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May, 2011 Training Journal: Getting Back on the Horse (and Half Marathon Event!)

Every month on Strength Running I provide an overview of my training, key workouts, and any races that I run. If you want to see what my training looks like on a daily basis, you can follow me on Dailymile.

May was a building month as I get back to the 300+ mile months from earlier this year.

I ran 232 miles in May with 12, 13, 13, 15, and 17 mile long runs. April consisted of a lot of time off, so I was building my mileage slowly.

I also traveled to Massachusetts to go to my sister’s college graduation. Not wanting to make the same mistake twice, I took two days off from running in order to enjoy time with my family and to party with my little sister. You only graduate once, right?

The next weekend was Memorial Day weekend and I took another two days off. Yes, sometimes even I slack off. It was hot, happy hour started early, there’s no good place to run on the Jersey Shore, and excuse #4. Moving on…

Sea Isle City
Jersey Shore: Nowhere to run!

Despite the time off, I still had a good month of training. Since I knew I’d be taking some days off beforehand, I was focusing more on quality over quantity. I ran at least one workout every week, including a few that I’m quite proud of.

None of them were too hard or complex, so I’ll list them out so you can see the progression:

  • 9 miles with 8×20 seconds hard. About 90 seconds jog recovery.
  • 10 miles with mile 9 at tempo pace.
  • 9 miles with 8×30 seconds hard. About 90 seconds jog recovery.
  • 12 miles with 10 minutes at tempo pace near the end of the run.
  • 13 miles with 10 minutes at tempo pace from 70-80 minutes. Then 4×15 seconds hard with about a minute jog recovery.
  • 10 miles with 3x(30, 40 seconds) hard. About 90 seconds jog recovery.
  • 13 miles with a 30 minute progression for most of the last half of the run. Pace ranged from about 6:15 to 5:30.

Lessons Learned from May

Life happens. Family vacations, weekend trips, and trying to keep up with college kids can potentially derail your plans for quality running. Instead of running in the heat of the day for two hours, you may have to adjust your workout.

Being flexible with your training can help you stay mentally excited to run and physically ready for your hard days. Trying to squeeze in a few miles when you’re tired, hung over (gasp!), or committed to spend time with family you don’t see often isn’t the best way to stay in shape.

Take the day off and move on. I never tried to make up the miles or workouts and I don’t suggest you do either. That’s a recipe for burnout if you’re cramming too much quality running into too few days.

Substituting quality when quantity is impossible is a good strategy for maintaining fitness if you’re pressed for time. One day while I was at the beach I couldn’t run for two hours because of the heat. So I ran for 70 minutes instead, throwing in a fartlek workout to break the monotony of running on the roads.

While I didn’t get in 17 miles like I had hoped, I ran 10 miles with some significant fast running. No fast workout was planned, but it was a good substitution for a long run.

Starting to run after time off has its advantages: you feel fresh, energized, and motivated to train. I often found myself excited to run and going faster than I should. Your aerobic capacity (endurance) is one of the last elements of fitness to diminish when you stop running.

The danger with this is that your muscular strength – muscles, but also tendons, bones, and ligaments – is one of the first things to diminish. So now you have weak legs supporting a strong cardiovascular system.

That’s a recipe for disaster if you’re feeling good flying through a longer run. I noticed this early on in May as I was getting going. To keep myself healthy, I made sure to consistently do strength exercises to bring my muscular strength to where it needed to be.

The next time you take time off, be sure to start your core and strength exercises as soon as you start running again. If you’re not running because of injury, continue with your strength routine (if possible).

One of my regrets in May was not being able to follow Steve Kamb’s Rebel Strength Guide’s workouts more closely. Since I have very little time, I’ve been skipping the gym. For now core, home strength exercise, and hill sprints will have to make do.

Plans for June

With my college reunion, bachelor party, and final wedding preparations, I know that I’ll be taking another few days off. This is fine with me – until I’m a married man my plan is to maintain fitness, not gain any. In late summer I’ll start my marathon training cycle for the Philadelphia Marathon.

My philosophy right now is “quality over quantity.” While I emphasized volume in the early part of this year, since time is a limiting factor now I want to maintain a bit of speed while still doing longer workouts. When I’m busy I won’t run. And I won’t feel guilty about that.

On my never-ending quest to find new and awesome shoes, I bought two new pairs: the updated Saucony Grid Fastwitch trainers and the ASICS DS-Trainers. First impressions are positive (especially the Fastwitch), but it’s still too soon to tell. I may put up full reviews if you’d like to hear more about my shoe experiences.

Half-Marathon Event

If you’re gearing up for a half-marathon, you’re a vegetarian runner, or you just crave some sound training advice, Matt Frazier at No Meat Athlete is giving away several resources to runners. Last week he provided a free report, “15 Training Mistakes That Can Crush Your Half Marathon Dreams” and yesterday he launched a video on mental strategies for half marathon racing. Get on the list to get these freebies.

Tomorrow he’s launching his Half-Marathon Roadmap ebook if you’re interested. If not, keep the free content and use them to become a better runner. If you think it’s right for you but have questions, don’t’ hesitate to email me or ask Matt. He knows his stuff and I trust his training advice.

Check out the half marathon report and video here. If you decide to buy the half marathon guide, there are a bunch of bonuses for you too. But I think Matt is removing them after a week.

How was your May? Who ran a PR?

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