The Anatomy of a Training PR
For those of you who don't know me well, let me start this out with a few factoids:
- I am pretty consistent with my pace. I *heart* 11:00 min/mile.
- I rarely talk about pace, especially in training, because my focus is on miles.
- I hate speedwork.
- I am a prime example of train slow, race fast (well, relatively).
When I hit my PR of 2:09 (9:50 min/mile) at the Rock n Roll Dallas Half Marathon back in March, I had spent the majority of my training at 11:00 min/mile, and my long runs were closer to 11:30 min/mile. Yes, I still manage to pull out faster paces on race days. I'm very competitive - with myself. I had never actually ran a 9:50 mile ever in training... ever (although I had run that pace in a 10k and below that in a 5k, but never in training).
Training, in my mind, is not when I PR... until I met this guy:
You might recognize him from The Boring Runner. Not boring at all - running an 18:50 5k and a 1:29 half marathon... but pure evil.
He sent me my plan for this week's run... now let me break into a side note and say that my base mileage is already up, so when I started adding speedwork a few weeks ago, I didn't start with just a couple miles of speedwork, I was already at 7-8 miles mid-week, so my speedwork portions were 5-6 miles... a real challenge. Anyhow... the plan for this week was a Progression Tempo...
Warm up 11/mi
9:00 (for as long as you can hold it)
Cool down 1 @ 11/mi
OK, let's look at that plan a little further... I've never run sub-10 in training prior to hiring Adam 4 weeks ago. OK, one point against Adam. The center 6 tempo miles average out to a 9:25 min/mile pace. My 10k PR is at a pace of 9:37 and I almost puked afterwards. Are you seeing where this is going? Adam wanted me to hit a 10k PR in the middle of an 8 mile training run. Even with the warm-up and cool-down mile, my pace would average below my half-marathon PR pace... for 8 miles... in training.
All this build-up, right? My run:
11:14 - Warm-up.
10:00 - Tempo Mile 1 - Feeling fine.
9:50 - Tempo Mile 2 - Still feeling great and chit-chatting with Emily on the tread next to me.
9:31 - Tempo Mile 3 - Hmmmm... why is this ok? I'm still trucking along, but I'm not even halfway.
9:14 - Tempo Mile 4 - Lungs. Are. Burning. My legs are ok. Come on, you know you want to tell Adam that you kicked this run in the butt.
9:05 - Tempo Mile 5 - Ok, this is the last mile you *have* to do. He said the last one was just as long as I could handle. Still talking to Emily, but the lungs were seriously burning. My legs were fatigued, but I felt extremely focused and in the zone, despite my conversing (which really was serving as a good distraction)... the last 0.25 of this mile was really really tough, but as it clicked over, I still hit the "increase speed" one more notch.
8:57 - Tempo Mile 6 - My lungs were starting a fire Boy Scout style. I was certain my heart was going to beat out of my chest. If I had a HRM on, it would've been sounding numerous alarms. I felt like I was on Everest gasping for air. But my legs were still trucking. I wasn't so sure they were attached to the rest of me. I told Emily to please talk to me, distract me, anything. But I really wanted to call this FULL mile a success... counting down every little bitty hundredth. And I did. DONE.
10:54 - Cool-down mile - Yeah!!!
The moral of the story: Sometimes you have to trust that your coach knows what he/she is doing. There is a reason I hired him to help with my speedwork (I still do my own schedules, etc... but he assigns my weekly speedwork). I hired him because I know that I would not believe that I could do that. There is no way I would've given myself such a challenge. NO WAY. I was convinced that wasn't in me during a training run, even though I know I've gotten stronger since I set some of those PRs.
I often give speedwork to the ladies I coach, and it's funny that I now give Adam the same reaction that they often give me... Are you trying to kill me? No... What doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger. Right? Riiiiiight???