One of my strengths/weaknesses (can you tell I’ve been on the interview trail…) is that I am a hyper-analytical person and I am constantly thinking about how to change a process to make it better. While this is generally a good thing, at times it makes it difficult for me to relax, enjoy and experience. It also makes me attempt to exert control over situations where that is just not feasible. In terms of running, however, it allows me to look over past training cycles and evaluate what worked and what didn’t work.
Two of my most data rich training cycles are my two lead ups to the Philadelphia Half Marathon, one where things went well and I felt amazing and strong through a 1:21:45 half and one where I struggled to a 1:22:25 finish. Some of the differences may have been due to weather and iron deficiency, but one of the biggest things I noticed in my 2015 attempt at Philly was that I a) never felt comfortable and b) had no extra gear to kick up to. At first, I assumed that this was because I hadn’t done enough interval work but as I looked over my training log, the biggest difference was that in 2012, I did a TON of stamina and steady state work and very little frank interval work.
As I’m approaching New Bedford with less time than I had to prepare for the “Phillies” (both week wise and day to day time wise), I’m trying to train smart with the time that I do have. As such, I’m splitting my hard effort days between four major categories: interval, tempo, stamina and steady state. I pair interval and stamina in one week followed by tempo and steady state in the following week. My long runs are easy and one of my easy runs is a hill focused run. The rest are easy peasy.
- Interval: Still important, just not the main focus of my training cycle. My workouts are time based because I’m almost exclusively on the treadmill due to footing and are either 10 by 1 on, 1 off (emulating 300 meter repeats) or 4 on, 3 off (emulating 1K repeats).
- Tempo: If you only have time for one workout a week, science and numbers say this is your best bet. I alternate between mile or 5 minute repeats at T pace and continuous tempo. As I get in tuning phase in early March, I’ll add 200 meter repeats after my tempo workouts to tune up my top end speed.
- Stamina: My FAVORITE kind of run. I do these as progression runs, starting incredibly easy then gearing up until I am at tempo pace. I’ll share my treadmill version of this workout later this week but I love that this workout is challenging but not killer. When the footing is better, I also do these as long hill repeats.
- Steady State: The ultimate awkward run, this is a continuous run done at approximately marathon effort. It is not as hard as a tempo run but was incredibly helpful for me in preparing for Philly 2012 because I learned how to cruise comfortably.
The other benefit of this approach is that although it sacrifices some specificity for the half marathon, it builds a stronger base for whatever events I jump into for the remainder of the year.