I touched on this a little bit when I wrote about the book I’m reading right now, Run Faster, the other day. But, let me be a little more specific about how I’m going to make this training cycle different from last year’s.
First, I know going into this training cycle that running more than 4 days a week, for me, leads to injury. Granted, I didn’t have any major injuries last training cycle, but there were a couple times I had to take a few days off from running completely and then I had to modify how I ran for a while after I started up again (well, I had to wear a compression sleeve on the calf I strained to keep from re-straining it). When I cut my weekly runs from 5 down to 4, without losing too much mileage, I noticed a greater positive affect in my training. I had that extra day of rest from running so I was going into my runs more rested than I was when I was running 5 days a week. So, this training cycle, I’m STARTING at running 4 days a week.
Second, and I’ve already sort of started doing this, I’ll be adding in hills. Now, what do I mean by I’ve “sort of” started doing this already? Well, I have a hilly route that I run on occasion…and, honestly, I try to make sure I run it at least once a week. What will change when the training cycle starts? I need to find a place where I can do actual hill repeats that’s not too far away from where I live so that I can do them before work. There are some pretty good (read: steep) hills that are just 1 block long down near where I work, but I work about a 25 minute drive from where I live. While doable, morning traffic could become an issue because I work in downtown Austin, TX and traffic gets crazy. So, if I can find somewhere more convenient on all levels, that would be great. I have a little over a month to find some more convenient hills to run repeats on.
Third, I want to implement actual, structured speed work. I kind of do tempo and lactate threshold runs, but they just kind of happen because I’m feeling great that day so I push myself a little harder because I know I can handle it and not be overly fatigued or get injured as a result. But nothing scheduled or planned in any way. I do absolutely no fartleks or interval training of any sort. This is the main thing I would like to add into my training. I want to do 1 track session per week of intervals. There is a school track that doesn’t have a fence around it that can be used by anyone during non-school hours/days. The track is about a mile from my apartment complex. So, I can jog to the track nice and easy to warm up, run my intervals for a couple/few miles, then job back home nice and easy to cool down.
Forth, I want to slow my long run down. I have a habit of running my long runs at or near goal paces. My running friend with way more running experience than me is always chastising me for this. Everything I read tells me that this is not what I should be doing. I should be running my long runs about a minute slower than goal pace. So, I want to make an actual concerted effort to slow the heck down and take my long runs easier.
Fifth, I want to do an actual, scheduled easy median-distance run. By median-distance, I mean 6-10 miles. That’s median for me, anyway. (I am fully aware that is most likely a long run for a lot of people, so I’m not down playing anybody’s abilities, I hope you know that.) By “easy,” I mean I want to just do an easy effort for the day I’m running it. I don’t want to be fast. I’m thinking like 30 seconds slower than goal pace? I still have over a month before I will be nailing down an actual schedule of anything and starting it. So, I have enough time to figure out how I want to run these median-distance easy runs.