The Run Less Run Faster Experiment – 4 Weeks Left

Enjoying the start of the summer!
Enjoying the start of the summer!

It’s time for another check in and we’re getting down to the wire. I just completed my final “down” week of the training program. This program featured two down weeks, where there are no workouts or long runs. This past down week, I felt like I was getting sick so I took an extra day off from the program. I didn’t quite hit the mileage the way the program suggested but because it was a down week, I let it slide.

Week 9 featured a workout of 4 x 800 meter repeats to be run in 3:25. For some reason, the 800 workouts have been the toughest for me. I think it’s a mental struggle because the pace is so close to race pace. Because I haven’t done much race pace specific work, at the first bought of discomfort, I assume that I’m not going to be able to carry that pace come July 4th. Awareness is key! At the first bought of such awfulizing thoughts, I try to change my mindset and use positive affirmations, such as “I’ve got this, I am strong, and this pace is not bad at all.” I initially hit the 800s around 3:26 pace but on the final one, I came in strong at 3:17. The last repeat was important because I tried to get my body in a stress state and push through it. In fact, on any run where I am experiencing discomfort (including easy runs) I am making more of an effort to stay with the uneasiness. This is a great exercise in mental strength and after a while, I start to ignore the discomfort.

I also had another long run of 13 miles last week. I hit just under the prescribed pace (9:04) and felt good throughout the entire run. I have been doing my longs runs in the evening on Sundays because it is typically cooler. There are three more long runs left, each at 13 miles. As much as I think 13 is a bit long, I am starting to see the benefit. I feel a lot stronger in my endurance and long runs leave me feeling quite relaxed. But sometimes, it’s just so boring for me! I am trying to do more loop routes versus out and backs, which is helping to keep me focused.

I've got the chin ups down. Still working on the pull ups!
I’ve got the chin ups down. Still working on the pull ups!

Lastly, the part of the program that I believe is helping my running improve the most is the easy run pace. I used to treat all easy runs as recovery runs. I would go by feel and this typically resulted in ten minute miles or slower. I now believe in running a prescribed pace for easy runs. Sure, there may be a day or two where I need to run by feel. So far in this experiment, the least I had to do was start slow and build into the pace, especially on a treadmill. Never have I run such consistent paces in a training program though. I can tell a difference in my overall strength as a runner. And more importantly, nine minute miles are a breeze whereas before, I would’ve assumed that pace was too fast for an easy day. I now think that as my training progresses beyond this experiment that I will get more comfortable in the 8-9 minute range for easy runs and the 7-8 minute pace for workouts will not be as big a barrier as it has been for me all these years. Who knew a simple change in easy run pace could help so much? Certainly, not the stubborn me.

Three long runs and four workouts left, then it’s go time!

I write about mindfulness, mental health, and the professional sport of running with the occasional poking fun at the sport. When I am not running, I'm either helping people as a counselor or trying to make them laugh as an amateur open mic comedian.

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  1. Interesting re your easy pace. A couple of years ago I started running my easy pace in a set range, which made me speed up a bit and stay more consistent. I don’t think it is a coincidence that I also had a break through with my marathon races and hit a PR. I am going for a PR again this fall and my easy pace has been bumped up slightly too. I think it will help. We’ll see.

  2. I have been really enjoying reading about your training. I’m not interested in running 5-6 days a week, so I’ve been doing my own thing. But I have been wondering if I need to become more structured. Your training experience has been informative.