Tuesday, September 14, 2010

When negative is a positive

Today's run (street): 2.8 miles at 9:01

Yesterday afternoon I caught up with CK, one of my running advisers, and we talked about what it takes to run negative splits, especially over distance. I've had experiences in races where I'm overtaken on the last mile by people who seem to come out of nowhere. Though I struggle to keep from being passed I'm not usually successful. I told CK that my speed tends to degrade along a linear slope and that my end pace is often 30 seconds (or more) per mile slower than when I start. CK said that if that's the case I'm probably going out too fast and that a slower start on longer runs will provide a stronger finish. He also said that once a week I should do shorter distances (e.g., 2 miles) and run at race pace to build my speed.

I thought about that this morning as I prepared for my morning run. My calf muscles are still very tight from Sunday's practice run and I wasn't sure whether to start fast and finish fast or experiment with the "Start slow, finish strong" idea. About ten steps in I knew that I could handle some speed and after a minute I picked up the pace. My form felt misaligned during the first mile and that prevented me from settling into an efficient rhythm but after about eight minutes things seemed to come together. I planned to run more than two miles so I tried to keep aware of my speed and cadence and, as I moved past the two mile mark, I picked up my pace even more. The result was a credible 9:01 but, better still, I tracked negative splits after the first mile. I don't consider today a speed workout but it was directionally positive. Tomorrow I'll focus even more on my pace and leave stamina building for the weekend. CK and I may do a lunchtime training run in Central Park on Monday -- five miles including those hills above the reservoir. I can't say I love the idea but I need to be prepared for the James Street challenge.

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