New plan. New rules.

Back in May, after my debacle in the Long Island Half, I put together a plan that consisted of 10K-specific training to get me to the NYRR Club Championships in early August, prepared to race my best 5 miler. Then both life and injury got in the way and I ended up with severely compromised training until about a week ago. So here I am, back at square one again, sort of.

Over the weekend I looked at that original well-laid plan, and at the races scheduled over the coming few months, and decided that if I was going to try something new (again), now was the time. I have a few races scheduled between now and the championships. But there’s one beyond that — the Fifth Avenue Mile — that intrigues me more than any other. Ever since I ran a decent 1500 last summer (~5:46) on no short-distance training to speak of, I’ve wondered if I could improve at distances in the mile range. I originally thought I’d skip the Fifth Avenue race, since I’m guessing NYRR will screw up the start and I didn’t want to get stuck in a crowd clog. But now I’m thinking that if I train properly then I have a perfect right to start up front. So I will. Train. And start up front.

I’ve thrown out the 10K plan. Between now and the Club Champs, I’ve got three races: a 2 miler, a 4 miler and a 5K, respectively. I could continue to do 10K training, but I’m going to go ahead and start training for that mile race. I believe I have enough endurance that those races will take care of themselves, if not be stellar ones. That’s okay. I want to focus on the mile race in late September. I have 12 weeks. (I was originally going to give myself 6 weeks.) I want to be as ready as I can be.

I’ve owned Jack Daniels’ training book, Daniels’ Running Formula, for a few years, but have never looked to it for training guidance. For one thing, his plans looked really hard and complex. Upon closer inspection, while they are still hard, they are not as complicated as they seem. Perhaps more importantly, they are quite flexible. Right now, flexibility is the name of the game for me. So I’m going to use Daniels’ 1500-3000 training plan (shortened a bit) to get me to my goal mile race.

Here are some of the characteristics I like about Daniels’ plan:

  • He provides either two or three quality workouts a week, but they are prioritized so that if you need to cut back, you can. You just make sure you do the first workout that week at least and preferably the second one as well. Since I plan to just do two quality workouts most weeks (or one plus a race), it’s pretty easy for me to spot which one to drop from week to week.
  • Speaking of races, there are lots of opportunities to fit races in as part of training. Almost every week features an option to use a race as quality workout.
  • He offers two plans: the A plan is more structured in terms of distances to run; the B plan is a little looser and gives you time-based goals rather than distance- or paced-based ones. I like this because it allows me to do workouts on the roads if the track won’t work out for some reason, plus it allows me to train purely by effort rather than obsessing about distance/pace. I’ve struggled with this tendency in the past (and have trained too hard as a result), plus it’s tempting to discount the effect of training in heat and humidity when you have set times to run. I can throw those out and just focus on effort now.
  • Within the workouts themselves there is latitude to make adjustments based on energy level, what distances are working best, etc. For example, today I had a bunch of varying repeats to do. I could do anywhere from 1000-1600 repeats. Since I was tired, I chose to do 1200s.
  • Maybe this is true of most 1-2 mile programs, but there are lots of shorter, faster intervals and fartlek segments. I love running 200s and 400s, and mixing those up with longer repeats. I’ll get to do a lot of ladder-type workouts.
  • The rest of the week is not regimented at all. The mileage I run from day to day, and how I distribute it, is up to me. As long as I take my easy days easy, do strides 4x a week and keep my weekly long run to under 25% of total mileage, I can do whatever I like.
  • Finally, there’s a ton of variety in terms of workout types and how they are structured: fartleks, tempos, track sessions…it’s all there and there’s lots of variation. This will keep me from getting bored and, I hope, be a good stimulus for improvement.

My rules are pretty simple:

  • As stated above, maximum of two hard runs a week, with little exception.
  • I will take a day off when I need to, and will do so anyway every two weeks at least.
  • If I feel injury coming on, I won’t run through it.
  • I won’t run my workouts too hard. I may even hold back a little in races.
  • If I’m unsure about how to adjust a workout, I’ll err on the side of caution and cut things down more so than less so.

