Category Archives: time trial

Descending Time Trials: Pace, Pace, Pace!


Not close to where I ran today, the other side of the park. Nor is the weather remotely similar. Today it is hazy, overcast.

As soon as I read this post by Matt Fitzgerald on a week or two ago I knew I’d have to incorporate it into my 5K training. I didn’t have a track handy, so just used the Garmin to run 1600 meters (a mile), then 1200, 800, 400, with 4 minute breaks in between. Fitzgerald promises a gruelling workout, and it did not disappoint. My head was spinning afterwards. I am still a little dizzy. I wore my racing flats. Ran a couple miles warm ups and nervously trotted off to pee a couple times. Waited around for a bit before the actual workout. Just like a race!

Grossly speaking, with the rests taken out, I hit my goals: 2.5 miles in 15 minutes, about 6:00 min/mile pace. But my pace was ludicrously uneven and plummeting in the mile section, really underscoring the need to focus on pacing, pacing, pacing. The inefficiencies involved in bad pacing truly keep you honest, or running at sub-par pace in the long term.

I’d really like to improve on this workout. I’m not even that concerned with the time (that will come), but the pacing really needs to be worked on! Ten to fifteen second differences in 400 meter laps is just silly!

It’s interesting (to me, at least) that a few seconds difference in a quarter mile time is a rather large difference in min/mile pace. And that if I hadn’t “gone out fast” I probably would have run a little faster overall. Also evident, the “end in sight” phenomenon of running a relatively fast final, single 400 meters.

Here are the 10, quarter-mile, laps of the workout proper:

1 1:26.38 5:46 min/mile pace

2 1:31.82 6:07 min/mile pace

3 1:33.99 6:16 min/mile pace

4 1:39.18 6:37 min/mile pace [about 6:11 min/mile pace for the first mile]

[4 mins rest]

5 1:24.70 5:39 min/mile pace

6 1:34.19 6:17 min/mile pace

7 1:33.75 6:15 min/mile pace

[4 mins rest]

8 1:25.56 5:42 min/mile pace

9 1:33.13 6:13 min/mile pace

[4 mins rest]

10 1:19.11 5:16 min/mile pace


Yet Another Time Trial and the Importance of Plan B

Not so fast as the last one, but just 2 minute recoveries, whereas last time was 4 minute recoveries (and as such, not really a time trial at all, me thinks). In any case I ran, it just so happens — not planned! — 3.11 miles to warm up. Then 5 1-kilometer laps with 2 minute recoveries. Here are my min/mile paces, running in the Saucony racing flats:

6:24   6:32   6:32   6:39   6:38

The whole thing comes out to 20:18 for the time trial portion, rests excluded, about 4 minutes per km.

So now I have my paces for training! From this shall follow focus.

About a 6:30 min/mile for the 5K. This feels just about right, if a little conservative. The 19:30 from last time seemed fantastical. I wasn’t feeling so great today. Even with a late start it was just cold. I was thinking about a great post I’d read on Strength Running on the importance of Plan B workouts — considering just running something easier, but decided to give the time trial a try.

The entire run was 57 minutes for 7.04 miles, a pace of 8:04 min/mile.

5k Time Trial — with Benefit of Expectation

For the week:    2:36    15.86 miles

So I experienced a real, substantive improvement, which I think can be pretty much attributed to the expectation put there by the coach.* He said I should be running the 1000s in around 3:20, which I pretty much knew would be insane if not impossible (absent threat of bodily harm or death). He asked me how long I was running 1000s. I scrambled through the Garmin, since I don’t think in terms of times usually. I rattled off the numbers. He just shook his head. “You’re wasting your time.” Ouch, but okay.

So today I ran 5 x 1000 knowing I would run hard, but probably not push myself into the suggested “state of shock,” as I’m pretty sure the remaining laps would be useless if I went into shock in the first one. I immediately “knew” I couldn’t keep the pace of the first lap. And before I had even started I had discounted the idea of running 8 x 1000, as suggested, as I’m pretty sure the pace would degenerate pretty rapidly, as it did on my final lap here.

Still, there’s just no denying the psychological component here. I did not gain massive amounts of fitness in the last week. If anything, I was a little sore from the weekend. But today’s final, slowest lap was a full 8 seconds faster than my first, fastest lap last week. And the funny thing is, I finished today’s workout slightly disappointed, knowing I could work harder. Looking at the numbers at home I was astonished. In theory, it suggests I could run a 19:30 5k — not something I’d imagined possible at this point. Sure, it’s just a time trial, but there it is.

