Erin O had a question from the previous post (Cold Weather Running). Does anyone have an answer for her? =)
I have a goal pace (GP) that I try to stick to for all of my long runs. These GPs change week to week based on how I felt the week prior as well as what McMillan’s calculator says I should be running. I aim for my first 2-3 miles to be a bit slower than that pace, the last 1-2 to be faster…and all the others to be in that range.
My first few long runs after my son was born was in the 8:20-8:30 range. Since then, I’ve been trying to stay around 8:10-8:15. I’m back up to distances that I haven’t hit since before I was pregnant (Jan 2012) so I’ve tried really hard to be cautious about not expecting too much and running a smart long run (for me that means not starting too fast).
I ran 16 miles this past Saturday. My goal was to average somewhere between 8:10. First four miles were right where I wanted them to be:
- Mile 1: 8:32
- Mile 2: 8:22
- Mile 3: 8:17
- Mile 4: 8:12
- Average Pace: 8:21
The benefit of running early in the morning is that it is too dark for me to check my garmin (without pressing the light button), so I don’t check my pace until the mile beeps. Mile 5 beeped and I looked down to see a sub-8 pace.
I got annoyed with myself for going too fast. I kept repeating SLOW DOWN SLOW DOWN SLOW DOWN over and over again. I still had 11 more miles left to run. Sub-8s this early would only burn me in the end.
The barrage of negative thoughts continued in my head….they went something like this:
You need to learn to pace yourself better.
But despite my best efforts to convince myself to slow down, I didn’t. I couldn’t. The pace I was running felt too comfortable. I wasn’t out of breath. I didn’t feel like I was exerting too much energy. I felt strong. I felt in control.
So I decided to just go with what felt right:
- Mile 5: 7:55
- Mile 6: 7:51
- Mile 7: 7:57
- Mile 8: 7:49
- Mike 9: 7:53
- Mile 10: 7:59
- Mile 11: 7:58
- Mile 12: 7:55
- Mile 13: 7:58
- Mile 14: 7:54
- Mile 15: 7:47
- Mile 16: 7:42
- Average Pace (for last 12): 7:53
16 miles – 7:59 pace. Last 12 miles were all sub-8 AND I finished with the fastest two miles of the day. I ran the middle chunk of miles about 15 sec faster/mile than I had planned. Pretty significant on a long run.
So it got me thinking – have I been holding myself back in an attempt to be smart on these long runs? Have I been overly cautious on some of my long runs? Should I be trying to push myself a bit more right now?
To be honest, I really am not sure. Saturday could have been a beautiful fluke where everything lined up and gave me a great run. Or I may already be back to running sub-8s on my long run. I think I’m scared to embrace the later because I don’t want to go out next weekend with the hopes of replicating that run to be disappointed. But I know if I cling to the former, it’s only because I’m scared of failing. Thoughts?
How do you decide what pace to do your long runs at?
Do you ever throw caution to the wind and run at the pace that feels “right”?
Did you run long this weekend?