I did my first ever FTP test a couple of days ago now, and I was less than enthused by my results. Maybe it’s the complete lack of training over the last month or so (thanks a lot, finals), maybe I’m just way weaker than I though, but here it is in all it’s lackluster glory: 151 Watts.
Wah-freakin-wah. Not exactly what I was hoping for. That means that I’m generating about 2.1 watts per kg of bodyweight (155 lbs = 70 kg). Ideally, I would have been much closer to 3 w/kg, but that’s what the off season is for, right?
Well, I was wallowing in my sorrow, and headed out for a run to see how much of that had left me since I’ve been so inactive. Not as much as I thought, but still not great: 8:15/mi average. Now, it was a fartlek workout, and there were some pretty icy patches that slowed me down, but still. In the winter months I’m more used to seeing sub-8 average times. Something about that cold air…
BUT, as I passed another person who was walking, they smiled and waved, and I could see that they were breathing heavy, sweat was collecting on their eyebrow, and their cheeks were rosy. Instinctively I waved and smiled back, and I was suddenly smacked with the reality of pace.
First, a brief aside. If you don’t return a smile and wave from another runner, cyclist, or walker, shame on you. In my head, every time someone doesn’t even acknowledge my existence after I’ve waved, I’m thinking (and sometimes saying it under my breath), “Well f*ck you too!” There’s no need to be a dick out there, just freakin’ wave back! You may be the nicest person in the world, but when you don’t wave back, that’s what I think. /rant.
The truth is, “fast” is relative. To those who are huffing and puffing to walk a 20-minute mile, a 15-minute mile is fast! To those running a 15-minute mile, a 12-minute mile is fast! So for me to be bummed because I’m not rocking my usual 7:30-mile training run pace, wishing I was running “fast,” seemed a little petty to say the least.
That said, I want to be faster. I don’t want to settle for my current pace, because I think I can be faster. Is it going to mean a lot of work? Yes. Is it going to mean suffering? Yes. Is it going to hurt? Yes. Is it going to be worth it? Hell yes.
If you’re reading this and thinking about quitting because you’re not “fast,” please, PLEASE do NOT give up! It’s not about reaching someone else’s pace. It’s not about getting to someone else’s definition of “fast.” It’s all about the journey. Embracing that and enjoying seeing the change as it occurs will hold much more value than simply getting to a number.