My marathon training schedule called for a nine mile run at marathon race pace today. I was able to get the run in early this morning when the temperatures were in the low 60s. Before leaving, I quickly wrote down my goals for the run: run the first 6 miles at 7:15/mile pace and then concentrate on lowering the pace in the last three miles to 7:05/mile. Much of this thought was something I picked up on from the women’s Olympic marathon race commentators last Sunday. They talked about runners trying to finish the first 20 miles of the marathon as efficiently as possible, and then really concentrate on lowering the pace and racing in the last 6.2 miles. I wanted to follow that blueprint in today’s training run. I wanted to start out at a good but efficient pace and then finish the run strong by picking up the pace.
Or at least that was the plan. The first mile was near the target at 7:13. But what I did not account for was that the run naturally started at a slower pace, so by the time I finished the first mile, my pace was actually faster than that. Thus, the following miles came in faster staying near the pace at the end of mile 1: mile two at 6:57; mile 3 at 7:04; mile 4 at 7:07; and mile 5 at 6:59. Of course, there are other factors such as elevation that come into play when looking strictly at pace. For example, I believe the effort was the same between miles 5 and 6, but mile 6 slowed to 7:10 due to an elevation gain that was an elevation loss in the previous mile. Each of the first six miles had individual mile splits that were faster than my plan.
I tried to keep the negative thoughts of what the side effects of going out faster than planned out of my head during the final three miles. Mile 7 came in at 6:59; mile 8 was 6:50; and finally mile 9 was 6:53. The totals were 9.01 miles in 1:03:15 or 7:01/mile average pace.
Since this was a marathon race pace training run, most of my thoughts centered around that one focus. I tried to ensure the most efficient and loose running within the first 2/3 of the run and then focus on a quicker turnover in the final 1/3. One thought that I hope to continue using in future training runs and races is to stay focused on the current mile. In past marathons my mind would wander and I would start worrying about the ability to continue at the current pace. If the mind goes there, the body is sure to follow. By staying focused on little chunks, one mile at a time, I was able to free myself from those thoughts as much as possible today. When such thoughts started creeping in, I reminded myself of the effort I put into building my base in the Spring and the past nine weeks which have focused on creating and maintaining a quicker turnover. So, my lesson from today’s run: stay positive by focusing on the current mile and believe that your training will get you through the additional miles ahead.
This week is a step back week, which means lesser miles to help the body recover from the recent higher mileage weeks. Tomorrow’s run will be the week’s long run, but at only 12 miles. I’m looking forward to it as I will join one of my recent running friends for the run.