A sneaky half approaches…
The Adidas Silverstone Half Marathon has snuck up on me. I mean, I knew the date, I knew it was coming, but it has still come around faster than expected. It’s also a build-up race to Paris, so I admit I haven’t been focussing on it as much as I should have been.
The reason is probably my calf and subsequent interrupted training schedule. As many of you know I’ve been recovering from a calf injury which was caused by weak glutes and a resultant biomechanical flaw, meaning my training this year has been focussing more on technique and strength rather than mileage. That said, I have done long runs over 21km/13miles in the last few weeks so the distance of the half doesn’t phase me, it’s just that I don’t really know what my goal time or pace should be.
This is unusual for me because in the past almost all of my training has been pace-based. However, when you’re doing intervals or hill sprints, pace loses importance over ‘perceived effort’. Also, my longer runs have been on trail (where pace changes drastically depending on ground condition and gradient) to avoid long, same-pace runs in favour of more challenging runs to build strength. My work with The Running School has been about reinforcing my body to build strength and avoid overuse injuries, not go faster.
This has however left me without a good idea of a goal time or pace for the half-marathon. to try and fix this, for my run on Sunday I decided to return to the road to try and convert ‘perceived effort’ into ‘pace’. My plan called for a 16km/10mile run, so after my warmup I did 5km at an easy-ish pace before ramping up to what I thought my half-marathon pace would be – ‘comfortably hard’ – and holding it for 11km/6.5miles. I define ‘comfortably hard’ as breathing deeply and fully in a 3-3 or 2-2 rhythm, but not pushing like in a 10km, or slow like in a marathon. In terms of the talk-test, I would be able to talk a few words at a time, but not hold a conversation.
As my Garmin has a page for heart rate and training zone, I figured ‘comfortably hard’ would equate to about zone 4.5, the bottom of zone 4 being for a marathon pace and the top of zone 4 being threshold or a bit quicker than 10k pace. On the run I tried keeping my heart rate around zone 4.5, the result being my paces were roughly 5:05 – 5:10/km, with a few slightly faster sections under 5:00/km. I obviously had a tail wind in those sections…
Last night I plugged 5:05/km and 5:10/km into the Cool Running pace calculator and it gave me a goal time of 1:47 to 1:50 for the half marathon. Recently my long runs have been about 2:10 for half marathon distance including walk and refuelling breaks, plus they’ve been slower due to being on trail, so to be aiming for about 1:50 in road race conditions feels about right. I also felt comfortable in the run and could have gone on for the next 5km without too much issue, albeit I would have needed a water break and a gel to keep that pace up. Overall, recovery has been good too. This morning I was stiff but did my Ekhart yoga for runners (thanks Fit for 365 for the tip on this one) and as a write this I feel quite good, certainly recovered enough that I’ll be able to run tomorrow.
So, now I have a goal pace and time for the race the sneaky half-marathon is out in the open and has nowhere to hide. I’m facing it head on and I’ve decided to set out at 5:10/km pace for a 1:50 finish, with the optimum result to negative-split and finish in the high 1:40’s. Fingers crossed of course, but I think with a taper this week, proper rest and the race-day performance addition of aid stations and gels this should be achievable. But like I said, fingers crossed!
Is anyone else racing this weekend? How are your plans going?
Happy running everyone!
Get Going, Get Running!