Pacing Redux: I no longer suck at pacing!

At the East Nasty Wednesday run a few weeks ago, I got to talking to a couple girls before the run. One of them had also ran the Country Music Half and asked what my time was. I assumed they were faster than me (as most people are) and told her my time, quickly followed by “which was a good time for me and faster than my goal time.” She said that she ran a 2:26, just a minute faster, so we must be around the same level! And then it came time for the run to start and she took off with the 9:30 min/mi pace group. Um, nope. Not the same level.


I don’t know what her goals are for her mid-week runs, but, except for my weekly speed work and the occasional goal pace run, my runs should all be done at easy pace. But the truth is most runners probably run too fast most of the time (myself included). If that works for them, great, but it’s the main reason overuse injuries happen, and we all know that I am way too injury prone to be running faster than I need to be.

I know what you are thinking. “But if you want to be faster, you have to run faster, right?” And that is true, to some extent. That’s why speed workouts exist. But just increasing mileage will also help you perform better by having your muscles adapt and you can do this with less chance of injury if you run slow. There’s a great post over on Runblogger about this topic.

The easiest way to figure out your easy pace is to plug a recent race time into a pacing calculator. I’ve mentioned the McMillan calculator before. Using my half marathon time, it says my easy runs should be between 11:35 and 12:16 min/mi, long runs should be between 11:37 and 12:45 min/mi, and recovery jogs should be between 12:27 and 13:23 min/mi. The Jack Daniels’ (not the whiskey) calculator says easy runs should be between 12:46 and 13:31 min/mi (the site says this includes recovery and long runs) and marathon pace runs (which I guess if you aren’t training for a marathon is also a pretty easy pace) should be 11:31 min/mi. Thus, we can conclude that the majority of my runs should be between 11:30 and 13:30 right now.

So let’s see how I’m doing.

Here are the last 20 training runs I did before the half marathon (minus the Richland Creek race). The two runs highlighted in green don’t count because they were speed workouts (although one of them didn’t go well and ended up in easy run pace territory anyway).


Out of the 18 other runs, 12 of them were run at 11:30 pace or slower. That’s not too shabby. Most of the ones that were ran faster were done in my taper leading up to the race where I wasn’t doing any super hard workouts anyway and running less distance per week. Out of the other two, one was a goal pace run (aiming between 11:15 and 11:45 but went a little fast) and one was truly ran too fast. I think that’s overall a pacing success! And the result? I never got injured the entire training cycle AND ran faster than my goal!

Compare that to a year ago when I still hadn’t gotten the hang of running different paces and ended up getting injured. I did the same thing last September/October. I ran a ~33 min 5k distance in training but couldn’t match it in my races and then got injured. Classic overtraining.

The main problem as I start this next training cycle? If I want to continue running with the East Nasty group on Wednesdays, I’m typically going to be running those miles faster than easy pace. (See that 10:34 for East Nasty in the chart above? That was a six mile run!) They only go up to 10 min/mi pace groups. There’s another group, the Lasty Nasties, that leave fifteen minutes early and most of them do run/walk intervals. I’ve thought about running with them to keep my pacing easy, since I’m prone to running too fast on Wednesdays due to this.

Do you vary your paces in training?

Week of 3/3/14 – 3/9/14: Country Music Half Training, Week 8

You’ll notice some of my runs got swapped around this week. My grandmother sadly passed away early Wednesday morning after a long battle with Alzheimer’s, so I was in Clarksville for most of the week. I decided to do my longer runs on Thursday and Friday, since the funeral was on Saturday, and I wanted to get out during the weekdays to get my mind off of everything.

week of 3/3/14 to 3/9/14


I went to the gym Tuesday night. I had left my Garmin at Jonathan’s accidentally, so I decided to do a ladder workout.

“What is a ladder workout?” you ask. Ladder workouts are comprised of intervals that vary in length, either increasing or decreasing in incremental steps. They are usually used for speed training and can be done on a treadmill, a track, or anywhere. I was just using them to break up treadmill monotony so I just ranged from easy to tempo pace.

