Well, I survived Week 1 of training and I learned a few things. I should start by saying that I had laid out a very aggressive training plan for the next several months that attempted to emulate what I did prior to running my half-marathon PR two years ago. In the time since the PR, however, a few things have changed. I’ve gone Paleo and had to completely rework pre-run fueling strategies. I had the SI joint/IT band injury last year. Following the injury, I added two days of strength training, which I’m currently doing on my two running off-days. Looking back at my training log, I was also a lot faster when I started training for the PR race, having just come off a decent spring half-marathon. I was thus left with a bit of dilemma when I laid out a training plan this time. I wanted to be aggressive with my schedule, and didn’t want to risk re-injuring myself, but I was also committed to keeping the strength training in the mix.
My initial plan (which I knew was somewhat suicidal) ran thus:
Monday – Strength
Tuesday – Interval (5-6 miles)
Wednesday – Easy (5-6 miles)
Thursday – Tempo (5-6 miles)
Friday – Strength
Saturday – Hill (5-6 miles)
Sunday-Long (8-15 miles)
The first thing to note is that there is no rest day in the mix. The second thing is that I’m totally violating the 75% of mileage at easy paces rule. I had laid out my interval and tempo workouts per the pace tables in Run Less, Run Faster, which I’ve used over the years and in the process, morphed into Run More, Feel Exhausted. That scenario pretty much played itself out as I tackled the first week of the schedule. I took the strength training pretty easy on Monday in an attempt to not be sore for Tuesday’s speedwork. I was worried about getting off on the wrong foot and not being able to hit my paces in my first interval workout, but I did manage to push through it. Wednesday I already had to pull back the pace, though, because I felt like my heart rate was getting too high for an easy run. Thursday I banged out my tempo without too much trouble and felt great. Friday was strength training again, and then a short hill run on Saturday.
I do most of my hill training on a scenic route through Santa Monica and the Palisades and I was looking forward to quiet streets and modernist architecture. The route starts at a slight incline (maybe 1-2%) for about a mile, then becomes rolling with some nice climbs and drops of varying length and steepness. I had been running for about half a mile when I realized that the almost imperceptible slope was already producing that dreaded running-through-molasses feeling. I gritted my teeth and stuck it out, but it was not a particularly commanding performance. I did my best to shake off the crappiness, though, and was still optimistic going into Sunday’s 10-miler. Rather than being tired the day after a hill workout, I usually feel strong and energized. Sunday dawned warm and steamy, though, and I quickly realized that I was going to have to rein the pace way in if I was going to make it through 10 miles. Again, I felt like I needed to creep along at a snail’s pace to keep my heart rate in check. Some of this, no doubt, was due to the weather, but I was really just not feeling sharp. All in all, I’m proud of myself for having the discipline to run slowly enough to get through it. A few months ago I would have taken off at my goal pace, burned out in a few miles, and totally beaten myself up over it. I am forced to admit, however, that I am going to revamp this schedule to make it workable.
Professionally, I think I’m very good at prioritizing and distilling the big picture down into the critical tasks to be completed. It is not a skill I’ve applied to running very often. I realized that I need to approach this problem like I would any other deadline and ask the following questions:
- Which workouts are getting me the most bang for my mileage? Which ones aren’t?
- How can I optimize my recovery time?
- Am I striking the right balance in types of workouts?
More to come…