What to do when you don’t hit your target running pace 


Sometimes, you have to laugh at how ironic life can be. On Tuesday, a couple of hours before going for my training run, I wrote my weekly training recap and said how I was happy that I had nailed my intervals during my speed session. Literally one hour later, I went out to do this week’s speed session (outdoor) and I just couldn’t hit my pace.

The workout: 1.5K warm up, 6 x 800m in 3’45 (4.44min/K pace) with 90sec RI, 1.5K cool down

My intervals: 4’08, 03’57, 04’05, 03’57, 04’01, 03’42

I wanted to give up after 2 repeats when I saw that I couldn’t hit my pace. I was giving it by all, pumping my arms and breathing out like a damn elephant and the clock was still not budging in the right direction. Before beating myself up, I decided to take the opportunity to reflect (told you I love reflecting) on why this workout felt so difficult. Here was my mental checklist:

1) How was my sleep?  I actually slept quite well but did not the two previous nights due to Lawrence coughing a lot

2) How was my fueling? I had breakfast but it was some cereals I do not usually eat and a couple of hours before with nothing in between

3) Was I well hydrated? Probably not, had coffee and orange juice for breakfast with again, nothing else in between

4) Did I warm up properly? Nope

5) Where am I in my menstrual cycle? Per the suggestion of Kim Ingleby, a great coach and Sweaty Betty ambassador, I started tailoring my training according to my menstrual cycle. A quick think of the calendar reminded me that my period was due (sorry if this is TMI), hence why this week was supposed to be a drop down. However I switched my training to have a less intense training week next week due to my wedding. It probably explains why I was also so tired after my last long run.

6) Am I sure of the distance I am running? It sounds silly but I sort of barely measured the distances and my total mileage for that session was 700m what it should have been. Furthermore, last week’s session was a treadmill session and this was outdoor.

7) What am I thinking about? Well, although I was determined to get through this session and was trying to give it my all, my mind was distracted enough to think about all the above! I usually tell the runners from the group I lead that during speed work, they should run fast enough that they cannot even think!

8) Do you still deserve a kick up the derriere? At this point, I decided that I could cut myself a bit of slack and learn from this session to prepare better for next time. And then it happened, the most two random moments of inspiration in the space of a couple of minutes. As I was resting before my last interval, trying to convince myself that I could do it, this drunk guy at the park who had seen me pass by him a couple of times told me not to give up. I said “damn right, it’s the last one, I am going to make it a good one”. And THEN, as I was running my final stretch this guy in a weelchair passed by me. I looked at him, nodded, told myself to shut the F* up, that nobody was forcing me to do this, that I was lucky and that it was time to REALLY give it my all. That was my 3’42 interval.

My point with telling you this is that we all have rubbish workouts. However, unless you always train at the same time, the same place and eat the same thing before, you are bound to have some variations. That’s OK. Take this opportunity to reflect on what was different and what you can act on. Cut yourself some slack because even if you think that it’s not going well, you are still out there training. Finally, never give up. Inspire yourself from your surroundings and be grateful of being able to do what you love. It’s not over until you cross that finish line.

How do you deal with a tough workout?

About peachylau

running scientist
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2 Responses to What to do when you don’t hit your target running pace 

  1. This was really helpful. Instead of just blaming yourself for not hitting your target you, very rationally, assessed the situation. It really makes sense. I’m definitely going to start doing this even on good runs. Thanks!


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