A long run, and notes on training
Phyllis has been watching the blog carefully, and wondered out loud why the pace for my run on February 21 (according to the data on the tracking widget at the very bottom of the page) was slower than the day before; she thought it might be a function of having had too much wine at my birthday dinner the night before.
I'm pleased to report that the pace on the 21st was just about what I'd planned on, and I'm sorry to report the target was not influenced by a hangover! That said, the whole issue of pace is a tricky one.
Take yesterday's run, for example. According to the training schedule, I needed to do a long slow run - something like 7 to 10 miles at a pace of 10+ minutes per mile. Given the snowstorm on Friday, we'd delayed our departure for Connecticut to Sunday, giving me a chance to do the long run in Central Park (pictured above during Friday's snowfall). The roads were clear and the temperature was very comfortable - about 31 degrees. I ended up running 9.1 miles at a pace of 8:50 per mile - substantially faster than target. I'm now trying to figure out whether my slow runs are too fast or whether my fast runs are too slow; when I did my tempo run earlier this week (three fast miles sandwiched between a slower warmup mile and a slower cooldown mile), the pace for the fast miles was about 8:30 - not much faster than the pace for yesterday's entire run.
What I've learned about training programs so far is that you want a mix of easy-paced and fast-paced runs. You use the easy-paced runs to build endurance, to train your body to store more glycogen, and to develop the confidence that you can in fact run really long distances; the fast-paced runs are designed to help improve your race times. Most of the training mileage is of the easy-paced variety; in fact, only one of the training runs in my schedule each week is supposed to be fast-paced. (If you're interested in seeing the whole schedule, check it out at: Training Schedule - Brooklyn Half-Marathon). While going too fast might seem like a good problem to have, it runs counter to another important aspect of a training program, which is managing to stay healthy and injury-free.