Running easy is hard

After my relative success at the Manchester 10k, I was waiting for my train home and started thinking about pace and training (and how I could politely eat a Waitrose chocolate mousse without a spoon). I had looked relatively presentable at the end of the race, which is great, but probably means that I had a bit more in the tank and that it’s my head letting me down (again) rather than my lungs or my legs.

Looking at a race pace/training pace calculator thing (the technical term for it obviously) I put in my 10k time and was told that I should be doing my long or easy runs at a pace between 12.55 and 14.27 minute/mile. Normally what I do is set off at what feels like a relatively comfortable pace and then start having a little walk after a few miles (that head of mine again). The problem is that I can’t get my head around training at a slower pace than the pace that I want to run on race day.

Don’t get me wrong, I keep reading the articles about it and I do kind of understand the science behind it, it’s just that a little voice in my head pipes up with “…yes, but I need to be able to go faster on race day and that makes no sense“. So I  decided that the time has come for me to make an effort with this. And you know what? It was flipping hard.

I think this was partly down to technology – my new TomTom (who is still nameless, I don’t think I can call him Miles like my old Garmin, it still feels a bit like I’m being unfaithful to old Miles) has a bit of a time lag when he is showing my current pace. I found that the speed that I felt I was doing and the numbers on my wrist really didn’t seem to add up. And I know that it’s not just that I’m hopelessly optimistic at judging my pace because at one point I was speeding up, but my alleged pace was slowing down.

With a bit of jiggery pokery, I could get him to recognise my running pace and then slowed down until I felt like I was doing a bad mime of “running” in a game of charades. My TomTom pace stuck determinedly at around 12 minute miles. I slowed down even more to a gentle ambling pace and then 14 min/mile… 15 min/mile… 16 min/mile… – then I’d speed up and get stuck at 12 min/mile again. When I was running at a slower pace, it actually felt much harder work than my familiar comfortable one.

There are two possibilities. Either I am physically incapable of running at my predicted easy pace or my TomTom is incapable of recognising paces between 12 and 14 minute/miles. Both of these possibilities seem a bit ridiculous. So my plan for the weekend is to concentrate on keeping it slow,  hope my average pace makes more sense and then I’m going to try to figure out the heart rate monitor that has remained boxed and ignored since it arrived.