So far we've introduced VDOT and defined an Easy running pace. In a nutshell, easy running promotes your aerobic endurance, which means it improves the efficiency of your cardiovascular system in absorbing and transporting oxygen, which is then converted to the energy used to run.
While a solid aerobic system is necessary for better running, if you want to race faster you have to practice running fast. That brings us to the next intensity,
Repetition pace (R pace). The main goal of this pace is to teach faster foot and leg turnover and to promote good running mechanics. Because the goal is to go fast with good form the runs at this pace tend to be short, 200 - 400 meters, with a long recovery, 2-3x the time it took you to run the rep. Another way to recover adequately is to jog the same distance you just ran. Also, each work bout should not be longer than 2 minutes. So, if it takes you longer than 2 minutes to run 400 meters, it would be appropriate for you to run a shorter distance - specifically, whatever distance you can cover in 2 minutes.
For our 12-week training plan, the next 4 weeks will contain several runs at R pace. Those will be mixed with runs at Tempo/Threshold pace which will be the topic of the next post. This week's workout will feature R pace only, so go to the VDOT table, find your VDOT, and see how long it should take you to cover 200 meters at that pace :-). Then, when you show up on Thursday and hear the workout, you'll know exactly how it should be executed. REMEMBER: there is no reason to run the repeats faster than your VDOT prescribes - it will not make you faster, it will just tire you out. In theory, as you get more fit, your VDOT will improve. BUT, you should use a race performance to determine whether you should move to a different VDOT, not your personal desire to rush the process. As a wise running mentor once told me, "you can not outrun your fitness." We'll talk more about this in the future.
Keep in mind that training is a process. It is necessary to include all the paces discussed in order to optimize your running. But you don't have to hit all the paces every single week. We are defining these paces for you at this same time as we are following a training plan that judiciously prescribes each pace so you don't have to think. Eventually, the training weeks will be laid out in a weekly calendar so you can seek guidance on what your other weekly runs should look like. For now, just run all other weekly runs at your E pace. It will all come together soon and I hope it will result in a PR for you (that is, if that's what you want). If not, just enjoy the ride ;-)