Fitz’s Training Journal: February, 2011

Every month on Strength Running I give an overview of my monthly training. Unlike a lot of other running sites out there, I walk the walk (run the run?) and am usually in a high-volume training cycle. February was no different.

If you want to see what my day to day training looks like, you can friend me on Daily Mile.

February was one of my best month’s of training in terms of volume, especially considering that it’s only 28 days long. I ran 322 miles or an average of about 11.5 miles per day. Most of my weekly mileage totals were in the 75 – 84 range and I increased my long run to 19 miles.

I was continuing my January theme of building a strong base, while adding in harder workouts that approximate the pace I’ll need to run to reach my goals at the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler. My admittedly aggressive goal is to average 5:21 per mile and race 53:30 – which is 1:20 faster than my 54:50 PR set in 2007.

February’s Quality Workouts

My first workout of the month was a simple 3 x mile interval session on the treadmill. I normally never do workouts on the treadmill but I kept the paces slower to make it feel easier. For some reason, running fast on a treadmill feels much faster than on a track or the roads. I split 6:18, 5:56, and 5:49 for a quality session.

The next week I increased the volume of faster running and the speed to approximate my goal race pace. I ran 5 x mile on the track with 400m jog recovery in 5:39, 5:33, 5:25, 5:21, and 5:16. My goal was to start around my tempo pace of ~5:40 and negative split the workout until I was faster than my goal pace of 5:21. Success! This was definitely challenging and I was a bit sore for the next few days.

Tired of the mile intervals, I opted for a hill workout on the roads the next week. I ran 6 x 2 minutes at perceived 5k effort with a jog down recovery. The great news is that I was running significantly further up the hill than I was about a year ago. Progress! Surprisingly, I wasn’t sore after this workout. I thought I would be since it was my first hill workout in awhile, but all the hills I run during my normal distance runs in Rock Creek Park might be helping.

Later in the week I hopped in a 5k race at the end of my long run. With 14 miles already on my legs, I surprised myselfPolar Bear 5k and ran 16:52 for second place. I split 5:27, 5:32, and 5:51 (5:19 pace) for each mile and the last 1.1 miles.  I switched gears a bit from the anaerobic work to a purely aerobic strength session. With about 6 weeks until Cherry Blossom, this is a great time to put in long, challenging sessions. Read the full race report here.

Next was a similar workout to the 5 x mile – 3 x 2k. The volume of hard running is shorter, but lengthening the interval makes this session just as challenging. I also wanted to run the entire workout at or under my goal 10-mile pace of 5:21 (or about 6:42 for 2k). I split 6:43, 6:38, and 6:32 for a great workout.

A few days later was my long run. I normally don’t count a long run as a “workout” but when they get to be 20 miles with some faster running at the end I make an exception. I went out to the C&O Canal Towpath in Maryland and parked near Swains Lock Rd. This is at about the 16.6 mile mark and I walked out to the 17 mile marker to start my 20 miler.

I ran to the 27 mile point and turned around, negative splitting each half in 69:14 and 66:12 with a 5:34 19th mile. Total time for 20 miles was 2:15:26 or an average of 6:46 per mile. This run was tiring but another great aerobic session to put me closer to my goal. I don’t think I’ll do another 20 miler this fast, but I’ll certainly run a few more 20 milers before Cherry Blossom.

Lessons Learned from February’s Training

You can clearly see that I value aerobic development above all else – overall high volume and quality long runs take priority over speedy interval sessions on the track. I believe this will not only help me reach my short-term goals of running well a month from now, but also racing even better in the Philadelphia Marathon in November.

Next, you’ll see that none of my workouts come out of nowhere. I make sure to progress intelligently from an easier workout to a more challenging workout. One of the last workouts I did in January was a 9 mile rhythm run in 58 minutes. I transitioned from that to my next workout of 3 somewhat faster miles on the treadmill. Then I ran 5 x mile at an even faster pace.

