Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pace Matters

Every time I run, I always make sure to record my time and distance using Dailymile and RunningAHEAD. I really enjoy using DM because I like to connect and share with other runners, but it doesn't offer the advanced statistical options that RunningAHEAD does.  I love to see a graph of my workouts, comparing pace or distance over time.

Just a few days ago I was thinking about last year when I was injured and couldn't run.  I was facing severe knee pain with no explanation as to why it came about or how to fix it.  I have often wondered what caused my pain and I think I know the answer - running TOO fast and not recovering.

Using RunningAHEAD I was able to compare my pace from last August (2010) before my injury to this August (2011).  It became clear that my pace from August 2010 was a lot faster than my pace in August 2011. 
August 2010 Paces
August 2011 Paces
This past August, I had more runs in the 8:30 min/mile range than I did in 2010.  Now of course this is just one month, but honestly I know that I was running too fast before.  Looking back at 2010, a lot of my easy 3 milers were done at 8 min pace which did not allow my legs to recovery at all.  Now I run my easy recovery runs at a goal pace of 8:40 min/mile.  Some days I am able to go faster, some days I am not.  I also know that I was running my tempo paces too fast.  I would go out for a run with my running club and when the workout would call for tempo pace, I would usually end up running my interval pace.  I wasn't using a VDOT that was close to my fitness at that time - I was going off a PR and VDOT calculation from over a year ago.

So how do you figure out what your easy pace (or tempo pace) should be?  Well I use the VDOT system, which is very similar to McMillan or any other running calculator which takes a recent race distance and time and then outputs the paces you should be running for interval, tempo, long and easy runs.

Using the VDOT chart and inserting my current and recent 5k PR, it says my easy runs should be at 8:50 min/mile, while using McMillan, it says my easy runs should be at 8:13-8:43 min/mile.  The McMillan chart breaks the paces down more specifically to recovery runs, easy runs and long runs.  It is really all about personal preference.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Over the past two years when I have really been focusing on my running and trying to become faster, I have learned a lot.  I know that I need to slow down and run the pace designated for each run. It is all about staying healthy and uninjured!

What's your easy run pace? 


Rena said...

My easy pace is supposed to be around 9:50/mile, but I have a hard time holding myself back.

I do the same thing! I use both daily mile and running ahead. If you don't mind me asking, what's your account? Mine is Rena from Syracuse, NY

Marlene said...

I really think that slowing down on easy runs is one of the biggest factors that has kept me injury free and getting stronger - great post!

I use McMillan all the time, but I should check out VDOT!

Jessica Karazsia (@irun26at8) said...

Love new tools! Thanks! My easy pace is supposed to be 8:34 but truly, the only way I run easy is without my Garmin. I leave it at home at least once a week and just enjoy the run based on feel. I establish a pace where I think I could run forever and go from there.

Erica Gorman said...

I may have to give RunningAhead a try. I use Daily Mile right now and my paper log book. I like to be able to flip through my running journal. I don't know if I will be able to keep all 3 up to date...perhaps a change is in order....hmmmm......

Lauren @ Sassy Molassy said...

Very interesting. I just checked out VDOT. My slow pace says it should be 9:41. Usually in my mind, my slow pace is/should be 9 min. So I would say on average most runners probably don't run slow enough during recovery. I know I'm often guilty of it.

Elizabeth said...

Great post. I also use RunningAhead for the same reasons-- charts and graphs! I love the automatic GPS import so it takes less than one minute to enter a workout. Did I mention I also love tracking my shoe mileage!

I base my easy pace on Heart Rate. In the summer that is usually 8:55-9:15 and in the fall, winter, and spring it's 8:35-8:55.

Suzy said...

Going slow really does help!!! I don't know what my slow/easy pace is right now. I'm in a month of no pacing...just taking it easy post marathon. Once that is done I'll re-evaluate to see where I am.

Allison said...

I feel like one of the reasons I've been making improvements recently is that I've been careful to have both hard and easy runs, as opposed to running at the same medium pace all the time. I've definitely been very careful this training cycle to run my easy runs very easy and my legs have been feeling good!

Christine said...

I couldn't agree more! When I started running I never thought that easy running would actually help me to get faster :)

Amber said...

I use running ahead and dailymile too!! I was wondering awhile ago about where I heard about running ahead and I think it might have been from your blog. I've been using it since I started training for my first half-marathon in February 2009 and have logged EVERY SINGLE run on there. I love having that data!

I also like daily mile because it's great for tracking workouts other than just running and the social aspect is fun!

I haven't really used running ahead very much to compare my pace over time. I might have to do that!

James said...

I'm a big fan of RunningAhead as well. It works great and if you have an android phone you can use Handy Runner to track your stats and have them automatically uploaded when done.

Molly said...

I run slowly, but I still get injured. Go figure. : )

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of running ahead, but am definitely going to check it out. I would like to also be able to track my pace a little better to see if I'm improving.

My slow pace is pretty slow, I'm totally fine with an 11 min/mile, but my fast pace is only 9:30-10:00.