Thursday, March 29, 2012

Table for pity, party of 1, and a plan

I don't quit. Not ever. Not in life and certainly not in running.

That was, until last night.

I had 5x800 on the plan, and I spent the entire day oddly excited to go home and get working. I was going to run alone - alone alone. The sun was shining. And, I had a genius plan: I mapped a 0.85-mile loop in my neighborhood so that I could leave my water in the driveway and make a pit stop after each repeat.

I managed to get off work early and I bounded into the house, throwing on a pair of shorts and a tank, my sassy new Brooks hat and my MOTOACTV. Finally, I was going to get to do it.

I started off with a slow half-mile warmup before getting into the workout. The warmup was a bit heavy but that was to be expected. I was sure that my legs would loosen up by the time I got going. Even though I could set up a workout, I opted to just keep an eye on my watch. When it said 0.50 mile, I was off.

Sort of.

It was hard. Harder than I expected. After a quarter-mile, I just wanted to be done. When I reached my house a bit earlier than anticipated, I took a break for water/caught my breath. I finished the repeat and followed it with a quarter-mile recovery jog. I tried to pump myself up, thinking that I just needed one repeat to get going.  And before I knew it, I was off on repeat two.

For the sake of brevity, I am going to interrupt this post to tell you that repeats two and three didn't go any better and repeats four and five never happened. I quit. Quit, quit, quit. Instead, I opted to just do five miles (I was at 2.5). The remainder of the run was a battle of mind and body, and no one won.

When I got home, I couldn't stop myself from being upset, frustrated and a bit melodramatic. I have become so jealous of other mother-runners who blog about PRs and marathons, and I can't even do a track workout. I am not making significant gains in speed and my base doesn't feel strong. "What am I doing wrong?" I asked myself over and over as I cleaned up. "All I want to do is become a better runner."

Ding, ding, ding!

"The only way to get better at running is to run," a wise man told me just after my first half marathon. I was working on an article for work, and I had inquired whether second-time half marathoners should incorporate speed work. He was a bit hesitant and instead suggested adding mileage. I was a bit deflated - I wanted to go to the track - but I listened to what he said. I switched up my schedule, making my "bonus" run a mid-week long run. It went from 3 miles to a 10K and my weekly mileage went from 20 to 25+ miles. In three months (not even), I ran a 5K PR and cut 15+ minutes off my half time. With no speedwork.

So that's what I'm going to do. I am going to quit the defeating repeats and tempo runs, and I am going to add more miles. Instead of doing strength work on "Mommy needs alone time" night, I'll be doing longer runs with the dog. (Don't worry - I'm still going to do strength but more than likely it will be a Jillian DVD after Miles goes to bed.) I am going to focus on 25-mile weeks (as life permits), getting strong and see where it takes me.

While the plan isn't magic, I feel refreshed that I will be making strides (hah! strides!) in what I think will be the right direction.

Do you re-evaluate training plans? When do you incorporate speed work?


  1. That's a GREAT plan. I agree. 100 percent. Enjoy your YOU time. You shouldn't dread it and feel guilty afterwards.

  2. Good for you. And don't get down on yourself for not finishing those repeats. You still ran - which is really impressive. Some days I can't even get myself to do that.

  3. Good for you!!! I need to add this back to my workout plan along with hills! Erica

  4. Good job girl -
    Running is the way to improve. Selfishly, Tuesday night could be a great time do a 2nd pump class :)
    This post is very timely. My 2012 goal was to get faster but to run less distance (i.e. no half marathons). The problem. . . I'm slow and KNOW that it's because the distance and discipline isn't there! You're exactly right. Strong mileage base before speed work and miles count (as does Miles - ha! I'm hilarious).
    Maybe we can add in some miles some Saturdays after pump? I'm game anytime you want ('cept this week).

  5. Good job on not getting down on yourself but instead on changing up your plan on what works for you! I am not a fan of speed work and found that adding a bit of a tempo run (just 10-20 secs faster a mile) made a big difference in my half marathon pace.

  6. You're doing so great with running regardless of your shortened speed workout.

    I quit last night too, much to my dismay. I was supposed to do an eight mile tempo. I made it 5. It was nearly 10pm and I still had all my prep for today to do. It's making me feel anxious about my race in two weeks.

    I'm thinking about focusing on mileage rather than speed work in between this half and my next one in May.

  7. You don't even realize how much this post has helped me!! Thank's Kim!