Running problems

DISCLAIMER: This post is totally full of “technical”  running mumbo jumbo.  So if you do not spend several hours a week hitting the asphalt or trail, and several more talking about it…you might want to skip it.  I will not be hurt.

So far this year I am not having any real running problems… So yeah, why the title of this post?   I’m having a terrible time with the plan my coach made for me.

He set this very fast Pace per Mile for my training runs.  When I first saw it I was like, Uh ok?  In fact, I was kind of excited about the challenge.  Unfortunately  the challenge was too fast for me.  REALLY.   I tried for 2 weeks, and I just could not achieve the pace.  When I was running it, I felt like I was sprinting.  I’ve told him it’s too fast.  He has sort of told me that he doesn’t think it’s too fast and that I need to keep trying.  He thinks I am not trying.  But really.  I have never run the pace he set for me fore more than 2 miles.

I talked to two others who write plans and have had great running success.  Both of them say that the pace set is too fast.  Most of the experienced runners on my Daily Mile site, agree that it is too fast.  So I did my 10K, had not the best results, and thought about it a lot.

On sunday, I looked at several different running plans.  After sifting about a bit, I found the FIRST plan.  It looks very organized, and the paces set by my 5K PR are paces I can run.  So this morning, being kind of unsure of what I should do, I decided to try out one of the FIRST Runs on the Half marathon Plan, as I have a Half in July.

It was a tough run.  5 miles at an 11:09 pace.  I sort of bombed the run.  My legs are still recovering from the Saturday race and I really felt it when I started.  Plus my Hip labrum area was really hurting on the uphill.  I ran the first 2 miles at the proper pace, the third mile at much slower than the proper pace, and then miles 4 and 5 consecutively faster than the proper pace.  Imagine my total surprise when I looked at the totals and my overall pace was exactly 11:09.  too funny.

My only misunderstanding about the plan is exactly how I will get any faster.  The plan has my Half pace at 12:00 MM  and I really run a half right now at about 11:30.   So do I actually get faster or am I training to run the Half at the pace predicted by a 5K back in February?   I don’t really understand that. I know doing long runs at slower paces will build endurance, but if I can already run a half at an 11:30 pace, why would I train at a Half pace that is 12:00. I am just confused by their predictions.  It may be that my 5K time is not that great and I actually perform slightly better than predicted at longer distances. Opinions? Explainations?

Secondly…Lets say I start this plan today.  In 3 weeks, I have another 5K race planned.  I will probably set another PR.  Do I then adjust the training based on my new PR?  Or?  leave it as it is?

Thirdly.  How do I tell my coach that I’m not using his plan?  I am torn.  I could not tell him, but then he will continue to have to write monthly workouts that I am not using.  I do not know how he will react.  He is great to train with in the gym.  He is relatively new at writing plans…and not telling him does not give him an opportunity to learn and grow.  I just do not want to upset him.

Sooooo Running friends.  Opinions on Anything written about here?


20 thoughts on “Running problems

  1. I agree that your coach won’t be able to learn and grow if you don’t tell him, so I think you should – I can’t believe he isn’t really listening to you about the paces! There is a fine line between motivating/pushing someone and just ignoring your concerns. It’s a bummer that he isn’t paying more attention.

    Usually those plans where you base your paces off a previous race aim for you to improve. Have you tried the McMillian Running Calculator? Go to this site and then read the “One Note” paragraph at the bottom. Maybe that will help you!

    • Thanks Kara, I have looked at MacMillan in the past. I like the Furman because its 3 key workouts a week, and with the new job, I might only get 3 really good workouts!

    • I agree – use Mcmillan. Plug your half-marathon time in and see what it tells you your 5k time “should” be and use that as your 5k instead.

  2. Glad you are deciding against pushing that pace. It made no sense to me that you were training at a pace much faster than your target pace. There is no benefit to that and risks injury.

    If you set a new 5K PR, yes you adjust your pace in training too. You get faster by doing speed work and adding easy miles beyond your race, not by running the long ones at race pace.

    My half marathon PR set 3 weeks ago, was 2:18 @ 10:32 avg pace, but I NEVER train at that pace. My long runs are rarely faster than 12, and usually closer to 13-13:30. I do some shorter runs during the weeks that are in the 11ish range, and from time to time at my target race pace, but no more than 3-4 miles. I also do repeats on the track to work on speed, but a good chunk of speed endurance, so training your body to run at a steady comfortable pace for a long time, well past what you will be doing at the race, will help you run faster at the race.

    What is your target pace for this half and full marathons?

  3. My target pace, I hope would be around 10:40 for the full. the Half I want to do in about 2:25-2:20. we’ll see. I am pretty comfortable at a 10:40 pace for about 7 miles, on a good day. (Not the Winter Park Road Race obviously) but it isn’t my totally comfortable pace. I am just not so happy to see a race plan tell me to run my half at the 12:00 pace. So, I am confused. thanks for the Help Kitzzy!

    • Did you mean 11:40 for the full — 5:05 or 4:40 finish? Because a 2:20-2:25 half marathon finish is a 10:40 – 11:04 pace. If you can’t run this pace for a half, it would be too aggressive for a full. Is the plan telling you that your target pace for a half would be 12:00 or that you should run your long runs at that pace?

