The Run Less Run Faster Experiment – Weeks 4 and 5

Setting a fashion statement at the track this week. No one was there though.
Setting a fashion statement at the track during Week 4.

A double dose for you all! Salty land was busy last week so I’ve combined the last two weeks of my training experiment into one post.

A month of the experiment has passed! What I miss most about this plan is all out sprinting. During Week 4, I incorporated an all out 400 but didn’t get the memo that it was a 400 and not a 200 (see also out in 35 and closing in 46). Overall, Week 4 felt very sluggish. I used the 400 to shake things up but it left me feeling even slower. Oddly enough, Week 5 called for a down week (no long runs or workout). I had hesitance going into a down week already feeling down but it was just what I needed. I again threw in some sprints (4 x 200 in 35) during one of my runs this past week and still somehow got my average pace to be at the plan’s requested one (9:15).

On my other runs, I have felt a lot stronger this past week.

I think strength is something that was missing during other training programs that I have done. Strength to me is built up from sprinting and weight lifting. This time around, I am lifting 2-3 times a week. I can feel a difference and it seems this past week solidified that difference. I also think my body has adapted to the experiment and the next few weeks should feel a lot better.

5ks have always been a mystery to me. I have a good first mile (indicating potential speed). I then drop off that pace around 1.5 and finish things more at tempo pace (indicating some endurance). The missing piece this entire time has been strength, the ability to push the pace and combine both speed and endurance. During previous training cycles, I barely lifted or did any core work. I was running double what I am now and felt weak much of the time. I think continuing on this route of strength training, cross training, and occasional sprinting will fill in the gaps and bring me to my real potential as a runner. Any other pointers on building strength are appreciated!

Here’s a recap of Week 4:

Monday: 8  mile bike ride to and from the cemetery. My family had cake at my grandfather’s resting place for his birthday. It was tough singing Happy Birthday, an experience like no other. Yet at the same time, it felt as if he was there with us as we celebrated, as if nothing had changed. I also lifted in the evening and surprised myself with a curl up! Pull ups still need a lot of work.

Tuesday: 4 miles @ 9:10 pace. Easy pace this week was 9:17. I ran from my house to a local restaurant for Dollar Taco night.

Wednesday: 30 minute walk. I had a long day of errand work so I had planned on just using my first rest day of the program. However, a customer wanted to do our meeting while we power walked. I took advantage of the opportunity to get something in and was grateful for it. I can finally say I love my job!

Thursday: 2 x 1600 meter repeats @ 7:21 with 800 jogs in between each repeat. I did an 800 meter warm up then went 7:23 for the first repeat. I am horrible at doing math in my head so I was a bit all over the place pace wise. I knew I needed about a 3:40 for 800 so I focused on that but it was a challenge to keep each lap even. The second repeat went much better in 7:15. I felt a mix of strength and sluggishness, depending on the lap.

Friday: 3 miles @ 9:18 pace on the treadmill. This was run around 11pm and I felt like crap.

Saturday: 13 mile afternoon bike ride. I had passed a woman on a hill and then she blasted past me on the downhill. Game on: mountain bike versus road bike. I took off toward her and eventually passed her on the straightaway while simultaneously dropping a 3:18 mile! That was fun. I shall remember that competitive spirit come race time.

Sunday: 10 mile long run @ 9:06 pace. This run felt effortless! Also did some body strength exercises (planks, push ups, lunges) after the run.

Total: 21 miles running, 21 miles cycling, 30 minutes walking

Recap of Week 5:

Monday: 11 mile bike ride with 2 sets of 5 hill climbs. It was dark and dreary during the cycling workout which made for a good test of strength.

Tuesday: 5 miles @ 9:07 pace with 4 x 200s thrown in the 3rd mile.

Wednesday: Off. Used my first true rest day of the experiment.

Building up to a real pull up. My refrigerator magnets remind me to keep at it even when I am not working out.
Building up to a real pull up. My refrigerator magnets remind me to keep at it even when I am not working out.

Thursday: 4 miles @ 9:16 pace. This was late in the evening and on the treadmill again but I eased into the run so it wasn’t as bad as last week’s. Also lifted.

Friday: 4 miles @ 9:10 pace. A late night run after a long day. Thought I would be tired and sluggy but it was perfect. 9s are feeling more and more effortless. It’s the “strength” training, I tell ya!

Saturday: Off. Used another rest day as the plan calls for rest or cross training on non-running days. I did housework and organizing all day and didn’t want to stop for working out. No guilt.

Sunday: 5 miles @ 9:04 pace. Afternoon run smelling fresh cut grass and seeing horses. Felt a little achy but overall stronger. Also did some body strength exercises after the run.

Total: 18 miles running, 11.25 miles cycling

Preview of next week: 4 days of running with 800 meter repeats and an 11 mile long run

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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