Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Progression run

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!
Progression run fail, for sure. I think I'll need to start with shorter runs and work my way up. Tomorrow, I'm going to try to maintain a consistent 10:00/mi pace for 4 miles.  Anyway, our run was pretty good. We went down a route that I'd never done before, and it was really pretty. Jessica let me try one of her Clif Shot Bloks at mile 5, just to see how I could stomach it.

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 have a half-marathon race on Sunday, and I'm still unsure of what my plans are. It's going to take the place of our normal long run, so I could treat it like a training run and go slow and easy. OR, I could try and PR (sub-2:10:40), OR, go balls to the wall and aim for the sub-2:00 I've been dreaming about since last May.

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 ;) 

17 comments:

  1. I don't know how you keep yourself from staring at your Garmin the entire time you're running. I think I look at it every tenth of a mile! And I chew gum when I run so I always have something in my mouth! ;)

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    1. I hate looking at the Garmin while running! I only check it when I hear the beep after each mile. I just like to check out my numbers afterward :)

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  2. I agree, it's very interesting how these elites can hit their pace on the nose! I've never tried a progression run and it sounds like something that would be annoying to me, especially since I don't use a Garmin. However, I might try doing that on the treadmill sometime where something like this might be easier to control.

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  3. I have trouble with progression, too, especially during races - it sounds silly maybe, but I just get so excited that I start out too fast and then have to slow down, then try to pick it up to finish strong. When I was training for my half, I set my Garmin to display my average pace. I checked it out at the first mile, then tried to keep it the same, plus or minus a few seconds, for the rest of the run. My half turned out pretty consistent, except for the uphill mile!

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  4. A progression run is a great way to train to race too since you definitely want to try to negatively split the race. Always leaving a little fuel in the tank for those last few miles surge is a good thing on a long course.

    I do suggest trying a track or a 1 mile flat pc of road to try this out on. Keep in mind that a Point A to Point B run may include hills or such that can have an effect on your overall pace-this would help to "even out the playing field" so to speak.

    Do you train by heart rate or pace only?

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  5. Hi Katie...just had a question regarding the Ragnar...do applicants currently have to be at a twelve minute pace for longer distances or can it be something one would be training for? Thanks!

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    1. It could be something that you could train for--but you'd have to be very sure that you could do it. They may not let us stay on the course if we're slower than that.

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  6. I say go for it on Sunday! Are you running Rock CF? I'll be there :)

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    1. I sure am! Maybe I'll see you there. I plan on wearing sparkles again :)

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  7. I have been reading your blog for a little while starting with your first posts (I am up to January 2012) and I love it!

    I was reading your post from January 12, 2012 about getting started as a runner and your brother's advice to you about slowing way down made me realize that I might be having issues with running because I was trying to go to fast. I tested it out today and was able, for the first time, to run 1.5 miles without walking except for warmup, cooldown, and crossing the street. That is a huge improvement for me. =)

    I will definitely be reading your blog for a long time. =)

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    1. That's awesome, Jennifer! It's amazing how much farther you can go when you slow down. I've learned that during my super long runs lately.

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  8. It's good to know that my treadmill torture runs are advised! Ha! When I feel like I am in a rut I will do this, start at a low pace and then add 2/10th of a mile/hr (is that the right terminology?!?)and up and then back down. I can't do this outside though, I find pace outside very hard for me to increase!

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  9. So I started thinking I was going to die on my run today because of the salt loss thing LOL! Hypochondriac here!!! Now that I have been running, seeing your times impress the SHIT out of me! You're pretty amazing chickadee!

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  10. i love shot books! I think if you would of have used atleast 2 and chewed them a bit quicker you might have felt a bit of a pick me up. I find it amazing you were able to keep it in your mouth that long without chewing it.

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  11. I read somewhere that if you run with music, that you should arrange your playlist so that the songs increase in beats per minute as the run progresses. It makes it easier to do a progression run without being anal about looking at your Garmin, or if you don't have one (like me!). I think I read that you don't like to run with an ipod, though, so maybe it's not a good suggestion for you...

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  12. I have been reading u forever. And everytime I comment. I say something about it ...so maybe I sound redundant ...but today I like to note that. I Took to heart how you Started by only running. 1/10th a mile and only 10 days later you could do the whole mile. What happened after that? Did you keep doing that one mile till it became easier or did you add time on every time ... my first run (I always hate calling it a run BC I am still so slow) I did .25 of a mile... I only plan to run outside Saturdays and Sunday's on the track so I'm only hoping for weekly improvement. I think if I remember correctly you didn't start running till you were in the 180s right?can you tell the difference between running running heavier or lighter? How long did it take after running that first mile did the run became easier? Like running .25 mile took me. 25 mile to recover. And I'm sure when I move up to .5 mile it to will take .25 mile to recover ..maybe its BC I'm pushing too hard for my weight? So....how long for you did it take to feel comfortable with the run? Make sense?

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    1. I kept increasing my distance (going VERY slowly) until I was able to run 5K (3.1 miles). Then I began to run 5K three times a week, trying to decrease my time every time I went out to run, even if it was only shaving off a second or two.

      I don't remember when I started to feel "comfortable" with it--I think once I started running 5K, the one-mile runs felt much easier. Then when I was running 5 miles, the 5K runs were easier. Basically, the more you run, the easier it will get ;)

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