To Garmin or Not?

I’ll be toeing the start line of the Navy Air Force Half Marathon in a week and a half. This race completely snuck (is that a word?) up on me. Not in an I’m not ready for it kind of way – just in a I can’t believe mid-September is here already kind of way. I’ve been running like crazy and I’m more than ready for it distance-wise. In the last 8 weeks I’ve done 6 long runs in the range of 15-20 miles plus a 10-12 miler during the week each week.

I won’t lie though, I’m really nervous about pacing. While this isn’t a goal race necessarily, it’s a great chance to see where I’m at in my training, an opportunity for redemption after missing my goal at the Nike Women’s Half in D.C. earlier this year and it covers much of the same ground that I’ll have to face during Marine Corps Marathon in October.  No doubt I can do the distance, but I’ve been embracing the long slow run concept and keeping my long runs a bit slower than my marathon goal pace to avoid injury/burnout and to mimic the amount of time I’ll be on my feet come race day. This worked great for me at the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, but I still haven’t attempted it for a successful half or any full marathons, so despite all the expert advice, I’m still skeptical.

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I’ve rattled off plenty of miles during other weekly runs at goal pace and my track workouts have me going at even faster paces, yet I won’t be totally convinced until I see the results on race day. I’m a big-time data recorder and religiously track my mile split times on my Garmin. I know it’s not completely accurate, but I’m also constantly looking at the current pace during races as well to make sure I stay on track. Even if I don’t look at the watch throughout my training runs, I often (over-) analyze each mile time and what it means after I’m done.

Based on my Garmin-centric, data-obsessed running personality I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m actually considering running the half without a watch. Shudder. I wonder if I just base things off of effort if I’ll be able to maintain my pace and get my goal without the obsessive time checking? I’ve also heard of people who go even faster because they don’t see a pace that should be too hard for them on the watch and slow down because of it. What if I just miss my goal time though? Will I be kicking myself for not wearing a watch? From what I can find on the website, it doesn’t look like this race will have pace groups, so I can’t just tag along with one of those and know my time without actually knowing my time.

I haven’t made a final decision on this yet, but am thinking it might be worth a shot. I’d love to hear from you all – have you ever raced without a watch? How’d it work for you? Even if you haven’t tried it, do you think it could be a good idea or a disastrous one? Comment away – should I Garmin or not??

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Loving the Track!

I know I just talked about how much I’m loving my new group track workouts with DCRunningCoach yesterday, but after another great one last night, I can’t say it enough. I’ve been doing track workouts on my own for quite some time now, but now I’m learning the right way to do them.

Lets start with the warm-up. I know it’s good to do active stretching, but my 2-minute breeze through of a Runner’s World active warm-up routine (they obviously recommend spending more time on it) clearly wasn’t cutting it. Our group warms up together under Coach Mike’s lead. We do marching, skips, high knees, butt kicks, backwards walking (I’m so bad at this one!), side shuffles and more.

The repeats. I had general pace times in mind before when I went to the track, but once I got there I usually just ran as fast and as hard as I could leaving my split times all over the place. Now I’m learning how to pace myself and hit a split dead on every time. I’ve got a ways to go on this. Coach Mike has already told me more times than I’d like to admit that anyone can beat the coach’s time, but a good runner will hit the goal time every time.

Last night I had 8X800 meter repeats at 3:42 on the docket. As usual I went out too fast doing the first four reps in 3:37, 3:35, 3:37, 3:36 at which point I was told my breathing showed I was going too hard. I’m supposed to aim to hit these repeats at my tempo pace right now, which Coach defines as comfortably hard – not a sprint or a 5k pace!  Sent on a mission to hit the last four all on pace I came pretty close knocking each one of them out in 3:41!

Finally, the rest period. I used to do an active rest, which I don’t think is a bad thing, but I’m quickly realizing I gave myself way too much time to catch my breath and relax before starting again. My recent workouts have all had only one minute rest between repeats, and I can tell that that is making me a stronger runner.

Do you integrate track workouts into your program? What’s the verdict – do you love or hate the track?!

On another note, I saw this contest today for a free tee on MilePosts – a running blog I love to read. I’ll be honest, I selfishly don’t normally share contests that I’d like to win, but since I actually already own one of these tees I figured why not. It’s one of my favorite t-shirts – super soft and comfy. I just wear it as a regular tee, but you could run in it as well. I LOVE the saying Dorothy from MilePosts put on them – I Run this Body – so motivating! It also says Dream Big, Run Long in smaller letters. There looks to be a ton of entries already, but hey, it’s worth a shot!

Rocking my I Run This Body Tee!

Rocking my I Run This Body Tee!

Footprints: Monday Morning Recap

Last week started off tough. I was really sore – a couple days of hard running and not keeping up with my stretching and foam rolling had taken its toll. I made up for it with a couple days of serious rolling, stretching and icing and finished the week strong. I’m really enjoying the new training plan I’m on and also liking the group track workouts. We don’t all do the same workout, but it’s nice to have other people in it with you.

Here’s the day by day breakdown…

Monday: After not fitting in the previous week’s track workout when I was back home in Syracuse, I headed out to Hains Point at lunch and ran 5X1000 meters. I was supposed to try and hit 4:38 for each one. I started out a bit too fast, but got the hang of it as I went on hitting my splits in 4:20, 4:30, 4:38, 4:39 and 4:33. After work I got a 40-minute strength workout including a lot of single-leg squats and pistol squats leaving my legs killing me!!

Tuesday: I took my sore legs out for a slow 5.35 mile run around Hains Point.

Wednesday: Today I got in a 30-minute full body strength workout after taking a client through a personal training session.

Thursday: I metroed out to my old stomping grounds at American University after work for a track workout with the DC Running Coach group. Today wasn’t too difficult of a workout, but I felt really great after it and feel like I’m starting to get the hang of the pacing thing. I was set to do 3X1 mile at a 7:25 pace with a 1-minute break and hit my splits at 7:18, 7:22 and 7:21.

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Friday: Our office closed at 3 for Memorial Day weekend so I decided to get my long run in early and put in 10.35 miles along the Mall and Hains Point. It was a bit chilly after the warm weather earlier in the week and really windy, but I felt surprisingly strong especially for doing a long run the day after a track workout.

Saturday: Rest day – although it turned into quite a busy day with some apartment hunting (more on that later!) and a fun trip to visit some family in Gettysburg!

Sunday: Today was a perfect day for running. It was absolutely gorgeous out. I put in just more than 6 miles along the rolling hills on the Custis Trail.