"My Training Pace Feels Too Hard. What Should I Do?"
This is a great question and no doubt one that many runners have had at some point in their training.
Remember that the term "controlled" should apply to 95 percent of your training. If you're not running a controlled pace, then you're probably racing rather than training. In all but a handful of circumstances, that is an inappropriate way to train.
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Let's be clear: Controlled doesn't mean comfortable. For example, you may run eight miles at half-marathon pace and feel uncomfortable, yet you can still be controlled at this pace. You know you're running controlled if you can say, "I could speed up a few seconds per mile if I absolutely had to", or "I could go one or two more miles at this pace, though that would feel like a race situation."
Please don't interchange the words comfortable and controlled. Often in training we need to be uncomfortable if we're going to improve our level of fitness, yet we should still be controlled in 95 percent of our workouts.
So what do you do if your training pace—marathon pace or 10K race pace, for example—feels too hard? Simple. Just back off the pace. Maybe you can run faster, but that's not the point of training.
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Backing off the pace is easier said than done, but if you want to train intelligently, that's what you have to do—back off and run a bit slower. After a couple of easy days, you'll be ready to tackle another workout or long run.
If, for instance, the workout was eight miles at half-marathon pace and you had to slow down to marathon pace, know that you're still getting a nice aerobic stimulus. Developing the aerobic metabolism is important for all distances—eve if you have to back off the race-pace running. You should feel good about the fact that you're still getting a metabolic stimulus that will, in the end, help you race faster.
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"How Do I Know If I’m Running Too Hard During Training?"
If it feels like a race, then you're running too hard. Rarely should training—even intense training, such as race-pace work on the track—be so hard that you feel like you're racing.
"How Can I Get Faster?"
Strive for consistency in your training. If you can train day after day, week after week, month after month, with few interruptions—such as days off due to injury, illness or simple fatigue—then there is a very good chance that you'll race well.
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Remember, it's better to train at 85 to 90 percent of your capacity than to red-line it and train at 99 percent of your capacity.
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