pace training

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I’ve had a few questions about pace training lately, but I really wanted to wait on addressing those questions until after the half marathon.  Thankfully, the half was extremely successful, so I’m really excited to let you know what I did. 

I am by far NOT an expert on this.  I’ve actually never trained according to “set” paces ever before – I always just ran a comfortably fast pace and would be happy with the results.  However, my goal for training for this half marathon was to NOT lose my 5K speed.  Since I am a shorter distance runner, I didn’t want to slow down to run long.  So, instead of just finding a training plan and saying “Go!”, I also looked into what paces I needed to be hitting in order to keep my 5K speed.

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Side note:  I am LOVING my new Sweat Pink shoes laces!  I think they make my shoes look so much prettier! 😉

Enter the McMillan Running Pace Calculator.  To find the paces you need to run for various running workouts (speed, recovery, and long runs), you enter a recent race time and your goal race time.  Because I was wanting to keep my speed, I used the 5K distance for both of those times.  My recent PR is a 20:57.  My long term goal is under 20, but I wanted to gradually hit that goal, so I made my goal 5K time a 20:30. 

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My “Goal Time” for the half marathon wasn’t too far off – about 40 seconds.  I’ll take it!  Next goal:  see if I can run under 6 minutes in the mile.  (My high school PR is a 6:03.)

Here’s what my pace results looked like:

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I did the majority of my training (like 90% of it) on a treadmill, so I had to convert my 400m and 800m times to miles-per-hour and minutes-per-mile, which turned out to be 10 mph for the 400 and right around 9.5 to 9.8 for the 800.  I’m not going to lie – running 400 repeats at 10 mph TOTALLY freaked me out!  I had never run that fast on the treadmill for more than like 30 seconds – a whole lap around the track at that speed seemed impossible.

However, when I actually attempted that speed on the treadmill, I realized I hadn’t been pushing my speed nearly as much as I could have.  It was like a slap in the face.  No wonder I wasn’t getting faster – I wasn’t working nearly hard enough!

After that, I was hooked!  I can’t imagine training another way!  I am a little looser on my easy run pace– running for comfort for the most part (the faster end of their pace range), but otherwise, I try to stick to those paces.  It’s definitely made me faster and the proof is in that PR!

If you are looking to get faster, I definitely think this is the way to go (along with a proper training plan, cross + strength training, of course).  I’ll be changing up my paces to reflect my current PRs and paces – I’m ready for the sub-20 minute 5K!

Have you ever used McMillan’s Pace Calculator?  Was it successful for you?  Or do you just run at a comfortably fast pace?

  • Jen

    Great post, Kristen! I agree that the treadmill is an awesome training tool!
    Jen recently posted..Why Boston?

  • I’m just getting into serious speed training and pacing, and I’m having the same exact reaction–duuuh why didn’t I do this sooner! 🙂 I was totally underestimating myself too.

    I recently found a similar pace calculator, but the McMillan one is way nicer!! 🙂 I might have to switch. Thanks for sharing that!

    A sub-20 5K still sounds nuts to me. 🙂 But if anyone can do it, it’s you!!
    Kim @ Healthy Nest recently posted..Endure running tank giveaway!

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