Archive for walk breaks

“Running is 90% mental and 10% mental.”

Posted in meals, running info with tags , , , on May 6, 2010 by naight

So, this past Sunday was the Avenue of the Giants half marathon.

I honestly had no idea what was going to happen, going into this. I had never run a solo-half before (though certainly many runs over 13 miles training for the first marathon, 6 months ago).

To complicate things, I was pretty exhausted. I hadn’t had a day of rest since Wednesday, and the 6 mile run I did on Saturday really tired me out, and had caused the deep bruise in my left foot to flare up (AGAIN). Gotta stop doing runs in regular shoes! Always makes it worse!

To FURTHER complicate things, I didn’t really have much rest the night before. I just didn’t sleep well in the hotel up in “Garberville” or wherever we were. Maybe 5-6 hours of sleep, total.

I thought, alright, let’s see if we can somehow pull of an 8min mile pace. I didn’t think I’d be able to maintain it, but wanted to try really hard to have even splits for the first and last 6.5 miles.

So, for the actual run, imagine my surprise when I looked down at my watch at mile 2, right as it ticked 15 minutes even. “Shit,” I thought. “I’m gonna have to tell everyone that my time is so shitty because I started out so fast.”

But, as the miles 3 and 4 creeped by, and I was able to hold the same pace, I fell into stride with a wonderful older lady (I found out later her name was Ann, she was 52, and such a sweetheart), and decided that I could just go for it.

The pace felt good enough that I was able to keep up conversation with her from time to time (50% of our talking was about my shoes, frankly), and I was even able to take 30 second walk breaks at each aid station and then catch back up.

Interesting note: at the second aid station, at mile 4 or so, I fell behind her about 75yards maybe, and spent the better part of half a mile trying to catch up. After “trying” for maybe 3 or 4 minutes, I wasn’t any closer than 50 yards, still, and had a very definitive moment. “Shit,” I thought. “If I don’t catch her, this is going to be exactly like the marathon–lose the pace group, lose motivation, finish way slower than I’d like.”

“So, NO,” I thought, “don’t let her get away!” So I picked up the pace, and slowly caught back up. Which was awesome, because once I caught her, I was able to just go back into ‘coast’ mode. So, when we crossed the “turn-around” point at mile 6.5, at pretty much the exact same time, we were 49 minutes in, on the dot. I realized I was JUST behind the 7:30 pace (I had lost 30 seconds over the course of 6.5 miles), but I felt great.

So did Ann, apparently, because I slowly started pushing a bit harder, and she most definitely kept up. And on the return trip, same thing: walked every aid station (30 seconds), and slowly caught up to her again.

At mile 12, I still felt good. My calves and feet were really tired (the longest I had run in those shoes so far was just 7 miles), but no real complaints. I had just about caught back up to the 7:30 pace (those 30 seconds had almost been whittled back off the time–we crossed the 12 mile mark at ~1:30:05–just 5 seconds over now!).

So, I decided to just GO for it. I started to really pick up the pace for the last mile. Funnily enough, this lasted about half the mile, because the whole last mile was a very slow uphill, and I got pretty tired pretty quick, and decided to just do a comfortable push, not really “let’s go be awesome” push.

Finish line time: 1:37:43. Overall, a 7:27 pace–which was a faster second half!

A few notes on a few things.

I ran these in my Vibram KSOs. As mentioned, this was my first race in them, indeed my first run over 7 miles. I was about 4 weeks into the training.

I felt great at the time, but in these few days after, my legs/feet have been paying the price a little bit. I’m sore in a bad way in my left foot (still), but it’s just a slight over-use strain, I think. I’ve been keeping my foot taped up (to hold it together, as when I put down pressure on it, and the tarsals spread, this is what leads to the pain), and it’s been helping.

Also feeling some slight irritation in my achilles tendon in both ankles, but this is more of a “I’m just sore, this’ll pass quickly” kinda thing.

The shoes are wonderful, though. I had like 9 million people ask me questions about them as I was running/before running/after running, and I even saw 4 other people during that day who were wearing them. It was pretty great.

As for aid station stops, the notion here is to take a slight break every 2 miles or so (whenever the aid stations are). These breaks serve two purposes. One, you can drink water more easily, not spill it everywhere, not get wet, etc.

Two, and more importantly, it allows you a slight breather. Allowing yourself, say, 13-18 walk breaks over the course of a marathon (of 30 seconds, at approx. half your running speed), is, on average, 15×15 seconds of time, total, lost. So, about 3-4 minutes longer for your overall run, but imagine the benefit: instead of running 26 miles in one go, you’re just doing 13-15 ~2 mile runs, with a slight breather between. The difference may sound marginal, or even counter-intuitive, but it’s a widely-used strategy. Obviously the elite of the elite don’t, but people have run sub 2:20 races walking through every aid station. I can’t recommend the walking strategy highly enough.

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