Keep Track and Rate Yourself
When I coach runners online, I have them keep a log that tracks their stats including the shoes they wear, the temperature and elements, the terrain, time, distance, run-walk intervals and more. I also have them rate how they felt overall during the workout with a color code.
Yellow = I felt strong and could have done more today.
Orange = I felt okay, but nothing to write home about. I didn't feel awful, but I also didn't feel particularly strong either ... somewhere in the middle.
Red = I was in the bite-me zone for much of the workout, and struggled to finish. I cast an invisible spell on the woman who looked so happy running in front of me.
By color-coding your workouts, you begin to see trends in how your body responds to the workouts. If you see lots of yellow and a few oranges, you are on the right track and your body is recovering well. If, however, you begin to see a trend in consistent orange and some red, something is affecting your recovery rate. It's time to modify your training frequency, progression rate, sleep, nutrition, stress, travel, lack of downtime, the elements and more.
Learning to run by monitoring your pace is like being in love with a toxic person. With every stride comes judgment that you're not fast enough. It's best to log the activity as close to the finish of your run as possible so it's fresh. As time goes by, you'll also begin to see your progress right before your eyes. And that's when running starts to get fun.
It's All About the Effort
When I learned to run, in order to know pace and distance, I drove the route and did the math. These days we know our pace with every stride via smart phones, GPS and speed distance monitors. It's both a blessing and a curse because it motivates, but it also encourages runners to run by pace rather than tuning into their bodies. The body knows effort, not pace, and when learning to run it's vital to run by how your body responds in the moment.
For example, your moderate effort pace (where you can talk in words, not sentences) will be faster on a cool, crisp day than it will be on a hot, humid day. If you go out for an easy run-walk and go by pace, you always run the risk of over or under doing it. It's best to keep it simple; run by your effort level and how you feel, and let the pace be the outcome of your performance.
It seems that everything comes to us at the speed of light these days. Running, however, doesn't, and it will take time to develop your running regimen. But that's part of the glory. Anything that is worthwhile in life takes time, effort and focus. Let the miles come to you in time—you'll enjoy the journey and learn to love running along the way.race.