Since my visit to London in spring 2015, I've been endeavoring to become metric literate. When someone tells me its going to be 75F degrees outside, I have a solid idea of what the weather will feel like that day. Tell me it's 15C, and I used to be befuddled. A solid six months of setting my weather.com app to metric, and I intuitively know that 5-9C is a great day to race, 20 and above I need to reset my expectations. 35+, like it's been a few times over the past 10 days in Southern California, is scorching and no joy can come from running that day.
Running races, we casually slide between metric and imperial units. 5K, 10K, 10 miler, 13.1, 26.2, but pace calculations have traditionally been in minutes/mile. A 9:09 minute mile will allow me to break the 4 hour mark at a marathon. 7 minute miles seem impossible for more than 3.1 miles. Imperial pacing makes intrinsic sense to me and most runners in America. When I talk pace with my friends, its in minutes/mile.
My outlook began to change by happenstance at the 2015 LA Marathon. The course had timing mats and markers every 5K in addition to the grand, orange, inflatable archways that commemorated every mile. I checked my watch at the first 5K marker, just under 28 minutes, and resolved to cover each 5K marker in the same amount of time. 28 plus 28 is 56, easy math. 56 + 28 is, ummm, 84, which is 1 hour and 24 minutes. 84 + 28 is.....dammit I'm too tired to do math right now.
The ad hoc attempt at "running metric" ended before the halfway mark, but it paved the way for a new mentality: run the marathon in eight 5K segments, then put whatever I had left into the final 2K. Approaching the race this way has a couple of benefits: 5000 meters is a relatively small distance in the course of a 50 - 60 mile training week, so dividing the course into 8 checkpoints, instead of 26, makes the race feel shorter. Additionally, aiming for pace markers less frequently smoothes out the variations in the course, allowing for more pace adjustments to the terrain.
I'm coming up on a year now that my Garmin default units are "km." When I hit the strength workout portion of the Hanson plan training for LA 2016, I ran 2 x 5K instead of 2 x 3 mile intervals. On an easy 6 mile day, I run 10K. Rounding up to the nearest km is a sneaky way of adding more mileage. Two tenths here and there, an additional 0.6 because I ran 17 km on a 10 mile day, it adds up to significant mileage over the course of 18 weeks.
Today was the first time I ran the speed pyramid workout, metric style. The traditional Hanson plan calls for 400m-800m-1200m-1200m-800m-400m intervals with 400m recovery between each. I made it a metric plan by making the base unit 500m. So 500m-1000m-1500m-1500m-1000m-500m with 500m recovery. And I did the workout on the trails near Peters Canyon instead of on a track, so a bit of hill work was added on top. After all, when was the last marathon course that had more than a mile of zero elevation change. My hope is these little tweaks will produce improved race day performance. I'm going to go through the Hanson Plan and convert each workout to kilometers, and then post the result on my Training Plan tab.