I started out feeling pretty tight in the legs so I did just a little bit of light stretching. I don't stretch too much. This is a departure from what I had always done when I was younger, but it seemed to make sense to me that in the book, "Born to Run", they spoke about how the Tarahumara never stretched before runs and how studies had shown that stretching could also lead to tendons and ligaments that were too loose; actually increasing the chances of injury. Now I could see where this might be bad advice if you were attempting a more explosive sport like sprinting, football, baseball, etc. You probably need those ligaments to be more forgiving under extreme explosive stresses. With distance running at well below 100% max power application to the muscles it seems to make sense, as it is presented in the book, that a slightly tighter rubber band would be more efficient and might actually help protect the joints from some of the stresses. With all of that said, I don't go Tarahumara style and just start running, but do just enough stretching to work out the feeling of a sore tightness. I try to get that perfect blend of a springy feeling in my legs without any pain or soreness.
I started the first lap at a 10 minute pace, but quickly sped up well beyond that. My legs just seemed to have a mind of their own today. It was such an odd feeling. Mentally my mind was saying, "Don't speed up too soon and burn yourself out", but my legs were like, "Come on! Let's go!" Before I hit the first mile I was running between 8-8:30/mile pace. That was a little early for me to be going that fast. Usually my paces would look something like: lap1-9:30, lap2-9:00, lap3-8:30. This run was: lap1-9:04, lap2-8:18, lap3-8:08. I know it doesn't seem like much, but 20-40 seconds faster over a mile is a pretty good jump up. This set a new PR for me at the 5k, 3 mile, and 3k distances (per Endomondo). 5k time was 26:13, which is about a 30 second improvement. 3 mile time was 25:08. I would really like to have my 3 mile time under 18 minutes someday. This is the time that gives you a score of 100 for the run in the Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test. It would be awesome to be able to do that in my 40's! I'm not sure if that if realistic, but it is my goal. I have managed to drop my 3 mile time from an approximate 36 minutes (I couldn't actually run 3 miles two months ago) to 26 minutes today so maybe shaving off that last 7 minutes is not all that crazy.
Some final thoughts about what I believe might have led to such a great feeling today. I was a little surprised by my performance this morning because of the long and stressful ride last night. I expected I would not feel great on this run. In hind sight, I think three things really played into this. I was fairly well rested, had done a good job of hydrating with a focus on replenishing electrolytes vs. just water, and ate a fair amount of carbs to allow my body to refuel. I think the most important change was the focus on electrolyte replacement. I was always such a big water drinker that I think I may have been in a fairly constant state of hyponatremia. This is when you essentially dilute the electrolytes in your blood due to over hydrating with something that doesn't have electrolytes (or very few) in it like water. This can actually be more dangerous than being dehydrated. I read an article that spoke about how marathoners were dying from over hydrating with water. It caused hyponatremia and they didn't have enough electrolytes for their heart to keep beating so they literally went into cardiac arrest. All of my studying on the net regarding this after my disastrous last tri-sim have lead me to the conclusion that I need to keep a focus on the electrolytes and, so far, it seems to be working very well. I haven't gone crazy with the electrolyte replacements. There are a ton of products that you can find. I have simply been sticking with Gatorade or Powerade since my last sim and they have been serving me well. I will probably look at stepping up to SaltTabs soon though as it will actually be cheaper at $20-$30 per 100 pills vs. the cost of 100 Gatorades.