Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cutting myself a break

Yesterday while I was running/walking/dying, I had an epiphany. I'm probably being too hard on myself with this whole running thing. In my head, I should be where the seasoned runners are at: running sub-9-minute miles consistently and being able to go for 10+ miles.

The truth of the matter is that I've really been running, consistently, since....uhh...last week?! I ran a couple of 5ks last October, which I trained about eight weeks for (they were on back-to-back weekends) and that was the last time I ran until very recently. I've dabbled in it over the years, but never consistently and mainly on the treadmill, which automatically keeps you on pace.
We're cheating.

While I was out yesterday in the 95-degree heat running in my neighborhood, I realized that I started out running at a sub-8-minute pace and tried to slow it down. I think in my head, the faster I run, the quicker it'll be over. Yeah, it doesn't work like that. The plan was to try to do 3:1 running:walking intervals, which meant I needed to keep a steady pace way slower than 8 minutes! I was also trying to breath, which is difficult for me when it's so hot out, humidity or not.

No matter what I did, my pace kept getting too fast. I think the next time I run outside, my goal will be to just keep a steady pace and not focus on distance as much. I really need to get this down. Also, I realized there's no way I'm going to improve by running when it's so hot out. Until the temperature gets at least down into the 80's, I'm making the treadmill my friend. I figured since it wasn't as humid yesterday, I'd be ok. I was wrong. And I'm sick of beating myself up over it.

After Monday's post about how Saturday's training run was such an epic fail, the general consensus of the comments was that I'm not giving myself enough credit and I need to lighten up! Hearing that from a friend of mine who has run marathons makes me feel better. (Thanks Kelli!) Also, I've been told that the air quality is pretty bad right now, so I'm not the one to blame for feeling so awful on Saturday. (I just did some searching and there's a place on where you can check the air quality of the area you live in. If only I had known!)
Currently the area I live in is orange.

I have a long way to go to catch up with you half-marathoners and marathoners, but that's ok. The longest race I've ran was THREE MILES! (Well, 3.1 to be exact). I can't expect for it to happen overnight. I can wish it would, but that's just not realistic.

So now I have some questions for you:

What do you do to help keep a steady pace?

How long did it take you to go from 5k to half marathon (or full marathon)?



  1. I think you're doing amazingly well for just starting! The key to a good pace is to e-a-s-e into a run like you would in getting in a cold pool. Aim for your first mile to take 9:30 and then speed up a little and then speed up a little more. You should be able to talk the whole time, or if you're too out of breath, that means you need to slow down.

    You should finish a run feeling like you could have gone further. If you finish and can barely walk upstairs, you went too fast. :)

  2. So wonderful to hear (read?) every word of this post!!

    I'm horrible at pacing too. I usually run by heart rate (Willy can tell you that!) - when it gets too high, I walk til it comes back down, then slowly build back up. Running with someone helps too (like Kara said, you should be able to have a conversation). Or running to slower music.

    BTW, I was 20 when I started running, and my first goal was to run a mile without stopping. It took 2 years to build up to a full hour and another couple of years before I ran a half marathon. And afterwards, I thought marathoners were insane, because who would ever run 2 half marathons in a row?! :)

  3. If you just started last week, you're doing AWESOME! It took me about a year (of not very disciplined training, granted) to get to where I am now! Don't beat yourself up. Plus, this weather is horrendous.

  4. Oh, Emily, you are doing so great!! Don't give up!! I definitely use the talk test to determine if I am going too fast. I ALWAYS start super slow and then gradually build speed as the run goes on. It is much better than running all out from the start and then losing steam.

    Don't be so hard on yourself...I didn't run my first Half until I was running for almost 2 years!! It is so easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing...just go at your own pace and your own distance and you will do great!! :) xo

  5. Ok, so I am the WORST person to get advice on pacing from. I have to work really hard to slow myself down on long run days. Anything above 3.1 miles I try to start at a 13 min/mile pace. Less than a 5K and I'll try to start at 12 min/mile, but I honestly usually d0 11:45. I've been told if you feel really good half way through it is acceptable to speed up, but I'm afraid of bonking. My goal is negative splits (each mile is slightly faster than the one before it) because that means I didn't start too fast.

    To get from 5K to a half, I signed up with a training group. I'm lucky because the group we have here is semi-coached so we have people to guide us on the long runs and pacing and such. I will say the best advice about pacing I've gotten is that I should be able to maintain a conversation at my long run speed, which being in a group means I'm talking.

    Also, the air quality thing and heat are definitely legit reasons to slow down. Have you considered heart rate training? That will tell you how hard your body is working, which can be different at the same pace depending on things like temperature.

    Oh hell, I just wrote a book. Is that creepy?

  6. You are absolutely right, give yourself a freakin break! You are doing fantastic! While I LOVE LOVE LOVE blogs, I do think that it's easy to start comparing yourself to other bloggers when obviously they are not you. I was actually thinking of posting about it. When I signed up for my first half marathon, I had done one 10K, and that was like five years prior. I was consistently running, but no watch, no nothing, I would just go out and run till I felt like turning around. 40 minutes was a long run. I trained for about 10 weeks for my first half, then did another one, then did an 18 week marathon program. So, as you can see, it's a process. It took me a long time to run 10 miles, and a MUCH longer time to easily run ten miles. I suck at pacing. Like, majorly suck. That's why I love the Garmin.

  7. I started training last Jan. for a half that would have taken place in May. I trained way to early, made it to my 10 miler by march and ended up overtraining. To many miles too fast and my body just quit on me. I can keep a good steady pace during outdoor runs, but it is a lot slower then when I run on the treadmill.