What to do, what to do . .
I remember when I was in junior college, our track team wore neon yellow t-shirts with a bright pink Nike slogan: Eat right, get lots of sleep, drink plenty of fluids, . . and go like hell!
We were conference champions that year, and I competed in 4 different events.
You just showed up for practice and did what the coach said.
I wish it were still so easy.
Now I design my own training plans, workouts, races, and nutrition. There are so many variables to factor in to know if I should be doing something different. I read a lot of training plans and updates on theories. Way back when, I received a college degree in Exercise Science, so I know a little about how my body adapts to training. I follow the 'no more than 10 percent' increase in training rule. I run the right amount of long runs before a marathon. I know I'm supposed to strength train in the off-season and stretch all the time.
My latest dilemma is pace. I typically run comfortably at around 8:30 pace - an average. It goes up and down. I know my long runs are slower and my speed and pace workouts are faster. What happens, though, when you have a week and you all of a sudden feel comfortable running faster? I know when I start out a marathon and it feels good to run faster and go with the crowd, that I'll end up paying for it later. So, in training, is it a mistake to be running faster if it feels good? How do you know if your conditioning level has simply improved, and that's why you're running faster. What if it feels really slow to run at the pace you were scheduled to run at? I'm talking - that comfortable 8:30 pace went down to under 8:00 this week - all week - culminating in my 10 miler at 7:52 pace. I head out, telling myself, "okay, slow . . . . " thinking that an easy 9:00 minute pace would be good for me, and slow and comfortable ends up at 8:00 minute pace, and then I pick it up.
That's all great and wonderful - I should be thrilled running so fast - in the back of my head I imagine how fast my next race could be. But my smart side says it's too fast too soon. So I took yesterday off. It's gonna screw up my mileage for the week, but I had to listen to my gut. And my legs don't feel so fresh. I know right there that it's obvious I should slow down - if I don't feel fresh - but then again, there are parts of any training plan when you are building or doing speedwork, and you don't always feel fresh. And going slower felt - well - slow. I even tried to do it on the track and pace it out really slow, and I went too fast. If I look at it logistically, it'd be like saying I did tempo runs all week. Bad news for injuries. But my question still remains - how do you know when your fitness level improves and you can train faster and not worry about the ramifications?