Thursday, July 15, 2010


So far most of my running has been at a comfortable pace...possibly too comfortable, so I decided to try my 3-mile run at a brisker pace to see where I'm at. I used the less-than-excellent MapMyRun to find the exact mile and half-mile splits so I could see if I was on pace during the run and decide what pace I should expect up and down hills. Using the more-excellent McMillan Running Calculator, I determined that to do a sub-5 marathon I should be able to run 3 miles in 29 minutes. It also confirmed that my 12 min/mi long run pace is about right, and that 10:11 to 10:37 is a good pace for tempo runs.

I decided to divide my 29 minute goal time into 10 minutes for the first, uphill mile, 9 minutes for the second, downhill mile, and 10 minutes for the slightly-uphill third mile. I warmed up with lunges, walking, and jogging to get to where I marked off the start of my 3-mile loop. The first mile clicked off about perfect in 10:04, but I still worry about injuring myself running downhill too fast and ended up doing the second mile a bit slower in 10:06. Also, something about running uphill always makes me feel like I deserve to coast a bit afterwards, so I'm probably just not pushing myself. Maybe wearing my heart rate monitor would keep me motivated to maintain effort... Determined to not fall too far off my intended overall time, I pushed myself a bit and finished the last mile in a bit over 10:07.

At first I was disappointed in this, so I decided to make a list of excuses:
  • It was humid (OK, well it's always humid in the morning in Austin :-)
  • My allergies were acting up a bit, giving me a bit of a sinus headache for the rest of the day and I lost at least a few seconds in the third mile coughing
  • Most of all, I had caffeine and spicy food for lunch and dinner the day before, which didn't let me sleep as well as I'd like
I'm not really content with these excuses, since humidity and allergies could happen on race day just as easily and nobody sleeps well the night before their first marathon, so I kept thinking about it. I also spent some time reading the excellent articles at Jim2's Running Page. I think you don't really know how much you pushed yourself in a run until later in the day and especially the next day. Judging for the ache in my left ankle the next day and that tiredness later in the first day I remember from a month or two ago when I started getting serous about training, I think it was hard enough. Also, I need to do more core strengthening to avoid back pain. I decided to take some solace in the fact that at the end of the run I felt like I could have given it more, especially downhill, but I had gone out conservative wanting to leave something for the uphill finishing mile. Besides, the calculator assumes a race effort for the 3-mile, which in retrospect this was not.

The good news is that this was a little fast for a tempo run, so I should be able to back off a tiny bit and repeat it next week without too much stress. I'll try again, possibly with my HRM to make sure I don't overdo it, next month and see if I've progressed.
Next up: Saturday's 6-mile run

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