Today’s run: 3 miles at 9:50/mile
I am now officially two weeks from my first race of the season: the Fredericton Marathon 10k.
As I’ve entered the last few weeks of my training, my plan has called for me to attempt some race pace runs. With the deepfreeze of winter finally lifting, I got off the treadmill and onto the footpaths for such a run. It looked like this:
This run came after a full day of yardwork. I had also just drank half-a-beer while admiring my yardwork and then, after getting some crappy news, decided to run off the disappointment. All this to say, I may not have been in the best physical or mental condition for a high-performance run. Nonetheless, I ran until my lungs burned as fast as my legs could carry me, never coming near 8:02/mile.
A few days later, my plan called for a short tempo run. It looked like this:
Yeah, that’s right: the exact same pace as my supposed-to-be-race-pace run.
No yardwork, no beer, no inner turmoil on this run, but I was dragging my butt right out of the gate. My legs were lead weights. I was uncomfortable. My inner voice said “screw it” and encouraged me to just slow down, goal pace be damned.
Neither run was close to my goal race pace. More heartbreaking still, neither even matched the average 8:33/mile pace a 23-year-old me ran in my 10k PR.
A few short weeks ago, I was overflowing with excitement and confidence that a new PR was within my reach with this training plan. So what went wrong?
- Too many treadmill runs – The weather’s been crap. I’ve been content to stay inside my cozy house, hop on the treadmill and watch reruns of Parenthood. This, unfortunately, is not the same as running outside. It doesn’t prepare you for uneven terrain or headwinds. It doesn’t force you to learn the discipline of pace. I know I can run an 8:12/mile. I’ve done it on the treadmill. Forcing your body to cover that ground at that speed on its own without a belt setting the pace, is a different beast.
- Too many missed runs – 11 missed runs over the past 6 weeks. That’s a 74% rate of adherence to my plan, and to be totally honest, that still sounds pretty good to me. I took rest days when I felt worn down, which probably saved me from a lot of illness and injury. Indeed, I’m sure that level of adherence still would have been enough to get me to my goal if not for…
- Too many easy runs – The runs I tended to skip were the ones I needed most: hills and interval training. You don’t get faster running an easy pace on level ground, but those were the runs I never missed because they were comfortable, because I could do them with my eyes shut, no matter what else went on that day, no matter how low my energy was.
I’m two weeks out. I know where I’ve gone astray and what to look out for in training for my big event this race season (Hello, Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon!). I’m aiming to stick to my training plan for these two weeks, hoping for the best, but preparing for a performance a bit shy of my expectations.
It’s possible that the adrenaline of race day, the cheering spectators, my fellow runners, including (for the first time in a long time) a couple of friends, and my supportive family will give me the kick in the pants I need to achieve a new PR. But if not?
Well, shoot. I still get to experience the adrenaline of race day, the cheering spectators, running alongside friends, and the support of my family.That’s enough to make this a great race no matter what pace I run it at!