Here is how my ladder workout worked: I started at 4.8, which I ran at for 6 minutes. Then I took a 1 minute recovery at 3.5. Then I ran at 5.0 for 5 minutes. Then recovered. 5.2 for 4 minutes…you get the picture. I went up to 5.8 for 1 minute, then went back down the ladder (stopping at the end of the 5.2 interval since I reached my 3 miles at that point).

(A track ladder workout, on the other hand, might look something like: run at half marathon pace for 1600 meters, recover, then run at 10k pace for 800 meters, recover, then run at 5k pace for 400 meters.)

I watched “Dumbo” on Netflix while I did this. I had no issues. No aches. No side stitches. It was actually kind of fun. I might start doing them more.

No strides this week since I’m being ginger with my training at the moment.


Thursday’s run was supposed to be my usual 5 mile easy run, but the route I like to run around where my parents live is closer to 6.5 miles, so that is what I did. I still didn’t have my Garmin, so I set up Strava to record my run and report my progress every half mile. So I took walk breaks at the start of each half mile that lasted usually a minute or less. I didn’t have any issues other than a nasty blood blister that I developed. I’d post a picture, but I don’t want to gross anyone out.


Since I had done 6.5 instead of 5 on Thursday, I subtracted 1.5 miles from my long run, making it 9.5 miles instead of 11. My legs were very tired going into the run, which was the point, and they were extremely exhausted after I was done. But I did it!


Time for that 30 minute tempo run that didn’t go well last week. I was also going for it outside, which meant I didn’t have the treadmill to ensure I was keeping pace. We all know that I suck at pacing.

I started off with an easy mile to warmup, which I did in 12:45. Just where I wanted. I took a brief walk break right at the end of the interval before the start of my 30 minutes. Then it was time: half an hour at tempo pace, which is, for me, 10:45-11:15 min/mi. I had set up Runkeeper to give me audible feedback on my pace every three minutes, so I was excited when after the first three minutes, it said I was at 11:09 min/mi. Perfect. It was a comfortably hard pace, just like a tempo run is supposed to be. And I maintained it (well, actually got a little faster) for the entire 30 minutes. I ended up going a little faster than my tempo pace towards the end, which I could tell I was doing, but I felt good. So maybe I finally learned how to pace?

tempo run pacing

I suck at pacing.

I’ve really been trying to get better at pacing. (How many times have you seen me mention that I was going too fast and wore myself out too quickly?) There’s lots of online pacing calculators out there, but I really like the McMillan Running Calculator because not only does it tell you what your pace should be on race day, but also what pace your training runs should be at.

You plug in recent race data. I’m plugging in a 35 minute 5k, even though I can run it faster than that. But I know I can do 35 minutes pretty consistently now and the one mile pace it lists is very close to my one mile PR.

Running Calculator

As you can see, if I keep training at this same level, I should be able to run about 1:13 at my 10k in July and 2:42 at my half marathon in January. You can also enter a goal race pace to see what you should aim for, but for now, I just want to mainly focus on endurance over speed.

Running Calculator

The training paces is where it gets really interesting. There are several different types of training runs you can do. The majority of all runs should be easy runs, which are done around 1-2 min/mile slower than race pace. Long runs should be done once a week or once every other week and they are mainly to build endurance and should be ran fairly slow. In my case, around a 13 min/mile. Recovery runs are done after hard workouts to help you recover (wonder where they got the name…) and are the slowest of all your runs. In my case, this is called walking, as I find it impossible to run that slow. Tempo runs are meant to increase speed over time, and these are what the majority of runs tend to fall into, which leaves my heart rate soaring and me horribly out of breath at the end.

Here’s the average paces for my last 20 runs:

Most of these are not just straight runs, but run/walk intervals. I starred all the ones that had no walk breaks at all. And you can see that none of them fall into the “endurance pace” I should be running; they are all at least 1 min/mile faster. Even the ones with walk breaks don’t fall into that pace category, which means my running sections were probably way too fast (and no wonder I needed the walk breaks!).

I really try to slow myself down, especially as I start training for longer distances and doing regular long runs. I just find it so hard because it feels like I’m crawling and like it almost takes more energy to go that slow. Does anyone have any tips?