This was a week of good self-discovery under the guidance of Coach Cathy. In keeping with our goal to spend this first six weeks of training together identifying my best distance, this week I ran a mile time-trial. It wasn’t an all-out mile, but it was challenging. As instructed by my coach, I ran the first 800m comfortably hard, and the second 800m harder, aiming for a negative split. This resulted in a 6:09 mile (800m splits were: 3:08, 3:01), an age-graded time of 72%, which is in the range of regionally competitive for my age group. This is slightly better than my age grading for my 5K race PR (21:08, 70%), and significantly better than my 10K, half-marathon and marathon PRs (all in the range of locally competitive). So it’s becoming clear I am most definitely a shorter distance runner.
Of course, I was hoping for a nationally competitive mile time right off the bat (>80% age graded, or a sub-5:30 mile), but the nice thing about running is with a little bit of talent and a lot of hard work it is possible to see dramatic improvements, so maybe that will be in the cards for me eventually. I asked Coach Cathy if she thought this was in reach, and she gave me the honest answer that she doesn’t know. What she did say is she expects I will improve (how quickly and by how much really depends on my genetic potential), and that certainly sub-6:00 is realistic for the not-so-distant future, so I’m hopeful.
The other thing we worked on figuring out this week is how to improve my tolerance for sustained continuous running. This has always been a big recovery challenge for me, and I’ve gotten around this over the past six months or so by breaking almost all my runs up into pieces (except my long run). For example, I’ll run a couple miles, then stop and do a bunch of drills, then run a few more miles, then stop and do sprints or strides, then run a mile or two cool down, so in total I will have run 5-6 miles, but not continuously. Though this has enabled me to get my mileage to the 30-35 mpw range, it’s not the greatest strategy for optimal aerobic development. Coach Cathy has programmed my runs to include a lot more sustained continuous running than I am used to, and I’ve definitely felt the difference: more overall fatigue, and a little foot soreness on Monday of this week after back to back days of 7.7 miles and then 5 miles on Saturday and Sunday of last week. I was conservative, rested it Monday and Tuesday, and it didn’t develop into anything but it did prompt some discussion about the issue. Our plan is to back off a bit on the mileage and the frequency of my runs, use some cross training with aqua jogging and the Elliptigo, while I get used to the increase in sustained continuous running and speed work in my new program. While mentally this is a little disappointing – it was kind of a personal victory to be able to run 6 days/wk – I very much trust Cathy, an elite Masters runner herself with over 20 years of experience coaching female Masters runners, along with a PhD in the subject!
Here’s my training week:
Monday: Speed work was planned, but my foot was sore so I rested instead.
Tuesday: 45 min strength training.
Wednesday: 5.25 miles and core.
Thursday: 7 miles: 3 mile warm-up, strides, then 1 mile on the track at 6:09 – 72.01% age graded – equivalent to a 5:49.4 mile – 3 mile cool-down.
Friday: Core, hip mobility, stretching
Saturday: 7.4 Miles easy with 1 min. every 6-10 minutes at a “plus” pace.
Sunday: Strength and core