My mid-week training runs, as scheduled by the Runcoach program I bought when registering for my upcoming race, have included a lot of intervals set to specific paces. Today’s involved intervals of running for 5 minutes at a pace of 8:37. I don’t use a GPS watch, nor do I like running with my phone in my hand, so there is no easy way for me to check my pace while I’m going all out. I have to do it by feel.
Consistently, I have been blowing through the set paces, every time worrying that I was lagging too far behind. I actually ran one of today’s intervals at under 8 minutes per mile, but thought I was running at 9. I’m learning through this process that I am terrible at judging my pace, though I am pretty good at judging my exertion level. I know exactly how hard I can run for any given time frame, even if I don’t know how fast I’m running.
Training based on perceived effort rather than a specific pace has advantages, as is very nicely explained here: Perceived Effort a Better Way to Train for Races Than “Race Pace.” I love the colored zones explanation that Coach Jenny outlines, and much prefer them to arbitrary pace goals:
Yellow Zone: This is the effort level where you can’t hear your breathing, you’re able to easily talk and you can run here for a very long time.
Orange Zone: This is the effort level where you start to hear your breathing, but you’re not gasping for air. You can talk, but it is more challenging to get out sentences, so you use one- or two-word answers.
Red Zone: This is the effort level where your breathing is vigorous. You can’t talk, you’re reaching for air and counting the minutes until it ends.
Using the colored zones outlined in that article, my speed interval run today took me into the red zone during each of my four intervals. In fact, immediately after the second one I nearly barfed while gasping for air, letting me know that under 8 minutes a mile sustained for 5 minutes was a little too much effort for my body today (I guess barfing would be slightly beyond red and look like a mushroom cloud).
Though I don’t think of my runs in terms of color, the effort levels above are pretty much how I’ve come to view the different training days in my plan. Speed days take me into the red (the shorter the interval, the redder it is), tempo and threshold days are in the orange, and my Sunday long runs are on the boundary between yellow and orange. At least that’s how I focus on them, since running at a specific time pace pretty hard without constantly pulling my phone out to check my current pace, a task which is very hard to manage while running full out and trying to keep a lid on breakfast.
- Training run: 1 mile warm up, drills and strides, 4 intervals of 5 minutes at a pace faster than 8:30, 1 mile cool down
- Banana, blueberries, and strawberries topped with peach soy yogurt and granola
- Coffee with vanilla stevia and almond milk
- Post run smoothie: SunWarrior Warrior Blend Raw Chocolate Vegan Protein, frozen cherries, red leaf lettuce, romaine, kale, flax seeds, and almond milk plus
- Salad: red leaf lettuce, romaine, kale, teriyaki tempeh, shiitake mushrooms, grape tomato, cucumber, and red onion dressed in miso, sriracha, and blackberry ginger balsamic
- Cucumber water
- Coffee with cardamom, vanilla stevia, and almond milk
- Low-fat fig newtons
- Apple with peanut butter
- Cold brew coffee with almond milk
- Red lentil and spinach soup
- 1/2 piece of whole wheat naan
- Freeze dried green beans
- Dried fruit and nuts
- Handful of granola