Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lessons in Training

In just 37 days I will be running through Golden Gate Park in San Francisco with a crowd of other runners.  I love this city so dearly that I can’t help but feel excited about this half-marathon and at the same time, slightly disappointed in my progress.  Although it doesn't matter how fast I run I am bothered by the fact that back in May I felt faster and stronger than I do now.  That was after 6 weeks of cross-training with a stress fracture.  Shouldn't I be much faster now?

I never chose happy hour over my tempo runs or ditched my long-runs.  Instead, I put in a lot of extra miles and hard work.  I have been such a good girl!  I am your classic over-achiever and I am finding that this time my extra credit is not paying off.

I scoff when I see 2 mile runs on my program and figure why bother with such a short run?  Instead I run 5 (or 7) fast miles.  When the program tells me to run at a pace slower than I usually do, I attempt it…and I fail.  I feel uncomfortable slowing myself down and I always end up running like usual.  Because of this mentality I am not getting any faster or stronger.   

When I asked Angela what I did wrong, her answer was simply, “you run too many miles and you run them too darn fast.” As unfair as it seems to me, it is starting to make some sense. 

A lot of my decisions are based off the notion that rules are meant to be broken. With running, I have come to realize, there are some rules that are meant to be followed.  One of the many purposes of this blog is to share my running experiences with all of you, and also to write about the mistakes I make, so you don't have to make them yourself.

Here are a few rules that I have followed and some that I only wish I did:
  • Slow down on your long runs.  Run 1-2 minutes slower than race pace.  The purpose of these long runs is to build cardiovascular fitness, not speed.   You should finish feeling like you can run a few more miles.  You should not feel completely wiped out.
  • Easy runs are just that! EASY.  These are great runs to do with a friend or a group because you should be running at a conversational pace. 
  • Tempo runs and speed work are a must.  This is where you build your speed, so if you want to get faster be sure to include one each week.  Period.
  • Hit the hills running.  During the first weeks of training run your shorter runs on hills to build strength.  I hated them at first too, but once you conquer them you will learn to love them!
  • Get your R&R.  Hard work and rest go hand in hand.  Don’t skimp on sleep and don’t forget to include recovery days.  Never run a tempo run or speed workout back to back with a long run.  You might as well throw away your hard work if you don’t give yourself time to recover.
At the SF Half Marathon I may run like I am flying or I may sluggishly cross the finish line.  There is no predicting what will happen on race day.  Either way I will enjoy myself and feel proud of my hard work.  Of course I will also wonder how on earth I will do that distance twice at November's Malibu Marathon. 

With all that being said I am eager to see how my body will respond when I finally slow down and recover.

Take it easy runners!


  1. Runner's World had the same kind of advice yesterday. Great minds think alike? I really wish i could run that far and fast.
    Good blog!

  2. Nice blog. I'm running all over the country and learning as I go. Thanks for the insight.

    Regina Phalange

  3. Good post! I'm starting to train and have problems trying to hold back too, even though I've read it over, and over again that I need to run slow, and not too much to allow myself recovery. Good luck at San Fran.

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