On achieving faster paces and negative splits

Instead of running with a group at lunch on Tuesday, I went with only one of the guys (the others had to go a little earlier due to afternoon meetings, I think). At one point during the run Frank had said, “Sorry today’s pace is a little slower than usual.” I thought to myself, shit! I thought we were going a lot faster than usual, but I didn’t want to say anything and we just kept trucking along. When we got back to the office and I checked Runmeter, we were happy to learn that we had indeed been running faster than we normally do (though not “a lot” faster like I thought). Our average pace was 8:55 (my fastest since running Ragnar Cape Cod in May) and our splits were pretty great: 9:25, 9:05, 8:47, 8:34, 8:33, and the last (uphill) 0.16mi in an easy 1:40.

After taking a moment to pat myself on the back, I started to wonder how much my pace had actually improved over the last few weeks. I knew it had gotten at least slightly faster, and after checking my history I was pleasantly surprised. I won’t bother listing every run’s pace in my Runmeter or dailymile histories; suffice it to say that of the 106 running workouts I’ve posted to dailymile since joining, only SEVEN of them have been at a sub-9min pace…and of those seven, three of them were from this week alone! Pace progression over my last ten runs (excluding trail runs) is as follows:

  • 9:40 (5.12 mi)
  • 9:40 (3.82 mi)
  • 9:32 (5.16 mi)
  • 9:45 (4.75 mi–someone who doesn’t normally run had come with us so we went a little slower)
  • 9:16 (5.16 mi)
  • 9:09 (4.51 mi)
  • 9:07 (5.45 mi)
  • 8:59 (5.19 mi)
  • 8:55 (5.16 mi)
  • and today’s 8:59 (4.19 mi–I’m going to blame the slight regression on running an unfamiliar route)

I mean, I’m obviously not breaking any records here, but this is pretty sweet, yeah?

I also started to wonder about my splits. I’ve always dreamed of achieving negative splits, but most of the time they elude me. Dailymile doesn’t show splits, so I had fewer running workouts to reference for this one. Of the 63 running workouts I’ve tracked using Runmeter, I managed negative splits for 17 of them (which was more than I was expecting). And of my most recent runs, I’m 5 for 5 with the most impressive improvement happening today, running a 9:10 first mile and getting down to 8:24 by mile four (thanks to Gary, who apparently got bored listening to Rick and Dave discuss terrible movies and decided to pick up the pace).

I knew that over the last couple of months I had been starting to feel stronger with each run, but seeing numbers to back that up is really exciting for me. I started looking for races for 2013 over the weekend, and it would be really, really  amazing to get an age group top 5 finish within the year. The improvements may be small right now, but if the trend continues it’s not too  unreasonable to think it could happen, is it? (If I’m just being delusional, please tell me.)

Some of the races I'm considering. It would be especially awesome to feel confident enough to bite the bullet and sign up for that marathon...
Some of the races/rides I’m considering for next year. It would be especially awesome to feel confident enough to bite the bullet and sign up for that Smuttynose marathon…


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