Friday, April 22, 2011

When Not to Race

At the beginning of each week, I tend to map out my planned mileage and workouts. In some ways, this is folly, since my work schedule fluctuates, my kids don't always fit my schedule - in short, it's pretty much what most runners with families who work face.

The additional challenge, however, is running the planned workout *on that planned day.* And this discipline, I admit, is problematic. Because what happens it that an easy day turns into a hard day (or vice versa).

Group runs (which are great, and if you don't have a group you're running with, I urge you to find one), are great at setting this discipline ... most of the time. I had to laugh when I got an invite to run with a friend at a much slower pace than he usually goes out on.

As for single runs: if I'm not training for anything specific, I tend to run at the pace I feel like. Some days fast, some days slow. My legs let me know what's going to happen.

(Bear with me, there is a point coming)

And then there's today - a planned easy run up to Prospect Park and then an easy loop, prepping for a longer run tomorrow (even with the expected rain). My run up to the park was bit more brisk than I wanted, but no worries - it felt fine. It was in the park that it got a bit dicey. I was passing another runner, when she suddenly sped up and surged past me. She slowed down a bit, I passed her again, and then she surged forward again.

This happened for 1 1/2 miles before I finally passed her for good. But the problem here was less to do with the "competition" that can occur when doing a loop in the Park and you pass someone/are passed by someone is that my pace suddenly accelerated by 30-40 seconds a mile. To be sure, there are times when it's fun to do this. Today wasn't supposed to be one of them. And while I'm pleased with the overall results (it gives me a better sense of my fitness 4 weeks into the Brooklyn Half), I've also muddled my planned training for the weekend.

In the larger scheme of things, there are worse things that can happen. My long day tomorrow will be a short/easy day and I'll find time on Easter Sunday somewhere for the long run. If you're running only 4 or 5 times a week, make sure you're doing the workouts that you should be doing. Making an easy day a hard day can be problematic.

One way to avoid (something I referred to a few weeks back): Take a time check at known measured distances to see how you're doing. Prospect Park, with the 1/4 mile marks for the PPTC 5K race is great at doing this. It's also how I knew that I was running a lot faster than I should be (yeah, I should have slowed).

Some unsolicited advice as you get prepped for your spring races. A bunch of Brooklyn folk are running either New Jersey or Long Island (half or full marathons) next weekend; make sure you're not running hard this week, even though it will feel relatively easy as you complete your taper.

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