A tough day at the 10K

Ever since I ran a PR in the 5K four weeks ago, I have been anticipating this morning’s 10K race.  My 5K finish time improved by almost a minute, so I have been looking forward to seeing similar improvements at the 10K distance.

Instead of achieving a new PR in the 10K, however, I failed to match not only last December’s PR of 50:47 but also last March’s 10K finish time of 52:49.  I ran a 53:27.

I had set my target pace as 8:02 minutes per mile and I was able to keep this pace for the first 3 miles.  In the middle of mile 4, however, I felt I had no energy and sagged to an 8:30ish pace.  In mile 5 I slowed down to a 9:00ish pace and slowed down to a 9:40ish pace in mile 6.

I checked my heart rate data after the race was over.  Clearly, by the time I had finished up mile 3, I was maxed out on my heart rate.  In fact, in last months 5K, even though I was running faster, my heart rate was a little bit lower than it was this morning.  No wonder I had trouble in the final three miles.

My lesson learned from this is that I am going to use a combination of pace and heart rate in my next race, a half marathon.  If nothing else, using heart rate along with pace as a guide to how fast I run in that race will prevent me from feeling horrible at around mile 10 or mile 11.

I’m not upset about this morning’s result.  I’m a non-injured runner.  And non-injured runners should always be happy runners.

Some pre 10K race thoughts

Based on my own personal race predictor calculator (as discussed in my previous post), I should be able to finish this weekend’s 10K in 49:58, just under the 50 minute barrier.  Most of the online race predictor calculators believe I can do even better than that.

So, do I play it conservative and only focus on breaking 50?  Or do I go for broke and try to do even better, breaking the 8 minutes per mile average pace barrier as well?  This would require running the race at about 49:30 or so.

There isn’t really that much difference between the two strategies, really.  The conservative strategy says I need an average pace of just about 8:02.6 and that’s very close to breaking the 8 minutes per mile barrier already.  In reality, once I am running, how I feel early in the race tends to dictate what I do and this almost always pulls me to the more conservative side in terms of strategy.

Why?  I run almost all of my training in a Maffetone style.  This means almost all of my runs are run at a very easy pace, almost as slow as I can run or jog while still actually running or jogging as opposed to fast walking.  So, when I race, I am running at a pace that is very unfamiliar to me.  This is where perhaps there is some value in doing a little bit of speed work, just to become familiar with how running at race pace feels prior to the race.  

In the 5K that ran last month, I was a little uncomfortable running faster than I had in a long time.  But I got a PR out of it.  I accomplished this with zero speed work in the past 3 months.  So, I have not changed my training in the wake of this accomplishment.

Assuming things go well, and even if they don’t, a full race report should be available sometime this weekend.