Sunday, July 17, 2011

What's Your Average Training Pace?

I'm re-reading some of my old running books, including The Silence of Great Distance, a classic historical account of women's running in the 1980s featuring former University of Wisconsin athlete Stephanie Herbst.

In the book Murphy covers the career of Mary Decker, who may have been the most talented American-born middle-long distance runner ever.

-1972 Set an age-group world record in the 800-meter race
-1972 Won an international race in the 800-meters
-1973 Set three world records: the outdoor 800-meter, the indoor 880 yards, and the indoor 1,000 yards
-1973 Ranked first in the United States and fourth in the world in the 800-meter race
-1974 Set a U.S. high school record of 2:02.29 in the 800-meter run
-1979 Gold medal in the 1500-meter race at the Pan American Games
-1980 Set a world record in the mile, with a time of 4:17.55, becoming the first woman to break the 4:20 barrier
-1982 Set seven world records
-1982 Won Sullivan Award for best amateur athlete
-1982 Became first woman to win the Jesse Owens award, presented annually to the best American track and field athlete
-1982 Named Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year
-1983 Becomes first woman to run 880 yards in less than two minutes
-1983 Gold medals in 1,500 meter and 3,000 meter races at the inaugural World Track and Field Championships
-1983 Named Sports Illustrated's 1983 Sportsman of the Year
-1984 Held American record at every distance between 800 and 10,000 meters
-1985 Set a world record in the mile
-1985 Set a world record in the indoor 2,000-meter race
-1985 Named Sportswoman of the Year by the United States Olympic Committee
-1997 Set a new record in the 1,500-meter event in masters competition


Nobody had more trouble staying healthy than Decker, who reportedly went under the knife on more than 30 different occasions! In 1981, running under coach Dick Brown, to avoid injury Decker did very little interval training for a world class 800/1500/3000 meter runner, but according to Murphy, she averaged as low as 5:34 per mile in one weekly training cycle!

am 3 miles
pm 5.25 miles in 31:55

am 4.25 miles in 24:24
pm 5:25 miles in 37:19

am 3 miles in 18:26
pm 6 miles in 36:40

am 3 miles in 19:11
pm 10 miles in 59:40

pm 5 miles in 31:00

am 4 miles in 26:11
pm 3 x 200 in 35,34,34, then 2 x 400 in 69,68, then 1 x600 in 1:48, then back down with 2 x 400s and 3 x 200s. 7.25 miles total

pm 6 miles in 40:47

MY COMMENT: Amazing detail, long before runners were strapping on their GPS and downloading workouts. Initially I didn't like this idea, thinking it may discourage the use of slow recovery days. But in reality, what it does, if you want to lower your average, is force you to keep your recovery runs very short!

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