So that’s my plan from here until September 24. After that I’ll probably take a week off, or just to do easy running. Then, if Daniels worked for me for the mile, I’ll go into his 5K-15K training plan for the El Paso 5K in Houston over Olympic Marathon Trials weekend. That will be a 15 week plan. But I shouldn’t get ahead of myself…

Dad acts like douchebag. What do you do?

This afternoon I went for my bi-monthly (lately) trip to the gym to lift weights and torture myself in a variety of other ways. I am usually the only woman in the weight area, so I’m always feeling a bit like an interloper as it is, and as a result I’m hesitant to stand out in any way (probably dumb, because the fact that I have breasts makes me stand out plenty already).

Today I witnessed something that caused more than a little internal conflict. As I made my rounds through the leg torture device area, I saw what I think was a father/son duo using two machines: the leg extension and the hamstring curl. Dad was stocky and strapping. Son was about 15 and not strapping. Dad commandeered both machines (unfortunate, since not only did I need to use them both, but it meant I got to see what I’m about to report as I stood there waiting) and put the weight settings at levels that were fine for him and his stumpy legs, but way too much for skinny son: 100 lbs for the leg extension and 80 for the hamstring curl.

To put things into perspective, I usually set those two at 50. I have muscular, peasant stock legs, probably about equal in strength to those of your average slight, unfit, semi-developed 15 year old boy. Dad did his sets of 10, then instructed Son to climb on and do the same. Son was arching his back, red-faced, groaning just to get to a count of three. I was thinking, “This is a lower back injury waiting to happen.”

At one point Dad walked away and I was so tempted to go up to Son and say, as nonthreateningly as possible, “Those might be a little heavy for you. Try taking them down a few so you can do more reps.” But Dad looked like an asshole, so I stopped myself from getting involved. Then I thought, well, this is a potentially unsafe situation. Maybe I go alert a staffer. But they’re all 19-year-old guys and I’d risk humiliating the 15-year-old guy in addition to drawing Dad’s ire. So I didn’t do anything.

Even if Dad wasn’t being a macho idiot, at best he was totally clueless and unobservant. I felt really bad for that kid.

Amateur ethicists: What would you have done? What should I have done?

Posts I wish I’d written

We’ve been told for years that there are two types of runners: “slow twitch” and “fast twitch.” But those are just references to muscle fibers. What about runners’ heads and attitudes? Blogger Cris of Well. I’m TRYING to run… theorizes that, once we move into the mental realm, there are actually three types of us runners. I agree with her observations. And I am desperately trying to evolve from Type 2 to Type 3 at the moment. Read the post here.

Training: June 19-July 2

This is starting to look like a training log again. Finally.

I’m nearly out of the woods with this latest injury. It’s only in the last two days that I’ve been able to run without feeling a moderate amount of pain on every other step. Running (almost) without pain and on the faster side has been a real pleasure.

Last week I was able to step up the paces again, although the week was so dominated with unpredictable work deadlines, late evenings and lack of sleep that I ended up not running most days. But the days on which I did run, I ran well. Considering that I took half my days as “off” days in May, then spent June hobbled with a calf problem, I’m running pretty well.

I’ve lost 11 lbs since we got back from England six weeks ago. I am definitely lighter on my feet and only need pick up our 10 lb medicine ball to realize the difference 10+ lbs makes. It’s been a grind, eating very little and counting every single calorie, and on some days I feel very hungry or low energy (in which case I up the intake a bit). But it’s steady and I rarely go more than three days without a drop in weight, so there’s plenty of motivation to stick with the program. I’ve still got a ways to go, but I’m confident that I’ll get there.

So — the runnng: during last week’s hellish work week, I only ran three times, but I was not fucking around on two of those runs. I did them at a solid 8:10 pace, which was not high effort. I also kept my commitment to do core work (something that’s becoming more gratifying now that I’m actually starting to see some definition in my abdomen). Considering that these were humid days, I’m feeling pretty good about those paces.

