October 10, 2012

Why, Hello!

It's been a long time since my Garmin clocked a mile (without stopping) with a 7 in the minute place on one of my runs.  But tonight's 7:59 before 2 @ ~9:20?  I'll take it, Thank you!

I checked my records, and I haven't recorded a full mile at this pace in the last two years.

Memory lane claims the last time I was in this good of speed shape was either:

1. back in June 2011, when I did 13X400 @ sub8 (including a few 7:0X paced offerings) with 200 jogging recovery each interval plus some warm-up and cool-down for a 6.92 mile workout at an average pace of 8:07/mile.

or maybe, if I 'd tried a little harder to go for an even workout, this would be the equivalent of:

2. November of 2011, when I did a 3 mile time test @ 8:22 avg. pace.

In any case, I don't have data for a mile on any run that was sub-8 for a recorded mile in the last 2 years.  And, as a middle-aged lady, I'm not gonna lie, that's seriously enouraging. Woo Hoo!  

I'm doing a FIRST-inspired training plan for CIM this time around.  I'm skeptical.  But I read the studies and the book.  Despite my doubt at the low mileage, the very targeted training segments supposedly work wonders for people like me (who can't afford to re-arrange their life around running).  That's why I picked it and scheduled it 6 months ago.

But, my doubts tell me it can't be possible that I can hit my goal of sub 4h on a maximum running mileage of less than 35 miles per week and only running 3 days per week.

I've been following the plan somewhat less than religiously (adding runs when I want them and decreasing the paces when they seem too aggressive), and even so, I'm faster than I've been in a long time in terms of my ability to just run fast and feel comfortable.

Given that comfort, I decided to try to hit 9:09 miles on my half this last weekend.  Typically, at this point in my marathon training a 2h (9:09/mi) marathon would be reasonable, but then again, I'm also usually hitting well above 35-40 miles per week in my training, whereas this time around, I've barely cleared 30.  FIRST claimed I should shoot for 13 at 9:39 and that I'd still be able to get to 4h at the marathon if I continued to follow their plan.  But, I've been so much faster on the short painful efforts, I figured I could go for 9:09, which I've hit so easily before at this point in the cycle.  Final result?  9:31/mile.

Okay, fine.  Maybe they know what they are doing.

So, I've decided to stick it out, finish their plan as best I can and see what the results show.  I'd love it if I actually broke 4 hours in the marathon on their plan (which is what I originally designed it to do).  At this point in the training schedule, emotionally, I just can't believe it would be possible.  I underestimated how strong the knowledge that I'm *always* running over 40 miles/week at this point in the training schedule would make me distrust this plan come week -7.  Everything I know about running (which is not much) says I need to run many more than the prescribed miles on this plan.

On the other hand, there are only 3 running workouts I have to do in any week, and I've noticed that I'm much more committed to making sure they are quality workouts and that I make them count, even when I'm mucking with the suggested workout (which is almost every week).

I even occasionally skip a work-out day and move the run to another day to make sure I can do it at something bordering on the suggested pace.  On other programs, I wouldn't have that flexibility, so I'd just head out and do the prescribed mileage or the prescribed time, in either event, often at much slower than the target pace.

So, I'm a doubter, but I'm curious.  I'm going to do my best to follow the FIRST (modified for my life) plan and head out with the 4 hour pace group at CIM.  Once I have my finishing time and actually true training data (because, of course, I'm me, and life gets in the way of the ideal training schedule), I'll evaluate my next steps from there. I'm leaning towards getting a customized training plan for my next marathon, but we'll see.

Either way, I *loved* seeing the 7:59 mile in the middle of this afternoon's run.  It's been a long time since I saw that type of evidence of fitness and it's helpful in encouraging me to hold on and trust the FIRST folks.

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