BEGINNERS READ THIS: WHAT PACE GROUP SHOULD I BE IN? WHAT DOES MY WEEK LOOK LIKE? WHAT SCHEDULE SHOULD I FOLLOW?
By Tim Flahaven
MIT has 20 plus different "pace groups". The pace group is in place to allow you the opportunity to gain coaching support and guidance on a Saturday run. The support comes from both the Pace Coach as well as others in the group. The major side benefit as you will learn, is that while running long mileage with perfect strangers, you will not be strangers for long. There is a socialization process that will take place that is natural to any arduous activity, be it running, climbing, cycling, etc. You bond with those that sweat alongside you.
You don't have to "declare" a pace group right away. And once you are in one you don't become wedded to it for the life of your training. Generally you want to be in a pace group that allows you to accomplish your Saturday run in calm redundancy. No stress, no excessive breathing, no problems. Run at an easy pace that allows you to talk comfortably with those around you. If you are into heart rate guided training, (and you should be - we will discuss this topic in upcoming newsletters) you will be running in zone 2.
The physiology of it all says that your Saturday run pace should be at least a minute slower than your goal marathon pace. My observations over years of watching MIT is that those in the 9:00 minute and under pace groups are running about a minute per mile faster on race day. The 9:00 to to 10:30 groups about a minute to 1:15 faster on race day. And the pace groups of 10:30 to to 12:30 and the Walkers are training on Saturdays closer to what they will perform at on race day. The variance for these slower groups between train pace and race pace is often a half minute or less. Again this is a general observation. The best way to figure which pace group you should be in is to use a heart rate monitor. The second best way is to invoke the "talk test". Finally, the third best way to gauge whether or not you are in the right pace group is to observe those around you during the run and at hydration stops. If you are gassed and they are not you may want to drop back to a slower pace group.
MIT training will take on a certain weekly cadence. It begins with the long run on Saturday. On Sunday we rest, and then as we get into the work week we begin to train again. It's all about work and recovery. You will get an e-mail from MIT on Tuesday which will educate and inform and amplify housekeeping issues for the upcoming group workout(s). The Wednesday workout will take place at the high school at6:30 PM. and then you will get another informational e-mail on Friday. Then back to the Saturday long tun. Athletes like routine. You will get used to the rhythm of the routine, and when it is all over in October you will find that life if a bit weird without it. PLEASE NOTE THAT WE WILL HAVE TO ON OCCASION SEND AND EMERGENCY E-MAIL REGARDING A CHANGE IN PLANS DUE TO WEATHER OR A VENUE CHANGE.
We have different training schedules contained on the MIT website for any given race. Beginners, those that are complete novices to half or full marathoning should follow the "Beginner" schedule. If you have run a race or two you may consider the "Experienced" schedule. The mileage total will increase, but if you are comfortable in your ability to take on a higher volume of work and balance it with everything else you have going on in life than go for it.
Hopefully this will help direct you to a proper training track. As always, the coaches or Jeff, and myself are there to help answer any questions.