Monday, July 13, 2009
Why a time trial?
A time trial provides a flat controlled course for you to run your hardest and reveal your current fitness level. It is very important to understand the difference between current fitness level pace and goal race pace. We should not be able to run a half or full marathon at goal race pace today. If you could, you would have already peaked, and wouldn’t need a training program. The F4 coaches will use your time trial results to calculate your running zones. The F4 zones chart describes your zones by pace, effort and heart rate; it also identifies race distances you can expect to run in each zone. Since our target races are a half and full marathon, pay special attention to the lower end of zone 2 for your marathon pace and upper end zone 2 for your half marathon pace.
How to use the information from the time trial
After completing your time trial, you will be provided with per minute paces for each zone. You’ll notice a gap between where one zone ends and the other begins; this is by design. The gap helps ensure you get into the correct zone – no overlapping. By knowing our current fitness levels and our current race pace, we can train our bodies to feel our race pace. Most runners ruin their race by starting too fast or too slow. Remember, when we talk about a pace, it is an average for a mile. You may go up hills a little slower, come down hills a little faster, run into a strong head wind or catch a tail wind, plus many other factors that can affect your pace. So you don’t want to stress if you’re running 5 seconds too slow or too fast for a quarter mile, but you want to monitor it to see if the pace is becoming a pattern and adjust accordingly. Each zone is also described by heart rate, effort, and conversationability. Do not run by one description alone, use at least two of the attributes that make up your zone (and race pace) to see if you are on target. Pace and heart rate need to be averaged over a duration of time and perceived effort will also change based on the conditions and terrain. So use all the information you have available to identify if you are within your zone limits. If you suspect you are outside of your zone, make the necessary adjustments. You need to practice this during your training runs so that it becomes second nature to you during your race.
With the time trial results, we set a baseline for our training. We know what our fitness is on July 19, and can measure improvement moving forward. So use the results of your time trial to set reasonable training goals and race goals. You will also be able to train smarter instead of guessing your zones for each workout. Remember, the ideal training program has you running in each zone for a percentage of your training. Always running fast and short will not help you run an endurance event; just like always running slow and long will make your a really good long, slow runner.
What is expected of you at the time trial
You want to prepare for the time trial as if it is a race, so get plenty of rest, stay well-hydrated, and eat good carbs. If you run the time trial with the group, your mile splits and total time will be tracked for you through a chip timing system. So pretty much showing up, warming up, and running your hardest for 4 miles is the expectation. Be smart about the run though. We all have a tendency to start out to fast, don’t. Take the first mile to get a feel for the course and allow your muscles time to warm-up. Since the time trial is 4 miles, you should plan on running a negative split (the second half of your race is faster than the first half), but don’t run one mile very fast and the next mile very slow. Try to find a steady state that pushes you. Throughout the run, adjust your pace and effort as necessary so that you maintain a high level of exertion (8 on a scale of 1 – 10) while finishing strong. The effort level should feel hard to very hard and you should not be able to talk in sentences, but just be able to utter a few words here and there.
If you run by heart rate, you will need to keep track of your average heart rate for the 4 miles . You’ll notice the zone description uses a percentage of your 4 mile average to describe the zone.
Time trial on your own
A few people have already told me they can not make the time trial, no worries. Plan a day to run 4 miles on a relatively flat course. You can use this link to see the course F4 used at the Boulder resevoir in April 2009 (http://www.mapmyrun.com/run/united-states/co/boulder/289666). Don’t wait to complete your time trial since we’ll probably be doing some zone sampler workouts the week of July 20th. Take the opportunity to get your time trial done as soon as possible. You can replace any scheduled F4 workout this week or next with your time trial. I can work with you individually to rearrange your training schedule if necessary.
You are responsible for collecting your mile splits and total time. Please send this information to me as soon as possible so I can calculate your zones and return them to you.
Running can be very mentally challenging. You laugh, but who hasn’t heard the “voice” inside their head telling them you can’t do it. Those negative thoughts will probably start creeping in around mile 3. Don’t wait to take action, start thinking positively and visualizing a positive outcome. Repeating a few mantras are a good way to help with the negative thoughts such as “I feel good”, “I feel strong”, “I am confident”. I tend to be a realist and prefer to go into the time trial with the understanding that I am going to experience discomfort. I find it easier to deal with if I embrace that discomfort as an achievement. I still need to think positively and focus on my goal but I monitor my progress and if my goal is out of my reach, I re-group and set a new goal to focus on. Regardless of how you deal with the negative thoughts, you need to replace them with something positive. Because if you tell yourself you are defeated and tired, you will be and your results will reflect that feeling.