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  • Writer's pictureJessica Jones

A Different Pace

In my earlier posts, BC (before coaching), I always had a target pace for my runs. Or paces, depending on the workout. You may have noticed that since I’ve had a coach, I’ve not listed any target paces. This is not because I’m only putting what I run. It’s because my coach doesn’t usually give me target paces. I get target efforts. This is not an uncommon approach, especially for those in the ultra world. I mentioned the by-effort approach before, but a few of my past workouts have given me a new perspective. So, I thought I’d take this opportunity to expound.

This “by-effort” approach works well when training under different conditions. It negates the extreme hot. Or cold. Or wind. You aren’t striving towards a time that is intended for good conditions when you’re running in conditions that aren’t good. I’ve always known this, but I didn’t really know it. I was trying to hit that time. That pace. Maybe being too hard on myself. Not giving myself leniency for training in tough conditions. Case in point on Sunday. I had a “hard” three miles in the middle of my long run. I was tired, so didn’t drag myself out of bed until around 6:30. Didn’t get running until around 7:00. When it’s hot, I try to get done by 8:30. 15 miles in an hour and a half. Not gonna happen. The “real feel” temperature when I headed out was already 83°F. Full sun. Started out with some steady miles. Felt okay. Then the hard miles came. I started to feel like I was baking. No, broiling. I seriously contemplated my risk of spontaneous combustion. I ran those hard miles between 7:00-7:30 min/mile. Hard, but not “think I’m going to die” pace. Then, it was time for easy miles. Such a relief. It was still uncomfortably hot, but not miserable. I wasn’t thinking I would catch on fire.

The point is, the conditions in which you run can affect how hard the run feels. Not just conditions, but terrain, can have an effect. Which may be why this approach seems to be more popular with ultra runners and coaches. Many of them do a lot of their work off road. Not being a slave to your splits, not being too hard on yourself, is one of the benefits of training by effort. Or, more specifically, relative perceived effort (to steal a term from Jason Koop). This got me thinking back to some other runs. One where I was running “steady” for a moderate distance. I didn’t look at my watch. This has been something I’ve had to learn. I’ve always run by my watch. Anyway, this run I went purely by effort. By feel. When I got done I felt that I had put in the same effort over the entire run, yet my pace varied nearly 20sec/mile over the run. Same effort. Different pace.

My biggest take-away from the past few weeks of running mainly by effort is that I believe I now know my body better. I’m better prepared to listen to my body when it needs me to adjust. It took a while to pull my focus off my watch and really focus on how much effort I’m putting into my runs. Am I really taking it easy? Or am I pushing a bit too much? Is this really a hard effort, or am I relaxing? I’m not saying splits and paces in training runs aren’t important. I still judge my progress by them. All said and done, you don’t PR based on perceived effort. It’s by the clock, regardless of conditions. But, there are certainly benefits of focusing more on your body and less on the watch.

Training Log August 27-September 2, 2018: 65.2 miles.

Monday – 6.2mi @ 9:53. On the hotel treadmill. Let a bit heavy, so took it super easy.

Tuesday – 10.0mi @ 8:49. Progression run on the hotel treadmill. Legs coming back. Felt good.

Wednesday – 8.0mi @ 9:29. On hotel treadmill again, this time with increasing incline. Legs a bit tight, but okay.

Thursday – 7.1mi @ 9:37. Low on motivation this morning. But, got easy miles in on the hotel treadmill.

Friday – 9.2mi @ 8:13. Nice and steady. Felt good to be home and back on the road!

Saturday – 18.0mi @ 8:37. First 6 miles steady, pushed for 20 min (7:17-7:22), rested for 3 miles, then pushed another 15 min (7:49-7:59). Took the rest easy. Legs felt okay, breathing seemed to be the limiting factor during the push times.

Sunday – 6.7mi @ 9:00. A little tight to start, but loosened up for a nice easy run. Strength session.

Training Log September 3-9, 2018: 66.9 miles.

Monday – 6.3mi @ 9:07. Nice and easy to start the week.

Tuesday – (AM) 9.1mi @ 8:43. Intervals, 10x2:00, with warm-up and cool-down. Legs felt okay, even with the hard effort. Paces for intervals 6:08-6:53. Strong wind on the way back (TS Gordon on the way), so second half 0:30-0:40 slower.

(PM) 2.2mi @ 9:00. Easy, windy run with Marlin (and some pool time).

Wednesday – 7.4mi @ 9:09. Steady run. Pace probably would have been a bit quicker if I hadn’t been running through so much standing water from the tropical storm. Stability session in the PM.

Thursday – 7.9mi @ 8:38. Hill workout! Legs certainly felt that effort up the hill, both otherwise okay.

Friday – (AM) 6.3mi @ 8:59. Easy run felt great after the harder runs this week.

(PM) 2.2mi @ 8:49. Easy run with Marlin. Short stability session.

Saturday – 4.1mi @ 9:09, 3.1mi @ 6:38, 3.2mi @ 8:57. Long warm-up, Hurricane 5K race (another training race), cool-down. Warm-up and cool-down nice and easy. Super hot, so the race was a bit of a struggle, but stayed controlled. Legs felt the effort towards the end, especially.

Sunday – 15.1mi @ 8:48. Slightly late start, so this was HOT. Steady for 5 miles, then pushed for 3 (7:26, 7:15, 6:59). Finished out easy. Weight session.

Until next time, y’all.

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