There are some things I don't like about the Run Less, Run Faster plans - namely that you run less. I'd much rather run more and run faster, but I've tried it, and I always end up injured. But only running 3 days a week is tough. I miss that 4th (and occasionally 5th) day of getting to lace up my shoes and hit the road.
But three weeks into training, and I'm feeling good (knocking on wood as I type that), even with the increasingly long long runs and the weekly speed and tempo workouts - and I'm reminded of the fact that these plans work, plain and simple, and that's why I went back to them again.
Week two of training included a track workout of 4 x 800, and when I looked at that on the schedule, it almost seemed like an 'easy' workout. But I knew the reality would be anything but - and I was right. The first 800 felt ok. The second one felt a little challenging. The third one was really, really tough. The 4th one - I was certain I wouldn't be able to complete it. But I did complete it, and managed to do all 4 repeats at the pace I was planning on - 3:09.
Two days later I tackled my second tempo run, which was supposed to be 5 tempo miles at 7:49 pace. I knew that pace would feel abnormally slow for a tempo for me, and figured I'd end up running faster, and I was right - my tempo miles came in at 7:30, 7:33, 7:22, 7:43, and 7:21. Success!
Last week's long run was 15 miles, and instead of running the planned 8:43 pace, I ran an 8:08 pace. It was a little challenging in the final miles (especially since the last few miles were mostly uphill), but that pace mostly felt good, which was very encouraging.
A tough track workout kicked off this past week's training - a ladder workout of 1200, 1000, 800, 600, and 400, all completed at the paces I was aiming for, including one of my fastest 400s ever - 1:26! As always, doing the track workout sucked, but having it done felt amazing.
The Thursday tempo for this week also went great, with my tempo miles run in 7:34, 7:09, 7:15, 7:13, and 6:59 (goal was 7:34).
So clearly, I'm mostly running faster than the plan calls for, and I've had a couple of people ask me why I'm not switching to the 3:20 training plan, rather than the 3:25.
I did consider using the 3:20 plan, but felt it might have been a little too much of a stretch. And I feel that the paces I'm running at this point put me right in between the two plans, which I think is a great place to be.
I'm not certain that I can run a 3:20 marathon, but with every workout that I complete, I grow more and more certain that I can run a 3:25 marathon - nd that I have a pretty good shot at running a wee bit faster than that.
I always have multiple goals for a big race, and I can see already that my goals for Philly are going to fall in that 3:20 to 3:30 range, and I think that's a pretty awesome range to be in, so I'm going to continue to go a bit above and beyond what the 3:25 plan asks of me, and keep myself slightly ahead of the curve.
Not only will it give me an edge physically, but it absolutely gives me an edge psychologically - there is no better feeling in the world than knowing you absolutely crushed your workout, and I've already had three solid weeks of that feeling - I can't imagine how confident I'm going to feel if I can pull it off for the remaining 13 weeks.
Running the track and tempo workouts and the 13- and 15-mile runs clearly signified that I was officially in training for 26.2, but there was something about this past weekend's 17-mile run that really solidified it. Coming so close to that 20-mile mark is definitely a wakeup call that this is the real deal - you're in it for the long haul, and the real work is just beginning.
And although it's a little intimidating to come to that realization, I also enjoy it. I relish the work, the schedule, the constant number-crunching.
I stood at the beach as the sun rose this past weekend, ready to get started on those 17 miles, and all I could think about was how lucky I was to be there. I love that moment just before you start running, standing at the edge of possibility. So many things can go wrong on a long run, but so many things can go right, too.
Lucky for me, this was one of the ones where it was mostly all the right things, which is why I'm even more excited than ever for the upcoming week's workouts. Tuesday track will be replaced by a Friday night 5K, which means Thursday tempo will be run on Tuesday.
The 5K will get its own blog post, but suffice it to say, I'm terrified. I have a major score to settle with the 3.1 distance, as it has not treated me well as of late, and has gotten into my head and made me doubt myself more than I've ever doubted myself before.
But my training and my longer-distance race results tell me that I need to get past those mental demons and just get out there and run my heart out. I'm way overdue for a good 5K, but I know it's not going to be handed to me, so I am bound and determined to go out and get it.