Today featured another one-hour run with a 20-minute portion in the middle to be done at my Steady State pace. For me, that's between 8:40 and 8:55 a mile, slower than tempo but faster than easy.
Last week, I wasn't able to accomplish even 10 minutes at Steady Pace--I went too fast and quit after six minutes that averaged 8:21/mile. You might think, well, what's wrong with going FASTER than you're supposed to? Aren't you trying to get faster?
Absolutely! But I'm also trying to learn how to pace myself. Going 20 seconds/mile faster than prescribed is as much a pacing fail as going 20 seconds slower. It might be worse, in fact. It's my belief that pushing my pace on mid-week runs while I was ramping up for the Top of Utah Marathon hurt my ability to accomplish my weekend long run goals, and ultimately my race goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. That's why this cycle I'm going to do my best to stay in the pace bands dictated by the McMillan Running Calculator. (My paces right now are based on my finish time of 3:59:11 at Top of Utah. They'll be adjusted later depending on how I do in my tune-up races.)
So how did my run today go? MUCH better. I ran 20 minutes at a very easy pace, then put the pedal down just a bit for the next 20 minutes, then slowed down for the final 20 minutes. Here's what my splits looked like for that Steady State portion:
It was still on the faster end--that last 3/10 I should definitely have slowed down more. But it was a big improvement over last week. I'm particularly pleased because this run featured a nice set of rolling hills. I didn't cheat by running only flat or downhill. And I also left the music at home. The speeding up and the maintenance of pace were done without musical inspiration.
Areas where I can still improve: holding the pace when I know the fast part is almost over (I always tend to speed up at that point); and slowing down enough when the fast portion is over (the final 20 minutes were run a bit faster than my easy pace; I justify this because the first 20 minutes were slower; hopefully it will come out in the wash).
Here's a link to my Garmin data for this run:
Other notable features of today: I was really sore from weight training, but it didn't affect my running. Score! And this morning was the first one where, when I stepped outside, I realized I was COLD in shorts. Not a little chilly, not thinking it was brisk, but actually "Geez, I wish I had my gloves and jacket" cold. In the end, it was fine. But it was a nudging reminder: Fall is getting on, and winter is coming.