Me, Myself & My Garmin
Part of successful training means employing correct pacing for each of the workouts. In simple terms, run slow when you're supposed to go slow, fast when the session calls for speed. One can't improve training at the same pace (be it consistently/always fast or always slow). There's a time for everything. Even in a distance race (Half Marathon and above), you don't go out at top speed - even an elite will settle back into a steady pace after the initial surge to get a head start.
I've been largely adept at keeping to the pace but in order to reap the rewards of the workouts I need to know the RIGHT pace in which to run the different workouts. For this, I turn to a running calculator widely acknowledged to be the best available - The McMillan Running Calculator. Developed by Greg McMillan (now also a columnist with Running Times), this tool allows me to use my best recent timings to come up with an optimum pace chart for all your workouts. There's one for Endurance, another for Stamina, one for Speed and one for Sprint. The Stamina section is broken down to Steady State, Tempo, Tempo Intervals and Cruise Intervals. Endurance section differentiates the Long Run pace versus Easy and Recovery paces. This calculator is printable and I've one stuck on my office cubicle wall and another at home. I highly recommend this tool.
What's the downside of not running to the correct pace? Injuries for one. Press too hard and you'll end up with overuse injuries. Then there's the plateau. Running at a slow pace (unless you're just running for health and fitness) all the time won't get you to the next level. Finally, there's the burnout, and this can happen mentally and physically when you're unable to recover from previous workouts yet you continue to hammer your next ones. Former elite Ironman, Coach Troy Jacobson has an excellent take on burnout and the often misleading signs of initial improvements. Click here to listen to the MP3 (to download right click and select Save Target As). The Endurance Planet website has loads of great advice and comes highly recommended.
Yesterday I put the Garmin's Interval features to work. I set 6 x 1,000m with 1 minute recoveries in between. I also included warmup and warmdown laps. As I've not familiarized myself with setting the target pace for each interval, I just ran according to gut feel. The workout was to be a Tempo Interval with target pace between 5:13 to 5:23. The weather was great, just after a heavy shower. After a 6:56 warmup, I hit the following splits: 5:13 > 5:02 > 4:57 > 5:06 > 4:56 > 4:46. I brisk walked during the 1 minute breaks. Total workout time including the walkbreaks was 53:29 covering 9.16K. The downside was I didn't have time for a cooldown lap. Did some stretching immediately after the last repeat and again on the bed before I slept. I don't have any soreness in my legs this morning and will do a light recovery jog at 6:50 pace and an easy run of 6:10 pace on Friday before heading to Kuantan on Saturday. Looking at the interval splits I hit, I ran a little fast, but I always felt in control - maybe it was due to being the first ever intervals but will try to readjust to slightly slower the next time.