Here's what I've been doing differently:
Running the easy runs easy
I wrote a post about this a few months ago entitled Run slower to fun faster? I've been following this practice for the last several months where I've really been keeping the pace comfortable. In training, I usually do a 4:1 run/walk ratio during my long runs - but occasionally I've even been doing run/walks during the shorter, easy runs. My legs have been feeling noticeably fresher. It also feels easier both physically and mentally to ramp up the miles. This will make a difference when it gets to those final tough training weeks prior to a goal race.
I've always had a love-hate relationship with speedwork. It's historically been tough for me to push myself out of my comfort zone in the way that speedwork usually demands. However, over the past couple of months I've built up some momentum and I've been pretty consistent about doing speedwork once a week. I default to doing 1-minute tempo repeats (described here in more detail). But, to mix things up I have thrown in some pace runs here and there. I am encouraged because speeds that were once challenging for me to maintain are now feeling much more achievable.
I am relatively new to my current workplace. A few months after I came on board, my company completed a fitness center renovation and began offering free workout classes to all employees. This is a wonderful perk and I am trying to take advantage of it as best as I can. My goal is to try at least one new class per week, while also sticking with my tried-and-true favorites. Two classes that I strive to attend every week include a yoga sculpt class (yoga done with light hand weights), and a traditional vinyasa yoga class. I think the increased yoga has helped a lot in keeping my muscles looser. Up until this point, I've never done yoga so frequently. In the past, I probably averaged only one yoga workout every 10-14 days!
Foam-rolling, stretching, and PT
In addition to doing more yoga, I've been better about keeping up with my foam-rolling, stretching, and my physical therapy exercises - especially monster walks and planks (any kind of core work is my least-favorite). It's become almost a nightly routine to foam-roll, stretch, and plank while watching TV. Despite being more consistent with these practices, I am often surprised at how certain areas (my hamstrings, hip flexors, calves, and IT band) still feel pretty stiff every day. It reminds me how important it is to keep up with the routine.
I used to be unenthusiastic about cross-training. I wanted to focus just on running. After all, what better way to improve your running than to run, right? Wrong. Cross-training has made a huge difference in relieving some of my running-induced muscle imbalances, and in helping me feel stronger on an overall basis. I usually go on the stationary bike at least once a week, which has improved my hip strength (one of my biggest areas of muscle weakness). Beyond the bike, I've been trying to mix things up where possible with things like the rowing machine, boxing classes, pilates, and Pure Barre. The variety has definitely helped reduce the boredom factor, too, which is great.
I've mentioned before that I am trying to focus on eating more natural, unprocessed foods (e.g. instead of instant boxed mashed potatoes, making real mashed potatoes from whole potatoes). Shinianen recently wrote a post about the horrors of processed foods and dining out, which further renewed my resolve to eat as healthfully as possible. As an added benefit to improving the quality of my food intake, I've lost about 15 pounds over the last 6-7 months. I think the weight loss has also made running easier. Win-win all around.
So with all these newfangled training improvements, what the heck do I hope to achieve?
I have two PRs which I am hoping to break this year. I set both of these PRs over a decade ago:
5K - 25:55 (Race to the Taste, July 2001)
Half Marathon - 2:16:37 (Chicago Half Marathon, September 2002)
Last year I ran the Petco 5K9 in 26:42 and the Prairie State Half Marathon in 2:19:16. So even before making most of these training improvements, I was starting to get close to those PRs. I am hopeful that this will be the year that it will finally happen for both distances.
BONUS - I don't run the 10K distance nearly as frequently as the 5K or the half marathon. However, it would be awesome to knock out my 10K PR this year, too, which was also set over a decade ago:
10K - 55:46 (Main Course 10K, May 2001)
|Lofty goals, all rejoice!!!|
Hooray! My blog makes a difference! :-)ReplyDelete
Anyway, I'm going to repeat our convo from a few posts ago. If I can run a 2:14 half and my best 5K is a 27:XX, you can DEFINATELY beat me in a half. It's all about mental perspective.
