The downside to pace based training

53 days to the New York City Marathon, everyone! Screen shot 2014-09-10 at 7.03.39 PM

November just keeps getting closer, the long runs keep getting longer, and this has prompted me to start thinking about how this season’s marathon training differs from past seasons. For my first and second marathons I used Hal Higdon and I switched this time to the run less, run faster method. The motivation wasn’t so much a resolute desire to get faster as it was a desire to run less, firmly rooted in my 2014 commitment to rowing throughout my marathon training cycle.

I know a lot of people scoff at the whole idea of “training just to finish.” They have time goals and they just have to PR. There’s always a nice, patronizing “but that’s just me” tacked on at the end of it, as if to say “I’m not a lazy runner, but I understand that some people are and they just don’t go out and really crush their workouts like I do.” I find sometimes running blogs have a really passive aggressive bragging about them and nothing irritates me more than fake humble bragging.

Nonetheless, I tried being that person who trains specifically to PR this past spring when I wanted to go under 2 hours in the half marathon and it didn’t pan out the way I had hoped. It’s not that I didn’t train for it, and it’s not that I didn’t work hard, it just wasn’t working and I guess sometimes I feel like people lose sight of the fact that a PR is not the be all end all of your entire fucking life.

20140615-084856.jpgThe downside to Higdon’s plan was that I was running 5 days a week and doing much higher weekly mileage than I am with the run faster, run less plan. The upside to my previous method, though, was that I would enjoy the runs more when I didn’t dread not making the right time. Sometimes, it just feels like all I’m doing is staring down at a watch and pace is dictating my entire running life. I spend the whole run mentally caught up in a fear that I won’t run fast enough and the whole run will have been a complete waste.

This is an unacceptable way to run.

I’ve come to realize that I just don’t like pace based training the same way I don’t like gyms. I spend all my time being told what to do and how to do it, so a little less structure in my non-work hours combined with the freedom to just say “I’ll run how I feel, not how I’m arbitrarily supposed to” is something I plan on returning to in the post-NYC marathon training months.

How is everyone else’s training going?



10 thoughts on “The downside to pace based training

  1. I think I’ve mentioned this, when I did run less run faster, I completely ignored the times I was “supposed” to follow and just used the distance it gave me. It’s part of the reason why I’m incorporating it into my Goofy training. I have no time goal (other than survival) but I like how it breaks up the mid week runs into intervals and easy/tempo/easy runs. Gives me something to break up the monotony of run x distance or run x time. But I think what it really boils down to is that all training runs need to be done in Disney because everything is better in Disney.

  2. I tried hitting very specific paces during my training this summer and I almost burnt myself out. Running by feel is much safer. Like you said, who cares if you don’t pr. I’m not getting paid to run. In the end, it’s supposed to be for fun.

  3. That Willy Wonka gif is spot on, lol. I try not to focus too much on paces, especially when I run outside. I just turn on my GPS app, and stick my phone in my belt or pocket and go. With the treadmill it’s different, cause I set the pace, but overall I don’t think I’m too focused on it.

    I say, do what works for you. I kind of like Kellie’s “run the distance, not the pace” plan. You’re getting your miles, but not killing yourself.

  4. Hahaha…I feel like you were thinking about me a smidge when your wrote this. I think running for paces/times can be done, but you can’t be burnt out to start. I also thing that you have to start slowly and build your comfort level little by little. I think my last summer, where I gained a lot in terms of pace was a combination of right time/place/motivation. I started building slowly from scratch (injury recovery), running solely on how it felt rather than paces and found myself doing better than I thought I would. It would be later that my obsession with pacing would do me in, as you know.

    I still think you can PR and get in your training times by just running by feeling. Run your Tempo comfortably fast, hide your watch with a sweatband (if you want to track your miles). Run your long run however it feels good to run it. This is how I ran for 6 years…ironically the years before I got a Garmin. lol

    Wow…I feel like I just rambled a whole lot–sorry Nicole.

  5. I’m with ya, I hate to put it this way, but I honestly just don’t care enough to try to hit certain paces during training runs, I’m still patting myself on the back just for getting out there and running!

    You can go with my training plan – I do the “run less” part and pretty much disregard the “run faster” part. I’ve done all my marathons running 3 days a week – 2 weekday 3 mile runs and then a longer run (increasing in mileage) on the weekend.

    It’s not going to make you faster, but it’ll get you through a marathon! : )

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