My training schedule showed a seven mile run today slower than marathon race pace. Before starting, my goal was to run close to, but faster than an 8 minute mile. Once the run started; however, it became clear that a faster pace was possible without pushing too hard. This led to my first thought of the run. In the past, I have allowed the first section of the run or race to be a warm-up to ensure not to spend too much energy by starting off too quickly. Today’s start made me look at this philosophy in a different light. Much like my prior writing about testing and improving my pace without pushing it physically, I started to wonder if one could try to measure how quickly one settles into their race pace. For example, several of my last marathons had the first two miles considerably slower than the pace needed to hit the target time, with the difference eventually made up with a quicker pace later in the race. The idea is to ease into your cruising pace in a smart racing manner. Today’s question was can a runner still use the same philosophy but shorten the distance it takes to get to the desired cruising speed? Can I shorten the two miles into a half mile? If today’s seven mile run can be an early indicator, the answer is possibly yes. It is something I want to tinker with and test during this training period.
The next few miles of the run spawned my next series of thoughts. The series started with the thought of how I controlled things during the run. I am able to pick when, where, and how far I run each day. I pick the pace and effort. I feel in control. No messages or inboxes, no hidden agendas or pretenses to keep up. Just me and the run. This quickly led to one of the strongest attractions for me to running: running is something I control. Add to that the sense of accomplishment after completing a tough workout or race, and you have a powerful force that’s difficult to beat. It may not get much better than to be in control and satisfied with the results.
Here’s the statistics for today’s run: 7.06 miles in 53:26, or 7:34 per mile pace. Tomorrow’s run will be 14 miles at a slower pace, so I am looking forward to that challenge as well.