Yesterday, I was running what I call "Workman Hill Traverses", running over and back Workman Hill in Whittier. The previous (and only other) time I did this, I quit after 3 over-and-backs since there was a light rain and mud was starting to collect on my shoes (actually Body Glove Realm water socks). So yesterday I went up with the plan of running 4.
I run these not that fast because I'm not completely over the ITB issues. For instance when I run now, after a while, it hurts to flex my knee to the maximum extent, but that's not required, so... what. And later in the day, my knee doesn't hurt. And yes, I'm (insert usual advice here).
So yesterday, I finished the 3rd one at 1:32:something. So I started going over goals in my head - maybe next time trying for 2 hours, later on, working up to 5 or 6 over-and-backs in 2 hours (I like 2 hour workouts). Then I started thinking, maybe I can break 2 this time. So I wasn't fooling around on the 4th rep but I started pushing a little on the way back and finished under 1:58 and that included picking up some trash on the last descent.
The workout today was a 1 hour run. We have a group of friends that annually do a one-hour run and mail in the resulting distance, this year by June 14th. This was my first time trial for the year. After 2 miles, it was pretty obvious that I wasn't going to make even 6 miles (pretty bad, huh?). But that is as expected, actually. Given uninterrupted training, I should be able to hit 7 miles, but not at the moment. So I thought that 5 3/4 miles was a possibility. So I kept track of my splits but I actually got slower, slipping from the 10:20's to 10:30's. But when I finished 5 miles, I had 7:37 remaining in the hour, so possible to get to 5.75 if I could run 10 minute pace. I ran the last mile in 9:30 and managed 5.75 plus about 73 meters. Nothing to write home about (blogs are fair game though) but it reminded me that whenever I do this effort, I'm breathing at least a little hard as I did in the last mile. And now the goal for the next time I do this time trial will be 6 miles.
So I set goals during workouts, manage a little extra effort at the end to hit the goal, then use that for the next workout to hit a higher goal. A typical mind game I played in the past was to calculate the average split from an earlier workout, then try to hit that split for that day's workout. That would usually result in a faster time for the day.