Pacing is one of the toughest things to master, even with all the electronic gadgetry available. The reason I say this is that even though heart rate monitors and GPS watches have permeated our lives in every respect, including running, they cannot tell us how we feel. And it is this last point I would like to focus on. About a week ago, I was reading a running article which discussed the “talk test.” The article discussed the effort it takes to talk while running and to use that as a benchmark to determine how you are working to maintain a certain pace. There is no running watch or smart phone app that has figured out a way to tell us if we are running comfortably, yet, but if you are able to run and talk comfortably throughout your workout, then you have hit the right pace. If you find it more and more difficult to talk the longer your run is, then back off the pace until you can talk easier. It’s really that simple.
At this point in your young marathon careers, it is better to run for either mileage or time, but not both. If you have a favorite running loop that you usually run in 30 minutes, but one day you do it in 35, don’t get discouraged. We all have days where our bodies feel dragged down by work and life commitments, and maybe even sleep deprivation. Don’t get stressed out by this and live to run another day. The most important point I can make regarding pace is to not set any expectations for the marathon other than just finishing. Arbitrary time goals, especially for your first marathon, can create unnecessary stress and may even lead to injury as you attempt to push your body faster than it’s ready for.
Stay consistent, follow the plan as it is laid out, and don’t let pacing get in the way of a good run!
Training Tip: Sitting on the Sidelines
We are slightly over one month into the new year and everyone I know has a cold! Aside from putting socks on all the doorknobs to stem the spread of germs, something my wife likes to do, we all inevitably end up getting sick during our training. So, should one continue to run or not while in the throes of a head cold? The best rule of thumb is this: anything from the neck up, you can keep running, but with a caveat (more about this in a moment). Anything from the neck down, where you have a cough or lung infection, then stay of the roads and treadmill. The caveat to all this is if you are suffering with a fever, then no running at all.
Now I know what you’re asking yourself: “What about my training?” Relax! Don’t try to make up for lost training by cramming in extra workouts or mileage, as this can lead you down the road to injury. Depending on how much time you’ve missed, just pick up the program where it currently is and put the missed workouts in the rearview mirror. “What about losing my fitness level,” you ask? Don’t worry too much about this, either. Provided you have been training all this time, consistently, you won’t really lose too much of your fitness if you are forced to take a week off. In fact, aside from feeling a bit sluggish when you return, the loss of fitness would be quite small. Even if you had to stop for two weeks or so, your fitness level would drop only a few percent and you can make up any minor losses once your back to regular training within a couple of weeks.
So keep up with the vitamin C and stop worrying!