There's been an interesting thread on the California Running and Racing Forum over at Runner' World the past couple of days. The topic of discussion is "What's (sic) your running week look like." The thread's author was looking for input on a "typical" training week. The part I found most interesting though was the discussion about the mix of easy versus hard miles - even for those who have been running for many years.
This has become interesting for me for a couple of reasons. First off, I am finding myself on my feet longer and longer these days. A I come up on 50 miles a week it is apparent to me that I can't push hard through all of those miles. I know that I'm supposed to follow a hard workout with an easy workout, but what constitutes easy? And doesn' t "hard" come in two forms? Pace and distance?
Second, one of my running fiends, Lori (Run Along Now) has been bit by the Ultra bug. She recently ran the San Diego 100 (that 100 miles folks). I ran into her the next week at the Magic Shoe 5K. She mentioned something that took a little while to process. She said that the "race" takes a little different tact - you focus on cutoff times. Not on a target pace, but on making sure that you are at the next Aid Station before it closes. Hmm. It took me a few days to realize what she was saying. You run slow. And indeed, as I read through more ultra/trail run reports, I can see where much of those races are done at a slow pace or a brisk walk. But - all those guys are in shape right? And Lori? She just bettered her old marathon PR by 90 minutes!
Well, all this talk of slowing down really resonated when I was reading through the thread yesterday. There it was - clear as day. Folks who are capable of 3:30 and faster marathons saying they run anywhere from 75% to 90% of their miles at easy, conversational pace. Hmm. Maybe I need to slow down and stop worrying about training pace. Run at the pace my body allows me to run. Get out there and put the time in on my feet. Get the miles in the bank. It can be all summed up with one quote in the thread, "train for racing but don't race your training."
So, it was with some renewed vigor that I hit the trails yesterday for my 5 mile recovery run. I felt good the entire distance and got my run in right at 75% of my max heart rate. Right where it was supposed to be. I'm looking forward to what my nine mile GA run has in store for me tonight!