SmartCoach Pacing

Q&As with Amby Burfoot

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31/05/2008 at 07:36

Hi there

I would like to train for a best PB on a 10k over 4 (or 8) weeks, but am not sure what time to aim for or how hard I should train.  My previous best without much training was 52min and I have recently been injured and ran a 10k at about 54/55min as am out of shape and overweight from months of previously being injured and too much eating/drinking!    I run casually 3-4 times per week  without any training goals at the moment so am clocking about 35-45km per week.  I have only ever trained for marathons before and never for a 10km so don't really know what kind of time I should go for - but I would like to be challenged !  (without injuring myself as want to run a marathon in November)

Does anyone have any advice about what time I should aim for?



31/05/2008 at 10:54

I would go for a target of 50 mins or if you really wanted to push yourself 48 mins

But if you have been off injured your training should start off easy so to prevent injury so you may only be pushing yourself really hard for a couple of weeks. Why not just try to beat your PB no-one can ask more than that!

12/06/2008 at 20:15

SmartCoach has designed a 5K training session for me over 8 weeks working at a Hard Level. My last race time was 22:06. Based on other people's experience what can I realistically drop my time to by the end of these 8 weeks (provided I follow the programme correctly)?


12/06/2008 at 20:48
i would say have a crack at 21 mins
13/06/2008 at 09:39

There's a race time calculator somewhere on here which asks you what you last got & what you're running this time & then gives you a predicted time. It was pretty accurate based on what I last did, but obviously doesn't take into account any training you may have done since then.

I entered a 10K time of 58.23, it then told me my predicted half-marathon time would be just over 2 hours 7 minutes. Which would be about right based on the 10k pace. However I have and will have done considerably more training since then & would be optimistic of getting it nearer the 2 hour mark.

But if you're talking about the same distance I don't know how the calculator would work.

13/06/2008 at 23:10
Thanks both
16/07/2008 at 03:09
I have no real sense of distance. I have begun to get used to judging distances in kilometers. Is there any way to get the 'smart' coach to give metric measurements? I really have no idea how long a mile is - come to think of it neither does my GPS.
16/07/2008 at 20:49

2km = 1.25 miles.

400m = .25 miles


18/07/2008 at 02:50
Graham Rule wrote (see)
I have no real sense of distance. I have begun to get used to judging distances in kilometers. Is there any way to get the 'smart' coach to give metric measurements? I really have no idea how long a mile is - come to think of it neither does my GPS.

 1 mile= 1.609 km.

 If in a hurry  use 1 mile= 1.5 km

 So just add around 50%  of any given amount in miles to get a quick and dirty km aproximation.

 Thus if your program says run 8 miles, then run 12k, you should be OK ( in reality it would be 12.8 km, but the difference is unlikely to affect your training results).

18/07/2008 at 09:06
jlms, that's a better way to work it out if you're converting from miles to km. I wasn't thinking about that when I posted the km to miles conversion.
18/07/2008 at 14:30
Roslyn wrote (see)
jlms, that's a better way to work it out if you're converting from miles to km. I wasn't thinking about that when I posted the km to miles conversion.

 My metric dark side emerged there

 To go the other way around then take 2/3rds of any distance in Km to get miles, round down for better accuracy.

 i.e. 10K is approximately 6.666666666666666666 miles   , so lets say it is 6.6miles (it is actually 6.21371192 , but  we want easy quick and dirty conversions with no difficult mental arithmetic involved).

18/07/2008 at 14:56

Is it not easier to say that 1km = 5/8 of a mile? That's the way I was taught to work it out. So divide your miles by 5 & multiply that by 8 to get your kms? 5 miles = 8kms etc.

You've lost me now, how can 6.666666 be 6.2137.....?

24/08/2008 at 09:51
I've found with the Garmin forerunner that if you set the distance and the time and use the virtual trainer it gives you a great sense of how well you are doing. Updating you on how far in front or behind you are. Due to the undulations near where I live I cant keep a constant pace so customising the second view screen to show average pace is a great help also. Fantastic bit of kit and the old 101 with bike mount was only £60. My own training has benefitted enormously from it
24/08/2008 at 12:02

Pablex, that's a good idea, I've only used the virtual partner once or twice then stopped, but I do struggle to keep a constant pace - never thought that using the virtual partner would be helpful.


10/09/2008 at 10:12

Hello everyone.  I've been running for about 5 or 6 years, not competitively but just to keep fit.  I also do lots of other exercise during the week.  I don't seem to have gotten any quicker over the time I've been running and I was losing my mojo a bit so I set myself a bit of a challenge.  Using Smart Coach I asked for a "very hard" 8 week half marathon schedule based on my average running of 16-20 miles per week.

