When I first started triathlon training eons ago I worked with a coach–Troy Jacobson. He’d send me my schedules bi-weekly and all of my prescribed training was by time. A three-hr. ride here, a 90-minute run there. He’d specify effort by zone, but never got too technical about pace. Yes, I did weekly track workouts under his leadership, as well as three master’s swim practices that he coached, and attended weekly Spinervals classes that he directed. But beyond that, you couldn’t describe a lot of how we trained as super dialed in.
Now for all you Garmin- and wattage meter-obsessed people out there, this might seem criminal. But you know what? It worked, and it worked well. I had consistent good results and made really great progress under this approach.
Today, I haven’t changed a heck of a lot in terms of my approach. For my long runs, I run on marked courses around town (courtesy of my run club) so I know my distances. But pace? I don’t really pay attention to it at all on these runs. I go by feel–I want my long runs to be generally slower than marathon pace (by about a minute) and I can check in here or there to make sure that is happening. But otherwise, I can feel if it’s too fast or too slow. I’ll do specific track work with goal paces in mind and use my plain old Timex IM model to help me. For my swims, I may or may not work off the clock, depending on my mood. For my bike rides, I have a general range I want to hit for easy rides and then incorporate speed work as needed.
The thing to understand about this type of training is that you learn quite a bit about how you feel at different paces. Tell me to go out and run an 8-min. pace for three miles and I can dial it in, no problem. Slow it down to 8:30? I know how that feels too. My point is–there’s great value in learning to feel your paces. I think we are over dependent on the technology available to us today. It strips us of the ability to understand our paces and what our bodies need.
It’s not that I think these tools can’t be valuable–they can. But I also think there’s something lost in our dependence on them and that most runners could stand to loosen that dependence. Take one or two easy runs a week and just go. Let your body set your pace, not your watch. I’m willing to bet you’ll gain something from it.
Anyone else every lay down the Garmin? Or train without one completely? (And am I on some kind of opinionated roll here this week or what?)