Friday, May 26, 2017

Things I Learned this Training Cycle

This past training cycle was the first I've taken seriously since training for the Bemidji Marathon in 2014. I've created many training programs between now and then, but haven't bothered to follow them, and/or the act of creating one was fun and satisfied the itch of thinking about training for something, and then opting not to.

I wanted to take a minute to reflect back on this training cycle to jot down some things that I learned over the past 12 (or 20, if you include the base building session) week training cycle.
  1. Running buddies are the best. This is the first training cycle where I have embraced running with friends. I've always been a solo runner. Even when I started with the running group, I was the slow one who brought up the rear on my own. When I met Toni last summer, she was a LOT faster than me. She wanted to be my running buddy, but I didn't want to slow her down. After explaining to her just how slow I was for weeks and weeks, I finally agreed to run with her. Fully expecting her to ditch me as a running buddy after she realized just how slow I was running. But she didn't! She needed a buddy to get her out the door, and I just needed a buddy. The rest is history. From our running friendship, others were born. I met other runners near my pace, and did many long runs with a small group of ladies. If I wasn't feeling up for a run, I would reach out to someone to run with me to help hold me accountable. It made all the difference in the world.
  2. Base building works. I love speed work. I love running fast, and I love getting faster. During periods I wasn't training, I would create a plan and only be excited about the speed sessions during the week. Most of the training programs I followed previously included some easy miles, one interval or tempo session a week and one long run. The training plan I followed this time spent a lot of time creating a base of long slow miles, building up to mid-30s before adding in any legit speed work. There were some runs with portions at lactate threshold to get the legs moving, but most of the specific speed work that we did on a track didn't start until 4 weeks out from race day. And shocker: I didn't get injured at all, because I spent the time building my base. Who would've thought?! Also my legs recovered very well from the speed sessions, and the long runs for that matter.
  3. Mid-week long runs are my fave. Throughout training there would be 6 or 8 or 10 miles in the middle of the week. These would be at a general aerobic pace, again building up that endurance base (which is what I need as a runner with better faster running capabilities than endurance capabilities) and they were a blast. It felt so BA to be running 8-10 miles on a Monday or a Thursday throughout training. While there were a few long runs that got missed during this cycle for various reasons, I know these extra mini-long runs helped immensely.
  4. I loved the half marathon specific speed workouts of this cycle. In past cycles, training programs have had mile repeats and 800 meter repeats. I hated the mile repeats (so hard) and loved the 800 meter repeats, but I'm learning that repeats at that speed don't translate as well to specific half marathon training. This cycle had us doing 1000m repeats at 3k-5k pace, some ladders of 1200, 800, 600 x 2, and other workouts that shook things up a bit. It was a welcomed  change. They always felt challenging but doable. And I left the track feeling incredibly strong after each workout. 

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