I have been running since April 2012 and for the most part am loving it. However, for the past few months I feel like I have been doing everything at the same pace. My shorter (6km) runs and longer (10-12km) runs all seem to be at the 5:15-5:40/km pace, this seems pretty comfortable to me. Lately I have been trying to run more and increasing my daily 6km runs to 10km and eventually increasing my longer runs.
My issue is that I have never raced, and am running for enjoyment/fitness. In the summer I was able to run 5KM in 24 minutes when pushing myself, and after more months of running behind me I may be able to get that down more. I do want to get faster, but am not logging the miles many here do (about 35-40km per week right now). I'm just not sure if I am hurting any kind of progress doing everything at what is essentially a medium-hard pace?
If you are running for fitness and enjoyment, and you are fulfilling those...how can it be bad? My primary goal is the same as yours and I know that I will never be "fast" (although that is subjective). I do enter races, but it's more for personal reasons than anything. I don't harbor any illusions of winning my division or anything else. If you feel you should push yourself more, then by all means do so. But I don't see that if you're loving it and getting fulfillment from it, how it can be bad. Just my perspective. For the record, I would be hard pressed to run 5K in 24 minutes, so you have my respect.
You're not hurting anything but you won't get the most improvement. Mix up the intensity of your runs and you'll see more gains. Putting a 24 minute 5k into McMillan gives the following paces:
Recovery jog: 6:10-6:38 per km
Long run: 5:30-6:19 per km
Easy: 5:29-6:10 per km
Tempo: 4:57-5:06 per km
Mix in one tempo run with your weekly training and sandwich it between easy and/or recovery paced runs. You can also start incorporating one speed workout per week, maybe 400m or 800m intervals with a 200m or 400m recovery respectively. Start with 4 or 5 repeats and work up to 10 - 12 intervals with a mile or two warm up and cool down. Adding hills to your workouts will help you get faster and stronger too.
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Variety is the spice of life...
Add in some speed work, if you don't like it, subtract it. Just don't ever let running get boring. Like Banshee said, you're not hurting anything, but you're not getting max. improvement. Most of the advice that gets thrown around is based on achieving maximums. If the maximums are not what is important to you, then do whatever best balances your improvement/fitness/enjoyment goals.
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I am a strong proponent of variety and think it helps with injury prevention as well as helping to keep you from being bored. The latter is one of the reasons people quit exercising. They get tired of doing the same thing over and over and over and over.
Short term goal: 17:59 5K
Mid term goal: 2:54:59 marathon
Long term goal: To say I've been a runner half my life. (I started running at age 45).
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I agree with TheBanshee, it won't hurt you, but you won't improve much either. Think about it, if you want to run a certain pace in a race, yet you never run that pace in training, what would make you think you can race that way? (You rhetorical that is). Obviously large doses of speed work are also counterproductive but to improve, at least after awhile, you'll need to mix it up.
Mile 5:49 - 5K 19:58 - 10K 43:06 - HM 1:36:54
I am following Pfitz marathon plan and he states it something like this:
If all runs are monopaced, or comfortably hard(like we do when we are new and getting our miles up), then you can't recover enough to run hard intervals or speedwork(too tired from running too quickly for too long) to get faster,
which then makes your intervals/speedwork slower with less benefit,
which then makes you not fatigued enough to run your recovery runs slow,
which then makes you run your LRs too fast, which then makes you too tired for speedwork or intervals...
You are tired when you shouldn't be and not tired when you should be,
which results in more monopacing,
which results in not making progress,
which makes us bored and quit.
I really like that, NBT!
Thanks for all the replies. I was thinking of running 1KM at race pace (as fast as I can) and then the next 1KM at recovery pace, and so on. Its just 1KM is easier for me to gauge, or should I really try to stick to 400/800M intervals instead?
Looking at the McMillan times that were posted (thanks) I suppose I am not far off tempo/long run paces, however I have never run at the recovery pace. Is this something everyone does? How long (or what %) of mileage should be at this pace? I know there are no set in stone rules but the more I run the more I am curious about all this stuff! What also throws me off a bit is I play soccer every Saturday and I guess this in itself could kind of be a type of interval run as my legs are usually trashed the next day during my run.
I had fallen into the mundane world of diminishing variety recently. I'm pushing out of that however. I think NBT's post sums it up nicely.
Tom (formerly known as PhotogTom)
5K - 25:16, 10K - 55:31, 15K - 1:20:55, HM - 1:55:21