I knew that I wanted to use the Run Less, Run Faster plan, but outside of reading the book and agreeing with the principles I hadn't paid much attention to the specifics. So first thing I did once we determined we were going to sign up for the Temecula Valley Half Marathon was bust out the "book" (recall that it was an e-book...) and review the specifics. This is how it breaks down:
3 Key Running Workouts
- Track Repeats - these are widely varied throughout the plan and are usually a repeating distance for a specific number of sets with either a time or distance resting interval (RI) in between. For example, my workout yesterday was 6x800 with 1:30 RI.
- Tempo - you have four sets of paces for tempo runs; easy, short, mid, and long and depending on the workout you may do a combination of paces or distances or you may have a single pace for the entire distance. For example, my workout tomorrow is 5 miles at mid-tempo pace.
- Distance - this is where you log your long miles and it is at one of two paces; Half Marathon Pace (HMP) +20 seconds or HMP +30 seconds. Pretty self explanatory for the most part. My Saturday workout this week will be 12 miles at HMP +30.
2 Cross-Training Workouts (Optional: you can add one additional workout each week if desired)
- The book recommends that you do one of three activities; swimming, cycling or rowing. The point is that because you are pushing your legs on running days, they want you doing non-weight bearing activities for x-training. The book provides multiple workouts for each of these activities too.
As I mentioned yesterday, the book contains tables that include very specific paces based on your 5k time, so whenever I talk about specific paces, I'm talking about what MINE are - yours would be different, of course. So there's the basics of the plan. It's not specific to certain days, although they do show you what a sample week might look like. For me, I prefer to run on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. I cross-train on Monday and Wednesday, and also do a lighter than normal workout on Fridays too. Sundays are strictly for rest. I do also add some light strength training primarily focusing on exercises that will assist me in my running too.
Here's what a training week looks like for me - this was the first week of October:
|Training Plan Week at a Glance|
The training plan is 18 weeks long - yes, I was also surprised at how long it was as most it seems are usually around 14-16 weeks in length. Here's a look at how they break down each week's workout for you:
|Source: Run Less, Run Faster|
Alright, now you know what the plan kind of entails so I'll share with you how I go about figuring it all out. I prefer to use a calendar to map it out, putting down the details for each of the days. I seem to do better when I see it on a calendar...it is scheduled in and a lot less likely to get skipped. But that's what works for me, everybody is different. For this one I used a calendar template in Visio and I found it to be the absolute EASIEST I've ever used. In the past I had used PowerPoint, Word, Excel...you name it. Visio is my go-to now. In case you aren't familiar with Visio, it is part of the Microsoft Office Suite, although it may not come standard depending on which level of suite you have purchased. I have the Professional Suite and it is included. But keep in mind, any calendar will work - even one you write in by hand! (yes, technology is not required! LOL)
I start on the race date and work my way backwards. This specific plan also happens to number backwards as well, so week 18 was the first week and then you count down to the big day! Seeing how this training cycle falls within just a couple little holidays (yes, I speak in sarcasm often) I had to keep those in mind while scheduling. My main goals were to be realistic but to stay as true to the plan as possible. So some of the things I had to keep in mind were:
- Other Races - I knew I had at least two virtual 5k's and one real-life one on the schedule during the training time, so I made sure to get those dates on the calendar first so they weren't missed
- Black Friday - I'll be out shopping so there is absolutely no way I will be working out early (yes, I'm one of *those* people...)
- Christmas - we wake up super early for presents and it is usually an activity filled day which means I only workout IF there is extra time
- New Year's - won't be waking up early this day either!
- Work Holidays - I can be a little more flexible when I'm not bound to a work start time
Once I had those critical days marked off, I could get to work making any modifications that were needed. For the days that I was participating in other races that were virtual (October 20-Cupcake Classic through RunWithJess.com; October 27-Zombie Dash through Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans; and November 22-Family Virtual Turkey Trot) I was able to schedule in the race distance and then added in the rest of the planned miles and paces. So for example, the week of the Cupcake Classic the plan was originally 9 miles at HMP +20; I modified it to be 3.1 miles at no specific pace (as it would most likely be faster than HMP+20) and then 6 miles at HMP +20. I also had to take into consideration my one physical race - November 3-Color Run San Diego. Since I was traveling over an hour each way for this one, it was the only thing I put on the schedule that week; in essence, I skipped what was planned completely.
The week of Thanksgiving was not a big deal, I modified the mileage to include a virtual 5k on turkey day and since Friday is a light day for me anyways, I took it as a rest day. Besides, shopping is like exercise anyways, right, ladies?? *wink wink* Christmas week wasn't too difficult either. I knew I didn't want a workout on Christmas morning to worry about so I shifted that entire week to be running workouts on Monday and Wednesday instead with Tuesday as a rest day unless I change my mind. New Year's Day I left as is which is a regular workout day, but since I'm not working that week I don't have to be up before the sun to get my run in. So I can wake up, head out for a quick workout and be back home in time for the parade...I hope anyways.
Other than those slight modifications it was mostly sticking to the plan! I did revise a couple workouts down in duration because there wasn't any way I could get 7+ miles in on a work morning when I start work at 7:00 AM. So I might've adjusted down just a few times, but overall, not that often thankfully due to the fact that I get a lot of time off during the holidays (I work for a school).
So now that I have it all on the calendar you would think my job would be done, right? Not so fast...I had a couple more things I needed to do. WHEW! I had two issues to contend with now: 1) I don't have a track to do track repeats on; and 2) track distances are in meters and my Garmin speaks in miles. What's a girl to do?
Well, with the handy-dandy Garmin (which I absolutely LOVE) I am able to program the distances in which saves me from having to break into a local school on a regular basis. Although I would get pretty fast if I was constantly running from school security officers, I couldn't possibly risk injury by jumping fences.
Then, because the plan has meter distances, and meter times for those distances and my Garmin is programmed by miles, I went about doing some creative conversions. This was probably the hardest part of getting my plan set!
I broke out an Excel spreadsheet and created a formula that would basically calculate the following: The difference between one mile and x amount of meters, multiplied by the original meter time, it gives me a converted mile pace. I know that sounds really confusing, and believe me, this was something I had to think really hard about especially since math is NOT my thing! So what the formula looks like (I'm going to use 400 meters as an example) is this: 1600 meters divided by 400 meters (1200m) multiplied by 2:36 (400 meter time) is equal to 10:24. Does that make sense? Yeah, it doesn't to me either! hahahaha Buuuuttttt, I'm pretty sure I wasn't way off base because when I plugged it all in the 1600 meter pace was exactly what the book said it should be. So even though I'm far from a math genius, I'm confident Excel saved me! I've also had the opportunity to test it out as I have compared my splits against what my key paces should be and they've lined up every time. So again, pretty confident I was actually right for a change! hahaha So the track problem was SOLVED as far as paces went!
By the way - it looked something like this* when I was done:
*Not really, but it sure made my brain FEEL like that!
I then had to do the final step of converting the meters into mile equivalents using an online conversion calculator and then it was ready for input into the Garmin Training Center (TC). (FYI: If you own a Garmin and don't program your own workouts in, you're missing out! One of the best features of this already powerful device!) I also put the workout on the calendar in TC and then when I upload to device all I have to do is select "Today's Date" for my workout and off I go.
So the final step?
GO RUN and HAVE FUN!!!!