Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Throughout my swimming career - which was 13 years long - I had several really great coaches. Each was great in his/her own way... my age group coach created some of the most unique and challenging workouts I have ever completed. He also knew a lot about stroke technique and really helped me improve my strokes, turns and starts. My two high school coaches were a complementary pair --- one was the greatest motivator and the other really challenged me with difficult sets each and every day. My college coach pushed me further than I thought possible and made me a stronger and faster swimmer.

Although each of my coaches were vastly different in terms of strengths, weaknesses, personality, and character, one commonality they shared was the belief that you cannot reach a goal time unless you know what it feels like to swim that fast. For instance, when I was trying to break the 1 minute mark in the 100 butterfly, I knew that I needed to swim the second 50 yards of the race in 30 seconds (give or take a tenth or two). So my coach would have me do 50 butterfly repeats (with tons of rest) where I had to hit 30 seconds on each one. Or he'd have me do 25s where I had to reach my goal time of 15 seconds on each.

I had to feel it.

I had to know what my goal pace felt like.

I had to be confident while swimming at that pace.

And, therefore, I had to swim at that pace again and again and again and AGAIN.

This belief/training technique is one of the many lessons from swimming I have applied to running. Although I do not need to run every long training run right at my goal pace, I do need to run intervals or shorter distances right at race pace to learn what it feels like and to be confident running at that speed.

My long-term, reach goal for the coming years is to qualify for the Boston Marathon. The qualifying time for my sex and age group is 3:40. 

A 3:40 marathon basically boils down to running my qualifying race at an 8:23 per mile pace.

That is really stinking fast.

I don't know if my body can sustain that type of pace, but I want to give it a try. I want to give it my all. I want to run a marathon aiming for the stars and see how close I can come to grabbing one.

Photo taken while running at an 8:34 min/mile pace at 6:40am.

With that in mind, I have felt the need to feel my goal race pace. Therefore, I have been doing some interval training on Marta (my new treadmill). I have been running quarter and half miles at an 8:34 min/mile pace (yes, a little slower than an 8:23, but I'm just getting back into the swing of things). My plan is to build up to running a mile at this pace and then two and three, four, five, ... And then I can start doing multiple intervals at this pace and mid-distance runs at this pace. All the while building up to a full marathon at a hard-to-believe (for me) 8:23 pace.

I believe that training my body to feel, know, and be confident at this pace will take a lot of time and effort. But I do believe that I am capable of running at this speed and qualifying for the Boston Marathon.

Here's to many more morning runs with Marta where my pace per mile is under 8:30 per mile...


Ruthie said...

If you run the Boston, we will definitely come and cheer you on! I love reading your running posts, since I am such a newbie to running and it is very inspiring for me to read.

WASPY GIRL said...

That's ok. I'm averaging about a 15 minute mile on my treadmill, which surprisingly does not have a name. Perhaps I will name it Rolfe--after the Austrian Nazi sympathizer. It'll be motivation. I'll run all over your, Rolfe. That's what you get for breaking Leisel's heart, you lousy member of the Third Reich!