Thursday, May 17, 2012

I'm an Anomaly

I have always said that I only have one pace and that pace is marathon pace.  My times only vary from approximately a 7:00/mile pace for the 5K to an 8:00/mile pace for the marathon.  When I started working with a coach and she would review my pacing and heart rates she would send me emails saying I was a complete anomaly.  Yes, I can run a whole marathon in zone 4.  And not only does my speed increase over the longer distances, my heart rate tends to drop as I get faster.  Weird.

Currently I'm not working with a coach so I needed a plan to follow.  I chose the Run Less, Run Faster program because (a) you only have to run three days a week and (b) it works.  The RLRF program follows the FIRST training program.  I've got to be honest, I didn't read the book, but my husband did and he's a smarty and he said it totally makes sense and it totally works.  He went from being about a 1:50 half marathoner to a 1:43 just by following the plan.  So, I thought I would give it a try.  The plan starts out with a test of three miles and then your training progresses based on what you paced in that three miles.  My three miler was actually a 5K in which I ran a 21:35ish.  Based on a 21:35 my paces should be as follows:

Half Marathon: 7:40 (1:40:30 finish time)
Marathon: 8:00 (3:29:45)

Here's the kicker.  That time I ran in the 5K was a PR for me but I had already run a half marathon (1:38) and full marathon (3:29:28) faster.

So then in my last half marathon I ran a 1:39:52 (7:37 pace), which moved my 5K time to a 21:25 (6:53 pace).  It's not so much that I can't run a 5K in that time because I probably can, it's that it changes all my speed workouts to just incredibly fast speeds.  400s are in the 1:33-1:34 range (6:15ish pace); 1600s are between 6:36 and 6:39; tempo runs are between 7:11 and 7:26; long runs are usually between 7:57 and 8:07.

All of this very doable.  But here's where things get complicated...

I mentioned in the middle of a recent post that I signed up for a marathon in late summer/early fall.  So far, I've had a great season of running and really think there are some big races ahead of me.  I really think I could have a breakthrough performance in the marathon this year and that's why I signed up.  My goal?  3:25 or better, which is a 7:49 pace.  That's totally doable.  But throwing that into the RLRF program looks like this...

Marathon: 7:49 pace
Half Marathon: 7:27 pace
5K: 6:47 pace
Tempo: 7:04-7:34 pace
400s: 1:31-1:32 (6:04ish pace)
1600s: 6:30-6:33

Seeing those on paper scares me.  While I think it makes sense that you *should* be able to run that fast at the shorter distances to run that pace for a marathon, my body seems to think otherwise.  Is my head in the way of running faster at the short distances?  Is it weird that I can run a marathon nearly as fast as any of the shorter distances?  Is a 3:25 unrealistic?  I don't know, but I'll be finding out very shortly.  Training starts in two weeks.


Melissa C said...

You kind of remind me of Cristina. She is sort of like that too, although she is sick fast (3:07PR at the marathon). She doesn't run that much faster when she just a shorter run either. I'd say you should meet each other, but you did at R4R.

Andrea Hill said...

And HOW many track workouts have you EVER missed your paces on? I'm pretty sure none.

I know it can seem scary, but you have the speed. You just have to change your thinking! If you have a chance before you get too busy into tracking everything, try just going out and doing some sprints with a garmin on (covered, like you do). And then afterwards review and I guarantee you'll say "I can't run that fast?!?!?" But you can!! It's just about being used to it.

As I think you know, I do a lot of short intervals to get used to those faster speeds. I'm still figuring out how to sustain them for more than 5 miles, but at least I know my legs know how to spin at that speed...

Just because you haven't doesn't mean you can't. It just means.. you haven't. Like how before you ran a marathon, you hadn't. Before you BQed, you hadn't. There's always a first time!

It's so great to read the positivity in your posts lately :-)