I mentioned that I spoke with Ben Elder, and endurance training guru, at Elmwood on Monday. He’s exactly the kind of person I like – direct but with just a touch of sarcasm to keep you chuckling. He shared with me some wisdom that I will be using to come back from this injury and train for Boston.
Run for time, not distance
Especially coming off this injury, focusing on running for a certain amount of time will help me meet weekly goals but minimize damage to my body. When you’re running for time, you can slow down your pace and decrease the number of footfalls while finishing the run you had planned. I tend to focus on the mileage, and run my ass off until I’m done. Looking back over the training I had done leading up to injury, there are almost no runs at a pace slower than 7:30. Your body needs these breaks! Training all the time at a high intensity breaks you down, and you end up having to take long periods of rest when you could have just completed your run at a lower intensity and continued in a healthy way. This will allow me to get comfortable running a lot, and pick up the pace as it feels good.
Cut the junk miles
Ben told me that my weekly time allowance should be broken up as follows: the long run, a 30 minute recovery run, and a few speed sessions.
Long run – peak time should be 2:30 and that should come 6-8 weeks before the race. Considering my injury, cut the time back to 2:00. You should get comfortable running for this long, then as you get better at it add intervals in the second hour. More about intervals to come.
Recovery run – just a 30 minute easy guy, that comes after your hardest workout for the week.
Tempo runs – there are a bunch of different descriptions of tempo runs out there on the internet, which was confusing to me. Most have you start out with an easy 10 or 15 minute warm up, gradually increase your pace until it’s uncomfortably hard, hold it for about 10 minutes, then cool down. The idea of the tempo run is to get yourself comfortable running at faster paces for longer times. The pace you pick should be faster than what you want to run for the marathon. I did a 40-minute tempo the other day, and came up with this plan for myself: 10 minutes slow (~7:55), pick it up to around the pace I ran my last marathon (7:30 – 7:40), then for the third 10-minute chunk pick it up to what I hope to run Boston at (7:20) since I have a long way to go before I am back where I used to be and this pace will be a challenge for me right now, the cool it down for the last 10 minutes.
Intervals – the intervals that Ben described are different than the ones I’ve been doing. Since your aim is to run a long distance, you should make them long intervals! Like, 3-5 minutes at half marathon pace (significantly faster than you’ll run in the marathon). Again, getting used to long distances at high speeds.
Strides – strides are more like your regular track speed workout, except they come in the middle or at the end of a longer run. Around 30 seconds a pop, really pick up the pace, increase stride length, and focus on form. 6 – 8 at a time.
Pace runs – any run at marathon pace. Getting used to how you’ll be running during the race.
As you can see, When you use these tools, no run is done just to get the miles under your belt; you’re constantly working on something.
– max out around 35 miles/week
– keep the long run to 2, not 2.5 hours
– go get em!
It hasn’t even been a week but I like this plan. It gives me goals to achieve, but allows flexibility about what days I want to do it and when I want to do specific workouts. I can play around with the length of different things, and change days of runs whenever necessary. Most importantly, I really do feel like these runs bring improvement. For my first marathon, getting it done was the first goal, qualifying for Boston was the second, and I achieved them based on hard work and my stubborn nature. Having event-specific workouts will hopefully get me to the finish even faster.