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The Long Run Pace

Posted Jul 30 2012 1:04pm
If you have been running and training for awhile you are familiar with all the paces - speedwork paces, tempo paces, race pace, and then the easy/long run paces. If you are new to running, here is the gist in a nutshell. Your speedwork paces are the fast and shorter duration. Great for intervals. Tempo runs should feel uncomfortably comfortable. And that's my personal spin on it. It is the pace that pushes me and I can hold it for the 3-4 miles on my schedule but it takes some effort. It isn't a walk in the park but I am not dying either. Now those easy paces.....the paces for recovery days and long runs.....I have a real problem with those slow runs.

Here is the logic behind the slower pace - it allows your body to adjust to running longer distances and to build up base without damaging your body too much. Logically, that makes perfect sense. Think of it this way, yesterday's long run of 16 miles was a training run to get me used to running longer distances and gave me time on my feet. It allows me to build endurance. According to the Runner's World Smart Coach app on my iPhone my pace should have been 10'00". Earlier in my training my target was 10'12". Yesterday my overall pace was 10'05" and I honestly still had the target 10'12" in my mind. I hadn't looked at my target paces in awhile. And yesterday I wasn't even listening to splits, I opted to run by feel and ended up running the end of my run faster than the start.

Here are my issues with the long run pace:

  • I have a hard time trusting that getting my body used to running 16-20 miles at 10'00" in training will allow me to run 26.2 miles at 9'07" come race day. And I didn't pick that number out of a hat. That is the pace Smart Coach predicts I will be able to run come race day.
  • I question the impact running at elevation and running hills has on my target pace. Should I make adjustments or stick to it?
  • I didn't ease up too much in my long runs during training for my first marathon and ran even slower come race day.

Essentially, I have a hard time trusting that the easy/long run pace will prepare me for breaking a 4 hour marathon. Like I said earlier, Smart Coach predicts it will. I am not convinced. Perhaps I need to put more trust on the other paces and work in my training. To bring you up to speed, and myself, Smart Coach says my speedwork should be at 7'59" and tempo runs should be at 8'37". I am definitely doing my best to train hard but if you have been following me, you know I wish I had time to do more. I am eager to see how my performance is come September. Stay tuned and I will let you know. I will also let you know if I stick to the Smart Coach formula or shake things up for my training for my next marathon in December.

What do you think of the long run pace?
Does it properly train you to run long at a faster pace?

P.S. In defense of the easy/long run pace - in my last two long runs I have felt strong cardio-wise. It is aches in legs and mental hurdles that I am fighting.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for sunshine and rain.
Daily Affirmation: I have the power to live the life I want to live.
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