You get the picture: each workout builds on the previous workout. Adaptation happens when you stress your body a little bit more than before. Stress it too much and you can easily find yourself over-trained or injured. If you’re having trouble planning your training, check out several of the coaching packages I offer to help you become a better runner.

One shortcoming in February’s training is not doing any fast work in my flats. As I get closer to the St. Patrick’s Day 8k, my primer for the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, it’s important that I spend some time running fast in the Hyper Speeds I’ll be using to race. Unfortunately, I haven’t made the effort to do this. I’ll do this soon to help my body adjust.

In the ongoing drama that is my quest to find a pair of running shoes I love, I’m back to the ASICS Speedstars and the Adidas Adizero Mana’s. Both somewhat minimalist, they’re a departure from what I wore during my last shoe cycle: the ASICS Sky Speeds and the Saucony Kinvaras. Both of these shoes hurt my feet in different ways and I came away with a few black toenails – the first ever in my 12+ years of running!

I’m starting to prefer even more minimalist shoes and the Speedstars may be retired the next time I buy shoes. I love the Adizero Mana’s, but they’re quite firm and the sole is a bit hard for my tastes. If the Kinvara had a wider toebox, I’d be a convert. Any suggestions for me?

In Strength Running news, I have a special announcement coming up in the next 1-2 weeks so stay tuned. I’m also working on a meaty Q&A guide that the Strength Running Team helped develop through my newsletter (sign up for behind the scenes info like this). It will be free but since I worked so closely with my newsletter readers, I will likely only release it to them.

Thanks for reading! This training journal post is admittedly longer than usual, but I had a lot to report. I hope you can learn something from my training and improve your own running!

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Comments

  1. Impressive month as usual Fitz, not just in the execution but in the logic of your training plan. I love plans that build thoughtfully and intelligently throughout, as you not only build the strength and endurance needed but can really measure and feel your progress by your splits and perceived effort.

    • Thanks Greg! I usually split the training into several components: overall volume, length of long run, length of medium-long run (arguably, I should be at 14 miles now, but have stayed at 13 for no real reason), weekly workout, and even length of recovery day. One thing I didn’t mention is that my recovery day has increased from 5 miles to 7. Everything else progresses slowly upward/more intense. Even within the same distance long run (say 19 miles) I’ll go like this: 19 miler at steady pace, 19 miles with 4×30″ surges, 19 miler with one mile hard near the end, then 20 miler steady. It rotates in that general pattern. I love controlling variables – and being a running nerd.

  2. Fitz,
    I really prefer my Brooks Mach 10/11/12’s. I use the Kinvaras on and off now, but my feet feel funny during my runs, and I haven’t figured out why. They’re both minimalist style 4mm drop shoes(give or take a couple of mm). Run well.

    • The Mach 12’s look hot! I’m probably not ready to run significant mileage in a 6oz. racer, but I may check these. Thanks for the suggestion!

  3. I find it mind boggling how you create your plans. There’s so much to know and do. I’m just glad I don’t have to do it!

  4. Have you thought of the Brooks Green Silence – lighter, softer and wider than Mana. Also reduced heel to forefoot drop and wide toe box – funny lacing system though
    PJ

  5. Hi Fitz,
    My most recent shoes have been Asics DS Racers, Brooks Green Silence, and just last week a pair of Asics Piranha SP3s arrived. I’ve had a week’s worth of shorter, sharper runs in the Piranhas and they are going well so far. They are ridiculously light – almost like a track shoe. But seem to hold up well on road, grass and dirt trails. I have a fairly wide foot and the fit is pretty good. I haven’t tested them out over longer distances yet (over 10K) but could be worth considering. Not sure how they would compare to the Speedstars but I am happy with them so far.

    • I’ve owned a few pairs of Piranhas and worn them for 4-5 miles at a stretch. They’re the lightest shoe ASICS has released to the US market I believe. Definitely a great minimalist shoe, but not something I can wear regularly for 10+ miles. I might buy them for races though.