This fall my goal is speed. I decided at the end of last year that I would not train for a full marathon so that I can have a different focus this cycle. To date, in all of my training it has been about covering distance with no regard to pace.
Don’t get me wrong. That type of training has its place. And, up to this point I was happy just to run and enjoy it. I love the running community and I love participating in races. But now, I want to bring my conversation pace down under 9 minutes. I have actually found through this first week I have some speed hiding in there. I’ve seen paces consistently over the last two weeks that I haven’t seen very often in the past.
This training cycle also comes with its challenges. I have a lot on my plate so I need to be very disciplined with my time. I’ve also come face to face with my flaws and today, I’m sharing all. I’m not the kind of person to set a negative tone so I’m also sharing what my goals and strategies are to overcome my deficits.
What I’m looking forward to:
The Training Plan and Speed
The first thing I am looking forward to is lower mileage! Can I get a hallelujah? I’m not a fan of runs longer than 15 miles. And this cycle…I don’t even have to think about that!
We already know that I’m looking forward to getting faster overall. For the last three years, I’ve basically been running the same paces. My half marathon time has only improved by about 2 minutes over three years. It’s time to speed it up and become more efficient! Plus, if I don’t start to become fast, I’m not going to be able to keep up with hubs.
Side note on keeping up with hubs. When we first started running, everyone always asked if he was able to keep up with me. Maybe it’s because I grew up an athlete and he was a band kid? I don’t know… but these days, he can run circles around me.
In past training cycles, I have had a hard time maintaining a strength routine while training. Eventually it was really hard to get my runs in. I had to sacrifice the strength training to prioritize the running workouts. This time around, I already have a solid running base plus a few weeks of regular strength training under my belt before the plan kicked off. I feel like I can manage both given shorter workouts and lower overall mileage.
Changing my Body Composition
I’ve been struggling to lose weight over the last few months. I think this is partially due to poor eating habits (going out to eat on the weekends) and not eating enough calories during the week. It’s time to dial it in nutrition wise. I’ve started my strength training which will help me to increase my muscle mass. As muscle mass increases, basal metabolic rate also increases making it easier to maintain a healthy weight.
First and foremost, I have two time goals that I am shooting for. I’m looking to hit a 23:00 (or less) for the 5k which will put me at a 1 minute PR and a 1:59 half marathon which would be about a 9 minute PR. If I continue with my speed training and I run a smart half marathon, I should be able to crush 1:59.
Training Tips: The key for me here is structured workouts with key speeds and track workouts once a week. Each workout in a training plan has a specific purpose and it is really important to respect your training. That means running hard on hard days and easy on easy days. When you get confused about this you will end up under-trained or burned out. Either scenario can affect your ability to meet your A goal on race day.
I’m not going to miss any workouts…I’m not going to miss any workouts. I do well with plans because I like checklists. And this time around, I have someone to answer to if I decide that I want to skip a workout. I’m also trying to get better with my overall routine. Stretching, warm-ups, foam rolling, and strength training.
Training Tips: Make a plan for each day. Decide ahead of time when and where you will do your workout. If you need to, set out your clothes the night before so you are ready in the morning or pack your bag so you can work out right after work.
For my speed work and tempo workouts, I will need to hit specific paces which will push me outside of my comfort zone. I have a few test 5k’s in the plan as well which will help me to narrow down my pacing strategy leading up to race day. I frequently start out too fast so my focus will be on consistent splits for speed work and conservative starts in races so that I have enough gas in the tank for a fast finish.
Training Tips: If you are having trouble hitting paces on repeats, find an experienced runner with a similar pace/goal to run with or set smaller incremental goals to self-correct earlier in the interval. On race days, it is all about discipline. No matter how good you feel, run the race smart. That means starting conservative leaving a little something in the tank to finish really strong. This is going to look different for each race distance/course profile.
Form and Running Economy
I have a lot to work on here. When I first started running, I was a heel striker and I have overcorrected to a forefoot runner. However, during longer runs my calves get tired and I switch to a lazy midfoot running pattern. Because of this, I do not activate my hamstrings. During repeats when I get out of breath I get really tense and wonky…looking up to the sky like I’m waiting for something to swoop down and save me. I have some other things to work on as well but I’m just going to start with these two.
Training Tips: Please do not try to self-correct your running form. Find a local coach or qualified professional for a video/functional gait analysis. While there are a few rules about running form, there are a lot of variables to consider. If you are working with someone to change your form, this needs to be done in a controlled manner so that you do not cause injury. There are even some instances where minor form flaws are not corrected.