      • Well here is the thing. i will Never ever purposefully run a full unless it is predicted that I have a chance of finishing under 5 hours. I do not have a thing about completion, I care a lot more about time. So if I am not running about a 10:40 pace for long runs prior to Space COast, I’ll be dropping to the half then.
        THe plan is saying my Pace for a half with my 5K finish time would be a 12MM. but Macmillan says with my 5K finish time, my half would be 11:30- which is was. Going to take this plan and my noggin over to the local sports store and beg for some help. I am at a strange place in training, because of the hip surgery, all of a sudden I am running much much faster each time I run. (even the WPRR was a 2 min PR and I did not really put effort in after mile 2…) so it’s beenhard to predict what I will be capable of as each month my plain old mile time has dropped by 10-30 seconds. In “miracle mile” terms, I starte dout running about a 11:40 in Jan and now in late March I am running about a 9:40. it’s odd.

  4. Gotcha. Well, even if your target pace for the full is 10:40, you shouldn’t be running your long runs that fast. You can do some shorter runs at race pace, but the long ones need to be about 2 minutes slower than race pace. For a sub-5 marathon, all you need is an average pace of 11:15 for a 4:55 finish, so the long runs should be 12:30-13 at most. This isn’t just a Galloway thing by the way, to run the long ones so slow, the RRCA Coaching training I went to for my certification said the same thing. In fact, Kenyans do long runs 3-4 minutes slower than race pace.

    • Oh No, I know I’m supposed to be slower.The slower builds endurance… I think my confusion was when I plugged in my 5K time and the FIRST program told me that in 18 weeks, I’ll be running 12MM half. I’m thinking, Uh…

  5. Stuart (Quadrathon) says:


    I have nothing but good experiences with the FIRST plans, I used the 10k plan to take 4 mins off my PR (now 44:01) and the HM plan to take 9 mins off my PR (now 1:28:11) and along the way bested my 5k PR (now 19:11). I did write up about them extensively on my blog see:

    My advice which someone has mentioned is to buy the book Run Less Run Faster – it will answer a lot of your questions, but if your HM pace is 11:30 or 12 your training paces will be a lot faster over the short and long tempo runs and intervals even more so.

    It will also explain that there is an assumption that you have a base, which I think you have, this is not a plan for the faint hearted to get the most out of it you will be puking on your shoes after these runs but if you are time crunched it’s perfect

    You should revise your plan based on the new PR for sure, that’s only 3 weeks into a 14 week plan, I revised mine based on a 5k I ran a month out from race to really dial it in. Personally I think long slow runs have their place but it you want to race fast you have to train fast

    And tell your coach, your paying him and unless you do he will never know!

    • I have some base, having run the Half on March 4th. I’m hoping to use it for the Half in July and then if it works for me run the full in November! I think I am going to get the book and go for it. I just have to explain it gently to the coach. I adore him, love the drills and things he adds, BUT…I really really think he is overshooting…partly because I have had so much improvement, and he also feels the need to prove himself to my old coach….they have a bit of a rivalry. I would have never left my old coach, but she did this crazy thing…moved to California!

  6. I have nothing to add on the training program because I don’t train seriously. But as far as your trainer and his program, definitely tell him. Overall the plan just isn’t working for you and something he will need to learn to continue to grow as a trainer is that not every program/plan is for every person and he needs to have alternatives. He can help you push yourself, but you still need to find a plan that works for you! 🙂

  7. you need to talk to your coach. tell him you’re considering FIRST — see if the two of you can’t come up with a plan that incorporates both. hybrid them. but you need to say something.

  8. I think the answer to your quandary is simple – run the paces for your workouts that are dictated given your most recent race result and adjust based on any further races that you run. Your training runs can be a lot slower than your race pace and still work to build your overall speed, as speed for a half-marathon doesn’t come from speed work, it comes from having the endurance to maintain a pace for the needed time.

  9. I’m new to running and training, I just plugged everything into Smartcoach on the Runner’s World site and printed it out. I;ve been ignoring the time estimates and doing the given miles each week. I guess maybe I need to do it again with more current race times. I would tell your coach though. He is supposed to be working with you and should be listening to your concerns.

  10. Sounds like you need a new coach… or maybe you should just use him for your in the gym training and not for your running.

    Coaches are good in giving us advice, seeing things that we cannot see and in encouraging us to stick to our training plans and goals.

    But be careful. There is a difference between encouragement, support and guidance…. and in pushing you past your current level of fitness into overtraining and injury.

    Like anything else, just because someone does something for a living does not mean they are good at it… or they are the one best suited for you.

    • Thanks for dropping by Ultrathon!
      Right after this I dropped the coach, he would not adjust the training times, and when every other piece of training advice disagrees, I decided there were some issues there.

      But I continue to improve and so am feeling quite happy! WOuld love to hear about Rocky Racoon. I had a friend Kai running it…he had a good experience.

  11. Darren Nathan says:

    Hi mizunogirl, I have an impingment and labrel tear and arthritic damage, I need to do this surgery, what is your opinion? Who did you surgery? I live in Jhb SA.

  12. Hi Darren, I am sorry, this comment was put wrongly into my Spam folder. I am now 10 months out of surgery and am running better than I have ever run before. I think this is in part due to the surgery, but also in part due to the Physical Therapist’s goals. My PT knew about my Comrades goals, and so put me through some exercises that were not typical and they have really strengthened me much more than I had been in the future.

    My Surgeon was a Dr Brcka, in Florida. He is relatively new here, but has special fellowship training in the hip, and he did an Excellent job. I recommend him highly, though I think he thinks I am a bit crazy. (its the Comrades thing, in SA its a normal goal, here…it’s crazy.)

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