Practicing 10K Race Strategies

I've been following a 10K training plan to finish in under 60 minutes, at a 9:38 pace. I figured I wouldn't actually be able to make that time given that I still have yet to finish a 5K in under 30 minutes. 9:38 is a very tough, nearly max effort for me. To sustain it for a 5K is doable, but I know it will be impossible to sustain it for a 10K. I know if I start out at that hard a pace, I'll burn out quickly. So I've come up with a new strategy and tested it on this morning's tempo run.

The strategy is Coach Jenny's--run the first third at an easy pace, the second third at a moderate pace, and the final third at a hard pace. This morning I broke my three tempo miles into a 10:00 pace for the first mile, a 9:50 pace for the second mile, and a 9:38 pace for the last mile, with a final .01 mile sprint. I think it worked really well for me. The first mile felt easy, the second didn't feel too tough, and while the third felt tough, I had enough energy to push hard.

The only thing that is still a challenge is keeping to a consistent pace. I set my Garmin to "pace," and when I started my first mile, I would look down and see I was at a 9:30 pace, then slow up and see I was at a 10:30 pace, then speed back up to see that I was at a 9:40 pace, etc. But I kept checking my Garmin and finally figured it out for the most part and got the feel for the different paces. Next time, I might check my heart rate instead of pace, which might give me a better indicator of my effort.

The other thing I practiced was something I should have been doing all along. When I'm pushing hard and running at a very hard pace, all I think about is how hard it is and all I want to do is check my Garmin to see how much farther I have to go. Today I brought my yoga practice to my run. I focused on staying calm, centered, strong, and present and tried to stop the "This sucks!" and "When will this be over?" thoughts. I think that also worked well and made the hardest part of the run bearable. I definitely want to continue practicing this; it will be a great strategy to use in races.

Distance: 4.40 miles | Time: 46:29 | Pace: 1 mile @ 10:00; 2nd mile @ 9:50; 3rd mile @ 9:38; sandwiched in between 1.40 miles at 11:30

NOTE: I will be away from this blog through the weekend. Happy running for the rest of this week and weekend. I'll be back with a fun post early next week!

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