Picking Up The Pace
My pace has been pretty slow during my last few runs. I put this down to the fact that I’m working on increasing my distance and have to go slower in order to go further, but even on my shorter runs my pace hasn’t been great. So, this evening after work I decided that I would try to kick things up a notch.
To be honest, I didn’t really feel like going out for a run this evening. But, as the wind had died down and the temperature was a bit milder than it has been over the last week or so, it would have been a shame to miss out. So, after a quick snack and a nice hot mug of coffee, I switched off my brain and got myself out the front door for my evening run.
I didn’t really have any kind of plan other than that I wanted to go faster. Ideally, I would do 5K, but knowing that I was focussing on speed, I figured that 3K would do, or somewhere in between.
I set off fairly quickly, completing the first kilometre in 6:02, but I knew I couldn’t keep it going for long. So, after 10 minutes I decided to revert to my 3:1 run/walk ratio. Usually, when I’m running ratios, I try to pace myself for the overall distance, but this evening I decided to just focus on going as fast as I could for each three minute segment.
Not long into my third walk break, my Garmin beeped to let me know that I had just completed my third kilometre. I wasn’t sure of my exact time as the Forerunner 110 pauses for a few seconds to show the summary at the end of each split, but knowing that I was still under 19 minutes, I realised that if I could keep going for 5K I might just be in with a chance of a PB.
Of course, I hadn’t been pacing myself for 5K, so I was doubtful about whether or not I could do it, but I figured it was worth the effort to keep going and see how close I could get.
Even though I could feel the pace slipping in the fourth kilometre, I kept going. I tried to focus on just completing each three minute running segment and walked as quickly as I could in the walk breaks to stop the average pace from slowing down too much.
At the end of the fourth kilometre, I glanced at the Garmin again and saw that my time was around 24:30. I did some quick maths and realised that, as long as I didn’t slow down by more than ten seconds or so, I could probably get close to my PB. So I kept going, took my final walk break as briskly as possible, and then tried to pick up the pace and run as fast as I could for the final stretch which, if I was going to beat my PB, would have to be under four minutes.
And it was! I reached 5K in 30:32, knocking a full 22 seconds off the PB that I had set at the end of December!
So, it seems that my fears of becoming slower by focusing on distance were completely unfounded; in fact, I suspect that those long slow runs have probably helped. I could be wrong, but I think it’s possible that my pace may have improved as a result of the run/walk ratios making me run faster than my average 5K pace (albeit for three minutes at a time) over the longer distances.
How does training for distance affect your pace on shorter runs? Please share your thoughts in the comments.