The biggest challenge for runners is pace, keeping a consistent one and finding the right one for training. Lately, I've done some wondering if my training pace is off. The problem is I'm too consistent: I've fallen into a habit of training at a pace not that different from my marathon pace. Now, I rarely run a 20-mile run at 7:00 pace. Typically, I run my long runs at 7:20. I'm wondering if that is too fast. At the suggestion of Barney, my friend who incredibly ran a 2:35 marathon, I ordered a copy of Pete Pfitzinger's Advanced Marathoning. (When someone who runs that fast recommends a program, I listen.) My plan is to follow his recipe, which seems premised on the twin pillars of tempo runs and long runs. Tempo runs build a runner's lactate threshold. That helps because lactate is what makes muscles tire during races. The way it looks, I need to start doing tempo runs once or twice a week. My question, naturally, comes back to pace. How fast should a tempo run be for a runner looking to do a 2:59 marathon? I don't have the book yet, but Pfitzinger's Web site talks about 15k or 20k pace. My guess: 6:30. Ouch.
Then there's the long run. I go back and forth about how easy to run these. I try to relax throughout the run, but they typically wind up around 7:20. Reading the site, I'm doing the long runs too fast, since they should be 10-20 percent slower than marathon pace. At 10 percent, that's 7:30; 20 percent is 8:07. A prudent pace seems about 7:40-7:45. Today, I went out for my first "real" long run of training. I did 17 miles. Since my watch is in Avalon, I don't know what the pace was. I definitely did the first five miles too fast, then made sure to ease off for the last 12. Overall, the run hurt a lot, partly because I began still tired from what turned out to be a fairly hard 7 miles Friday morning. By the last couple miles, when the temperature reached the mid-80s, I officially felt like dog balls.
I turned down a shot at a number in tomorrow's New York City Half Marathon. I'm not sure why. There was just the feeling that I'm not ready to perform at that distance right now. I'd probably do it in 1:28 or 1:27. I need to get down to 1:22 or 1:23 for the half. Much work remains.
17 miles, 2:07 (guesstimate)