The November issue of Running Times has an article on Rhythm Runs...or progression runs as most of us call them. My next race is in five weeks and is a half marathon. Today when I read the article in Running Times it followed a similar conversation I had with our team coach, Mike Rush, earlier this week. We had been discussing the upcoming half marathon and getting his advice for my running partner and I to use for our midweek longer runs. We were discussing the benefits of progression runs versus either tempo runs or hilly workouts.
Mike's advice was that we do progression runs...which matches the advice in the article. Tonight Anne and I had a six mile run on tap. We range between 6-8 miles usually for our Wednesday or Thursday midweek runs. We had decided to take tonight easy and experiment with the progression run. Our first attempt was a little bit of a fail in that we did not run each mile progressively faster...but it was a success in that we ran two separate progression runs within our six miles. Our splits were: mile 1 - 10:35, mile 2 - 10:14, mile 3 - 10:04, mile 4 - 10:26 (OOPS), mile 5 - 10:08, mile 6 - 9:38.
Our 4th mile was along a busier road that had a very small shoulder. We were running single file and must have just unconsciously slowed down. However, we did do our second set of 3 miles faster than the first set so that is somewhat of a win. Mike Rush gave us an E for Effort since it was our first attempt. Hopefully we'll do better next week.
For pace, Mike Rush recommended that we end our progression run with our last mile at or just faster than 5K pace. We should be dropping our pace by 10-15 seconds per mile so we need to pick a starting pace that works for this. Tonight we started just a tad too fast but also didn't get our final mile down as low as it should have been. Learning how to feel pace can be tough and we were pretty laid back with our attempt. We learned some good lessons and will be better prepared next week.
Here's a quote by elite athlete Chris Solinsky from the Running Times article on why Jerry Schumacher's group refers to these runs as rhythm runs, " the way I see it, their purpose is callusing. Rhythm runs are all about controlled effort, a quality strength program. We're starting slower, working up to find the rhythm in the middle, and then staying in that small window. It's not a killer effort, just a slow, controlled, callusing." In another part of the article, these runs are referred to as an investment!
Running Times had the following tips for getting the most out of your progression runs:
1) Don't neglect warm-up. (Our first mile was probably just a tad to quick, maybe just 10-15 seconds.)
2) Run your pace. (A little slower is better than too fast)
3) Use a heart-rate monitor if you have trouble feeling the pace.
4) Start Slow.
5) Don't worry...learn from your failed experiments.
6) Take into account the weather and adjust pace accordingly.