Sometimes a shift in focus can be what’s needed to help get over the hump and start achieving new goals. At least, that’s what I’m hoping for.
For the past year, most of my running has been focused on increasing my distance. The cancellation of races combined with working from home has allowed more time for running and a good excuse to run longer every day. Because of this, I’ve averaged about 200 miles per month over the last year. Before last May, I had never even done one month of 200 miles before!
As you might imagine, this increase in mileage and consistently trying to run longer distances has come at a cost.
Less energy. Less speed. More fatigue.
During the last couple of months especially, I don’t once remember feeling completely fresh – physically or mentally – when starting out on a run. Basically, it feels like I’ve run myself into the ground physically. Even “easy” days are becoming more difficult to recover from.
Through this period though, I’ve still maintained my love for getting out for my daily run. The odd part (or should I say REALLY odd) is that almost every day I run for longer than I intended to when I leave my house. Once I get started on my run, I feel great even if my pace or time isn’t reflective of that.
It’s just that later in the day, I notice the fatigue and the drop in energy.
So, after evaluating all of this and talking it over with a couple people, I’ve decided it’s time to start planning out my weekly running with more focus and purpose.
I’ve never been one to follow an actual training plan, but instead ran every day based on how I felt. And with races still not in my immediate future, I don’t want to train for a specific distance especially since I don’t know what distance I’ll be racing when the time comes!
So, I’ve decided to create my own training plan to shift my focus from consistent, daily mileage to weekly time trials and one longer run per week.
Starting this week, I’ll be doing Thursday time trials of different distances each week, ranging from 1 mile up to the half marathon distance. And on Sundays, I will focus on doing a long run of 10+ slow and easy miles. The rest of the days each week will be shorter distance or easier effort runs with a focus on time and recovery.
I know this probably isn’t really earth-shattering for a lot of people, but it’s a big deal for me since I can be kind of stubborn and stuck in my ways.
I’m still hoping to maintain the weekly and monthly mileage targets that I’ve set for myself – 40 miles per week and 200 miles per month, but I think shifting the load of long or strenuous runs to 2-3 days per week will allow my body some recovery time on the shorter and easier days.
The idea in doing this is to get some speed back in my legs so that once in-person races come back, I’ll be best prepared for them and maybe even be able to improve on my personal best times.
As with anything that I do, I think it’s important to periodically assess if adjustments are beneficial over time. The two main things that I’ll be assessing with this change are my energy levels following runs and, eventually, my ability to improve my times.
Just for full accountability and a measuring stick of sorts to see if the shift in focus pays dividends, here are my current personal best times:
- 1 mile: N/A
- 5k: 18:50
- 10k: 39:35
- 10 Mile: 1:08:30
- Half Marathon: 1:28:37
If you have also made adjustments to your running, I’d love to know what kind of adjustments they were and how they are going for you!