Doing what it takes to stay under 9:00 per mile

Today’s run (street) 2.5 miles at 8:59

I’ll admit that I like my current focus on speed and pace and I’ve been looking forward to my early morning runs even more than usual. I’m not running fast at 4:00 AM but compared to the paces I maintained throughout most of July, I am running much faster. My definition of a decent pace begins at around 9:05 per mile. I’m generally pleased when I meet or exceed that time. My psychological threshold is 9:00 minutes and that’s when I feel like I’ve accomplished more than merely covering my distance. Right now, in the midst of summer, 9:00 per mile is much harder for me to break than when I’m running in 20-30 degree temperatures. I want to do better on the Dirty Sock run this year and I believe that consistently training at paces around 9:00 per mile will get me there. However, trails can become more difficult based on their condition. If it rains close to start time all bets are off.

I managed to break my psychological threshold this morning, clocking an 8:59 pace for two and a half miles. It was already close to 80 degrees when I left but without the sun I felt like I could push without straining. I’m focusing primarily on form (vertical alignment, arm positioning) and cadence. On my slow days in July, I hovered around 80 SPM and on longer runs would fall as low as 78. These days, as I run, I think about how quickly I’m turning over my stride, how high my trailing leg is going and how much time I can spend off the ground. Higher cadence does influence stride length but I think that’s okay. In Born to Run, Christopher McDougal writes about the advantages of a shorter stride for mid-foot running and I agree that it does provide a feeling of moving along well.

My friend BJS sent me some notes that he made from his Cow Harbor 10K training last year. They are extremely helpful in understanding the course and setting expectations. He mentions a couple of big hills that must be respected. I think that will be the theme for one of my upcoming weekend training runs. The Dirty Sock course has no measurable elevations but, even so, I’m expecting that hill training will help me.

4 thoughts on “Doing what it takes to stay under 9:00 per mile

  1. 8:59 miles, you are rocking man. Soon from now, you will be talking about 7:59 miles. Hill training will help any runner out tremendously. I started doing some a few months back and I have more strength and speed. I am now under the 10 minute miles for shorter distances, sometimes a little over, but around 10 and not over 11 as I was before the summer. Best wishes in your training.


  2. I've noticed that you've been hitting some good paces so your hard work is paying off. Plus you are becoming a real distance guy. I'm always conflicted between running for fun (more slowly) versus running for performance. With two 10Ks looming speed and hill training wins out for me. At least for now.


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