Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Pacing Oddity

When I first started running, I was definitely of the "I only have one pace" school.  It seemed short runs, long runs, all the time, I'd average around the same pace.  It was more effort on the long runs of course, but even in training, my pace varied little. 

After a few years of practice, I finally got to the point where I could run a 5k at a pace that was inconceivable for me to run a marathon.  And while many of my training runs stayed at about the same pace, regardless of distance, that was the plan -- I was generally training for longer races, and frequently a 7 mile run and a 20 mile run would be at the same "easy" pace, about 60 seconds per mile slower than my planned race pace.  And of course there would be some faster runs on the schedule, and my pace would differ there. 

I think maybe the 4-5 months of training wearing a weight vest might have somehow put me right back where I started.

This morning, I finally got around to updating the old school "race results" spreadsheet that I keep.  The actual entries start on line 3 of the spreadsheet, and when I entered my results from the last few races, I ended up listing this past weekend on line 137 of the spreadsheet.  Wow.  Those are all legit races that had entry fees, bibs, timing devices, the works. 

But then I saw the pacing oddity. 

The last 4 races I've run have all had an average pace with 5 seconds of each other.  And those race distances have varied greatly -- 5k, 10k, 8 mile, 10 mile.  There is absolutely no reason why my 5k time should be within 5 seconds of my 10 mile time.  (Well, I'm setting aside that the 5k was based on donuts, and I ate one donut hole at each of the 5 donut stations, and I ran the race with my bestie.)  (But the point is that I didn't feel like I could have gone much faster.)  Disturbing. 

Particularly disturbing since, as I said, my little 5 second pace window is about 30 seconds slower than my goal marathon pace.  If I can't run the goal pace now for 5k or up to 10 miles, how do I have any hope of doing it in September?  I'm definitely getting nervous.

My official speed training with a coach starts in a few weeks, I guess I just need to give it my best and see what happens.  Thankfully I have more than 6 months to wrap my head around my goal, and hopefully by then I will have the numbers on my race results spreadsheet to convince me that goal is completely within reach. 


  1. That's an interesting observation - I really struggle to run "fast" - I rarely run any races shorter than a half marathon, but my average pace for anything less than a marathon is about the same.

    Hopefully the speed work will make a big difference for you!

  2. I think using this information to help improve your pace is great. You've mentioned before that you think that weight vest really affected your running, but I know it's something that you'll be able to recover from. You're determined, and I know you'll keep at it until you see the progress you're looking for.