I dare you to beat me. :-)
PS - you can call me Natalie. :-)Delete
Your blog makes a HUGE difference. Some of the posts you've written are very educationally eye-opening. Seriously, after reading your numbers post, I may never eat Campbell's Soup again, ever.Delete
If I can run a 2:14 half, that would be a new PR for me so I would love to be able to accomplish that! Thanks for setting up the stakes =D I seriously do have some kind of mental block when it comes to running longer race distances, though. I think I fear going out too fast and then crashing and burning at the end, so I tend to err on being too conservative. With 5Ks if you crash and burn, worst case is you just walk the whole thing, right? But if you crash and burn at a half marathon, you could literally be walking for hours!
I will start calling you Natalie in the future! Some bloggers are finicky about going by their blogger names rather than their real names, so I tend to default to blogger names. =)
Yeah, I totally get the crash fear. But I have faith in you... 2:12!! :-DDelete
2:12, eh? The ante just keeps getting upped. ;-) In all honesty and seriousness, my pie-in-the-sky goal is to run sub 2:10. I am training hard!!!Delete
You can do it!!!!!!Delete
These are all excellent improvements to get you to your PRs. I assume you are putting in more miles as well. One tip is to push yourself to speed up at the end of your workouts to simulate your race "kick" - this will help you to push towards a faster finishing time and prevent the dreaded fade.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Pete - and REALLY GREAT tip about speeding up at the end of workouts to simulate the race kick. I was actually reading in Hal Higdon's training programs about what he calls the 3:1, which is to run the first three quarters of your distance at an easy or easier pace, then pick things up for the final quarter. I will definitely start doing this!!! Anything I can do to avoid the fade or positive splits!!!Delete
Wow, it sounds like you're doing great with both training and eating! I'm a huge fan of run/walking (though I know it's not for everyone), so I'm happy to hear that you find it helpful too. And good job on weekly speed work! I'm reaching the same point, where formerly "challenging" speeds don't feel too terrible! I can't wait to see how his all pans out for you in your races this year!ReplyDelete
If you want a fall 10k, the Lung Run is on September 13th at Montrose Harbor and has a 5k and 10k option. I'd love to have you on my team :)
Thanks Anne! YAY for run/walking! I know a lot of people say the constant shift between running and walking stifles their momentum, but for me it's a huge mental boost to know that I never have that long to go before my next walk break. So great to hear how your speed work has been progressing in leaps and bounds, too - I can't wait to see how it pans out for you this year, as well!Delete
Oooh, the Lung Run! Assuming no schedule conflicts, count me in for the 10K - mid-September would be perfect timing for a PR attempt! I see that registration is not yet open but I'll keep an eye out. =)
Yes, that's exactly how run/walking makes me feel! And I think I read somewhere that it doesn't really affect your time - if you don't run/walk, tired legs could slow you down more than slight walk breaks.Delete
I've been talking to someone at the charity, it sounds like they plan to have registration for the Lung Run open up sometime soon, but it also never sells out so there's no rush to register either way! But not to worry, once it opens up, I'm sure I'll mention it once or twice ;)
YES! I also read that run/walking helps to maintain a more even or negative split, which is faster over the long haul than running the whole time. And I've certainly enjoyed passing lots of people towards the ends of races when I did the run/walk early on. =)Delete
I look forward to registration opening up for the Lung Run! Did I see correctly that registration fees are only $30 for the 5K or the 10K? If so, that is so affordable for the 10K! I love it!
I have been really bad about stretching and foam rolling and I've been really having issues with my hip/IT band areas lately so I'm trying work this in a bit more. I hate stretching, it hurts bc I never do it and have no flexibility and the pain gives me a headache!ReplyDelete
The stationary bike will help with hip strength? And I've been trying to incorporate more cross training too. I totally lack in that department.
I was doing speedwork consistantly for a few months last winter but when I dislocated my shoulder the 2nd and 3rd times last feb, that stopped it. I've intermittently tried to do it again but I hate running fast and feeling uncomfortable. But I noticed good things with it before. I'm going to look at your 1 min thing!
I totally relate to the pain that stretching brings. When I foam roll my IT band, sometimes it hurts so much that I get tears in my eyes! So I try to do a little bit at a time and simultaneously distract myself with whatever is on TV. I bargain with myself, too, e.g. "I will hold the foam roll spot only until the end of this commercial!" =DDelete
I have very weak hips - so for me, when I go on the stationary bike, I TOTALLY feel it in my hips and glutes. Some people say that they prefer other methods of cross training that are completely different than running (e.g. swimming), but I say that any form of cross training is a good thing!
