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A Pacing Breakthrough

Posted Jan 01 2011 10:03am
My running routine the last few days has been a little unusual, due to the holiday schedule and all the busyness that goes along with that. But the activities resulted in a pacing breakthrough. Let me explain.

I didn't take the time on Tuesday to run.

Wednesday I needed to stay around the house, so I decided to do my run on the treadmill. I kept it nice and slow and easy, just jogged while I caught up on some recorded shows. I jogged about six miles at a nice and easy 15 mpm pace.

Once again on Thursday I needed to stay around the house, so I hit the treadmill again. But this time I decided to try something a little different. Like most treadmills, mine has different programs that you can run, one of which is called an endurance run.

Basically, it starts out slow and once you warm up, increases speed and incline. Then reduces speed and incline, then increases, decreases, increases, so on and so forth. I thought this would best simulate running the inclines on the trail, with the exception of no declines!

The endurance run had three settings... Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. Of course I chose Level 3, not really knowing what I was getting myself into!

As usual I concentrated on my ChiRunning form , focusing on mid-foot strike, staying tall, leaning from the ankles, and keeping proper cadence. What I didn't expect was the endurance program to get me running at the speed that it did.

At the peak of the run I was running six mph at an incline. I realize a 10 mpm pace is fairly slow for most people, but for me, that's a pretty good clip. I found I had no problem maintaining the pace for the duration required by the program. I actually found it rather fun to run faster than I normally do. I continued to focus on my ChiRunning form and was happy at the end of the workout to be injury and pain free!

So yesterday I decided to hit the trails to make up for my missed run on Tuesday. And I also decided I was going to push my pace to see what it felt like on the trail.

After doing about a five minute warm-up, I headed out on the Northshore Trail at about a 10 mpm pace, about 2 minutes per mile faster than I typically do my long runs. My intent was to run five miles and to try to hold the pace for the entire five miles.

OMG, I had a ball! I was running much faster than normal over some of the technical areas of the trail, and picking it up even more on the declines. I continued to focus on my ChiRunning form in order to avoid injury. About a mile into the run I checked my pace and I was at 9:26 mpm, the fastest pace that I've held since I started my Three In Three Challenge .

I maintained the 9:26 pace for miles two through four. Then I started to slow a little by mile five. But I was still able to complete the five miles at a 9:37 average pace, my fastest to date.

But the faster pace isn't what I am excited about. As I write this the next morning, I am injury-free! I had no issues with my calf muscles, which have plagued me during most of my previous faster runs. I have no discomfort in my legs. None whatsoever. I feel like I could step out my front door and run a marathon. My legs feel strong and ready.

I am taking a rest day today and then I plan to do my long slow distance (LSD) run on Sunday. I plan to reduce my pace to around 12 mpm and just take it easy.

I can hardly wait until my next mid-week run to pick up the pace again!
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