The Right Pace

What's the right pace?

I was talking to a friend the other day in the gym when they explained how much they hate running (as I ran on the treadmill). When I asked them about their running, they described how they would run a few weeks to prepare for an annual 5k, only to run an agonizing race and then swear off running for the next 11 months?! I explained that I would hate running too, if all I did was run hard for 1 month out of the year?!

Whether you’re running for fitness or training for a race, running can be a jolt to your system if you’re not in a routine. Like the above article described a right mix of stress & rest, there’s also a right pace to run. On any given week, 50-70% of your runs should be comfortable…not comfortable like sitting on a beach…but comfortable as-in you could hold a conversation and not have the urge to lose your lunch. We all want to run faster, and intervals, tempo runs, and hills make us faster over time. It’s the recovery runs and easy days where we need to consciously throttle back and most of us do not. And it’s this pace that should comprise the majority of our workouts. There’s something to be said for that wise tortoise that just kept moving forward.

In training for my Spring marathon, I’m currently at the stage referred to as monster month. This is the month of training where mileage and speed push you to what seems like the brink. It’s a hard month. And if you’re not careful, it’s the most common time of injury for marathon runners. That being said, it has made me continually evaluate training philosophies and the physiology of running (so please forgive me for the common thread between the two articles this month ;-). But I did learn something new, in my web surfing…

One of the articles that I was reading was the training philosophy and pace calculations by Jack Daniels, cross-country coach of State University of New York and renowned author on distance running. He derived a formula for an alternate VO2 Max, which he calls VDOT. He used this VDOT value to help predict running performances for his athletes, as well as determine optimum training paces for them to improve during both hard and easy workouts. Try this VDOT calculator to check your own recommended training paces based on some recent race results or time trials. It’s a neat tool to help you find the right pace for YOU. Best of luck!

You can find this article and other motivational fitness information in the March 2008 article of The Bullhorn. You can sign up for this free monthly e-zine below.

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