[*Okay, it does occur that I ran this on asphalt, which I did not last week, and probably accounts for a significant part of the difference in times. Still.]

(I happen to be re-reading Run: The Mind-Body Method of Running By Feel by Matt Fitzgerald, which has a lot of good stuff about the psychology of running — in short, recommended.)

The numbers follow, with last week’s lap results in parentheses:


today:            19:37       3.11 miles        6:19 min/mile

last week:     21:31       3.11 miles        6:56 min/mile


lap 1       3:35       5:47 min/mile   (4:15, 6:52 pace)

lap 2       3:54       6:17 min/mile   (4:26, 7:11 pace)

lap 3       3:58      6:25 min/mile   (4:37, 7:28 pace)

lap 4       4:00      6:27 min/mile   (4:38, 7:29 pace)

lap 5       4:08      6:40 min/mile   (4:41, 7:34 pace)




Confound It

Another 5k time trial. Five 1k laps with two minute walking recoveries after a .75 mile warm up, and a few miles to cool down. This was about what I thought I could do. But want to see what I can shave off. To confound things, I ran this with the Asics, not the Bondis. A 21-minute 5k is a nice improvement over where I started (see About section), but remains a time scoffed at by one of my running group compadres. I’m confident I can shave 30 seconds off, as this was hard, but hardly destructive.

1:06        7.51 miles        8:49 min/mile

or (with the fluff taken out)

21:31        3.11 miles        6:56 min/mile


lap 3     7:00 min/mile

lap 6     6:47 min/mile

lap 8     6:47 min/mile

lap 10    7:11 min/mile

lap 12     6:54 min/mile


5k Time Trial of Sorts

Decided to run an easy 5k time trial, whatever that means. It means that I had to take a kid to the dentist so didn’t get out to the park until 10:41 a.m. and it was of course 86 degrees Fahrenheit and not really a time for time trials. When I set the watch up for warm up followed by .62 mile (kilometer) laps followed by 2 minute rests, I find that the watch just shows you two data fields, time and distance. That’s it. So I really didn’t know what my pace was and this became a real secret santa kind of affair. It was fun. I’ll do some more of these, and settle on an appropriate 5k pace.

50:43        5.57 miles      9:07 min/mile

or     22:39        3.1 miles        7:19 min/mile


lap 1        .75 mile        9:00 min/mile

lap 2        .62 mile        6:52 min/mile

lap 4        .62 mile        7:11 min/mile

lap 6        .62 mile        7:28 min/mile

lap 8        .62 mile        7:29 min/mile

lap 10      .62 mile        7:34 min/mile

lap 12     1.25 mile       9:01 min/mile

Early Efforts

A first time trial. 

May 2009. I had just got my new Garmin 305 and decided it was time to do a time trial. A “before” to accompany my much hoped for “after.” I ran five kilometers near a local reservoir, each one separated by a two-minute rest. Here are the times I ran that morning, 6/3/09:

lap 1   .62 mile      4:59        8:02 min/mile

lap 2   .62 mile      5:17        8:33 min/mile

lap 3   .62 mile      5:49        9:24 min/mile

lap 4   .62 mile      6:11        9:59 min/mile

lap 5   .62 mile      5:57        9:36 min/mile

Runners amongst you will recognize these as “positive splits”, each lap from laps 1-4 is progressively longer, indicating a precipitous drop in energy. I recall that the experience was very difficult. In my notebook it says simply, “experience was brutal.” Lap 5 shows a typical phenomena, the recovery in the face of the end. A return of energy.

Some training and a race.

The average pace for the run is, according to the Garmin software, 9:07 minutes per mile. From this experiment I surmised that I could run a 5k race in approximately 27 minutes. I put some training in and managed this result later in the year, 10/11/09:

3.11 miles        24:12        7:52 min/mile

That’s the bare bones of it. In a few months I shaved a full minute per mile off my pace — granted I was quite out of shape when I started. There was all kinds of training in between. I’m hoping to run a 5k in the next few weeks. My most recent time trial, a couple weeks before I came down with a horrendous cough, this time without the two-minute rests, was on April 13, 2012:

3.11 miles        21:37       6:58 min/mile

I offer this in the spirit of what one can do over time, with a little dedication.