One thing that’s been annoying me over the increasing miles is the reduction in my overall average speed. Generally, I know I have to slow down to avoid injury on the longer outings with little recovery time between runs, but when I fancy upping the pace and it doesn’t appear (like tonight), I feel put out.
Again I came home to run, not fancying sitting wet in a wet car for half an hour. Again the temperature was low enough to call for tights, so these plus shorts plus t-shirt plus jumper plus rain coat were worn in a attempt to stay warm. As I left the door, it was raining. As I got to just under a mile, it started raining so hard it was hurting my head. Combined with the wind, I was seriously on the verge of coming home.
But i’ve a marathon to run so I pushed on.
The first mile felt quick but, with a headwind and slowing through the torrential part of the downpour, it turned out to be anything but. A check of the Garmin at mile two saw me at 16.20 just as it clicked onto 2.02 miles. I’d been concentrating on pace through mile two and thought it ok (I set the Garmin to time screen, not virtual partner, and locked the bezel due to the rain so had no partner to pace me – it was all on feel) but clearly my current ok is half a minute slower than a month ago’s ok.
At the turnaround point, after a further concentrated session, I showed 20.24. This was taking the piss. Another half a mile of trying to keep a pace and the only pace I was keeping was my proposed race pace. Never in a million years will I keep that up for 26 miles if I can’t do it for 5. And I have no idea where all the speed has gone.
I turned and ran. Concentrated on form and hoped some pace would come without making myself start puffing like a smoker. I didn’t see the garmin until 3.34 miles, but the pace looked better. With no round figure, I wasn’t sure how much better so I started concentrating on form and pace of step turnover. Lowering my arms, picking up the speed I lifted my feet, I was properly focused. Around mile 4 I was pissed in the extreme to see about 32 minutes up – I was still well over 8 minute mile pace.
The last mile was focused to say the least. Ignoring the time, I simply thought about maintaining a low breathing rate to know I wasn’t pushing too hard, lengthened my stride to a comfortable pace, not an injury avoidance gait, picked my feet up quickly to ensure fast pace turnover relative to breathing and forced myself to not move my upper body to save energy.
Mile 4 was a 7.45, mile 5 a 7.23.
I have to say i’d be happier if I hadn’t had to focus 100% to get the last two miles up to a semi respectable speed but also that i’m glad the pace is in there somewhere. I don’t know how i’ll feel tomorrow but at the moment have no interest in another slow run as preservation for Saturday and the planned 20 miles. I do want to do the 20 and have a good stab at the marathon, though, so maybe i’ve discovered frustration at my times too late.
January and February saw 100 miles each, averaging 7.58 pace for both months. March has been 93 miles (missed one 18, one 8 and two 5 mile runs) but the pace has dipped to 8.18 average. Very bad. Not helped by a bad cold, admittedly, but slower than my hoped for race pace. But the effort in the first two months didn’t seem overly high. And it contained many runs interrupted by ice and snow. I don’t get it.
What I do get, though, is that I don’t like long runs. This will be my only marathon. I will still do it under 4 hours, i’m targetting better than that, but am now very dubious about my ability to achieve it.
Longer term goals are on hold but I will put on weight, run less but quicker, cycle more and enjoy everything more as a result.
Marathon first, though. And a 20 miler before that.