Pace or Distance? That is the Question…

Posted: April 11, 2012 by Roberts in Running Log
Tags: , , , , , ,

This evening I decided that for my 5 mile run, I would watch my pace.  I know I can do the distance.  The question is, can I improve?  After reviewing my past two months of runs, my fastest pace for a 5 miler was 10’28”.  I changed a couple settings on the watch, and I was off.

To track my running, I use the Nike GPS Sportswatch.  Its giant screen makes it easy to see my stats.  Every few minutes I glance down and check my progress.  The plan was, if my pace was slower than 10’30,” I would speed up.

After the first mile I cramped up.  I had eaten a Powerbar Energy Bite before leaving, and my body just does not like these things.  They will now be for post-run snacks, or WAY pre-run snacks.  Well, you can’t give up on a race after only one mile.  I checked the watch for my pace, which was still good.

Pushing through the pain, I kept moving.  For the first three miles I didn’t have any problems maintaining a sub 10’30” pace.  Then I met mile three.  Why hello mile three, how are you doing?  You have a gift for me?  How nice of you to bring the cramp back, and with a vengeance too!  No matter what part of mile three I was on, I could not reach my goal.  I needed be able to get back on pace.  But with every step, the cramp worsened.

Turning the corner on mile four, the cramp washed away.  I don’t know what made it disappear, but I’m glad it did.  No time to question, time to run.  I picked up the pace to make up for lost time.

On the last mile I pushed to catch up.  I knew that it would be close, but I also knew that I had a chance if I pushed hard.  I had forgotten to add the statistic “average pace” to my watch for the run, so all I had to judge my progress was “elapsed time” and “current pace.”  Time for some quick math!  Rather, time for some rough guessing.

My run ended in my driveway.  I hit stop in mid step, not wanting a full stop to mess up my time.  My final pace was 10’21”.  That’s right, a new PR for my five mile run.  For all my short to medium runs, I plan on using the pace screen.  I am still going to use the distance screen the long runs for now.

Now it was time for a post run smoothie.  I decided to mix it up, and concocted a chai tea smoothie.  I am not sure what inspired this, other than the box of chai tea mix in the fridge.  I decided to make it simple, since I could always alter the recipe later if it wasn’t right.

Chai Tea Smoothie:

1 Cup Greek Yogurt
1 Cup Chai Tea Latte Concentrate
1 Cup of Ice
1 Scoop Vanilla Whey Powder
1 Tbsp Honey

Step One) Put everything in a blender
Step Two) Blend
Step Three) Enjoy

Easy!  A new PR and a new smoothie… all in all not a bad day.


When you run, do you run to do a distance, or beat a pace?

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  1. Scott Hanson says:

    Great Blog! I have two runs each week where the pace is irrelevant, they are all about mileage. The rest of my runs have a set pace or tempo. These are the runs I use to improve speed and lean to run at my desired pace.

  2. atroutdude says:

    One other thing, I would say 5% of my runs are by distance. I would say the the remaining are divided pretty equal to heart rate or pace. They view what your heart is doing just as important as the pace that you are running. They would rather you have the good run feel as to feeling that you have been chased by something or pushed farther than you were ready for. Often I hear the MiCoach stating, “Pick up the pace” or “Slow pace down, exceeding heart rate max”.

  3. atroutdude says:

    Congrats Chris, I know with the MiCoach system they prefer pace over distance. The program will tell you the distance, but will tell you to speed up, slow down depending on pace. Most of my training the pace it set by the program, there have only been a couple of runs that have been dictated to distance, the rest have been pace. Great job!

  4. Carrie says:

    Congrats on your PR! If I’m trying to PR I typically look at the time it took me to run the whole distance. But to get to the total time you need to maintain a certain pace so I guess it’s all the same in the end!

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