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Mile Time Trial Recap

I always bring a water bottle down to the treadmill with me

Yesterday, I woke up with a mission–run a mile time trial.

My running coach (Kelly Roberts of the Badass Lady Gang) starts her training plans with a mile time trial to set a baseline VDot score. This is an estimate of your fitness level based on oxygen consumption.

Once you have this number, the training app we use for the program takes your race pace and calculates what your ideal pace for various types of speedwork should/could/might be. I’m not a coach or a fitness expert, so if you want to know more about VDot scores, check out this article from Runner’s World.

The mile time trial asks you to run all out for a mile to set this number, and I, like many people who experienced the joy of the Presidential Fitness Tests, have some feelings about it. I still vividly recall the 15-minute mile I ran in high school gym class, where my perfectionist Straight A student desires competed with my fear of appearing to actually try and still running the mile slowly.

When I approach the mile now, I flash back to the high school track. It’s not all bad memories there, as I spent a summer running that track with my day while I lived at home post-college. And yet, as soon as you say “mile” I’m wheezing on that maroon track while the guy I have a crush on laps me.

Since I’ve done several training programs with Kelly and the BALG, I’ve gotten a bit more comfortable with the mile. And yet, every time I see that little red dot that indicates a race during the training week, I freeze up a little.

“Oh no,” I think. “Didn’t we just do a mile time trial?”

This training cycle has been relatively chill for me so far, since I’m doing a lighter 5K plan to get back into the habit of running. Even so, I wasn’t sure what to expect from my body running all-out for a mile. Would I be faster than the initial trial last month? Slower?

After spending the morning trying to talk myself out of it, I stepped on the treadmill and started my warmup. I got hot immediately due to our treadmill’s home in the musty basement, but otherwise felt strong and capable.

Then, I ran. I could tell at once that it would be a good time trial. Things just felt right, that good clicked-in feeling I associate with the best runs. I went hard and I managed to shave a few seconds off the prior time. Not my personal best mile, but not too shabby, either.

Beating your prior record for the mile time trial is a double-edged sword. There’s a moment of pride, exhiliration. Then, you get to enter the new race time in the V.02 app and realize this means your target paces for speedwork will get faster. If you’re me, you wonder why you tried so hard during that trial if this would be the end result.

I don’t love a mile time trial on the treadmill. I think it’s harder to actually push yourself since the treadmill keeps your prace steady until you turn it up. There also aren’t any hills (my treadmill doesn’t do that), so it’s not particularly accurate to what will happen out in the real world. But I’m a baby and I didn’t want to run in 30 degree (Fahrenheit), rainy weather.

There will be hard times in the training, if not this round then certainly when I start gearing up for my half marathon. But yesterday, in spite of my feelings about the mile, wasn’t one of them. And I’ll take the wins where I find them, always.