Pacing and Racing

Last weekend I finished my 12 mile dress rehearsal run for the NYC Half marathon, which is - gulp - 18 days away. It went so well, just like my 20 mile dress rehearsal for the marathon. That makes me a little nervous, because I think my 20 miler went significantly better than my actual marathon, and so I'm a little worried that the 12 miler might not be indicative of how I can actually perform on race day. I finished 12.13 miles in 2 hours and 12 minutes, so a 10:53 average pace. I did feel like I could have pushed a little harder at the end, but the people I was with were struggling, so I hung back to get them through. That put me at just over 50 miles (53.65, to be exact) for the month of February. I'd like to see my monthly mileage get up to 60 by the summer.

So... pacing. I have done all of my long runs under an 11:00/mile pace, which according to the Runner's World pace calculator for my best 4 mile time (40.13) should be more like my tempo run pace, and my long runs should be closer to 12 minute miles. The thing is, I feel like that's my comfortable speed. When I get a chance to do speedwork, those paces are more appropriately on target, but should I be doing my long runs slower? And what if I don't want to? On the plus side, my predicted finish time for the half, according to the pace thingey is in the neighborhood of 2:21! My reach goal is to finish under 2:20. I know I can get under 2:25, and my totally-doable-no-worries goal is to be under 2:30.

And racing. I'm doing the Coogans 5K with NYRR on Sunday and am starting to get really excited. I would love to finish under 30:00 for a 5k (for the first time ever) but really, I'm just looking to get a sense of how I feel pushing myself without having anything hurt. I know those hills pretty well, and the last time I did this race, I finished in 42:06, so at the very least I'll be looking at setting the PR bar just a bit higher for myself. And if I don't make that sub-30, I'll be back out on the track in April and working on some speedwork to get there.


  1. Nice miles! I don't hit my 12 mile work out for a couple of months.

    Ick speed work :( My least favorite part of running. Check out Fartleks though, it does make you faster.

    1. How do fartleks work? I always feel like with speed and interval type stuff I have to have a specific set interval otherwise I will definitely cut it short =)

    2. There are lots of ways to do fartleks. The pattern is usually a speed run (90-95%) and then recovery run and repeat. You can choose a distance/time to run at at 5K pace and then do a recovery jog for an equal amount of time. I'll send you the plan my friend Tom sent me. They hurt, but I have noticed that I've gotten faster.

    3. I can't find your email address. So I'm posting it here...

      Best Fartlek Workouts

      Like most track workouts, there are an infinite variety of fartlek runs that can be created. Each workout below is designed to stimulate various systems in the body that sports science tells us will result in improved 5K/10K racing performance. Perform this set of workouts and you'll be ready for great track sessions.

      Fartlek No. 1, Week 1--After a warm-up, perform 10 to 12 surges lasting 1 minute with a 1-minute jog rest in between. Your effort should be slightly faster than 5K race pace effort. Most runners find this to be at about 90 to 95 percent of full effort. Research indicates that running at this intensity for a total of 10 to 12 minutes results in a higher VO2 max--your ability to consume and utilize oxygen.

      Fartlek No. 2, Week 2--After a warm-up, perform four to five surges lasting 3 to 5 minutes each with a 1- to 2-minute jog in between. Your effort should be slightly faster than 10K race pace effort but not as fast as in Fartlek No. 1. Most runners find this to be at about 80 to 85 percent of full effort. Research indicates that running at this intensity for a total of 15 to 20 minutes results in a higher lactate threshold--the balance point between the production of lactic acid and your ability to keep it from building up.

      Fartlek No. 3, Week 3--After a warm-up, perform five to six surges lasting 2 minutes, with a 1-minute jog between each hard effort. Your effort should be very similar to 5K race pace effort. This workout stimulates your VO2 max but also helps you become more comfortable at 5K race pace. You'll find this helpful in your first races where many runners start too fast and fade in the end.

      Fartlek No. 4, Week 4--This workout is the granddaddy of them all and will complete your month of fartlek running prior to hitting the track. After a warm-up, perform the following surges, all followed by a 2-minute easy jog: 5 minutes, 4 minutes, 3 minutes, 2 minutes and 1 minute. Your effort should increase as the length of the surge decreases. The 5-minute surge is at 80 percent of full effort. The 4-minute surge is at 85 percent of full effort. The 3-minute surge is at 90 percent of full effort. The 2-minute surge is at roughly 95 percent of full effort and the 1-minute surge is at nearly 100 percent of full effort. This workout is designed to mimic the increase in effort that you must make in order to race at your highest level for the 5K and 10K distances. Don't worry about pace or heart rate. Just focus on effort. Learn your body.

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  3. I always run by feel - I don't have different long run vs. race pace. Maybe that's why I'm not really getting faster either. In any case, I definitely think you can go under 2:30 for the half - good luck!

    Fartleks are a less structured speed workout - you pick something in the distance (a tree, stoplight, 102nd transverse) and run at a fast pace until you reach it, then slow down to a jog until you recover. Repeat several times - it's a great way to vary your pace and exertion level. You should try it and post how it goes!