Friday, January 01, 2010

Polar Dash: how to train for a 10K

Today I ran the Polar Dash 10K. I am mystified, but very pleased, with the results. Although I didn't party like it was 1999, I did stay up for the new year, and some champagne was involved. Originally I'd signed up for the race to have a goal for training, since cycling is very difficult this time of year. As it turned out though, I haven't been training for the race at all. I was able to cobble together enough Campagnolo components to be able to use the Powertap hub on the cyclocross bike, so any training I've been doing has actually been on the bike. Just so I wouldn't injure myself, I ran around the lake once last weekend, and twice during the middle of the week.

For other 10Ks I've run, training has been pretty serious, especially since running was all I had when I was recovering from the broken collarbone, or training for my brief foray into multisport. Times kept improving with training, and it was pretty neat to watch the progress. The best 10K I'd run was this spring: 45:24 at the Run the Valley 10K. So today, after not training, staying up late, drinking, and running in 3 degree weather, I ran a 45:19. WTF?

I'm theorizing a combination of a few things helped. First, they had pacers (!) for the 10K. I started out with the 49 minute group, and felt frisky (as people generally do at the beginning!), so I bridged up to the 46 minute group. There were a few times that I ran harder than I otherwise would because of the pacer, and some times when I ran easier than I otherwise would. Everyone in our group dropped off by the last stretch, and we picked up some stragglers from the next group. By the end I was feeling good and ran ahead, for a nice negative split and a good time. So I think a lot of credit has to be given to the pacer, as well as the blind luck of choosing the best pace.

The other factor would have to be fitness in general. Aerobic fitness translates from the bike to the run and other things, and provided the legs aren't entirely unused to running, the cycling has helped. Also motivating is just being in a race, running with other like-minded (crazy?) people, and the positive vibe.

So, lesson learned: don't train, stay up late, drink champagne the night before, and you'll set a PR!