Every training plan I have followed sets up each run by pace: an easy run should be completed at a 10:00 minute per mile pace, speed work should be completed at a 7:15 pace, etc. My 50k training plan is not set up this way. With this plan, my runs are completed by “effort.”
On tap for today, I have a “one hour medium effort run.” As this is new way for me t train, I find it weird. I also do not find it consistent. “Medium effort” for me changes daily. My best “medium effort” is after 8 hours of sleep, maintaining proper nutrition, and tolerable weather conditions. Today’s medium effort run will not be optimal medium effort. I got less than 6 hours of sleep last night, drank 2 beers yesterday, and ate a Twix bar (not sorry about that). Not to mention, the roads are covered in ice and the wind is exceptionally gusty today.
Though my effort level will still feel “medium,” I am willing to bet my pace will be slower than if I was well-rested and nourished, running on dry roads. So I question, is it better to run by specific pace or on effort? What is the benefit of running by effort? It seems easier to me, almost like a cop-out. I can easily convince myself that I’m running at a medium effort. But with paced runs, there’s no cheating. Either you are on pace or you aren’t.
I suppose that since I do not have a time goal for my first 50k, running on effort is just fine. With this race and its training, I care most about getting the miles in. However, I don’t think I would use a training plan that utilized effort level over pace if I was training for a specific time in a race.
What are your thoughts about “effort training” over training with specific paces? How does this work out for you when race day comes?