Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Reading, Racing & Running Plans

As my summer break from school begins at the end of the week, I am working toward avoiding whatever fitness momentum I have built up over the past two months. Without consulting the numerous books on the subject, I realize that nearly all training literature suggests two things: 1) have a training plan and 2) work toward specific goal races. Given this, in addition to adding yet another book to my personal summer reading list, that is just what I have done.

Just realized I'm still wearing the same
 running gear I had back in 2008 when
I ran the Boilermaker!
After following the successful completion of the April 26 Rochester Half Marathon, followed soon thereafter with a last-minute decision to give the May 17 Rochester Lilac 10k a try for the first time in a long time, the "plan" I have been training with has been a slowly evolving entity. Initially I slid into an ambitious training plan that would have me preparing for a possible ultra in late-August, a concept that while attainable (I'd run three ultras in the distant past), was in retrospect something of a reach at this point.

I have a tendency to over-do things, such as making unusual jumps in logic when it come to race selection... consequently I've learned not to fill out my training log too far in advance lest I commit to copious amounts of white out. What was necessary, though, was to solidify my commitment by signing up for a race or two. Going into Summer 2015, I now have two things on the docket.

First up is the 2015 Utica Boilermaker 15k on July 12, a challenge race I'd run twice many years ago (2007 and 2008). Due to the HUGE number of entrants, participants are assigned corral starts based upon their projected finishing time. I used a projection based upon my April half-marathon finish ensuring I'll be wa-a-a-ay back. I used a similar strategy during my first attempt in 2008 and regretted it as I was in the final corral and was pretty sure the winner of the race finished before I'd even crossed the start. This is a challenging 15k course and there is a likelihood of serious heat, so it is definitely not a PR course. As is the case with my "competitive" efforts of late, the initial goal is to first, finish, and second, to improve upon a pre-determined target time. (The time I enrolled with is about 13 minutes slower than my finishing times 8 years ago.)

This weekend, I also signed up for the local Shoreline Half-Marathon on Saturday, July 18. The goal here would to be to better the time I ran in May. This half-marathon race is the Saturday immediately following the previous Sunday's Boilermaker.

Three weeks ago I took that plan and modified it slightly to create a four-day-a-week plan, similar to one I'd used in the past to prepare for a marathon. This past weekend, I further modified my plan to consist of three key runs with cross-training sprinkled in with rest days. I had previously followed the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training (FIRST)'s three-a-week plan, when younger, and now that I have a few more miles on my legs it seems to make sense. In addition to the plan's goal of "limit[ing] overtraining and burnout while producing faster race times." Another benefit is that it will help me avoid the bugaboo of settling into a single pace with no variation (which will result in little eventual improvement). Years ago, the FIRST Training plans were available online (and in Runner's World magazine where I first came across it), and while still can some be found on pdfs, I purchased Runner's World Run Less, Run Faster.

As I read and continue to run, with some "races" on the horizon and a series of successive plans taking hold, I am confident that I will stay the course and continue having fun with this new phase of my running life.

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