The discomfort that comes with speedwork is something that I don't particularly enjoy, either. It is frequently hard enough to get myself motivated to run on a normal day, let alone a speedwork day! I'm taking the mindset that speedwork doesn't have to be suicidal to be effective. Moderate speedwork is still better than none, right? If you do give the 1-minute tempo repeats workout a go, I'd love to hear what you think about it!
What a well thought out and awesome plan!!! You're going to rock this year.ReplyDelete
I'm feeling ultra motivated and am making race goals too-I'll be posting about them next week!
Thank you so much, Katie!!! So glad to hear that you are feeling super motivated, too! I am looking forward to reading about your upcoming race goals. I am also excited to keep hearing more about Penny and seeing more pictures of her!!! =DDelete
Looks to me like you have all your ducks in a row to hit those PRs this year! What happened to all those 10ks anyway? I think they've been replaced by half marathons. I'll bet if they offered 10ks with the nice medals halfs have, popularity would resurge,ReplyDelete
Half marathons are the fastest growing race distance in the U.S. However I think some of this is also us paying attention (and our dollars) toward distances. Being real, I'm more likely to spend my money at a longer distance event than a shorter one. In my mind there are also fewer 5Ks, but realistically I probably just screen most of them out mentally.Delete
Go Emms on your goals! Strong & smart!
Thanks, Marcia and Lauren!!! Much appreciate your confidence in me!!!Delete
Marcia - I agree, I happen to really like the 10K distance and wish there were more of them out there that offered medals!!! Psychologically, I think 6.2 miles is a lot easier for the novice runner to comprehend than 13.1. Bring on the 10Ks!!!
Lauren - I definitely agree that I pay attention to the bang for the buck that I get for a race. It seems silly sometimes to pay the $35 or more for a 5K, when you could pay about $70 for a half marathon while running more than 3x the distance of a 5K. I do often think that if I wanted to run a 5K, I could just do that myself on my own, rather than paying for the course support!
Hopefully this won't jinx things, but I've run the BTN Big 10K both years it's been around, and on both occasions, race morning has been surprisingly cool. In 2012 (which, you may recall, was a horrendously hot summer all the way around), it was maybe 73 at race time (which felt incredibly comfortable compared to, y'know, 93), and last year it was 63 on race day. I've PRed there both times, and both times have been enormous PRs (4:50 PR in 2012, 3:02 PR in 2013). Granted, extenuating circumstances may have helped (I was training for my first half in 2012 and training for Chicago in 2013 [I actually ran 5.8 miles to GET to the race, and then ran the race and STILL PRed!]), but in my experience the BTN Big 10K has been wonderful for PRing, despite its July date.ReplyDelete
Bethany! Knock on wood that the BTN Big 10K continues to have great PR weather in July! Are you planning on running it again this year? I do remember 2012 was an absolutely horrible summer - and 73 degrees would have felt heavenly at the time. 63 last year would have been amazing, too. Congratulations on your enormous PRs there in both years, especially in 2013 when you had a 5.8 mile warm-up. WOW! Here is hoping that the amazing BTN Big 10K PR streak keeps holding true for you!!!Delete
You are singing my song in this post! I'm a big proponent of running long runs slower. (That's probably the only thing I don't love about the Run Less, Run faster plan. I like realllllly slow long runs.) I've also come around on speed work (I was shocked to realize that I enjoy it) and yoga (also shocking).ReplyDelete
Like you, I wouldn't mind a new PR. The last time Stephen deployed, I PRed in every single distance. It was a great year, but now I'm overdue for some new records!
Yay for long slow runs! I used to think that I would hate them but slowing down that extra 30 seconds per mile or so really does make a huge difference. The RLRF plan actually scares me a little bit since it is so condensed that it seems a bit too intense for my tastes. But it sounds like you've been a master at speedwork during your training over these last few months, and I'm glad that you are enjoying yoga, too!Delete
Here is hoping that 2014 brings about some fab new PRs for both of us!!! We've both been training so hard that we've earned them!!!