Posts Tagged ‘pace’
As Julie and I embarked on this running journey, I did a lot of research – reading books and magazines, listening to podcasts, etc. Most of them talked about hitting the proverbial wall at some distance. However, for us, the training runs were going really well and I personally was getting a bit cocky. You would think that someone who has only been running for a short period of time and is a relatively slow runner would not get so cocky but honestly things had gone so smoothly that I was in for a rude awakening.
The wall appeared very subtely at first during our 17 mile long run. We had done 13 and 15 miles with little issue and I started out the morning feeling really strong. It was a nice, warm day for a change – we had been dealing with so much rain, I was ready for a nice day. For the first few miles, I was knocking minutes of my pace and also pushing my run/walk intervals out to 4:1 and 5:1 (I normally run a 2:1). I felt invincible!!
I should clarify that I wasn’t doing this run faster out of completely egostistical reasoning..The biggest fear that I still have about our upcoming marathon is not finishing within the allotted time. They have a 6.5 hr limit which comes out to a pace of 14:53/min for the distance. Even though we have been doing our long/slow runs at a pace of 12 – 12:30/min, I’m still paranoid that we will run slower on the actual race day – weather, not being prepared for hills, jitters, etc..So I wanted to improve on our normal long run pace.
I started to get some early warning signs that things were not going so well but decided to push through – that is when I think the wall reached out and smacked me At mile 12, I was calling Julie begging her to bring me more fluids and I was having a hard time running for more than a minute at a time. My legs were cramping and locking up on me. The “record” 11:30 pace I was setting slowly dwindled to a 13:00/mile pace. I think I was barely at a jog for the last two miles and finally collapsed in the grass when I reached 17 miles.
It was definitely a huge reality check for me (and an ego blow) – but in the end, I am grateful that it happened so that I could learn from it and hopefully not have it occur on race day. What did I learn from my adventure with the “wall” -
+ PACE…The long run is to be done SLOWLY…It’s not the time for speed work and trying to improve your overall time. The long run is meant to be done to increase your endurance and slowly to push your limit (or the wall) out further. That is why somepeople refer to them as LSR – Long Slow Runs…Duh!! Speed work is now relagated to my midweek workouts or when I am stuck running on a treadmill.
+ PROPER HYDRATION…I know that each of us has a different need for fluids – I personnally drink a lot more fluids than Julie does. Not being prepared with the proper amount of fluids is critical. I also think it is key to have an intake of electrolytes and I wasn’t doing this – drinking mostly plain water. We have been using electrolyte tablets made by Nuun which dissolve in your water bottle. We are still experimenting with our water packs and are even considering going to Camelbak backpacks for hydration.
+ ADJUSTING FOR TEMPERATURE…Coaches like Jeff Galloway discuss in detail slowing one’s pace down based on the outdoor temperature. Since it wasn’t blazing hot, it didn’t occur to me that it was about 15 deg warmer than I had been used to.
So even though it was painful, I learned from the experience and my 20 mile long run went smoother. And guess what? I improved on my time because I was able to stay strong throughout the run.
One of the first things I learned as I started this running endeavor was the importance of pace…how fast am I going? I know that going out to fast is why I was huffing and puffing on my previous attempts at running – I burned out quickly. I know there are basic techniques out there to judge pace – the “talk test” – can you carry on a conversation while you are running or others say “listen to your body”. But for me, I’m a terrible judge of my body – and how fast I’m going. I used to have the same issue when I did a lot of cycling – go out too fast and burn out.
The first tool that was helpful for me was starting out on a treadmill – I know that a lot of serious runners don’t like treadmills but it was helpful for the first couple of weeks to be able to “dial in” a specific MPH pace. I was quickly encouraged that if I picked a reasonable running pace (I started at 5 mph or 12 min/mile), I wasn’t dying and might be able to get the hang of running.
When I moved outdoors, I was a bit scared of running because I wouldn’t know how fast I was running. Being the engineer, I chose to go with a gadget – a GPS watch – that shows my overall and lap pace. I’m not telling everyone to go out and invest in a fancy watch but for me it works. For example, during yesterday’s run, I felt great and looked at my watch and I was running an 8 min/mile – while encouraging that my fitness is improving, this is not a pace that I can carry on for a length of time. It’s also motivating when I get a bit sluggish and back off pace too much. Maybe as I progress in my running, I will not be so reliant on gadgets to tell me how I am doing.
As I was reflecting the other day, I realized a parallel to my approach to marriage. When Julie and I got married in 2005, I approached our marriage at 100 mph. I tried (key word is TRIED) to do all the right things – spend as much time as I could with her, give her lots of things and try to fix all the problems. While that may seem admirable, it didn’t work well – I didn’t give her enough space, bought her a bunch of stuff that she didn’t want or need and often created more issues by trying to play Mr FixIt. But there was an even bigger issue that I wasn’t thinking about — burnout. A few years into our marriage, I “burned out” on trying – I didn’t stop loving my wife and family. I just didn’t have the energy to try very hard – I hadn’t paced myself very well for the long haul.
I realize that I approach the rest of my marriage that I need to try hard but not burn myself out…I’m not sure exactly what that looks like practically – I wish there was a GPS watch for marriage – but I think being aware of pace is the first step.