November 10, 2010


No, I don't mean this kind of restraint:

Nope.  Not this either:

What I'm talking about is restraint on runs.  I don't have it.  Well, to be more accurate... I lose it.  At the beginning I'm fine.  I ran out of steam on enough of my races early on that I learned to be more conservative heading out.  Sometimes overly so but we'll save that for another day.  Generally, once I get started I'm like a metronome.  As long as I hit a "golden pace," I'll stay rock steady for miles.  If I'm feeling good, I usually run negative splits.  (Which is mostly testament to the fact that I often start out slower than I should.)

Recently, I've been trying to integrate a little bit of speed into some of my longer runs to break up the monotony.  For example, yesterday I planned to run 10 miles.  The idea was to run the first 4 slow and comfortable.  From mile 4-7 I'd pick up the pace to sub-marathon pace (MP).  Then from mile 7-10 I'd slow back down.  It's that "slowing down" part that kills me.

Ok.  I realize that might sounds kinda cocky, but it's really not.  Proof?  It even happens when I bonk in races.  For the Mardi Gras marathon last year I was really sick.  I went out too fast (trying to stay with friends I'd trained with).  If I'd been healthy, I would have been ok.  But feeling like death incarnate, I was having so much trouble breathing that the muscles between my ribs hurt WAY more than my legs at the end of the race.  (I was using those "accessory muscles" in a futile attempt to get air into my lungs.)  The last 6 miles I was hurting a lot but I wouldn't let myself stop once I got that far.  I told myself I'd just keep moving slow and steady.  But everytime I'd start running again my legs would try to go back to the pace I'd been running... the pace that was too fast.  Which meant that I just kept burning out and having to walk over and over and over.  Good times!

So back to my more recent run, I could not seem to get my pace back down.  (The numbers are deceiving.)  I ran:

4.28 miles @ 8:59
3.28 miles @ 8:03
2.85 miles @ 8:38
for a grand total of 10.4 miles

When you look at the last 3 miles you might wonder what I'm talking about.  "You did slow down," but it was a major struggle.  I had to constantly check my Garmin, something I don't really like doing.  But when I left it to feel, every time I looked down I was back at 8:00/mile pace.  Ugh.  So much for restraint.

I'm kinda at a loss on this one.  Being able to reel it in is an important skill.  That skill helps you avoid injury (not running too fast on rest days), adjust to the inevitable surprises on runs or races and improve your ability to pace appropriately.  What's a runner to do?

If only I had those straps.
Or some self-control.


  1. Well, I'd say at least it's at the end of the run that you have trouble with pace, rather than going out too hard and dying!

  2. Okay, I totally get you on this (I think). I did that in my last half...was going too fast and had to walk (which I don't like doing)...but I couldn't make myself run slower instead...I think that's what you mean. It's weird! Hope you get it figured out...and please let me know if you do! :)

  3. OMG, you are hilarious! Thanks for stopping by my blog. Yes, I've definitely had my share of 99 Bananas (some terrible 99-proof vodka stuff) back in college, but now I'm okay with drinking Well's Banana Bread Beer. :)

    And I have a very similar problem when I'm running (especially if I sprint down a hill, I keep sprinting until I pretty much want to die). I haven't been injured yet (knock on wood), so I don't really see the problem in running too fast as long as I'm not having major cardiac problems or can't catch my breath. :)


  4. hmm I dont really have any advice to offer. My problem is staying with my 'comfortable' pace and finishing knowing that I could have gone faster!!

  5. Ever consider going the heart rate monitor route? That way you know that your warmup zone is X, your tempo zone is Y, your cool down zone is Z. Takes some of the thinking out of it.

    I just broke mine out KEEP me slow on slow days so that I can recover properly for my fast days.

  6. I'm terrible at this too. I can't help but negative split every run. I was talking to my doctor (who is also a coach so I am in heaven) about this and he was insisting I do a 5-7 mile run a week at like a 9 + pace. I really wanted to try...but I just couldn't do it.

  7. Do you have a song in your head when you are running? Or use a music player? Switch the song to a slower one or dial in slower songs on the music player. That helps me.

  8. Maybe you should have done the hard part a little bit harder? Then you'd welcome the chance to slow down and take it easy? That's typically my thought process anyway - survive the hard, enjoy the slow :)

    If you've been able to teach yourself control in the beginning of the race, I know you can teach yourself the importance of recovery/running the easy parts easy! After 11 yrs of running I still go out too fast...