My coach, Kevin Beck, has an uncanny ability to assign the appropriate paces for workouts and predict race times based on current fitness. I am not the only runner who works with him who has noticed this talent. He’s usually within a second or two per mile. There have been a few times when I’ve not been able to hit a pace assigned, primarily when I first started working with him a little over a year ago, and then a bit later when I had an issue with overtraining, iron deficiency or both. And, obviously, when conditions have made hitting a reasonable time impossible. But, in absence of those factors, he is usually spot on.

This week I’ve done both my hard workouts (and most of my other runs) along my new 4.8 mile route in Scarsdale. On Tuesday I did a 14 mile run with the last 5 at tempo pace. Goal pace was 7:15. But it was very windy for 3 of the 5 miles. I came out with 7:18 avg. I was happy with this, considering the day.

This morning I headed back up there to do speedwork. The wind was up again today. I adjusted my expectations and effort accordingly, but nevertheless used the tailwind to compensate for the headwind when I could. Goal: two 1.5 miles repeats at 10:20 each. Average pace I got: 10:20.

It’s been a major pain to run in the streets. And this winter has felt endless — with the exception of a few balmy days in the 40s, bone chilling temperatures have been the norm since Christmas. I’ve lost track of how many times it’s snowed. But I’ve adjusted. I miss doing the faster work on the track. A session with 400m repeats (one of my faves) has been on perpetual hold until the track clears.

But I do have a point: Running these workouts in the street, where I’m dealing with hills and rutted pavement and garbage trucks and all manner of other obstacles, has actually been good for me. Unlike last year, I find that I’m no longer obsessing over every problem, be it wind or cold or rain or snow or hills. You can’t control this stuff. I go into these runs just figuring I’ll do the best I can under the circumstances. I’ve carried the same attitude into my races. The less I care about paces, it seems, the better I run.

5 Responses

  1. Much as I enjoy running on the roads, I really can’t get up for doing speedwork there, even with my Garmin. I’m hoping that the track will be cleared up so I can get into precisely-timed laps. I get too stressed out otherwise; am I going too fast? Too slow?

    And I’m glad that you’re better able to just do it. This last week was kind of balmy; two days in shorts and t-shirt, the first two of many. I hope.

  2. Sounds like a win all around. I continue to be amazed that you take it to the streets on the days you do.

  3. I like the track for speedwork, but sometimes the grass is long, or it’s soft from rain — then there’s the hill up the back straight… but it’s good to have a rough comparison for the same session.

    All you can do is run by effort really. 4:20 ks doesn’t always feel the same. Similarly for races — they just call for a race effort. Still, I hope Kevin has predicted sub-7 miles for your next one.

    • You’re right about a pace feeling harder/easier depending on the day. Yesterday was the first speed session I’ve done outside this season. The rest have all been on the treadmill. That’s been fine, too, although in those cases I have to forget about paces, since it’s anyone’s guess how fast that thing is going.

      As for going sub-7:00 in Central Park, I have no less than three chances to hit that in the next month, in races ranging from 4 miles to 10K. If I can’t manage to break seven at any of those, well, I’ll be very surprised.

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