I had my first planned tempo run of this half-marathon training cycle. I pulled a training plan off of Runner’s World Smart Coach, which may or may not be a huge mistake. It’s hard for me to look at the training paces and distances that it has laid out for me, and then see how that translates into the expected half-marathon pace at the bottom of the plan. My initial thoughts are that the long run paces are too slow, although this shouldn’t be surprising, since Runner’s World seems to be a big preacher of Long Slow Distances. Even the tempo runs don’t seem to have a fast enough pace listed. (FYI: The Smart Coach plans let you enter in a recent race distance/time, and it uses that to calculate training paces)
Yesterday’s tempo run was a total of 6 miles, with 4 of those at 6:47/mile. I had some anxiety leading up to the run, worried about nailing a certain pace. Weird, since I routinely (~50% of the time, lately) run my 4 mile lunch break runs faster than that pace. But I felt the pressure of having something in writing that I needed to hit. In the end, it wasn’t a big deal at all. I didn’t feel sore after, and I don’t necessarily feel that I gained anything. My heart rate for the tempo miles average 80% of my max, and so I don’t feel like I was pushing myself enough.
When I printed out the training plan and looked it over, I made the conscious decision to trust the plan even if it was different than what I think I need. Now, less than one week into it, I’m already doubting here. Here’s the thing: I know I can run a half-marathon, the distance isn’t an issue. I’m not looking to complete the distance, I’m looking to run the fastest race that I’m capable of. But since I don’t know what that is, I’m stuck training with paces that are a shot in the dark. I don’t want to sell myself short, but I also don’t want to overtrain.
I know that there is a time and a place for easy/recovery runs, but at the same time when I’m done with a tempo workout I want to feel like I’ve just done a tempo workout. I’m still far enough away from the race that I could use a different training plan, but I’ve had a hard time finding a quality plan that is geared towards something other than just finishing. Maybe I’ll just keep this plan’s basic structure, but change it to include some of the suggestions from this guy. I mean, he’s run a 1:07 half-marathon, so he must know a little something about training!
(sidenote, I will not be running a 1:07 half-marathon, ever)