Tuesday, February 7, 2017

My Happy Pace

When I posted my weekly workouts on Sunday, Montana commented asking how I had gotten to a point where I could maintain a 10-minute pace on a long run. I had to really stop and think about that. When I was training for marathons, my long runs were significantly slower than 10:xx; that's to be expected.
As you can see, a year ago my long runs were slower than they have been recently.
So how did I bring my paces back down this year?

First, and I think mostly importantly, I stopped quitting. Since I began running, my pattern would be to run consistently for a few weeks, maybe even a month, and then take a chunk of time off. Having to start over so frequently obviously set me back and stalled any progress I could be making.
My training over the past 26 weeks...There were times I rested heavily (most noticeably during the height of my calf issues), but there are no major gaps in my training.
Compare this training from March 2015 to my recent training. Major gaps like this are nowhere to be seen in 2016!
On that note, having a consistent schedule has definitely contributed to my current paces. Elizabeth and I began our workout routine about a year ago. We work out together 5-6 days a week. This means that I'm not only avoiding quitting, but I'm also getting in lots of good cross-training that I'm completely likely to skip without an accountability partner.
I've made running bridges a frequent part of my plan. Bridges are speed work in disguise and have made me a stronger, more consistent runner.

I've balanced my training. I loved training for marathons but I am not a strong enough runner to truly train the way a marathoner should. For my body, marathon training was very close to over-training. These days, my workouts and training schedules are much more balanced, allowing for better recovery. I can also push my paces and test my limits more because I'm not paranoid about getting injured before a big goal race. That's probably a factor, too: I'm racing less frequently.

Finally, I think 10-minute miles come naturally to me. When I'm feeling healthy, strong, and centered, my pace easily falls into the mid-9s for short runs and 10s for longer runs. I'm comfortable and happy at these paces most of the time; this is how my running looked before I got into marathons, and I think my body is just getting back to its equilibrium.

What is your happy pace?
What did you do (training-wise) to reach that pace?



  1. Glad my comment inspired an entire other post! I think you made some great points. I know I tend to take a few months off per year in training- usually following a huge season where I get burnt out because I do too much. That's why I haven't added anything else following my marathon this fall- I don't want to get burnt out and feel like quitting running. I'm hoping the fact that I'm ending my fall season with a marathon will enable me to get back to training in a low key way without feeling like I have to ramp up again for a race. I also know I need to add more cross training to my schedule; since I've started OTF I noticed that my long run pace has gotten slightly faster and better than it was before. I guess I'll just keep doing all the cross training and hope I get better results like you did!

  2. I love this post! Love the progress you've made since last year, and the fact that you can pinpoint specific things you feel helped you. I definitely feel like marathon training is borderline over training for me, which is why I feel relief to be focused on the half marathon this year. It's also relieving to be focused on only one race. Instead of feeling constant pressure to do X, Y, Z I feel like I can focus on growth and longer term goals. That being said, I am specifically choosing a goal half marathon early in the season (Nov) so that I have several other chances to PR if things don't work out during the first one!

  3. This is something I'm still working on. I admire the folks that say "today i'm gonna run at "x" pace and actually stick to it. I never know what pace I am running until I look at my watch!

  4. I felt like I was borderline over-training when I was marathon training! Maybe I just don't know my body's limits, but I was constantly fatigued and my paces were much slower than normal. I'd say for less than 6 miles or so, I average between 9:30 and 9:50. For longer runs, I like to stay around 10, but if I've had some tough workouts that week, that number will creep up to 10:15-10:30 (which I'm totally ok with!). Nice job being so consistent!!

  5. My happy pace ebbs and flows. Right now it is around 8:30... and I know how it got there. No speed work and just running la la la for so long!

  6. Working on a consistent pace is really hard work! on long runs, I can do the first 8-9 miles below 10, but I lose it after and go to an average of 11.

    Adding sprint and hill training improved my pace, by a lot!

    and I agree with you, a balanced training is essential for staying healthy and at the pace you want.

  7. My natural pace fluctuates depending on my fitness level. As a new runner in 2014, my natural pace was in the high 9s and low 10s; in 2015 and 2016 when I was training for marathons, I could run very comfortable in the 8:30-8:45 range. Now that I've taken time off and am out of shape, my natural pace is back up to 9:45-10:15ish. I actually found that I got faster during marathon training because my legs got so used to running and the endurance work allowed me to hold faster paces for longer amounts of time. But my body adapts better to distance than it does to short fast running. I'm glad to hear you've found you happy place with training and running! Good luck at your half!

  8. I've really been trying to figure out my happy pace. When I first started running I could easily run a 10-minute pace...it was my sweet spot. Over the years, my pace has slowed. I actually run more now than I did in previous years and I think I'm more consistent for sure, but for whatever reason I'm in the 11 zone on my easy runs no matter what. I do think strength training and speed work make a huge difference!