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Intervals, groups and target paces (Read 685 times)


Interval Junkie --Nobby

    When I was training for my first marathon, I was using a training plan cribbed off the inter-webs.  It would schedule an Interval workout and would dictate a 5K, 10K or Marathon pace -30sec or something like that.  I didn't really know my paces so I used McMillan's calculator with things I did know and extrapolated.

     

    When I ran my intervals, I'd have my garmin set for a certain pace-range and when I went High or Low it would bark at me.  This also allowed me to run 1200m or 1mi intervals w/o a track.  Except for a workout or two, I would always complete the assignment in the assigned pace-range.  I'm pretty sure I was "running too hard".  I certainly didn't have "one more interval".  In fact, I was beat. -- I wasn't racing-it, but 90% would be a fair estimate.  Maybe I just skirted injury, but those were very rewarding workouts that left me loving my training.

     

    Now, fast forward to today: I'm doing my interval workouts with the local track club.

    The pace-groups are split by race paces.  Most of the time Coach says, "If you run the 10miler in 70mins, over here . . . " or something like that.  He invariably chooses to reference a race distance I don't know my pace for.  However, I now know I can hang with the lead group, so I just go there.

     

    Coach says to do XXXmeters at 10k pace, then XXXmeters at 5k pace, laying out the workout.  I don't really know those paces.  And I'm not experienced enough to know how to run that pace by feel.  So what I do is hitch a ride with the club runners and just try to keep with them.  The number of intervals are usually such that I'm not too tired after the workout.

     

    The guy who was my partner last week seemed to be a bit faster than me, but within the right zipcode.  I asked him today what his 5K pace is: 6:30/6:15.  Big range, but he hasn't run a 5K in a while.  Still, that's close enough to my sub-20 target that I think he's a good guy to emulate. My last 5k in Feb was about 7:04 pace, but I think I could easily handle 6:40 based on recent tempo runs.  Other people who run in the dense pack are 19:00 runners -- yet, I'm keeping pace with them (I imagine they aren't pushing themselves for some reason?)

     

    So, now my question: my solo-intervals were very locked-down to a pace thought best for my improvement.  The club-intervals are trying to keep up with my betters, without much awareness of actual pace.  Am I doing this right?

     

    BTW: running with a rabbit is so much easier than barking-Betty-Garmin.  


    2014 Goals:  sub-3 Marathon 

    Current Status 11/10: Back to building up miles.  Junk feels mostly okay.  Kinda.

      It'll be interesting to see what you get for answers.

       

      My first reaction to your question is Yes.

       

      I run faster track workouts with a partner than I do alone and they fell easier.  Even if the person I am running with is someone I typically beat in a 5k I run faster and I know I'm pushing him to run faster intervals than what Mcmillian might recommend.

       

      I think there is a huge difference in a 7:04 5k pace and a 6:30 5 k pace though. Most recommendations are to run interval paces based on your current fitness level...not goal.

       

      If you are getting thru them and not extending the rest period between intervals in order to make the next one then I'd say continue on.

        When you are on the track and don't know how to pace your intervals it's good to find someone a bit slower than you who knows how to pace.

         

        Find someone who is about 1 minute slower than you for the 5k and is a solid pacer.  Let that person lead.  Wait to start your interval until 3-5sec/400m lap after that person.  Finish the interval at the same time as your pacer.

         

        You don't need (or want) to go all-out at your intervals; going too fast is about as bad as going too slow so don't try to keep up with someone that you know is significantly faster than you.  Obviously there is a physical benefit to track intervals, but for me it is as important to feel comfortable and relaxed at a pace just a bit faster than my racing pace for the psychological benefit on race day.

          If you can run the workout and complete it without dying then why worry about pace or running too fast? If the effort is controlled this is the very best way to improve, I think. The most common error new runners make is running too hard. The most common error that intermediate runners make is doubting their ability to take it to the next level.

            The thing people often leave out is how much recovery they are taking--and my experience with doing running club track workouts is the recoveries tend to become very long (sometimes laughably long.)  So either you do the workout at the prescribed pace and it's very easy, or you do them way too fast and it winds up being a fairly pointless sprint workout.

             

            The purpose of the workout will determine pace, duration of work and duration of recovery.  All three are equally important.  Screw up the third one and the first two don't even matter.

             

            FWIW, I've hardly ever seen anybody do interval workouts too slow.

            Runners run.

               

              FWIW, I've hardly ever seen anybody do interval workouts too slow.

               

              Agreed! The only way I've discovered to get people to run more reasonable paces is make the reps a little on the long side. Most runners can gut out a 400. Make that a 600 or 800 and the onset of  pain makes them think twice about running much faster than their fitness says they should. I guess the other way is to reduce the recovery and by the 2nd or 3rd rep, the pace becomes more realistic. 

                The thing people often leave out is how much recovery they are taking--and my experience with doing running club track workouts is the recoveries tend to become very long (sometimes laughably long.)  So either you do the workout at the prescribed pace and it's very easy, or you do them way too fast and it winds up being a fairly pointless sprint workout.

                 

                The purpose of the workout will determine pace, duration of work and duration of recovery.  All three are equally important.  Screw up the third one and the first two don't even matter.

                 

                FWIW, I've hardly ever seen anybody do interval workouts too slow.

                 

                This is a really good point. I think I probably overstated the issue and maybe assumed that the workouts were well designed, which as Mikey says is a risky assumption.


                Interval Junkie --Nobby

                  The thing people often leave out is how much recovery they are taking--and my experience with doing running club track workouts is the recoveries tend to become very long (sometimes laughably long.)  So either you do the workout at the prescribed pace and it's very easy, or you do them way too fast and it winds up being a fairly pointless sprint workout.

                   

                  The purpose of the workout will determine pace, duration of work and duration of recovery.  All three are equally important.  Screw up the third one and the first two don't even matter.

                   

                  Good point.  The recovery jogs are about 1:30 to 2mins of jog 200meters (in other words, nearly jog-in-place).  Coach seems to indicate that it should be based on "full recovery" (breathing returning to normal).  I am usually at this point when we start the next interval.  This group doesn't dawdle; sometimes are breaks are a bit shorter.  On my solo runs I'd recover at 9:30 pace (MP + 1:45mi) for about 1min (so, a lot rougher workout).

                   

                  Jeff: I've been keeping up with the workout w/o issue.  I don't feel spent by the end.  And my splits are usually negative. If anything I always feel like the workout could have been 50% longer.  I'm also not going full-out or anything, but I am certainly working to keep with the group.  The effort is controlled, though.

                   

                  It sounds like I'm on the right path, though.  Thanks for guidance.

                  2014 Goals:  sub-3 Marathon 

                  Current Status 11/10: Back to building up miles.  Junk feels mostly okay.  Kinda.