January is almost over and winter has finally decided to make an appearance (and throw a wrench in training) but I've still managed to log the workouts and miles despite Mother Nature. Winter can be a tough time for training as motivation is low and having to log treadmill runs or layer up to slip and slide your way through the miles can kill the little motivation you may have. One thing that always helps me is to put races on my calendar. If you haven't signed up for Cleveland yet, you can use code HK2019 to save 10% off of any race registration and there are distances for everyone!
While I'm not officially training for Cleveland yet, I am rebuilding my base and logging some key workouts to lock in my goal paces for May and some races that I may or may not have scheduled prior to that point (wink wink). The biggest thing I am working on right now is pacing. I will openly admit that prior to my new training plan, I was not good at pacing at all and had little to no control. Things are different this time around as hitting paces is key to ensure success in my goal races, especially because I intend to use the pacing I've been practicing in those races. Below are some of my training runs so far since I've started working on pacing and control.
The funny thing about pacing is that when you do it well, you hardly have to tell anyone what the workout/goal paces were because it's pretty clear from the splits.
So what's the secret to learning to pace? That's a question I have been getting A LOT since I've started training like this and the answer is something a lot of people don't want to hear. You just have to actually try. Seems crazy right? For me in the past, my pacing went something like "eh, if I'm within :10 seconds or so of goal paces it'll be ok." And then you keep that up for an entire run, especially a longer run, next thing you know you've run the entire run at 10+ seconds too fast and you're working too hard. Now my rule of thumb is that I need to be within 1-2 seconds of the goal and slower than the goal is better than faster. With that mentality, I end up with splits like the pictures above.
But there is another key to pacing that has helped me. Listening to my body and running the right paces for me. When I say listen to my body, I mean really listening. There is a big difference between yeah that feels "ok" and this is actually a comfortable pace for me. When you really tune in to how the paces feel, you learn what the paces actually feel like effortwise. I'm not ashamed to admit that in the past, I genuinely did not know what a 7:30 mile felt like (my current goal half marathon pace). Basically, I'd go out at a 6:xx and slow down throughout the mile until I hit 7:30. And that did not feel good. Now, I go out at a 7:27-7:33 pace, really paying attention to how it feels, and then work to replicate that feeling thoughout the entire tempo session.
My last tip is to check your watch constantly. Is it annoying? Yes. Do you go a little crazy? Yes. But does it work? Yes. I'd say that when I started I was probably checking every 10th or so. But as it becomes more natural, I really only check about 3x/mile. And I'm guessing the more I practice, the less I will need to check.
I do all of the above for all of the paces I run. It's becoming incredibly natural for the paces I hold often (my 7:30 avg. tempos, 8:45 avg. long runs, 9:00 avg. easy runs, and 9:50 avg. recovery runs). When I run paces I don't hold as often, I really have to go back to the basics I've listed above and learn what those new paces feel like, but it works like a charm every time. Maybe its not for you, but it is helping me tremendously to run the prescribed paces and feel good while doing so. And it's a big part of my new training plan to get faster while avoiding injury so that I can make it to the start line healthy. Until next time!