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  • Writer's picturecoachmk

Brainy Muscles and Feeling Paces

Ask any current or former professional running coach what the trick to developing speed is, and they will likely all say the same thing: pickups and accelerators, performed daily.   Ask them the two most difficult workouts to nail when they were learning the ropes, and they will likely say, "Pickups and accelerators".  

Here's why: it takes a LONG time to 'feel' paces.  These are capped at 5k pace, they are NOT all-out sprints.  They are controlled efforts, but you have to hit that uncontrolled too-fast point several times before you know where it is or can sense it coming. Short efforts off the track are the hardest since you only have 20 seconds to sense a pace you rarely run as an endurance runner.  I personally don't run many 5ks, so my 5k pace is more of an idea, a figure in Training Peaks, than something I recognize when I start trying to outrun the skinny bitch or the Runner's Roost pack in Wash Park. "Oh wait, I'm doing an easy effort run and I've sped up to my 5k pace, better slow down."  Doesn't happen.  This is complicated by the fact that for many of us, it takes our GPS device 5 seconds to lock into our speed, rendering our speedometers unreliable until after the pickup is over.

I want to re-iterate, this is a PROCESS.  If you are running these efforts too quickly, don't worry about it. Just try to slow down a bit next time.  Click the link above to see my workout today- I'm still working out paces internally.  I should have stopped at 6:30 but 20 seconds!!!!  omg.


Did I fail/blow my workout?

Not really, but I set myself up for a less-than-optimal 12-miler tomorrow.   *shrug*  I'm not proud, but I'll deal and move forward.  I'm just 10 months (7 if we're being honest, thanks ass surgery) into my post-3baby running body and muscles have incredible memory, much more than my brain does.  It will take awhile for my brain and muscles to synchronize, for my brain to take over when my muscles go too fast.  This is THE most important part of speed development, and it takes sufficiently longer than 16 weeks.  

So if you are struggling a bit with feeling pickup paces, know that you're neither alone nor unloved. ONWARD.

BTW It's no accident that both (pickups and accelerators are both 20 seconds long, but that's sciency-science for another email.  :-)

You are coached, you are loved, YOU ARE WELCOME


PS.  My long runs are about to get hairy and I'll need to start early, like 5am early, tomorrow.  If you would like to join me please let me know!!

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