As much as I love plans, I have had the worst time finding a training plan that works for me. Once I finished Couch-to-5K, I had no clue what to do. I knew that I wanted to run a half-marathon, and there are zillions of plans out there that would help me train to do it... but which to choose? For me, the two most important items of consideration are time and injury. I have very little time to train, and as I mentioned in my first post, I really only want to run three days a week. This leads into the second item, injury. I feel that if I overtrain, I will get injured. Most training plans have you running 4+ times/week. I found Run Less, Run Faster, which was pretty much exactly what I wanted, but the required paces for this plan scared me. They were FAST! Also, the plan called for 2 days a week of cross-training (basically other forms of exercise, like biking, weight training, etc.), and I knew I didn't have time to fit that in as well, at least not during the school year.
So, I decided to modify the RLRF plan to suit my own needs. I would do the prescribed three runs, and I would run them as specified (one speedwork, one tempo, one long), but I would "do my own thing" in regards to pace. After all, this would be my first half, so even though I had a goal time in the back of my head, the pace was secondary to just completing the entire race running and injury-free.
My plan worked well, and I ran in the Cap City Half Marathon on May 4 (more on that in another post). After that race, I knew that I needed a goal to keep me focused. May was spent recovering and dealing with end-of-the-school-year business. Our family went on our first-ever big trip to Nags Head, NC the first week of June, but upon our return, it was back to running. My plans include two 5K's this summer (the Westerville Rotary 5K on July 4 and the Ohio State Fair 5K on July 28), the Emerald City Quarter Marathon on August 25, my second half marathon (Run Like a Girl on October 5), and the Hot Chocolate 15K on November 17. I may throw in another 5K or 4-miler somewhere in there as well. I also have two virtual races on the schedule (one 5-miler that can be completed anytime between now and December 1, and one "choice" race for July that will likely be a 10K).
Right now, I am in the midst of preparing for my two 5K's. I have really been pushing myself on the speedwork, hitting the track and running repeat after repeat at a pace way out of my comfort zone. I have also been nailing my tempo runs on Wednesday mornings, waking up before sunrise to get 3-4 miles in before the summer heat set in for the day. My long runs haven't been so long, basically because I am training for what has become a sprint race to me (3.1 miles). If you were a former swimmer, or know anything about swimming, I liken the 5K to the 500 free. The first couple of times you swim the 500 free, you work on just "making it", and maybe descending the race. But by the time you've swam it 4-5 times, you realize that the 500 is basically a sprint. Not a sprint like the 50 free, but holding the same (fast) pace for 20 lengths of the pool. That is how I feel about the 5K. I know next Thursday at my race, I will have to start fast, and never let up, especially if I want to get my goal time (more on that in a future post).
Today was a "long run" day. Last Saturday my new running friend Danielle and I ran 6 miles at Sharon Woods Metro Park. The hills about did us in, and also our goal of negative splitting down to a half-marathon pace was pretty tough! I followed that up with a hard track workout Monday and a 4 mile tempo run on Wednesday. My legs have been very angry at me for all of this work, so I knew they would be happy with today's plan: keep it easy. Five miles around the 'ville (Westerville, that is). Nothing fancy, just running. My brain knew the plan, but after about a mile, my legs took over and did their own thing. I love my new-to-me Garmin Forerunner 110 (got it for a crazy-good price of $60 on Craigslist), as it lets me know my pace at all times. I knew I was going a bit faster than I had planned, and as the miles ticked off, my brain kept telling my legs, "OK, yes it is way cooler and nicer out this morning than it has been, but HEY this is supposed to be EASY!" And my legs continued to respond with, "We know, we know, but we feel so good, and we really aren't working that hard right now!" Which was true. I didn't feel like I was pushing it... but the watch doesn't lie.
Anyway, what was supposed to be 5 miles at around 9:30-9:45 pace ended up being a negative split run. I will talk more about negative splitting in a future post, but let me just say that I adore negative splitting. OK, so here is the run:
The first three miles were just fine... then my legs just took over. It's all good, though... every run for me is a learning experience. I am still so new to this sport!
A wonderful, no-real-plans Saturday is on the docket for today. Happy running, everyone!