High winds and slow paces

 

Today’s run (street): 3.1 miles

There was a point in this morning’s run when I told myself, after calculating my final pace, to remember how windy it was today. I know from many track workouts how wind can restrict speed. I once ran 400’s where my pace varied by over 15 seconds depending on which direction I was running. Today’s run, in terms of perceived effort (PE), felt much harder than Thursday’s, but I ended up running 10 secs per mile slower.

The purpose of today’s run to was to maintain my targeted half marathon pace over the prescribed three mile workout. That’s exactly what happened on Thursday’s 3 miler, but I barely broke a 10 minute pace today. During the few times on this run, when the wind was at my back, I felt like I was moving. That made me feel good about my form. I’d like to be running the easy 3-milers at around a 9:20 pace, but I’m not there yet.

The Runsketeers are doing a long run tomorrow morning. For me it’s seven miles, TPP is doing 11 and SIOR is doing 16. We’re trying to coordinate our rendezvous so we can all run together. Between our different paces, start times and meeting points, it’s an interesting math problem. The route we chose will be hilly (I’m told). Seven miles of that should help me make progress on my endurance, but I’m expecting to be sore by the end.

What female runners like to blog about

Image courtesy of MilesToBlog

Today’s run (street): 3.25 miles

In addition to my normal publishing channels and RSS, I post on a private Facebook group page called “Miles to Blog.” This is a group of active bloggers who write about their training, motivation and races. The writing is uniformly good and some of these people are very funny. I’ve found it interesting to read what’s important to this group of predominantly female runner/bloggers. Please don’t take this as sexist, but I’m amused by the one subject that seems to dominate. Is this a runner thing or a gender thing? Can you guess the subject?

Moving to a different subject,  I got out today for my Hal Higdon prescribed 3 miles + strength run. The strength stuff is still pending. Does carrying the clean laundry upstairs for my wife count? I’m in the fourth week of Hal’s intermediate Half Marathon training program, the first formal training program I’ve ever followed. I’ve been wondering if it’s working and had an interesting experience today that answered that question.

My two challenges for the Brooklyn Half are: 1. Getting my endurance back to the level where I can cover the 13.1 mile distance and 2. Developing the stamina to sustain targeted race pace. The Higdon method involves increasingly long base runs, timed tempos, track intervals and shorter runs. Plus strength training which I’ll get to at some point. The idea is to bring the base and speed training together over the 12 week schedule so that the runner is at his or her peak on race day.

I was curious to know whether, in the fourth week of this training, I had gained any speed as a result of this long/slow and short/fast run combination. I was in the second mile of today’s run when I broke my rule about checking pace on my watch. My Garmin showed an abysmal pace that was disheartening because I felt like I was running much faster. I took up the effort a little, but a few more checks of the Garmin showed that I was still over 30 secs per mile slower than my target. When I checked my time and distance after the run, I saw that, overall, I’d exactly met my targeted pace.

One thing I learned was that I shouldn’t assume that the Garmin is providing accurate real-time pace information. The other thing I learned was that this training is helping (although it took that scare to get me to pick up the pace). Nothing motivates like progress. I just hope it continues.

Half training is coming together but I’m running out of road

Today’s run (street): 5.8 miles

Busy route

I had hoped that yesterday’s speed workout would spill over to today’s base run, but that didn’t happen. Right now I’m experiencing a gap between speed and distance. I can do one or the other, but not both. I’m trusting that it will eventually all come together. Today I focused on getting in my miles and had another good run. Good, but not fast.

Now that I’m getting beyond my usual training distances it’s becoming harder to plan longer routes in my neighborhood.  I got around those limitations on Sunday by running the same loop multiple times. I couldn’t face doing that again, so I played it by ear and hit almost every road, some of them two or three times.

It wasn’t a particularly stimulating route but I did see lots of Town of Oyster Bay workers fixing roads. I guess it really is spring. I also ran by a woman sitting in her car brushing her teeth and spent the rest of my run wondering what that was all about. I ended up running longer than planned, but not by much. Tomorrow’s workout is 3 miles plus strength training. I may not be hitting my ideal pace on long runs yet, but I’m feeling good about my training right now.

Daft repeats: longer faster better stronger

Today’s workout (treadmill repeats): 2 miles 
6 x 400m plus .5 mile warm/cool

Week 3 of half marathon training started better than week 2 finished off. After my second consecutive Sunday long run fail (only in the sense of performance, personally I had a great time) the evidence is pointing to cold induced breathing issues. Every run that I’ve done, either at temperatures above 40° or indoors, since my Brooklyn half training kickoff, has resulted in a decent performance. The two times I ran in high 20’s/low 30’s weather, I struggled mightily. Cold weather, J’accuse!

Or it could be the hills. Either way, the fact that I’m running decently more often than not is keeping me hopeful. Spring is here so chances are that one of these upcoming Sundays will provide better weather. That may help me turn the corner on my weekend base runs.

Today was speed day. It was 22° outside this morning, so I opted to do my workout indoors. Hal Higdon’s program prescribed a 3.5 mile run, but I decided that I know a little more about this stuff than he does. But seriously, I’ve modified the Higdon training program to start my week with speed on Tuesdays and a base run on Wednesdays. Hal puts speed work into the Wednesday slot and allocates only Sundays to long runs. I felt I needed a little more base than that, an opinion echoed by some knowledgeable runners.

