Monday, August 23, 2010

Lesson learned: start focusing on stamina and distance

One thing that became clear to me during yesterday's race was my need to put more focus on distance. The performance gains I had made in prior weeks were seductive and they caused me to think too much about only one dimension of my performance. Four miles run in the mid 8's was a welcome improvement over the mid-9 minute paces I had been averaging over the summer. With everything I'd been reading about the importance of speed work and tempo runs it seemed logical to work on improving pace, especially when measurable gains appeared. As I faced the last couple of miles on the trail yesterday morning I began to regret the lack of longer training runs over the last month. Sure, I could run a decent pace for three or four miles but what happens to my mechanics when that distance is doubled?

After actively returning to running two years ago I've steadily increased my speed and distances to the point where I run mostly in the low 9's and do weekend distances up to about 8 miles. Due to time constraints I've rarely been able to run more than 20 miles per week, with most of my longer runs happening on Saturdays and Sundays. Having a whole hour to run is a luxury and using yesterday's performance as a yardstick that only gets me about six miles. So finding enough time for real distance running is its own challenge. I've really enjoyed the long slow distance (LSD) runs where length, not speed, were the goal. That may be one reason why I prefer trail running; the course and the terrain are so variable that pace becomes less relevant. This weekend I'm hoping to get in at least one long run to help prepare for the Cow Harbor 10K in late September. Distance should help my stamina and once that's improved I can again start thinking about my pace.

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