The Minimalist Approach

I'm taking a very minimalist approach to training lately. No, I don't mean barefoot running, though I do run an occasional 1/4 or 1/2 mile barefooted. I mean minimal miles. I haven't had a week over 20 miles in a while and I'm only a month out from my next half-marathon, where I *hope* to PR.

The last time I had a half-marathon PR, I was running very high mileage, five days a week, but all at a slow pace. This time, I'm running low mileage, only 3 days per week, try to emphasize "quality" on my two short runs during the week, but keep it easy on the long runs on Saturdays. I'm also including strength training for the first time, specifically lower body work with squats and lunges and the like. I'm not lifting heavy, mostly I'm using my own body weight for resistance, with the occasional dumbbell or kettlebell thrown in.

I wonder which approach is better? I suppose I'll find out in a month. Luckily, it is the same course as the last PR race, so I won't be comparing apples to oranges, just high mileage vs. low mileage.

Yesterday, I only had time for two miles, and I set a new one-mile PR. I ran the 2nd mile in 8:17 on the treadmill. Yes, I FINALLY broke 8:30!! I think I could have gone faster, but for the first 1/2 of the mile, I had the treadmill set on 8:27 pace, so I made up a lot of time in the second 1/2, finishing at about a 7:53 pace, which was HARD. I think I might have an 8:00 minute mile in me sometime in the next year. I plan to do a one-mile time trial once a month to find out. Today, I ran a 5 miler with 3 miles at a tempo pace. I ran the last mile at goal half-marathon pace--around 9:48. My previous half-marathon PR was 9:49 pace, so I'd like to beat that by one second, if possible. For the first time in a while, I completed 5 miles on the treadmill without stopping. Usually, I take little breaks to alleviate the monotony, but today, I just ran straight through. It's nice to know I can run 5 miles non-stop on a given day without much sleep (daughter has stomach bug) and with a sinus infection. I think 8 may be my record. I never actually took a walk break on Saturday's 10-miler, but I did stop to tie my shoe and to say hello to people once or twice, so I guess that doesn't count as nonstop.

I'm starting to get a little excitement back about running. The last phase before a race is called the "sharpening" phase. I'm definitely there. I hope to have some good quality miles over the next 3 weeks, going into taper for the race. I'm running a 5K next Saturday, Feb. 19, and I'd love to see a PR there. Hopefully, it will all sort of snowball--- a one-mile PR sets the stage for a 5K PR, which sets the stage for a strong half-marathon.

My injury is showing improvement for the first time in a while. It still aches if I sit for a long time, but it is bothering me less and less during and after runs. Hallelujah! If all it takes is less sitting, that is no problem!

I have taken the marathon off my TO DO list for this spring. There is no way I can be ready for a marathon in 8 weeks with only a 10-mile long run and running less than 20 miles per week. Last Saturday, I felt a lot of fatigue in those last 2 or 3 miles, so I know my body is just not adapted right now for really long distances. My mid-week miles have literally been only 2-4 miles at a time, and for a marathon, you need some pretty long week day runs, too. It is actually with relief that I let it go.


You'll have to update us and let us know how your 5K went...

I'm a confirmed three-day-a-week runner myself these days. I find I can't really fit in more, plus it seems to yield the same results if I try for three quality runs plus cross training.