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.
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.