4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

Gotta love (hate) the speed workouts

with 4 comments

So as part of my strategy of running the New York City Marathon in under 4:30, I’ve signed up for the Bob Glover running class offered by the New York Road Runners.  The class is offered in 10 week sessions, 5 times per year.  I’ve taken the class once or twice a year, mostly every year, over the last 12 years.  I usually take the class in the dead of winter, Jan-Mar, as a way to get into shape for the spring.  And let me tell you something… it works!  However, I have a big love-hate relationship with the class.

There are many reasons why I love the class.  10 weeks of these speed workouts easily improves my race pace by 30-60 seconds.  The intensity of these workouts is something I simply can’t replicate on my own.  When the class is going on, I’m at least assured of 1 good, hard workout per week.

There are also a few nitpicky reasons why I hate the class.  Depending on the workout, the instructors sometimes have a hard time keeping the groups together.  Also sometimes people people push the groups too fast, and then I have a hard time keeping up.  Finally, while this is not a problem in the Jan-March session, during the rest of the year, the class is just too damn crowded!

But, the class works, and makes me love it and hate it at the same time.  Yesterday’s workout was awesome.  1/2 mile intervals on the 102nd st transverse and the upper east drive.  I went with the 8:10-8:40 per mile pace group, and finished each interval (trailing behind the group mind you) at 3:41-3:45.  That is better than 7:30 per mile pace – see what I mean about the groups going out too fast!  The group leader actually made a concerted effort to push the fast people to the group in front of us, however, that didn’t do anything to slow the group down and keep us better together – I still trailed the group and finished with virtually the same time.

*** Update *** – One of the coaches commented and pointed out that if the pace was too fast, I could have moved back a group.  That is a very good point and one that I considered.  This class groups into many different paces and it is always possible to move back (or forward) a group.  The group behind me was running at a 4:15 pace, which I thought was too slow for me so I stayed where I was.  Let me just clarify and say that I *love* the class way more than I *hate* the class.  The hate is more about speed workouts being hard, and less about the operation of the class.  It is impossible to create workouts that will please every person on every day and there are many other factors involved like the weather being bad (which to me means hot), or the park being crowded (which it is at the this time of the year), or me being in less shape than I want to be (unfortunately true and why I’m taking the class in the first place)!  ***

Anyway, it was a (relatively) cool evening, and the workout was awesome.  Can’t wait till next week!

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Written by SCL

August 13, 2008 at 10:54 pm

4 Responses

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  1. 3:41 to 3:45 is an appropriate pace for 1/2 mile intervals. The group you ran with “8:10 to 8-40 per mile” is based a a 5k to 4 mile race pace – not the pace the group will run 1/2 mile intervals. It would make sense that you can run a 1/2 mile faster than you can run 4 miles. right?

    The group does not run the pace of the slowest person, but rather the pace “most” of the group is running. “Slow pokes” need to go with the group where most of the people are their pace. Right? I think a few adjustment and you will be a happy runner with people of your own pace getting in a good workout. Try running with one level slower group next week.

    Coach Shelly

    August 14, 2008 at 6:07 am

  2. We love the runners in our classes too. And we love runners who put it on the like — just like you ! Keep running. Run well. We are on your side !

    Coach Shelly

    August 14, 2008 at 10:40 am

  3. […] hours after the long run, on Tuesday night, I was back in action.  The speed workout in class this week was 1.25 mile repeats along the East River, starting at 82nd St.  I cut the workout […]

  4. […] Hill Repeats (and more!) Another great running class this week.  Workout was .25 mile repeats up Cat Hill in Central Park.  Cat Hill is a quarter mile […]


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