I did something this evening that I’m pretty sure I’ve never done before. I knocked out a mile walking at a 12 minute, 41 second pace. This was immediately preceded by a 13:01 minute mile. I was feeling really good and pushed the pace a bit though I wasn’t necessarily trying to see how fast I could go. I was wondering what number would flash across my Garmin and was pretty shocked to see my pace.
I’ve increased my walking since Eastern States as a way to add mileage without overly taxing my system. I only have 6 weeks between 100 mile races so I’m trying to balance recovery with training. I think walking does that and it’s a skill I need to do a better job honing considering the amount of time I end up walking at the end of my ultras.
A side benefit of getting quicker and more efficient at walking is that I’ll be more likely to mix it in earlier and more often in my races. A lot of times, I’m almost afraid of walking flattish sections too early because I’m trying to bank time. Now, I know for a fact that this never ever works as the minutes you save in the first part of a race are paid back in hours at the end. But what if I could walk and still bank time? That would be the best of both worlds: saving time with low effort.
So for the last week, I’ve been trying to get in 4-5 miles in the evening at a brisk pace in addition to my normal morning runs. I have been able to maintain a 14 minute pace, give or take, depending on how much elevation gain the mile has had. The best pace I’ve managed though was a 13.5 minute mile before this evening. So I had a bit of a breakthrough by averaging better that for the entire 5 miles. Sure those last 2 miles were a net 177 foot drop in elevation on roads, but still. Progress is progress. Even if it’s just walking.
I wonder what I can do by focusing on this one aspect of ultrarunning for the next month. Maybe I won’t have to run a step at Olde 96er. After all, it doesn’t matter how you cover the distance.