On Pace

Room with a view: Minneapolis

Greetings from Minnesota!  As a born-and-bred East Coaster who has lived in the country’s biggest city for the past five years, I have, today, discovered myself to be ill-equipped at handling life in the Midwest.  I took this picture from my hotel room in downtown Minneapolis at what I think should be rush hour (about 6:30 pm) in most places, but as you can see, there is nary a soul in view.  Just a lot of empty parking spaces.  There’s so much room!  I’m not sure how to feel about this.  I went out around lunchtime to find some food (ugh, I’d forgotten lately how hard it is for me to get food for myself, but that’s another can of worms entirely) and the streets were almost empty.  It made me miss New York, a city with which I have an intense love/hate relationship.  But let’s move on to the good stuff, which today consists of pacing!  And no, I don’t mean walking back and forth until you wear a path in the floor.

Since my race on Sunday, I’ve been thinking about pacing.  Lately, as I’ve tried to work on varying my pace, I’ve realized how unfamiliar I am with how one goes about doing this.  I’m not all that good at pacing myself in general whether I’m running a race, or a long run, or, really, any kind of run whatsoever.  I’ve spent a fair amount of time studying the McMillan running calculator and trying to get a sense of what kind of pace I should be running if my workout calls for 6 hill repeats at 5k-10k pace; I’ve tried to run my long runs slowly at a LSD pace; I’ve worked to make sure there’s a difference between my warm-up pace and my tempo run pace…but it seems like no matter what, I’m always running the same way.  My mile splits are always very close to each other in time.  And if I feel like I’m pacing myself well in a race, chances are I’ve gone out too fast and I’m going to die during the second half.

In short, pacing myself is a complete mystery to me.  When you look for information on pace, most of what you find is related to improving your speed, and surely that’s part of the whole equation.  But I’m not interested in the whole equation at this point, I’m only interested in one component of it: how do you determine what pace is best for you?

I am starting to feel like this is one aspect of my training that I’ve neglected, and that it would really behoove me to work on.  It’s not the only thing that’s going wrong–I also need to work on my thinking and how I approach my races and training mentally–but I think it would certainly help if I knew going into a race that 8:40/mile was a reasonable pace for me for 4 miles, but not for 9 (just to pull an example out of thin air).

So, in addition to getting speed work in my weekly training, I want to try getting some pace work as well.  The thing is, I need to spend a bit of time thinking about (and researching) how to do this.  I get the impression that pace is sort of taken as a given by a lot of places that offer resources on running, and not something that is supposed to be thought much about.  But it’s certainly something that I feel I need to be paying attention to.  Hopefully as I’m working on this, I’ll be able to share some of what I’m learning!

Embrace:Me 30-day challenge, day 25: Here in Minneapolis, I’m not the happiest camper.  I don’t like traveling alone, I’ve been up since 4:30 EST, I get homesick very easily, etc.  So I’ve been extra careful to be nice to myself–put lotion on my dry skin instead of ignoring it, get into bed early to get some rest, and most of all don’t punish or deride myself for being homesick and unhappy.  Some people like traveling, I’m not one of those people, that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with me.  Just being able to acknowledge that makes things so much easier.

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  1. You are in Minnesota?!! We should have gone for a run together!! When do you head back? Rush hour traffic here in Minnesota is actually much earlier than 6:30. People like to maximize on our sun time so they usually come in early and leave by about 4 or 5. So rush hour typically runs from 3pm- 5pm. I hope your time here gets better. There is a lot to do down in the city!

    1. Ahh, Rachel, I totally forgot you’re in Minnesota! I’m heading home on Saturday–do you have time to meet for dinner or a drink or something tomorrow? If so, we should get together!

      You know, today was a lot better than yesterday. Everyone here is really nice, and it’s pretty amazing how clean Minneapolis is. I haven’t had much time to get out, but I’m still enjoying myself 🙂

  2. Re: traveling and being homesick — I hate that too. I have these awesome travel candles that are in tin jars, and they take away that strange hotel smell and make it smell…well, not exactly like home, but close. It helps a little.

    1. I brought a few of Nat’s shirts to sleep in (I sleep in them at home too, so I guess I have kind of co-opted them). It’s nice to have something familiar. And yeah, that hotel smell…especially the towels. Hotel towels always have a smell that is all their own!

  3. i can imagine how weird it is to go from NYC bustling to any-other-city/town “crowd”/traffic.

    hmm pacing. i guess i just ran at a similar pace everytime for so long that i know my easy pace will be within a 30sec range (8:50 – 9:20). pre-garmin, i would just run with a stopwatch and then map my run out on mapmyrun.com. i didn’t do workouts then so an average pace for the whole run was probably an accurate assessment. when i did do speedwork – i would either map the distance before hand so i knew where to start/stop or i would go to a track or treadmill. then i’d hit the split button my stopwatch to record my interval. (i am saying this cause i can’t remember if you have a garmin? i think you do) with garmin, i would just glance down at garmin every so often to see if the pace is about the same (accounting for up/down hills of course), and just note how you feel at that pace.

    do you not already run a pretty similar pace from day to day? obviously there are factors some days (sleep/eat/mood/etc) but for the most part, are your runs not about the same pace?

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