Last Sunday I meant to go out and do a very easy 9-10 mile recovery run, but ended up running the thing at 8:50. I guess my legs were pretty rested, so I went with it and just ran whatever they wanted to run. But I was wiped out on Monday, so took the day off. Wednesday was the big test of my calf’s comeback: could it manage some faster running, meaning a  little faster than 5K pace? The answer was yes.

That was a good run, primarily because I felt like I was training again, rather than waiting to train. It was extremely humid, at 93%. Naturally, the next day dried out. But I was glad I did the run in those conditions, since I need all the acclimation I can get. Now it’s a four day holiday weekend, with the last three days scheduled to be very hot. I wanted to do a tempo run tomorrow, but the weather was so favorable this morning (cool and relatively dry) that I decided to push it up a day. And I’m glad I did. I did a few segments at varying paces. Once again, I’m spent from the effort, but very gratified by that run. I had almost no pain left, just a little ball of tightness. I’ll keep working on it this evening, but I’m thinking it’s going to be gone come next week.

I fell off the wagon with regard to core work this week. But, really, who the fuck cares? I’m running fast again and doing workouts, so I’ll take it. I plan to hit the weights this weekend (and I’ll be limited to just one trip a week for the time being) and get back to core stuff too. I have a feeling this will all start coming together for me soon: the training, the weight loss, the decision to focus on shorter stuff. Famous last words.

A year ago I was recovering from the 2010 Green Mountain Relay (a race I’m committed to for 2012), getting ready to start work with a new coach, and totally unaware of the tsunami of misfortune that was forming just offshore. The year since has featured a lot of setbacks and distressing developments.

That’s life. I’m looking forward. I’ve got a bunch of races to be excited about. I’m definitely going to Houston in January (and Jonathan’s doing the full marathon) to watch the Trials, meet a bunch of people, and I hope run like a masters machine in the 5K race that weekend. If I can just stay uninjured and healthy, and remain relatively unscathed in my personal, familial and work life, I’ll be very happy and maybe this year can redeem itself. Like Lolo Jones, I’m looking to catch a break right now. There’s one out there somewhere.

As for the near future, I have plans to run the 4 mile relay in Van Cordtlandt Park next week on Thursday. Jonathan and I will each take a leg. It will be an evening of firsts: first race (or run) on that course, first relay race with Jonathan, first cross-country race. I’m kind of excited about it, not least of which because it will be a chance to race again and get some sense of where I am fitnesswise.

After that is the Central Park 4 Miler (a club points race) on July 16, and perhaps the Sunset and Suds 5K on July 21, although I may skip that in order to coordinate with long-time virtual friends/bloggers Flo from Girl in Motion and Ewen from About a Ewen (aka “Ewen from Down Under”), both of whom are coming into town for a meetup, perhaps on that evening. Or maybe I can convince them to race with me. Either way, I’m sure we won’t be able to top Vegas for Ewen, but we’ll try.

I also picked up a pair of New Balance Trail Minimus 10s. This is a model I’ve been lusting after for months, primarily for its looks. They’re just cool looking shoes. So far all I’ve done is run errands in them, but I’ll probably use them for my daily 3.5 miles of commuting-related walking starting next week. I may also take them out for a spin on the OCA Trail this weekend, just for an easy run.

Other than that, the plan is for lots of couch and bed time. I have been a stressed out and hardworking bunny of late. I need some time alone in the rabbit hole to recharge.

Reprise: A few minutes with Morgan Uceny

Uceny just won her first Diamond League 1500, in Lausanne, using the same method I saw her use a few weeks back at the Diamond League in New York: gradually working her way up to a lead pack position through the course of the race, then flooring it in the last 150 metres or so. In that race she came in second. It was very exciting to watch.

I’ve gotten a few hits on an interview I did with Uceny last year when she was in town for the Fifth Avenue Mile. So in case you’re wondering who that fast American in the green top is, you can learn more about her here.