Back when I started writing this here piece of internet, I was training for a half marathon PR. It’s easy for me to forget that, because it seems like so much has happened between then and now and my sub-2 dreams have gone from “I’ll definitely do that before 2011 is over” to “maybe I’ll try again in 2013?” But that was goal No. 1, and that 9:09/mile pace was what I thought about every time I ran through the park or plotted out a track workout. In the end, I only managed one quality attempt, and we know how that turned out. But the point is that the last time I was specifically training for a running event, it was all bound up in numbers: 13.1 miles. 9:09.
Now I’m training for Berlin, and I’m training to finish — though I do have a vague range of what I would consider respectable times based on my ability, all open to adjustment as training proceeds. Back in sub-2 training days, I did a fair amount of reading about track and tempo and long, slow distance runs, about the philosophies behind each, and about optimal paces based on my results and goals. It seems natural to apply some of that to marathon training, largely so I don’t burn out or “race my training” to the point of (more) injury.
I’ve sworn not to care about pace on my runs until at least mid-July, but I still peek — not that it’s worth much, because I haven’t synced my new Nike+ Sportwatch (replaced under warranty) with my footpod yet and the GPS alone does a terrible job with San Francisco fog and somehow I ran both a 12:45 mile and an 8:08 mile on Monday’s run and whatever actually happened, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t that. The point is, my “comfortable” pace seems to come out somewhere around 9:20-9:40 right now.
I still have my library copy of Run Less, Run Faster sitting around, and out of curiosity, I looked up what my training paces would be based on my 5K PR (which, despite being set in February, I have absolutely no illusions I could match now) (um, and apparently I actually looked up something about 30 seconds slower than my actual 5K PR; wow could I not match that now). Anyway, a 26:30 5K suggested a marathon goal pace of just under 10-minute miles (on the faster end of my current “respectable” range), with a standard long-run pace falling somewhere around 10:20-10:30, short tempo of 8:45, and long tempo of 9:19.
I’m primarily interested in the long run and marathon pace pieces now, though I’d love to be in a position to do some long tempos by August. But those are all paces I could have hit just fine in the winter, and they don’t seem that crazy right now (except, maybe, that 8:45).
My question, though, is what do I do with that “normal” run? 9:30s don’t seem to have any place here — either too fast or too slow. Out of curiosity, I ran my half-marathon PR through McMillan and got a marathon pace of 10:15, a long-run pace starting at 10:45, and a “steady-state” pace starting at 9:43 — so, closer, but still slower than what I’ve been running naturally.
I’m sure I’m overthinking all of this — surprise! — and in reality, I am just so stinking happy to be running at all right now that as long as my long runs are slower than my not-so-long runs, that’s probably all that matters. But I am curious to know, for anyone who’s more familiar with training plans and with the science/facts/black magic/conventional wisdom behind them, whether that 9:20-9:40 does anything for me outside of giving me miles, or whether I should ideally be speeding it up or slowing it down.
I’m gonna get all sappy and blog about blogging for a minute here:
I first found Katie’s blog when I was injured after my first half-marathon — or maybe it was just after that, when I was starting to run again. Anyway, I was looking for stories of people who had been injured and recovered, and here was this girl whose body seemed to break in all the same ways that mine does and who wrote so beautifully about not giving up and coming through wiser and stronger. I think I read her whole archives in a sitting, and it was a post that she actually just reposted that made me stop and say: Listen to this girl. She’s going to say some things you need to hear.
This weekend, she’s racing Ironman Coeur d’Alene.
Through reading Katie’s blog, I saw that there was this awesome community of blogging runners and triathletes in DC — including Beth, who’s also racing CdA. And I started reading their blogs, and I thought, hm, San Francisco’s a sporty city; there must be a group like that here. I started searching for locals on dailymile and googling for race reports, and sure enough, here were these amazing women right here, and sometimes I get to run with them. And reading those blogs eventually led me to Rachel, who, yup, is at CdA, too.
Look, I’ve been online more than half my life, so it’s not weird to me anymore to be involved in the lives of near-strangers. It’s lovely and it’s wonderful and it’s why I’m still here typing stuff into a white box 15 years after I started: For the people, for the personalities, for the relationships that wouldn’t have ever happened decades ago, for the chance to read the words and stories of writers and runners and athletes of all stripes who push me to be stronger (mentally, physically) just by living a little slice of their lives online.
So, happy Ironman to Katie, Beth, and Rachel. I’ll be running around Philly on Sunday, silently cheering my little lungs out for you.