’t have to pay them for not working out. It’s perverse motivation and somewhat expensive but it’s working. During the summer, I have no issues getting up and working out. During the winter, much like a bear, I want to sleep, which leads me to looking like a bear by the end of winter. And since like you, I’m aging, that winter coat is starting to stick around much longer than the winter. So with Orange Theory, you pay a monthly fee for the classes and you have to sign up ahead of time for the specific class(es) you plan to attend. If you don’t want to go to class, you have to cancel at least 8 hours prior or else you get charged $12 for being a no show. The great part is that the classes are pushing me harder than I’d push myself, so that’s a benefit too.

    A cool parallel to what you wrote is that the coaches have pushed us to up our base pace in the new year. So we’re being pushed to try something that we’re not sure if we can do.

    Having said that congrats on the 6 minute mile! I think the last time I ran even close to that I was on active duty and the last time I ran faster than that I was in high school.

    To answer the question you posed, I once ran a sprint distance triathlon with no training and someone else’s bike because I trash talked my boss in the pool. That was hard. I wanted to die by the end. And I never ran another one. LOL.

    1. similar to your challenge to your boss, i used to challenge one runner who was much better than me every time i saw him at the bar. i’m glad he never accepted.

      i like that concept of not wanting to pay 12 bucks more than wanting to go work out. whatever it takes to get you in there. i’m glad they’re pushing you at times to get better. it turns out you can change the baseline to a certain point.

      geaux saints! at least the sixers are good this year. i hope the dy-uary is going well. mine is a work in progress.

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