I have received some comments and emails lately asking about the different paces I use during training and I thought it deserved a post on it’s own!
I was even more sure of this when I was trying to explain to a coworker the other day about my training plan and pretty much just ended up saying “it’s complicated.” It’s not the easiest to be succinct about.
When I first started running (while training for my first marathon), I just ran. All my runs were typically done around the same pace and every so often I would push it to try to make it faster, but really I was just running and getting the miles in. That is definitely fine and I actually look forward to base building or times when I am not on a plan and can just run… it’s refreshing! But marathon training is a different story for me now, and I like it!
A lot of the paces are based on race times. I am a big fan of the McMillan Running Calculator and use it A LOT for figuring out my paces. Sometimes I base it on a recent race and sometimes I base it on a goal time. The important thing to remember if you base your training paces on a goal time is to make sure that the goal time is an achievable one. You don’t want to be running faster than your ability all the time or you will lose the benefits of your workouts and will struggle with them. Also don’t forget that as you continue to train you most likely will get faster during the cycle so your training paces may need to be adjusted.
My training plan is full of different acronyms that mean different things, so this will be the guide to them:
Easy (E): easy runs should be easy. You should be able to talk through them and I always like to make it feel like I am going too slow. If I feel like I am running slow then that’s good, maybe even go a little slower… the slower the better! I have been trying to make these 1 minute+ slower than goal marathon pace as a general measure. Some days after a tough workout when these runs are really necessary, there is no fighting with my legs, they will just run slow. I know a lot of people who use heart rate monitors during these runs to make sure they know they are going easy enough.
General Aerobic (GA): I like to call these my “happy pace” runs… they are my favorite! These are the runs where I can just run how I feel. Sometimes they are a little slower but most of the time I am just running. Not too hard, not too easy, just in the middle.
Distance: This is a term the BAA plan I have based my training off of uses and you will see on my training plans. It kind of falls somewhere in the general aerobic/easy range and are pretty flexible pace wise. I usually assign one of those paces before I start based on what I ran the day before, what is coming up the next day, and how my body is feeling that day.
Lactate Threshold/tempo (LT/T): In the Pfitzinger plans he defines lactate threshold as 15k – half marathon pace. I typically try to do my tempo runs starting at or just above half marathon pace and slowly working my way down. These runs always include a warm up and cool down.
Intervals (10k/5k): There are different workouts for intervals, some go faster at 5k pace and some go a little slower at 10k pace. I try to do these around what my pace would be for a race of that distance and definitely use the McMillan Calculator for that.
Long: There are many different schools of thought regarding long runs: run 20% slower than goal pace, run at marathon pace, run 45 seconds slower than marathon pace… a lot of theories, a lot of studies, and a lot of options.
I think it all comes down to (like everything else in this sport) what works best for you. I tried running my long runs really slow one summer and I hated it. I was dreading my long runs, I felt slow ALL the time and I just was not happy. I also am not a big fan of doing an entire long run at race pace, I feel like it just takes too much out of me for training the next week.
For me personally, I have settled somewhere in the middle and just let myself run how I feel, typically within 30 – 45 seconds of my goal race pace, sometimes faster, sometimes slower. I always try to make the second half faster than the first and let myself warm up for a couple miles and have runs where my goal is to finish at marathon pace or a little faster. Some long runs I deliberately do easier than others and some I throw in faster miles in the middle, a lot of it depending on how I feel, what my week has looked like and what the route is I am running. Mixing it up keeps things interesting!
Medium Long (ML): I typically approach these pretty much the same as long runs.
I think that’s it when it comes to my training plan acronyms and paces!
I just added a new page called My Current Training (as well as organized and added a few others) and it shows the details of my Boston training as I go with the weekly updates linked. I think it will be an easy way to see it in a comprehensive view for anyone interested.
How do you train? Do you just run or do you
have specific paces for most runs?