Over the past few years, I’ve been frustrated by the lack of progress in my running. My marathon PR is from 2011, which sounds even further away now that we have flipped the calendar to 2011. I’m never sure at what point you can’t really claim your true PR as your PR – hopefully I’ll be running most of my life, and I don’t think my PR from age 27 will count when I’m 57, but you never know! Anyway, I’ve mostly been plagued with injury over the past few years which certainly puts a damper on doing workouts or building consistency necessary to get your body in shape to run fast. The last time I really trained for speed was for Boston 2013 – I tried some workouts for Berlin 2013, but my back pain returned and never got in a good training cycle. (Yet somehow managed to run a minute off my PR in Berlin. If anyone has an explanation for that, please let me know!)
After the return of back pain 2013, I took 2014 off from the marathon and instead focusing on doing a half Ironman, which certainly limited speed work in favor of attempting to train for a triathlon. Then we had the injuries of 2015 and no wonder I feel so slow! I can’t express how much I miss the days of running fast. More so, I miss the days of feeling in shape and just floating. Running has been quite a bit of work over the past few years. Work I certainly enjoy, but I’ve had to put much more thought into it with little return on the clock. I’m hoping to stave off injury in 2016 so I can actually work toward being in shape and running fast again. I know it will be work in itself, but a different kind of work than I’ve been trying over the past couple years. (Or maybe it’s the same, just rephrased.)
In order to run fast, you have to train fast. Not all the time, but speed work has its place. I’m running the NYC Half in March, which isn’t really that far away. I’ve realized I’m less good at winging a training plan/coming up with one myself that I think I am, so I’m turning to my trusty friend Hal Higdon for a plan. Most of my half marathons have been run while in training for a marathon, so I can’t say I’ve ever followed a training plan for a half. It was kind of a shocker to look at his plan and see three mile runs listed! I’m not following the plan to a T because I don’t run five days per week (thanks, work), so I’m making a short run a little longer. We’ll see. Anyway, today had speed work on the plan in the form of 400’s. The plan had 6 x 400 scheduled, but I started the plan late, so I decided 5 x 400 would be a good start. (Am I really even following the plan? Not sure after this paragraph, haha.)
I plugged my latest half marathon time (1:38 in Sioux Falls) into McMillan’s calculator along with a rough goal time of 1:32 (my PR is 1:31:43). Not sure if that’s actually doable in March, but at least it’ll give me some training paces to aim for. My goal pace for 400’s is 1:30-1:35, or 6-6:20/mile pace. Alright.
Way back in high school, quarter repeats were one of my favorite workouts. I’m not sure why I loved them…it’s not like it was an easy workout. Perhaps it speaks to my love of order and knowing what to expect. One lap of the track, rest, repeat. We usually repeated 8-10 times. Way back in the day, we did 90 second repeats, which is just about what I planned to run today. Have I progressed at all in 15 years? Maybe not. Anyway.
I did a two mile warm up to the Great Lawn in Central Park, which is a flat half mile loop. I like it because of the distance it covers, the fact that it’s not too crowded (at least when I’ve been there, especially when it’s cold), and the loop allows for the wind to not be in my face/at my back for the entire time, which I think affects repeat time. Excellent. I set my watch to auto lap after a quarter mile, and away I went. 5 x 400 with a 200 jog between.
Repeat 1 – 1:29
Repeat 2 – 1:30
Repeat 3 – 1:30
Repeat 4 – 1:32
Repeat 5 – 1:33
After the first repeat, I didn’t think it was that bad. Yes, it was fast, but my legs were moving and my lungs didn’t feel bad. Of course, you should never judge a workout off the first repeat, but at least I realized that the pain would only last for 90 seconds at a time. The second repeat went well too. Repeat three sneaked up on me – the rest between repeats felt shorter each time! I sang songs in my head (mostly old Bible camp songs that are quite upbeat) and got through them. Repeat four is where the going got tough, especially in the last 30 seconds. I did a little dry heave at the end and took some time to do the whole hands-on-knees stance. I thought about calling the workout then, as I don’t love puke threshold and don’t care to actually reach it. However, I figured I could push through for one more round of 90 seconds, so I took a second to make sure breakfast would stay down, did a 200 jog, then got right back into it. I feel like I was cruising a little bit too much for most of the repeat, holding more like 6:40 pace (which felt comfortable for the minute I was doing it, ha), then realized I needed to kick it into gear for the last thirty seconds. Wrapped it up with 1:33, which I don’t think is so bad. I cooled down for 1.25 miles to hit five miles for the day.
Looking back, it’s nuts that the entire workout took less than 15 minutes and covered 1.25 miles of speed work and only 1.75 miles total. And so much emotion packed into such a short amount of time. However, I feel like it was a nice welcome back into speed, and it felt good to be breathing hard and moving my legs. (We’ll see how my legs feel about it tomorrow.) We’ll see what this training cycle and this year bring, but I think we’re off to a good start.
In searching for when I possibly did my last speedwork, I fell down the rabbit hole of my own blog and came across posts that brought back so many memories. Whenever I think about quitting this blog, things like that keep me going. (Someone tell me I’m not the only blogger who does this, ha.)
Favorite half marathon training plans – annnnnd go! Anyone use Hal for a half?