I have had a fun few weeks of running. Operation Regain Speed has been in full effect.
On Thanksgiving morning, I ran the Pass the Turkey 5K, a race I helped create, here in my hometown. I not only passed the (very pregnant) turkey, I was only 17 seconds off my 5K PR from three years ago. Happiness!!!!
I started out in the middle of the pack, and that forced me to go slower for that first mile. I think it was around an 8:54 pace. I ran with a couple of friends in mile 1. In mile 2, my friend Lucas and I chatted (well, he chatted, I cannot really talk at an 8:40 pace very well) and finished that mile in 8:42. My legs were feeling great, but my breathing was once again very heavy and ragged. After mile 2, Lucas jetted ahead to try to catch a friend, and I was on my own. I thought maybe I would slow down, but I didn't. At one point, I was running an 8:22 pace. I backed off a bit. At 2.77 miles, I was running hard enough to feel nauseous. Then things got confusing. Those of us on the course were running blindly. There were no volunteers or course markers, and we weren't sure where to go. Some went one way, some went the other. I saw my friend Ashley take a sharp left turn, and I followed her. There was probably supposed to be a marker or volunteer there because I finished with exactly 3.11! My 3rd mile averaged 8:42, and my .11 was 8:25. I finished in 27:16. That was a victory for me. I know I can break 27:00 in 2015. I'm just happy to see some 8s in my running. It's been a while. I think I ran only one 8:40 mile in all of 2014 until these last weeks. Two days later, I ran an 8-mile long run with very tired legs. Those fast miles took alot out of me!
I am digging running only 3-4 runs per week, but running harder. I am still averaging 20-24 miles per week.
I officially started my marathon training plan two weeks ago. It's a Strength Running 20-week plan. However, I am tweaking it somewhat. If I've learned nothing else over the last couple of years, I've learned that a training plan is a mere suggestion, and I know my body BETTER than anyone else possibly could. For now, I have found a way of running that is making me happy and is getting results. Plus, the marathon isn't until April 18, 2015 anyway, so I'm only sort of following the actual plan. I may get more serious about it in January.
My left knee continues to plague me. I started day 1 of the plan with it bothering me. The plan had me bumping up to 26 miles per week or so the first week, but I didn't. I ran my runs very easy the first couple of days to help the knee. For the 5-mile speedwork day, I ran at a park fully on the grass. It was FUN doing 8 one-minute intervals at 5K pace in the grass. I had to work harder since the grass was so thick and did not provide energy return. I managed to run them at around an 8:30 pace though. Then I eliminated the 3 mile run the day before the 10 mile long run because I didn't want to run that day. I fast walked two miles on the treadmill on an incline while watching The Tonight Show instead. Crosstraining! My first long run on the plan wasn't great last Saturday. My friend and I were both not feeling great, and we walked a lot. The plan called for 11, but I thought 10 sounded more reasonable. I didn't keep the long run pace between the prescribed 10 and 11 minute mile pace like I was supposed to.
This week was supposed to be a repeat of week 1, but I shook it up a bit. I ran 3.1 on Monday at tempo--a 9:30 pace in a very hilly neighborhood. I also walked 3 miles that day. Honestly, I felt bad on Monday, too. I was about to get discouraged. I didn't run at all on Tuesday. Life intervened. Finally, on Wednesday, I went back to the same park where I'd done the grassy intervals. This time, I ran on the pavement, but still did 6 of the 1-minute intervals in the grass. Running in the grass is just FUN! I still kept the intervals around an 8:30 pace, and I enjoyed the run. On Thursday, I did strength training and core. I didn't run at all. I had to move my long run to today-Friday- due to work, and I had a much better 10 miler. I ran alone in 24-degrees and maintained an average 10:24 pace. That doesn't sound fast, I know. However, for a training run, it's fairly fast for me. I didn't stop once. Many times, I find myself stopping by the car or jumping into a port o john on a long run. There was no stopping today. Actually, I ran the first 7 fairly relaxed and picked up the pace in 1/2 mile intervals in the last 3. It was neat to remind my body to switch gears in a long run. I hadn't done that in a while. So, I'm at 19 miles for the week (not counting the walking miles), so I may try to get in 2 or 3 tomorrow before or after work.
So, I guess it's marathon training---lite. No stress. No pressure. Run what I feel like while maintaining a bit of structure. Strength train at least twice a week. Add some quality to the long runs.
I wonder if running every other day is really what my body prefers? Hmmmm. In Run Faster by Brad Hudson, that's what he suggests for masters runners. He says after 40, our muscles lose their elasticity and ability to recover. I'm so married to mileage though.... It would be a big switch.