Thank you to everyone who took the time to read my latest post on all my pre-race jitters and thoughts about my upcoming half marathons. I loved reading your comments! 🙂 And it’s now RACE WEEK so the nerves will be out in full force these next few days – eek!
Also I have to warn you: today’s post is a pretty long one. To tidy things up I’m deviating from my usual format and only recapping the significant stuff. Here’s what you’ll be missing: I did a strength train workout at the gym on Tuesday; on Thursday I did my easy run Garminless and it was kinda nice. I tried to cut stuff down as much as possible but it’s still really long today: I just have a lot to talk about after this week, I guess!
Workout: MP Practice
Total Miles (with w/u and c/d): 8
MP mile splits: 8:30, 8:37, 8:36, 8:34, 8:29, 8:45; 8:35 avg
Well…this workout was not as easy as I thought it would be. Our Wednesday night plans fell through, freeing up my evening, and I decided to move my MP run up a day so I could practice on fresh instead of tired legs. But after yesterday’s strength workout my legs were not fresh. My inner thigh muscles were freakin SORE.
3 of these miles were right in the ballpark of where I need to be. The last one was a little too slow, and I had a couple miles that were 10 seconds too fast. I think I’m starting to see what’s causing my pacing issues:
- I go out too fast (shocker): I do the opposite of what I should be doing: I go out fast on my first MP mile and have to try to adjust down instead of starting slow and easing into goal pace. Not an efficient strategy.
- I try to run by pace instead of by feel: Even though MP runs are supposed to be about pace, I get way too caught up in Garmin-checking. This actually messes with my pacing instead of helping, because I keep adjusting and never settle into a pace.
Part of me is half-heartedly wondering if I should just change my goal MP to 8:35, because ironically that pace seems to be easier for me to maintain than an 8:40 and most of my practice has unintentionally been at this pace instead. And it’s only 5 sec faster so it doesn’t really feel that different.
Workout: Easy Run
Total Miles: 5
I didn’t look at Mr. Garmin until after the run, and I was stunned at what I saw. That was the slowest run I’ve had in at least a year; I’m not even used to seeing those pace numbers on my watch anymore. At first I was all PMSy and frustrated about it, but by the time I got ready and went to work I was over it. It’s just one run and there’s no need to freak out about it, besides, there was a lot going on here: it was dark o clock in the morning and freezing with a surprise dusting of SNOW on the ground, I hadn’t eaten dinner the night before, my legs were still SORE, and I really wasn’t trying very hard anyway.
And there was a silver lining: when I got into work later I suddenly noticed that my legs felt…better? The soreness wasn’t gone but it had died down a little bit, and my muscles felt looser and more fluid. Hey maybe this wasn’t so bad after all!
Workout: MP practice run
Total Miles: 7
MP mile splits: 8:32, 8:31, 8:45, 8:34, 8:32; avg – 8:35
Wow, what a difference a day makes! Today was one of those perfect, “on” running days. It felt like I woke up with brand new legs. My Wednesday run must have snuck in and switched places with today’s run because it was blissfully easy today – not how it’s supposed to feel after you’ve already run 18 miles in 3 days. So I guess I’ve learned my lesson: easy runs need to keep being RULL easy from now on!
Here’s what I did differently today:
I employed a pacing tip from my friend Lyndsay: setting my Garmin’s auto-lap to .5 miles instead of full miles. This way, I didn’t have to worry about looking at my watch’s pace every few seconds, because I knew that the half mile split would tell me where I’m at and I could use the next half mile to adjust accordingly. With this method, I felt like I could relax and run by feel, which in turn allows me to get into a rhythm.
I stopped obsessing over individual mile splits. It finally occurred to me how counterproductive this is. I can’t expect that I’m going to hit the exact pace every mile. I mean, who does that?! During the race there will be natural fluctuations in pace/mile splits, so it’s okay if my workouts have them too. I’m trying to get into the habit of looking at the bigger picture: what is the average of all my MP miles, and is that on track? Do I stay fairly consistent in my mile splits or do they jump around? If there are outliers, was I able to readjust in the following miles or did it derail me? Were those outliers possibly caused by something – hills, head winds?
I’m seeing that my MP workouts are more successful and enjoyable when my goal is to simply run at a consistent, steady effort in the ballpark of goal MP instead of trying to hit a strict pace every mile. I think if I give my body more time to learn consistent marathon effort, it will become easier to make small adjustments to get that effort closer to marathon pace.
Workout: Long Slow Distance
Total Miles: 18
Average Pace: 9:27
Sunday was gloomy, cold, and rainy all day. It made me feel miserable just thinking about running in it but eventually I had to put on my big girl pants and get it over with. Luckily, the rain held off, and the first half of the run went pretty well, even though I wasn’t very happy about being out running for three hours on such a gloomy day. I started out slow and steady, with 9:40-10:20 miles for the first third of the run. After that I decided to start gradually cranking up a bit, getting my miles up to 9:00-9:30 and hopefully being able to do the last few at goal MP.
But then OH MY GOD THE WIND. I did a lot of my miles along the lake shore, which in retrospect was a bad decision, because OH MY GOD THE WIND. Gusts 25-35 mph and they just tore me apart. I hated life. All I wanted was to get away from the damn lake and back into the streets for the final 5 miles. But it didn’t make any difference. As I ran through the roads back toward home I still kept getting assaulted by random blasts of mean icy wind. It was just miserable, but I was a trooper and held onto my pace really well: the wind never slowed me down to anything above a 10 min mile, but my god that took a lot out of me.
At mile 17, I looked at the timer and realized that if I ran this last mile in about 9 minutes I would finish in 2:51 and pull off a 9:30 average pace. So I bolted through that last mile and wound up running it at goal MP. But oh my goodness, I had to dig deep for it. Hardest 8:38 I ever ran.
Week 6 TOTAL MILEAGE: 43
Week 6 Grade: B+
Many good workouts, and I’m starting to get a little better at MP and easy running. Things didn’t always go according to plan and I was thrown a few curveballs but I think I did well given the circumstances. I was a real trooper about getting up for an AM run, doing a long run in shitty weather, and taking it in stride when I didn’t hit paces I wanted or feel great during key workouts. But I just really didn’t enjoy this week (except my Saturday run). Lots of really cold, cloudy weather did not help. On paper it looks fine but it just wasn’t as fun as other weeks.
Looking Ahead: Week 7
Monday 3/30 – REST
Tuesday 3/31 – 5 miles easy
Wednesday 4/1 – 8 miles w/ MP practice
Thursday 4/2 – 4 miles very easy
Friday 4/3 – REST
Saturday 4/4 – South Shore HALF MARATHON!
Sunday 4/5 (Happy Easter!) – 4 mile shakeout
TOTAL planned mileage: 34.1
I originally had planned to do speed work this week, but I think I’m gonna back off again so that I’m well rested going into Saturday’s race. Now that my mileage is increasing, cumulative fatigue is really starting to catch up to me – you saw that in some of my workouts this week. Now is the time that I really need to get serious about making sure I’m managing my energy wisely. Easy runs need to be easy, and I need to make sure that I’m taking better care of myself and my tired legs. My hardest workout is another MP run this week. I may try to do some of those miles at goal HM pace to keep my legs feeling fresh…but I may even change to all easy runs if I’m feeling nervous about my energy levels. Also, Week 7 is also serving as my 2nd “cutback” week, so I want to make sure I’m giving my body the break it is craving.
Looking forward to a GREAT Week 7 and hoping to kick some half marathon butt!
Does anyone have any good tips for pacing yourself and staying on track during MP practice runs?