Hal’s speed workout is 6 x 400’s at 5K pace (8:24) and that’s what I did this morning. In between repeats, I did 240 meter recovery jogs (.15 miles), which I may cut down to .12 miles next time. I also did a half mile warm up and cool down. I normally would have run another mile at my usual training pace to make a full three, but today I decided that 1.5 miles of speed stood on its own.

Tomorrow should be a 4.8 mile base/recovery run. The “feels like” temperature is predicted to be 19° when I plan to go out in the morning, so I’ll have to decide whether to endure this cold and its effects, or suffer the tedium of a longish treadmill run. We’re getting snow overnight, so that may help the decision.

Running at "pace", as Hal Higdon puts it

Can my training get me here in 2014? 

Today’s run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

Today’s workout, per my training program, was 3 miles at “pace.” I like Hal Higdon’s site because he leaves nothing to interpretation. He explains it clearly on the training schedule page: “What do you mean by ‘pace?'” I mean “race pace,” the pace at which you expect to run the half marathon. That of course prompted me to ask myself, what I am targeting for race pace?

I ran my last Half in 2:08:47 which is approximately a 9:49 pace. In order to break 2:00 I would need to pace 40 seconds per mile faster. That’s a stretch for me, but crazier things have happened. My 2:08 finish in 2012 was a full minute per mile improvement over my 2011 time. Still, I have little expectation that I’ll break two hours this year. As a practical point, I have slipped in my race performance and didn’t break 9:00 on any of my 2013 10K’s. It will be interesting to see if my recent rebound, coupled with a focused half marathon training regime, will make a difference in May.

This morning was busy and that forced me to wait until 10:00 AM to start my run. My wife said that rain was expected mid-morning, so I decided to do my 3 miles @ “pace” on the treadmill. I chose 6.3 MPH which, if sustained for 13.1 miles, would yield a 2:03 finish time. I am feeling much stronger since last weekend, but I still have far to go before I can manage goal pace throughout a long run. The race pace training plus the weekend base runs will theoretically bridge my stamina and endurance enough to at least break my 2:08 PR.

Tomorrow is my second Sunday base run and I plan to meet the Runsketeers for 6 miles of fun. SIOC will be running Boston in April and needs to cover 17 miles tomorrow. We plan to meet at her 11 mile point and do the rest of the distance as a group run. TPP is still battling a respiratory issue and is forgoing a five mile race tomorrow in favor of our easier paced run. It’s supposed to be cold on Sunday, so I need to figure out the right combination of gear. I’m dreading the hills on the Bethpage trail, but I know there’s no easy path if I want to reach my goal time.

Why bad runs don’t really matter

The long unwinding road

Both Saturday’s relay and Sunday’s half marathon “Week 1” training runs were disappointing for me. The good news is that it really doesn’t matter. Running is one of those things in life that can lift your spirits or temporarily disappoint you. But as long as you aren’t suffering a running injury as a result, there’s really no excuse for feeling badly about one or two bad experiences.

That’s why I’m looking forward to getting out tomorrow. I rested yesterday and took an additional recovery day today. It’s still winter-y cold outside, but at least it’s sunny and the snow is gone. The Hal Higdon Intermediate Half plan says that I should run 3 miles, plus strength training, on Wednesday. However, the Emerging Runner Training Plan says that I should run 80% of the prior weekend’s longest run on Wednesdays. So that’s what I’m doing. I do appreciate Hal’s attempt to add more diversity to the training schedule, so I may add in a small amount weight or core training.

I gave myself a break on speed training today, but I will resume that next Tuesday. Without weekday access to the track, I can either do treadmill intervals inside, or run 400’s along a road that’s adjacent to my street. That long road has a slight grade when running south to north, but SIOR says that shouldn’t matter. I’ll need to figure out how to manage recovery periods if I choose the street route because I’ll need to start each repeat at either the beginning or end of the road.

Half marathon: get with the program already

Today’s workout (elliptical): 25 minutes

I’ve been reading an article in the January issue of Runner’s World that focuses on the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project. This project is actually an Olympic training program created by two brothers who have partnered with Brooks running to help train runners of all types. Or as they say “Elites to mid-packers.” Being a solid mid-pack finisher in most of my races I was naturally intrigued. I’m not particularly interested in most training programs and methods because they are so structured. One reason that I like running is the freedom that it provides. I like that I can make “in the moment” decisions about how I’m going to approach a run: fast, slow, long, short, with hills, trails, etc.

The reason I might consider following a structured program relates to my goal of running a half marathon this year. I’ve managed to self-train adequately for races up to 10K but I think I may need some further guidance when taking on over double that distance. My friend FS followed Hal Higdon’s marathon training program and was pleased with the results. Higdon also has a half marathon program so I will consider that as well. What struck me about the Hansons-Brooks method was the focus on quality miles rather than pure volume. They are also strong advocates of training in groups. Since I am so constrained in terms of time for training I need to find a way to be ready on race day after having, at best, 25 mile weeks. I’m still not sure that I have the desire (and discipline) to follow a formal program. Perhaps a hybrid approach will work. Of course I still need to find a half marathon to run before I start any structured training.