I was reading my Runner's World magazine and came across an article about pacing, and how it's important to try to keep a consistent pace during a race. My pace is usually all over the place--for a 5 mile run, I might have splits like 9:10, 9:45, 8:58, 9:15, 9:05. Maybe they aren't that extreme, but I rarely stay at a consistent pace for the entire run.
I always find it amazing that the elite runners are able to maintain the same pace within a fraction of a second for the entire distance of their runs. And they do this by feel--tell them to run a 5:30 mile and they can do it to within a second, based on how they feel when they run.
I have to use my trusty Garmin to tell me how fast I'm going. I always have some general idea, but I tend to take everything to the extreme. If I am running a 10-min/mi pace and I "should" be running a 9:45 pace for my training, for example, I will make a conscious effort to go faster--and then I end up running a 9:00/mi pace. I either go too fast or too slow for whatever my target is.
So my whole point of all this is that I want to work on pacing by feel. And one of the steps to doing that, according to the article, is to do progression runs. A progression run is just what it sounds like--a speed workout where you start at a comfortable pace and then increase your pace a little each mile until you finish at race pace, or close to it.
Today, Jessica and I had a 7-mile run on the schedule, so I decided to try and do a progression run. It sounds easy enough--just run a comfortable pace (I figured 11:00/mi to start) and then increase by 10 seconds per mile.
It was so much harder than I thought it would be! I hate looking at my Garmin constantly, but I kept doing that to check the pace. And when I noticed it was too slow, we sped up until we were going too fast, and vice versa. In theory, our splits should have read: 11:00, 10:50, 10:40, 10:30, 10:20, 10:10, 10:00. What they actually looked like was, well, not even close!
The Shot Bloks are kind of like Gummy Bears, only they are in cube shape and probably the size of two Gummy Bears put together. Jessica had the black cherry flavor. I didn't chew it, but tucked it in-between my teeth and my cheek and let it dissolve. It took two miles for the thing to dissolve, and I liked having it in my mouth (go ahead, make dirty jokes). I don't know that I felt any energy from it that way. I like that when I eat a Gu, I feel a little pick-me-up from it; I didn't feel that with the Shot Blok (but I only had one and I made it last two miles).
Seven miles flew by like nothing. That's the best part about running 15 miles for a long run--the shorter runs feel so fast and easy!
I think I really have a sub-2:00 half-marathon in me (a 9:14/mi pace), but right now, it would be a torturous 13.1 miles. I wouldn't enjoy it at all. But last year, after running Indy in 2:10, I really wanted to aim for sub-2:00 this year at Indy. That was before I planned on running a full marathon just two weeks after Indy. I don't think it would be smart of me to go for my 'A' goal in Indy and risk injury just two weeks before my marathon.
I've been training at a much slower pace, so running the 9:14/mi pace would be really difficult. But I would love to bust out that sub-2:00! I could just aim for my 'B' goal, which is anything less than 2:10:40 (a 9:59 pace).
I'll probably decide on Sunday morning when the race starts ;)