This morning I ran in the botanical gardens near my house. It's probably my favorite run, though only when I'm running well. If I'm not running at least moderately strong, the gardens run will kick my ass because the whole thing is short/steep up/down. Last time I did this run (early Nov) it kicked my ass. I wasn't running fast (at all) but it was just SO.HARD. My breathing was labored and my legs were shot and it was my 'wake up call' that I really needed to do something to fix my run fitness.
I avoid running back there when the goal is just to get in aerobic miles- unless I were to walk all the hills, there's no chance I could keep HR in 140's on this run. I typically avoid wearing my garmin when I run this route- I prefer to just go by feel- but here's the elevation profile from mapmyrun.com.
I feel like I have a decent handle on aerobic HR right now, so this morning I headed back there with the intention of just running however I felt. I felt quite good, so I pushed the effort up a bit on the way home and ended up with a nice negative split and ~40' of quite solid tempo/strength effort. The difference between today vs a month ago was that today it was only hard when I was working hard on purpose. Plus, I finished ~5min quicker. Makes me feel like I'm on a decent track at the moment and it motivated me to stay on the path I'm on!
As I was running home today I was thinking that while I run slow/easy quite a lot, I'm actually not (at all) against running hard. I think the key is just placing those hard runs into the schedule appropriately, and only after I've 'earned' the baseline fitness to do them. It doesn't make sense to me to try to run hard when you're not fit- because then hard will be just hard- it won't also be fast. When you're fit, hard is (at least relatively) fast. When I've tried to build fitness the other way (starting with hard) it's backfired on me and hasn't worked.
This should be another solid mileage week. After I jog with Maia later today I'll have ~48 miles for the week (so far). Long/easy run tomorrow.