Chasing 42

Life, the Universe, & Running

Archive for the tag “pacing”

A Few Moments of Heat-Induced Clarity

For the past two days, I’ve headed out for a run with Looper, our new Vizsla, around 11AM. On both occasions, this seemed like a perfectly reasonable time of day. However, Iowa finally decided it was summer (after skipping spring all together), so it’s been getting rather warm rather quickly. Now, I will never claim to be a fan of heat, but I can usually put up with it. However, we are still getting way more rain than we really need, which means it has also been wicked humid. This is a bad combination!

After two years living without a leash, Looper is slowly learning to run next to me and not pull too much. She still wants to be in the lead, and she is still skittish around large trucks, bikes, and trains, but is otherwise settling in nicely. Interestingly, running with a new dog gives you a new awareness of your surroundings, and most certainly a new awareness of the heat! She is proving to be an excellent barometer for how far we should be running, when we should be hydrating, and is giving me a refreshed awareness of my surroundings. These past two days have left me with a few moments of clarity in an otherwise foggy, heat-saturated brain. I’ve found myself remembering:

It's not Arizona, but still plenty hot for me!

It’s not Arizona, but still plenty hot for me!

  • 10AM- 2PM is not necessarily the best time to run- when the sun is at its peak, it might be best to stay inside, at least during the hot summer months. This may end up being more difficult considering my schedule, but I have a feeling it will lead to much more comfortable runs for both of us!
  • Shade is your friend…unless it’s humid- On both days, I headed for local parks and trails, in search of shade that might provide us with some reprieve. Unfortunately, with the shade we found the humidity increasing as well, so it was definitely a trade-off in terms of comfort.
  • Slowing your pace matters- I’ve been very focused on pacing during my training, and seem to have forgotten that I should be slowing my pace in the heat…oops! When Looper suddenly pulls up to flop down on the ground and cool off, it’s a nice reminder to slow down. Alas, she picks up right where she left off when we start running again!
  • Drinking every 1/2 mile isn’t overkill- I normally try to hydrate every mile, and I’ve gotten accustomed to carrying a water bottle on every run. However, in this heat, setting my watch to remind me to drink every 1/2 mile is quite helpful!
  • I sweat ALOT- I’m fairly certain that I’m one of the 1 in 4 that sweats more than the average person. This fact was reinforced over the past two days, and I’m on a continual quest to find the best sweat-management techniques. If anyone has suggestions, I’m all ears!
  • Dogs hijacking your pace = trouble- Looper is a very willful dog, and when she wants to stop, she does. On the flip side, she pushes onward with seemingly no effort whatsoever, and the result has been a much faster pace than I had intended. I think we are going to need to talk about who is pacing whom!
  • Ice cubes sooth an overheated Vizsla- I always make sure there is a nice big bowl of water waiting for her when we get back. On a whim, I gave her an ice cube to see if she wanted to chew on it. It slid around in my hand, and I realized she loved them. At one point, she was lying on her side, on the dining room floor, with several ice cubes placed on her belly…ridiculous!
One tired Vizsla!

One tired Vizsla!

My Running White Whale: Pacing

“It is not down on any map; true places never are.”

Mastering the art of pacing has become my white whale. My intellectual approach to running should be quite clear at this point, and I’d say I’ve become quite comfortable with a great many aspects of my own running. I’ve learned to alter my form, select proper shoes, hydrate accurately, and experiment with nutrition. I’ve read quite a bit about the experiences of other runners, as well as research articles on various aspects of running. This is all the work I do so that I can enjoy the experience that much more, not having to bother myself with the logistics as much because I feel comfortable with the task at hand. However, proper pacing strategy has alluded me to this point.

My hunt continues...

My hunt continues…

On any particular run, I can maintain a fairly consistent pace, based on how my body is feeling on that day. If I’m running with friends, we typically find a pace that suits each of us, and carry on at that pace, correcting each other as our endurance fluctuates. I’ve also been incorporating quite a bit more speed work into my weekly schedule, in hopes of increasing my overall speed/pace and potentially breaking the 4-hour barrier at the Little Rock Marathon in a few weeks. However, these pacing results are inconsistent, and far from what I would call intentional. I still don’t have the ability to establish a desired pace ahead of my run, and then set out and achieve it, knowing what it feels like to be running at that pace.

"When-Ev"- a perfect pace!

“When-Ev”- a perfect pace!

Now, I will say that it isn’t for a lack of trying. I’ve tried a wide variety of strategies, but I just haven’t found something that really works for me. There is no shortage of literature readily available that talks about how to effectively determine your ideal pace and hit it, and I’ve read them all (I’ve included some of these resources at the end of this post). Researchers have even examined optimal pacing for races. I certainly love my data collection, and I’ve tried using my Garmin 405 for pacing as well, but continually looking down at my wrist seems to distract me. Sure, there are alarms built-in, and “virtual pacers” you can set up, but none of those things tell me how my body is going to feel at a certain pace. When I get to a race, I usually have a time goal in mind, and if I’m lucky, there will be pacers available for participants to run alongside. These runners have offered worlds of assistance to me, and I always love hearing their stories (since they are typically running below their ability, and can talk forever!). I’ve tried the tattoos for your forearm as well at races, but I run into the same problem I have when I try to use my watch.

The goal!

The goal!

The more I consider my quest, the more I realize that I’m only going to truly find the key to my pacing when I start to think intentionally about body awareness. I need to be constantly asking myself how I feel when I’m running at a certain pace, and remember those feelings. I need to be specific, and I should probably be writing down these pace-related feelings in a journal so I can go back and study them. Perhaps I’m just over-analyzing my running, and I don’t need to think this much about it in the first place, but it is just in my nature to accumulate as much information as possible, never knowing exactly when it might come in handy but trusting that it will. So, until I have it figured out, I’ll keep searching and keep running!

Pacing Resources: 

Active.com Guide to Perfect Pacing 

Improving your Run-Race Pace 

How to Effectively Pace and Route your Running Race

Runners World: Your Perfect Running Pace

Running Pace Calculator 

Marathon Pace Calculator for Mac (Free)

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