Aren’t summer colds the worst? I guess at least the timing is good, as I’m supposed to be recovering from Saturday’s half marathon and also taking a little break from running before training for CIM resumes. And even better, it gives me a chance to reflect and recap my training for Summer Breeze. I suspect that this is going to be quite boring for most people. However, some have asked me about my training, so I thought I’d review it for my sake and theirs. I’m also going to write up my thoughts about the book, You (Only Faster).
First, some basic stats:
- Number of weeks: 10
- Average weekly mileage before training: ~20
- Average weekly mileage during training: 26.3
- Highest weekly mileage: ~33.5 (2x)
- Longest run: 16 miles (1x)
- Fast finish long runs: 3 (2 x 14 mi, 1 x 11 mi)
- Average runs/week: 4
I got the training plan from Greg McMillan’s You (Only Faster). What I liked about the book is that McMillan expects you to tweak the training plans to fit your personal strengths and preferences. The plans are also pretty challenging. On more than one occasion, I shortened the number of intervals or total mileage because I didn’t have time (I don’t run fast enough to run 8-9 miles before work) or because I knew I wasn’t fit enough to run 18 miles without feeling destroyed for the next 2-3 days. So, I’d say that I only completed 70% of the prescribed workouts – which is still passing, right? 😉
The one really tricky part about the training plan is that McMillan wants you to go through them ahead of time and alter the workouts according to your “training type” – which he breaks down into 3 major categories: endurance monster, speedster, or combo. He also wants you know how well you respond to various workouts, which requires a lot of previous experience with intervals, tempo runs, steady state runs, etc.
Since I’ve only been running for about 4 years, and have only done workouts sporadically, I decided to wing it. I took it week by week, which helped me stay tuned into my body and how I was feeling. Also, because I was bordering on burning out, it gave me the flexibility to change things up without feeling like a total failure. Even as I changed things around, I maintained some perspective on which runs were the key workouts and which ones were malleable. I also considered the training effect of each workout – and thought about which ones would give me the most confidence. For instance, in Week 8, I swapped out 6 x 1 mile repeats for 2 x 3 mile, knowing that I would feel more confident with a race pace workout than something faster. Another example was during race week, when the plan called for 5-6 x 1000 m. I prefer a sharp taper, so I decided to change the workout to 4 x 800, which was perfect. It was just enough speed to make me feel fresh and fast without wearing me out. I should note that I started ignoring the target training paces from McMillan very early on – I just couldn’t keep up and it was making me depressed.
So at this point, you might wonder, “Why even bother using a plan when it sounds like you just made things up as you went along?” Touché! I have to say that a training plan did provide a few important things, such as periodization of workouts and long runs, incentive to do things like fast finish long runs, and providing workout variety. Regarding the last point – when I was training for the Oakland 5K, I would repeat workouts in 2 week increments. While useful as benchmarks, that got really boring by the time I got to 10K training. It was nice to mix things up!
As I mentioned in the race recap, this was the first time I’ve followed a longer training plan (> 6 weeks) for a half marathon… so it’s definitely possible that simply committing to the training (and coming off 5K and 10K PRs) set me up for a half marathon PR. The factors that I think helped tremendously were the long runs. I completed 4 runs longer than 13.1 miles and did 3 fast finish long runs. Moreover, the fast finish long runs were done on the race course, essentially acting as a dress rehearsal.
For CIM training, I think I will use another training plan from You (Only Faster). Hopefully, it will be just as successful! 🙂