Pace, pace, pace!

Today was another ‘pace’ run, which means ideally I run the distance at the same pace at which I’d like to run my half-marathon. I’ve targeted that to be around 9:00-9:30/mile, and I’ve also learned that, for me, ‘run at race pace’ does not mean ‘start OUT your run at race pace’. What I’ve been doing for these is starting out slow and then increasing my speed gradually, such that I finish at a pace well below my target pace – thus, I end up with an average pace that is close to my race pace. This worked beautifully today for my 4-mile run, which I started out at 10:20/mile to warm up, then went down to 9:40/mile for the second mile, then down to 8:57/mile (what the hey, I was feeling feisty) for the third and fourth miles. At mile 3.5, I went down to 8:40/mile, and finished at 8:34/mile, for an average pace of 9:25/mile over a total 4-mile time of 37:40. *ahem* That’s a PR for me, which is pretty cool. (I was doing this on a treadmill, which I normally hate, but it’s the easiest way for me to accurately track my pace on these pace runs) I finished feeling pretty tired, but like I could still keep going, which indicates to me that I’m doing things right. That’s a good feeling.

Also a good feeling is that I think I maybe might have figured out this knee pain issue I had a couple of weeks ago. It flared up again on my 8-mile run last weekend, and I stupidly, stupidly kept running and hobbling home which I KNOW I KNOW was really stupid, but I think I know why it happened. See, when I go out on long, slow runs, I tend to heel-strike, which means that my heel hits the pavement first, followed by the ball of my foot and then my toes. People Who Know Things About Running say that this is a fast and easy way to injure yourself, and that you really should try to run so that the ball of your foot is the first thing that hits the pavement, followed by your toes – your heels never actually hit the ground at all. I think I heel-strike because I’m subconsciously pulling my leg back so that I take longer strides so that I go more slowly, which works in slowing me down but does no favor for my leg alignment. I had a short 3-mile run with my running buddy yesterday, and without even realizing it for a good mile and a half I was pitched forward, with the ball of my foot hitting the ground first, because I was trying to run a little bit faster since it was a short run (plus it was really cold outside and I was underdressed and wanted to get back inside ASAFP). When I realized I was doing it, I thought, hmmm, let’s not be so conscious of this and just see if we can keep it up, and I did, and you know what? My knees felt FINE when I was done. It didn’t occur to me until this morning that that could be my answer, so I made a point of trying to run on the balls of my feet while on the treadmill today, just to see what happened. And you know what? My knees felt, and still feel, TOTALLY FINE after the fact. Sweet.

The real issue will be trying to apply this new form to my longer runs, since my habit is to take longer strides and slow down, but that won’t be an issue until next week; this weekend is a 5k race in the training program, and I’m intending to run a race in completely unknown territory (as in, in a different city) just to break myself of the habit of always running in places with which I’m familiar. Next weekend, the day after my birthday, will be the 9-mile run in which I give this new theory a go.*

In other news, I tried out both the awesome new shorts and shirt and am pleased to report that they have performed excellently. And yes, I wore them together even though they don’t match. I figured the color confusion might ward off anyone intending to mow me down in a vehicle**, because they’ll be too busy trying to figure out if I’m actually colorblind. (I’m not, but it’s still a fun game.)

Also, that chickpea pasta recipe I tried last week was good, but it didn’t result in the creamy sauce that the recipe said it would. It did smell and taste amazing, however, and frankly I like chickpeas just fine in their natural rounded and tendered state, so it was lovely for me to just have pasta with garlicky soft chickpeas. Double bonus was that the recipe made a ton of food, so I had leftovers to get me through the next day.

My little independent research project is going quite well, and has been much fun to delve into. Aaaaand, remember the Hopslam beer I wrote about a few weeks ago when Bell’s Brewery had their tap takeover here? Another shipment of it came in yesterday, and I’ve managed to get myself not one but TWO six-packs, which is awesome because it means I can stash one away for the fall when I crave it and then realize there isn’t any. Oh yes, I shall squirrel away the beer, and it shall be marvelous.

Yeah, I’m in a bit of a weird mood because I’m still buzzing along from a good run, plus it’s getting warm outside and Wednesdays are generally less chaotic than the rest of my week. Time for me to grab some lunch and scoot off to work. Happy hump day, y’all!

*EDITED TO ADD: Capricious as ever, I changed my mind; I still feel more than okay a few hours after the 4-mile pace run, so I’m totally switching my plan of action. I’ll be out of town this weekend as it is, and will run my 9-mile run then; next weekend, the day after my birthday, there’s a 4-mile race here at home that – while at home – is on a course I’ve never run. Another couple of reasons for the switch? I prefer 4-milers to 5ks anyway, plus, um, I might want to go out and actually celebrate my birthday, which means that running 4 miles the next morning would be much less painful than running 9 miles the next morning. (And no, I can’t just skip it- that’s not part of my training plan!) Anyway, I just signed up for the race, which means now I have my first race of the year to look forward to. Hooray!

**This isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds: there are some very close calls I’ve had with cars when I’ve been running through a crosswalk, with the right of way indicated by the white “walk” signal, that have made me think that not all of them have been accidental. People here seem to have a love/hate relationship with runners. I love them, so everyone else should – right?!


2 Responses to Pace, pace, pace!

  1. bearrunner says:

    Sounds like a good run!


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