On Friday I ran my first real marathon-pace workout of the cycle. The schedule called for 1 mile easy and then 10 at MP. For the purpose of these workouts, MP is about 7:11 or 7:12 (because 7:15 would get me to the finish line at exactly 3:10, and I’m going to need a little more cushion than that on race day).
I got through my easy mile and then began to feel out a 7:12. I was running in a relatively open area so my GPS watch was cooperating for the most part and was showing real-time paces in the low 7’s. Here are the splits of the 10 MP miles:
7:16, 7:02, 7:10, 7:04, 7:08, 7:10, 7:14, 7:20, 7:10, 7:18
At first I thought the fluctuations might be a result of hills on the course. But as I thought about it more (and noticed there was really only one hill at mile 3/6 on the out-and-back course), I realized that the pace changes were likely my reactions to seeing each mile split. After the first mile passed in 7:16, I picked up the pace – but a little too much, to 7:02. After seeing that was too fast, I slowed to 7:10 for mile 3, and so on.
I definitely found more of a groove later in the run (that 7:20 is an anomaly as my watch lost signal when I ran through a park). But I think it’s funny that not a single one of these 10 miles was at MP.
This run was instructive and illustrated something I’ve thought about often – on race day I’ll need to start at race pace and hold it. There’s no leeway for warm-up miles during the race because I can’t count on negative-splitting the marathon. Will I be able to jump in with 7:12s and not wear out too soon? Or do I want to spend valuable energy on a pre-race warmup jog?
On this run, even though I had one easy warm-up mile, it took a little effort to hit my paces in those first few miles of the workout. I was breathing a little harder at times. But after a few miles I felt great and my body fell into a rhythm. I do wonder about those later miles on race day, though. This run, including warm-up and cool-down, was 11.4 miles at 7:11. Can I essentially do that twice and then add on a couple more miles at the end?
It’s going to take some work on race day to make sure my early miles don’t include 7:02s and 7:04s like this run did. But I do have a little more confidence in my chances for hitting my pace and holding it. I’ve got six more weeks and lots of MP work between now and then to nail it down.Bike: 18.6/184.8 miles Run: 26.4/208.4 miles