When pacing yourself, a kilometre is not always a kilometre

2013-02-02 00:00

IT took close to one-and-half hours to cover a little over 10 km today. Hardly a pace that is going to see a massive figure when I total my week’s training.

At this time of year I get around eight to nine hours of training a week, if work and travel play along in a favourable fashion. As they say: “Sometimes life gets in the way.”

That said, I am by no means disappointed with today’s session. Indeed, it may well be one of the key fitness sessions of the current new year.

How can that be?

An average pace of around 8 minutes 50 seconds per kilometre will only deliver a six-hour marathon, and even over 13 hours for Comrades. How can I possibly get excited about such an effort?

Well it’s the composition of the time. The first 20 minutes were a warm-up with only 2,5 km of distance run, but it took a good few loosening exercises to take the creaks out of the ageing body and lubricate the joints. Then I was somewhat more productive with 12 x 400 metres at a breath-taking pace followed by a walk-around recovery.

In all, it was close to five kilometres at speed and, with the cool down, a total of 10,5 km. Not very impressive in 85 minutes, but what you see is not always what you get.

A kilometre is not always a kilometre. Running at your 10 km pace is worth two kilometres of slow running. Your five kilometre pace is worth four kilometres, and one blasted 1 500 m-to-three-kilometre pace can be counted as eight kilometres of easy running.

So no wonder my 85 minutes of sweat-generating track work was more equivalent to 26 km of easy running and, in that language, would give a monster boost to the week’s total.

Those 12 focused efforts will have improved the efficiency of my stride, boosted the strength of my legs, increased my mobility and given me the confidence that I can run faster — a positive injection that will impact race results in coming weeks. All this providing I drop my pace tomorrow to a leisurely one, which will assure me recovery and the benefits of today’s training.

Track may not give the total distance of your local club run, but the hidden benefits of bucking the norm far outweigh yet another slow and easy run.

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