One of the key components in my training this year so far has been Threshold Pace Training. If you are unaware of this type of training, now is the time to sit up and take note, this cold be what you are missing.
I first learned this in 2009 at a running weekend presented by Liz and Martin Yelling and Nick Anderson. The purpose of it is to practice running at a pace just below the level where lactic acid kicks in and you naturally slow down and the benefit is training your body to be able to run faster for longer. Getting the right pace takes a little bit of practice but when you get it bang on, the progression becomes a lot easier. The pace should be around 85% of your top pace, enough so you can still manage a sprint if required. The easiest way to get it is to talk or sing your favourite song, you should be able to say 3 or 4 words between breaths. If you can only manage 1-2 words, you are going too fast. Essentially, at this pace you should feel slightly challenged but mostly relaxed.
Performing these drills can be fun. I always do a 1 mile warm up then start them. The starting point should be repetitions of 2 minutes at your Threshold Pace(TP) and the recovery will always be 90 seconds regardless of your progression. Each week, I have increased the reps then increased the duration, reduced the reps then built them up before stepping up the duration again. There have been a number of times where my mind has wandered and have ended up running faster during my recovery reps. I just see that as a sign of my body progressing. There have also been times, including today, where I have felt great and ended up doing more reps than I had set out to do. Listening to your body and going with what it’s telling you can be a very powerful thing.
So, what difference has it made to me, you may be wondering? Well, my target for the London Marathon is to run sub 3:15 in order to qualify for a good for age place in the future. To do this, I need to run around 7:15min/mile pace. I am currently running my pace drills at around 6:30-6:45min/mile pace and find 7min/mile pace quite comfortable. There is still a long way to go in my training but on today’s performance, my target is very much achievable. I should point out that my marathon times over the last 2 years has been around 3hrs 25mins and my pb of 3hrs 19mins was set 13 years ago. That is the measure of my progress.