How I’m Following Run Less, Run Faster (And a Recap)

In a word, the way I am following Run Less, Run Faster is: poorly.

I had big plans to follow the RLRF half-marathon plan to the letter, but that’s before I knew it was 18 weeks long. That’s longer than I trained for Berlin! In addition to general restlessness issues, I also intend to be starting spring triathlon training 18 weeks from now — and I wanted to get in a couple of quality race attempts (and potentially a substantial period of sloth) before that. So I’ve done some editing.

My goal race for this cycle is the Kaiser half on Feb. 3. (I’m not registered yet; Kaiser and I have a spotty history, and I typically sign up for it a few drinks in on New Year’s Eve, so why mess with tradition? But I’m acting under the assumption that it’s my goal race.) From the time I picked up the book to race day, I had 13.5 weeks. I’m also running Walnut Creek on Dec. 8 with the hope that I can at least PR. That was about 5 weeks out from the time I got the book.

So, I marked those dates on the calendar and got to work.

I started with the long run, as it looked like the easiest piece. My distances were already on par with the plan, and the paces weren’t that far off. If I started the plan on week 5, the first 13-mile long run just so happened to fall on the weekend of Walnut Creek. Done.

I didn’t spend much time worrying about the tempo run. There are a couple of different kinds of tempos in the plan (one is a straight-up four- or five- or six-miler; one is a couple of miles on, a mile off, a couple of miles on) and while there are three different tempo paces, the vast majority of the runs use “mid-tempo.” So I basically jumped in at week 5 there, too.

Track was the toughest to edit. I have the least experience with it, so it’s not immediately apparent if some workouts are going to be substantially tougher than others. The first thing I did was take out all the duplicate workouts, which left me with 14 track workouts for 13 weeks. Then I hacked off another one at random. In making my specific schedule, I tried to follow the plan’s groupings of workouts (e.g. I assume there must have been a reason one week had “6 easy” instead of a tempo with a particular track workout and long run, so I kept that set intact). But at a certain point, I was just throwing stuff in boxes and shrugging.

Run Less, Run Faster includes tables of goal times for each type of run based on a 5K time. My last (…and only) 5K was in February, when I ran 26:04 (an 8:23 pace).

For track workouts, I can either choose to follow times for a 26:00 5K or a 26:10. After looking at the times and deciding I was unlikely to hit any of them anyway, I’m using the 26:00 ones; dream big, right? Tempos and long runs have a row for 26:05, so I’m using that, with an exception for long runs that I’ll explain in a second.

The tempo and long run paces seem reasonable, but the track paces are insaneballs. OK, they probably aren’t, but I’m a shitty track runner, and I promise you I wasn’t running these paces on the track when I ran my 5K time. I’ve decided to be OK with missing almost every interval, getting as close as I can and leaving knowing I worked hard.

For tempos, I’ve found the workouts totally fair so far. Mid-tempo, where most of the runs fall, is 8:56, which I have to work for these days, but it’s doable.

For long runs, RLRF equates my 5K to a 9:20 half-marathon pace. To run sub-2, I’d need a 9:09 pace. I’ve been torn about how to approach this. I’m still a baby runner, but one thing I have learned about myself is that I don’t race faster than I train. However, with the sudden shift from easy-paced marathon-training miles to having both a track workout and a tempo every week, I know I can’t go nuts on the long run, too. My compromise has been to aim for the range between the two prescribed paces. For example, when the run is 10 miles at half-marathon pace + 20 seconds, I’m shooting for a 9:29-9:40 average. A 9:20/average half-marathon would be a sizable PR, so at least for the weeks leading up to Walnut Creek, I’m content with that.

The Recap
So, with that said, here’s how my first week went:

Monday: 1300 yards of swimming, including 3×200, which serves as my tri group’s base pace test. Last March my base pace was 2:03/100, and this worked out to 2:08/100. So: there’s the goal for the next few months in the pool.

Tuesday: First track workout. 6.65 miles, including: a 400, 600, 800, 1200, 800, 600, 400 w/ 400 easy in between. Prescribed paces were 1:56, 2:55, 3:55, 5:59. My actual times were: 1:55, 2:55, 3:59, 6:09, 4:01, 2:56, 1:56.

Wednesday: Rest; work a zillion hours

Thursday: Rest; work a zillion hours

Friday: Six miles at “long tempo” pace (listed, I think, as 9:11, but this is the last time it appears in the plan, so I didn’t pay that much attention). Nike+ had me at 6.08 miles with a 9:08 average pace.

Saturday: A few triumphant bike miles

Sunday: Plan was 11 miles at HMP+30; I ran 11.1 at a 9:32 average, a little deceptive because of the big downhill out-uphill back on the route.

So far, so good.

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7 thoughts on “How I’m Following Run Less, Run Faster (And a Recap)

  1. Angela says:

    “Insaneballs” is my new favorite word. I am going to use it always.

  2. katie says:

    Just saying hi, read 50 blogs posts in a row and caught up on your life. Oh hi.

  3. sweatykid says:

    I have always struggled with track workouts too. I mentally have so much more success doing speed work on some pre-measured segment of road.

    I need to try this signing-up-for-a-race-a-few-drinks-in thing.

    • Kimra says:

      At my first half-marathon, we saw a woman with a sign taped to her back that said “This sounded like a better idea after a bottle of wine,” and my friends and I all pointed to her and yelled, “THAT’S US!”

      I’m trying speed work on a one-mile loop around a lake this week, and that sounds SO much lovelier to me than the track!

  4. pjh123 says:

    With a good fitness watch, you can do “track” workouts anywhere. I use the Garmin 310XT which has GPS so I can mark off segments on any route. For interval training, I set it to “auto-lap” at whatever interval (say 1/4 mile or 1/2 mile) and when I hear the watch beep I switch from fast to slow or slow to fast. It also will let you see things like average pace of just the current interval if you like. Much easier for me than finding an available track.

    • kimretta says:

      Good point. The track is around the corner from me, so convenience isn’t the issue — it’s more psychological. I use the Nike+ GPS watch and have used it before for time intervals but never distance, so I’ll have to give it a shot. My recollection is that I can only do it for even intervals (e.g. I could do it for 400s but not a workout that was like, 1000, 800, 400, 200) — but I have plenty of workouts like that, so it’s worth a try!

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