Sunday, June 17, 2007

Running Reflections

Lately I have been thinking about my strategy for the next few months and training for the Chicago Marathon. I've always been hesitant to follow a formal plan (aside from getting those long runs in) because I like to train based upon how my body feels that day. I have enough motivation to run 6 days a week without a pre-formulated program in front of me.

But I want to get faster. So, I found this program in the July issue of Runner's World called the "Veteran" program. I made slight modifications based on my races and vacation, and then put the program into my own personal calendar. I'm going to stick to it so long as my body feels okay with what the program recommends on any given day.

My goal for Chicago will be 3:55. If my training runs indicate that I can do it faster as October 7 approaches, then I will aim for a 3:50. However, I will be very content with anything under 4 hours! My strategy for the past two months has been to recover from the NJ marathon and do shorter, faster races. I want to build a faster "base" so that when I add on miles to my long runs, those will be faster.

I've done two 10Ks, an 8K, and a 5K. I have a 4-miler coming up next Saturday and a 5K on July 4th. After that, my short races end and I will run two half marathons: The NYC half marathon on August 5 and the VA Beach half marathon on September 2. I'm still learning as I go along. I believe I have a lot more to learn.

One of my biggest challenges in training is to not go too fast! On Friday, I was supposed to take it easy and do 5 slowish miles. This was because I had been planning a long run for Saturday and wanted to conserve energy. But, I got carried away and 5 slow miles turned into 6 fast ones, so my legs were sore on Saturday. I opted out of the Saturday long run, took the day off from exercise entirely, and went for my 13-miler this morning.

I went shortly after sunrise at 6:00am. The temperature started at about 68 and rose to about 75. My route is hilly for the first half and flat for the second half, including two steep up/down hills. My goal was to run the 13 miles in under two hours, and to ideally keep the pace under 9:00/mile. I ended up really surprising myself by running much faster than expected, even though the pace felt very comfortable.

I had my iPod shuffle, and it played nearly all my favorite songs! And that shuffle has over 200 songs on it, so it was quite a coincidence. My first mile was 8:59, and I gradually sped up to a 7:51 for the last mile. I ran this training run faster than my half marathon PR, coming in at 1:51:53, with an average pace of 8:36/mile. I was truly surprised (especially with heat and hills), and the only explanation I can think of is that these shorter races have been very good for my speed. And the day off yesterday was definitely the right decision, although I felt so lazy. I have no idea what to expect for the NYC half marathon in terms of weather, and it could be a scorcher on August 5. But at least I know what I am capable of and what to shoot for in NYC.

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