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Tempo pace - ac
Hey Coach. I'm a 54y/o male that recently started back running after a 15 year hiatus. I ran a 26:45 5K last year. This year with 10 weeks of base running (25-30 minutes a day, 3 days a week, 11:05 pace) I ran a 20:12 5K. I tried adding tempo runs to my training by simply adding 30-40 seconds/mile to my new race pace (6:30/mile). However, when I tried to run this pace (7:05/mile) it felt very hard (9/10,) I struggled to go 20 minutes and my HR was at 175+ (my max is 182 tested). So, I then tried to set my tempo pace to the appropriate HR 154-164bpm (80-84% max). However, this equates to a 7:40/mile pace? The 2 suggested tempo paces are vastly different. Whats going on? Which one should I use, if either? Please help. -AC,
reply - Coach janet
Hi AC - part of the challenge to your situation is that your fitness base appears to be pretty narrow. If I understand you correctly - you were logging about 9-10 miles a week total, doing your easy pace runs at an 11 min pace? This is certainly fine - and appropriate for such a low mileage base but might be a bit slow for the recent fitness data point of a 20:12 5k finish. Easy pace for that fitness level might be closer to a 9:20 pace. The other part of the challenge is understanding the definition of a "tempo" run. In my experience teaching coaching certification classes, you can ask a room full of "experienced" coaches what a Tempo run is and you'll get a wide variety of answers -- so, thinking about how you "set your tempo" pace by HR -- did you use the Karvonen formula to account for your resting HR? If not - that could have introduced some more error into the estimation process.
Here is an option to think about: in an average 12 week specific training cycle it might be realistic to improve race performance by 2-4% (target finish for next race might be 19:25-19:48). So basing off your recent 5k of 20: 12 you might consider running some limited mileage each week at a 7:00 to 7:10 pace but you need enough mileage base to support any sustained effort at that pace. I'd start with perhaps half mile repeats, or maybe a couple of 1 mile repeats with a recovery interval Generally if you want to sustain that pace for a couple of miles I'd encourage you to be at a weekly mileage base over 20 per week. That pace of 7-7:10 shoud represent a pace that feels "comfortably hard" but sustainable. If you feel it's "too hard" or "can't sustain"... then shorten the duration. You'd be wise to include this workout no more than once a week. Hope this is food for thought? Feel free to reach out if I can assist. Best regards - Coach Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS, USATF-level 1, RRCA certified coach.
First Marathon question - Ciara
I am on the verge of signing up for a marathon that is 5 months away. This would be my first marathon. However I'm an active person and have done 10Ks, 5Ks, and have a half marathon planned 3 months from now. I have a fun 16 mile mountain bike race the weekend before the marathon is planned. This is something I planned to do for fun and not nessecarily train for. Is this something you would reccommend or would you tell me to find another marathon?,
Reply - coach janet
Hi Ciara - depending on your recent mileage base, 20 weeks to train up for a first marathon might be adequate, but keep in mind that when it comes to marathon training - time is your friend. With a little more planning, you could have some wiggle room in the schedule to allow for training interruptions due to life stuff, illness, events along the way, etc. So now to answer your key question - should you do a 16 mile mountain bike race the weekend before? In my experience, especially for first time marathoners, there's no substitute for a good taper phase and toeing the line with well trained, but also well rested legs. I'm thinking the mountain bike race the weekend before is not in your best interest. Even if you do it for "fun" - it's still going to deplete your reserves a bit.
I find that it helps to consider a longer training cycle - perhaps 26 weeks - and to make sure you start that training cycle from a position of strength (current weekly mileage of about 24 miles a week or more, with long-runs in the recent weeks of ~8 miles or so. Good luck - if I can be of further assistance don't hesitate to reach out. Coach Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS, USATF-level 1, RRCA certified coach
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