For the past month and change, I have shifted my run focus. So far this year, my running has primarily been of the slow to moderate and long variety, focusing on training for the National Marathon and then more or less just maintaining the fitness I had developed from that point. But that got kinda boring running the same stuff week after week and I think my running plateaued. One can only do so much moderate effort running and reap the benefits. It became more of the law of diminishing returns. My mileage was there, but I wasn't really improving my endurance or speed, so what's the point in consistently training that way anymore.
What I found was that my heart rate ranges were pretty consistent for the high Zone 2, low Zone 3 stuff (low to moderate effort), but in order to meet some of the goals I have set for myself for Patriot's Half and for long distance running in general, I need those paces to drop (or the HR to drop given a specific effort/pace). And the way to do that is by adding in some faster paced workouts into the mix.
I've been able to get by week after week by doing only 2 running workouts a week (while triathlon training post marathon), since I have been focusing primarily on the bike and swim. Now that I've had my cycling race, my focus can shift back to the run and swim, while keeping up much of the cycling routine I had been doing and building off of the fitness I've already developed in that event.
My run training goal now consists of three runs per week (its a goal that isn't always met, but still something to shoot for). My shift in running is based partly on the HIP program I am working from, as well as insights from Jack Daniels Running Formula. Specifically, using his VDOT Calculator to determine my paces for my workouts. In the past, I'd think of a reasonable goal to shoot for in an upcoming race, and run a pace that would be close to it in training. Using the VDOT Calculator, you can use proven race experience to determine how fast you should be running. One recommendation I'd make to anyone using this methodology, is if you are training for longer distances, enter in a time from a recent long distance race (half marathon or marathon) to determine your score/paces. Similarly, if you are training for a shorter distance race, enter a time from a recent short distance race (5k or 10k) to determine your score/paces. Doing so will give you a more accurate pace to run for your workouts, so you don't overstress your your body from doing too much too soon. You'll find that you may have a higher/lower VDOT score depending on the distance you are training (I know I do), so you'll want to make sure you use comparable numbers depending on the distance (long versus short).
So without further ado, I bring you my three running workouts:
- Workout 1 - This consists of a moderate effort run where I start with a warm up at easy pace over the first half of the run, consistently picking up the pace, and negative splitting the run on the 2nd half, reaching top effort in mid Zone 3. This is typically fit into the week wherever there is room, but is not a key workout. It is more just to add some additional quality mileage.
- Workout 2 - This is my long run, the staple of the long distance running program. Typically, this is done on the weekend for me, because I have more time to fit it in. I've backed down my mileage of this run from where it was just after my marathon (12-14 miles), because of my focus on speed to 10 miles or so, which will gradually increase back up into the 12-14 miles range. The purpose of this run is all about maintaining the endurance I have and trying to keep a low HR and a moderate pace.
- Workout 3 - This is my speed workout, the newest addition to the program. This typically consists of intervals or repeats at faster paces than I have been running. The purpose of these workouts is to develop some additional speed, increase lactate threshold, and improve running economy. This is performed mid week, and I've been following it up with a recovery swim, which seems to break away some of the stress from the hard running.
Based on the few shorter distance races that I've run this year and the success I've had in shattering my PRs in each race, I'm hoping the addition of these speed workouts will allow me to continue to progress. While I don't have any specific intentions of racing 5k or 10ks, I'm sure I'll sign up for a few along the way to see how this training is working. I just want to improve my overall running economy in the hopes that it will translate into faster overall running in both short and long distance races. What I can say though, is that after my speed workout last night, I am feeling a whole lot better at running the pace I've been targeting (6:30/mile), based on my VDOT score from those recent races. The first 2 weeks were a bit tough, but my last 2 weekly speed workouts have gone great. I'm hoping this is the first sign of improvement.