THE MAN WITH THE PLAN…
Last week I posted about my new running coach James and his strategy of kicking me outside of my comfort zone. Well, I got to execute this strategy for the first time in a race with this past weekend’s Lexus LaceUp Half Marathon.
Let me lay down the game plan and tell you how it went.
The goal of this race was not to shoot for a PR. In fact, James didn’t even give me a finish time to shoot for at all. Rather, I had three things to focus on…
- Change my run/walk ratio from a 4:1 to a 9:1 (this would cut my walk breaks in half).
- Start slow and increase my pace with each mile… with a speed bump at mile 10 if I was feeling good.
- Keep my overall effort at around an 8-8.5 on a scale of 1 to 10.
As I got into the starting corral I was a tad bit nervous. I wondered how these changes would impact my overall performance. Would I bonk? Or would I suddenly let loose a world class distance runner and find myself standing on the victor’s podium?
That would be a “no” to both.
Things went pretty well actually. While I certainly would have liked more walk breaks… that’s like asking someone if they’d like more money (duh)… I didn’t really miss them and it didn’t impact my overall pace that much.
I also reprogrammed my Garmin (no small feat, those menus get a bit complicated) to break the race into mile “laps” so I could track each mile individually, rather than the race as a whole.
I ended up picking up the pace with each mile basically from 1-11. I did drop off a little bit in mile 12 as fatigue started setting in. But not too much. Here’s a screen grab of my miles.
Now James wanted my first mile to be 11:00 min and to increase from there. I started a little fast as I was trying to ascertain how much a single walk break per mile would impact my pace. It’s a work in progress.
As for effort, I kept it at an 8 or under until the last mile when I needed (and wanted) to push it.
And the big question, how did my finish time turn out? Well, I compared it to the Lexus LaceUp Ventura Half Marathon from last year.
- 2015- 2:12:51 (10:08 min/mile pace)
- 2016- 2:13:02 (10:08 min/mile pace)
It was basically the same. Actually I was 11 seconds slower than last year, but spread out over 13.1 miles that’s pretty much a negligible difference.
But what does that say about this “new” strategy? Several weeks of work with really no improvement to show for it?
Well, if you go solely by finish time then you might have an argument. But I’m just in the early days of shaking things up, so you can’t expect to go from being a scooter to being a dragster overnight. These things take time.
It’s like when you do a makeover for a room… you have to make a real mess at first, but in the end you’ll be much better off.
And I certainly think I ran this year’s race much smarter than last year. It felt better too.
I think over time this revised running strategy will start reaping some serious rewards. It may not even show up in my next few races, but I think by the time the LA Marathon rolls around in March, I’ll be feeling like a better (and smarter) runner.
It’s gonna be fun to find out. Run on!