My questions are these: 

Even with such a short programme the easy runs were only a 2-3 miles long - I usually run at least 5 miles each time I head out, and they were at a very slow pace - 11 minutes plus.  Now I'm not fast by any means, but can run steadily for a long distance at around 10 to 10.30 pace.  Should I be slowing down and running much shorter distances as the schedule says? 

The LSRs on a Sunday also were very slow.  It seems like a backward step to me.  Is it or is the training programme not challenging enough? 

Certainly the speed sessions have been challenging but they are not over any decent kind of distance.

I've just looked at another "very hard" schedule aiming for half marathon on 30th November but again some of the easy and LSRs don't look harder than I know I can already do.  What do other people think here?

10/09/2008 at 11:25

Wee Curly Dee, the point of the slow LSR is to help you build endurance - you get that slowly and gently and gradually work up to doing it faster. The short runs are essentially recovery runs designed to help your body expel toxins/loosen off again after either shorter fast sessions, or longer endurance sessions. The slow runs will seem ludicrously slow if you've been running at the same pace all the time over the years, but that's exactly what they're meant to be - although I know a lot of us struggle to go quite as slowly as we ought to and sometimes it can be painful to slow down that much, so a wee increase in pace to get comfortable shouldn't be a problem

I think that essentially, the combination of running longer distances, in a way that isn't hugely stressful for your body, combined with shorter speed sessions challenges your body more effectively than plodding along in the same way all the time. The fact that you're finding the speed sessions actually challenging means that you should start to see improvements on the tempo runs, as the pace on these drops, the speed session training allows you to not collapse in a soggy heat.

Perhaps re-run the schedule over 16 weeks to see how it looks as it builds up, or look at a marathon schedule to compare. You'll see that the LSR pace gradually increases, as does the tempo distance/pace & the speed session distance/pace.

There was a bit of debate on here about the smart coach not challenging enough if you wanted to improve your time over a distance you'd already completed, and I can see that. It doesn't push too hard if you're using a 10k time to get a 10k schedule. But if you're using it to increase distance and motivate you, I'd say that it's worth persevering. The majority of your runs should be easier/as easy as you can do already, with the longer runs increasing over what you're already doing & the speed sessions effectively running you into the ground.

Does that help at all?

10/09/2008 at 12:52

Thanks Roslyn.  I had made up my mind to persevere anyway and see if it worked out and I did get any faster but it's helpful to have your take on it. Not sure I can make myself slow right down to 11+ per mile though, or if I can be bothered to get all hot and sweaty just for a two mile run when I usually comfortably do 5.  It's a difficult one isn't it.  Everything I've read warns against pushing harder and faster too quickly but when you know you can go faster and further than you are being asked to it's hard to hold back!

By the way, I have only ever completed one half marathon before in 2006, in a time of 2.13.  I just thought I'd use the training to motivate me and to see if I could get my time down a little. 

10/09/2008 at 14:02

I don't like 2 mile runs either. When my schedule has 2 milers in it, I tend to see what the other short runs are that week & turn them into 3 minimum. Works ok if I have 3x 2 miles, so I can do 2x 3 miles, but when you've got a 2 & 3, I just shove in the extra mile. 2 never feels particularly good, but 3 I can do happily & then stop again - anything shorter & I find my legs hate me the rest of the day 'cos they've only just begun to loosen off properly.

As for 11+ pace, I found fairly quickly that I was more comfortable around 10.30-10.45 which was still slow enough to achieve LSR, but much better than constantly forcing myself to slow down. Eventually the slow plod lets your mind wander too, making the run really easy to achieve 'cos the miles just tick by without you really noticing.

Have you got a place on another HM or is this purely for the sake of it?

10/09/2008 at 14:11

Thanks Roslyn.  I've been tending to stick to 3 hours for the easy runs and doing them at around 10.30 as you say, same type of pace for the LSRs.  As I said before, it feels a bit like a backward step to go any slower than I'm comfortable with.

 And no, I haven't got a place on a HM but I was thinking about doing the Folkestone Half which is on 28th September and that's what I aimed the training schedule at.  There's also the Norwich Half on 30th November.  Maybe I'll give them both a go after following two consecutive schedules and see whether they do actually work and whether I've got any quicker!   The other thing is that this is my 5th attempt at getting a place in the London Marathon and I thought I'd get in some training just in case I finally get in!  If not this year, then I'll definitely get a place for 2010.

10/09/2008 at 14:37
I did hear that anyone getting rejected for the FLM got an automatic place in the Edinburgh marathon, but from Folkestone, that's maybe a bit far to travel
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