The Long Run Plan

I have a plan. Yes, I do. In fact, I often have plans in my life which I try to keep unplanned. But in all reality, if I don't find a way to schedule things my life gets way too crazy.

Currently I am following a training plan set for me by my coach. I am liking the different approach to training and am trying hard to stick to what is written versus what I feel like doing. Perhaps what I have been doing isn't on target to achieve my big goals. So if I am going to go through the effort to hire a coach I should listen. And that brings us back to the plan. My long runs.

In the past my long runs were just that. Long runs. I didn't worry too much about pace. I tried to take them easier since that is what a lot of advice out there says to do. But now about half the miles in my long runs are to be at my target race pace. That really does make sense to me. I know some train that way so I wasn't too scared to give it a try. I had a plan.

My plan for my long runs is simple. Run the first half easier and that hit my target pace for the second half. Sounds like a good training strategy to work on negative splits, right? You can read about how well that played out for me two weeks ago HERE.

So here's the deal. I am trying hard to do what I should do but am also smart enough to think about the course I am training on. It is hills. And even though there is some up and down throughout those minor up's and down's pretty much vanish when you look at the overall elevation profile. Then it just seems to be up, up, up, down, down, down. Therefore, I need to think a bit harder about my plan. Go up slow. Pretty easy when elevation is working against you, right? But not too slow. Try to be somewhat reasonable in your paces. Come down faster. Once again, not too hard with elevation working with you. But here is where things get dicey.

My plan of about 10'00" on the out and 9'40"-9'50" on the back falls apart if I am on this route. I could drive further from home and do a flat course but seriously, I am eager to run in the morning and aren't hills at elevation a good training combination? So what if I go out smart and then come down faster? What if my overall average pace is 9'40"-9'50"? Would that achieve the same training goal? I think so since I am balancing the uphill climbs with the downhills flies and hitting my target race pace. If my reasoning is flawed please let me know but that was my plan for yesterday.

I did a great job starting slow. I think being dead tired helped. For the first few miles I felt like a slug and really questioned how I was going to pull this off. Seriously, in 5 miles I need to up my pace and continue to push myself?! Fortunately I began to loosen up and felt a bit better. By mile 6 I was feeling even looser and was beginning to feel more like my normal running self. Well, at least my normal running self on a good day.

My Nike+ GPS app was giving me my average pace at each mile completed. Fortunately I love math enough to play some pace games and do some calculations to figure out the approximate pace I was running. But this could turn into a really long story if I go into all of that. Let's put it this way, at the halfway point my average pace was 10'13". Yes, I was beginning to pick up the pace on miles 7 and 8. There really was a leveling off of climb with a bit of downhill here. That helped. And I was no longer fearing the turn around. I wanted to get there fast to begin the second half of my run. The return. The strong return. Or so I hoped.

At the halfway point I motioned to dear hubby it was turning time, we crossed the road, and we began heading back. I immediately opted to pick up my pace as much as I could without going into sprint mode. I wanted to run hard down. I did the math of where my current average pace was and what it should be if I was running 9'40" miles on the way down. 9'57" was the average I was certain to beat. I wanted better though. Remember, I wanted 9'40"-9'50" originally. That goal was not out of my sight.

I embraced the downhills, I pushed the few uphills and level points, and I stayed focused. At 13 miles some of that happy running was beginning to vanish. I didn't know my current pace but I knew my average pace kept dropping mile after mile. I knew I was running faster than my target pace by a good amount but I didn't look in. That would freak me out. That would mess me up. I was already questioning my capabiilities without knowing the real numbers. I told myself to continue to push and to run strong. At mile 15 I wanted the fastest mile of the day. My legs were feeling tired but I wasn't dying. I pushed myself as hard as I could, crossed the mile 16 point, and immediately went into walking down and back up a sidewalk to give my legs some transition time before climbing into a car. And I looked at my Nike+ GPS app. Average pace 9'09". I was happy. Very happy.

But I know there is a big difference between these 16 miles and the 26.2 miles on 12/8. I was tired after this run. I felt strong but knew I pushed myself and worked very hard. I wasn't ready for another 10.2 miles. And these are all just elements to help rate a training run and to use it as a tool to predict race performance and the upcoming training schedule. But I do know tackling these training runs will build my confidence come race day! And I think that is one of my major stumbling blocks to success, that and fueling on my long runs. More to come on that second part another day!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful my co-worker is bringing in bagels.
Daily Affirmation: I am a strong runner.

1 comment:

  1. If you hit your goals for the run then you have to be happy. And it has to give you a lot of confidence. Sure, you might not have wanted to run 10 more miles but you didn't have to - they weren't on your schedule and it's not race day yet.


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