Thursday, October 13, 2011

Steady As She Goes

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:

Mile 1--8:44
Mile 2--8:37
Final .31--8:32

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.


  1. I have a hard time maintaining a steady pace too. but I have never really worked at it either maybe I should a little this winter :)

  2. Yesterday, I pushed myself in my run (10k) to end up with a 9:33 / mi average pace, and I thought I was flying! My last mile was 9:02. I can't imagine getting too much below jealous that you have to work at running slower than 8:20/mi. :)
    (Also jealous that your team is ahead of mine in the playoff series...but, we won't talk about that, right?)

  3. I think you've got a great approach. Most plans teach you to stay in a pace range to train your body to "memorize" what that particular pace feels like. Michael and I were just talking about this today. I think as marathoners, we grow more from the extended tempo runs close to our race day pace. The speed work is good for increasing leg turnover and maximizing VO2, but I just don't feel I get the bang for the buck with speed work. Great workouts - keep up the good work!

  4. ah...Fall is definitely here! least in my neck of the woods.

    Great job on your run this week!!!

  5. Speedy, speedy! What a great run. Fall is here for sure!! Even if it is warm in the afternoon it is just freezing in the morning and you know it isn't long until the snow!

  6. You ARE AMAZING!! Keep it up!!! You rock it!

  7. that is fast...I have a hard time with pace...once I slow down I cannot pick up the pace again without going too fast (for me)
    On the treadmill I do better of course but that does not help me much on the road...

    I have done speedwork for the last 6 mos or so
    and I see some improvement but not a lot...I will not give up.

  8. Lucky! A jacket and gloves! I was still in a sleeveless shirt and shorts tonight at 9pm and it was perfect! (Finally-- after all those horrible hot and muggy runs.) I'm also struggling with pace, but honestly, I've never focused on becoming a better runner before, so I hope that when I finally do focus on pace, it will make a difference. (I'm still trying to get my "easy" run below 11 minute miles!)

  9. Oooooh you are running well! Great job staying on pace! So important as you know. Ugh I just realized I've not been here and I've missed tons of posts. Sorry! Glad to hear things are good with Mario. Huge congrats to the first time 2:50 Chicago marathoner. Can you just imagine what he'll do with a little more experience and some cooler weather??
    So many of my friends died a slow death in chicago this year, mile 17 was a popular spot for that. Ugh.

  10. I have to agree learning to run at the right paces is important...I mean the people putting these plans together probably know a little something :)

  11. Yay for you! You did well on your steady state run! The hardest thing for me was to learn to pace myself and not go out at my usual "bat out of hell" starting pace. Once I learned to go slow and use the beginning as a warm up, the pacing seemed to be a little better.

    I don't do a lot of speedwork. I am more about these tempo runs that train your body to know what it feels like at a certain pace.

  12. You made a good job with your run, it is not easy to find the right pace. You are fast.
    Here we do again our workouts in t-shirt and short pant .... but the winds from north are coming....
    Have a good week end.