Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Training With a Purpose

So I was talking earlier this LAST week (this is what happens when you don't finish the blog as planned...) where I pretty much just trained for my past two half marathons with the mindset of "just doing it". Yeah, I hoped for a miracle to happen in my finish time, but when I am honest with myself, I wasn't training with a purpose of getting an awesome finish time. I skipped workouts, I did haphazard speedwork, and I usually only got close to the mileage of a half marathon once each time during a training cycle...and well, it showed in my finish times! Big surprise, right???

After completing my second half, even though it was a TON of fun and I really enjoyed myself, I said "I don't know if people are actually meant to run 13.1 miles!" In other words...it was still a little tough and mentally grueling at times. But after a few months the tickle began to niggle at my brain again. Maybe it was time to find another half marathon. I actually even started thinking I might want to tackle a FULL marathon! HA! Very funny, brain...very funny. When thinking about a new half to tackle I wanted a couple of things:
  • a somewhat scenic course (AKA - not 7 miles along a riverbed while staring at the freeway)
  • for it to happen sometime between February-May 2013
  • one that didn't cost a gazillion dollars
  • And that's pretty much about it...see, not looking for much!
There was also an added criteria for my mom & sister that they would prefer one that either had a 4-hour time limit or would at least allow you to finish on your own if needed. Well, I think we found one that fits most of those criteria! Really the only one it didn't meet was the date as it takes place in January 2013 - a month earlier than I was personally hoping for. So the timeline was slightly less than I was looking for, but still totally do-able. Oh - and this one has a 4-hour time limit and I believe they note that if you don't meet the time limit then you are on your own. So added bonus for sure! I should note that I run with my mom and sister on a regular basis and they would tell you themselves - I'm quite a bit quicker than they are, even though I still consider myself "slow". We do always agree to run our own races and whoever gets finished first gets to cheer the others in. During the Tinkerbell Half they both also ran, but unfortunately were sweeped from the course due to falling behind cut-off times - super disappointing for both of them, but they still got to partake in all the fun after-party events and enjoy their bling!

Now let me go backwards for just a little bit to a conversation I had with a co-worker while I was in the midst of training for Tinkerbell. He is a speedy little guy and has run multiple half marathons and his recommendation for training was to use the Run Less, Run Faster method. He said it is the only training plan he uses. I knew as soon as he mentioned it that I had heard of it from reading Runner's World magazine faithfully like a religion every month when it hits my mailbox, but I have to admit that it totally intimidated me! I know that the paces they showed were definitely a big stretch for me. But I decided to go ahead and check it out anyways and wouldn't you know it - it happened to be on sale through the Amazon Kindle store for only $2.99! SCORE!
Runner's World Run Less, Run Faster, Revised Edition: Become a Faster, Stronger Runner with the Revolutionary 3-Run-a-Week Training Program
Click here to visit on Amazon.com
It seemed like the planets were aligning, even though I didn't own a Kindle! HA! But you know they have a Kindle app for your smart phones? So I downloaded the app, the book, and got to reading. And I was definitely intrigued! I was already solidly into training, so it would have to be for a future race and that was that - I set it aside and didn't think about it again until that little voice in my brain started telling me it was time again. If I wanted a 2:30 finish, then wasn't it time to push outside of my comfort zone and GET IT???

saw this on Facebook from Run With Jess - sums it up perfectly, eh?!?
So I decided it was time to implement the FIRST method for training that is the basis for Run Less, Run Faster*. FIRST = Furman Institute of Running and Science Training. They had done quite a bit of research outlining that if you cut out "junk miles" and focused on three key running workouts each week and two cross-training workouts that you could greatly improve your times. There's all kinds of other things in the book like scientific mumbo-jumbo, but I was sold at them telling me that not only did I not have to run 5x a week, I could also improve my times! So with that, I began mapping out my training schedule...only to realize that I should have started several days earlier already! D'OH! I can seriously laugh about it now, but it was pretty scary when I was behind on my training before even getting started. But I'm not the kind of girl that lets something like that stop me. I did what any other bada$$ runner would do and modified!

I can't say that it has been a completely smooth training road and I have had to make some adjustments along the way, but overall I can say that I got what I bargained for - I've been challenged and I'm having fun! And we'll see come January 2013 if the plan pays off with a 2:30 finish time! I'm pretty hopeful at the moment that it will...

I'll be back later this week with how I went about scheduling my training plan and some of the modifications that I've made to it.

Question for you: Have you used a training plan to nail a goal pace before? If yes, what did you use?

*Note: If you decide to purchase Run Less, Run Faster please note that the REVISED version is the only one that currently has key running paces included for 5k times that are above 30 minutes. I currently don't run a sub-30 5k finish time so I was lucky that before the revised version was published that I had printed the tables for 30-40 minutes from the Furman website. Those tables are now ONLY available in the revised version of the book. If you already have a sub-30 5k time, then buying a used or earlier version should be just fine for you.

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