About two months ago, I explained how I was working on shifting my focus to a more intentional training plan.
Instead of just aimlessly running miles every day, I felt like it was time for me to have a more specific training plan that would not put as much stress on myself on a daily basis.
With this in mind, I designated Tuesdays as a day for speedwork, Thursdays for a time trial and Sundays for a long run of 10+ miles. The idea behind the changes was to allow myself to put lower stress on my mind and body by having four days a week of easier runs, while also allowing myself to focus more when it came to the workouts for Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.
Even though I wanted to keep my weekly and monthly mileage goals at about the same amounts as before – 40 miles per week and 200 miles per month, I had three specific goals that I wanted to achieve:
- Alleviate the fatigue in my legs and the feeling of being tired and/or sore most days.
- Add speed to some of my miles so that I will be ready once races come around again.
- Train my mind and body to get more comfortable with weekly longer runs.
It’s been about 7 weeks since I made these changes and, since that time I’ve definitely started to feel less fatigue overall and more energy.
After years of running to reach certain targets, but with no real plan as to how to get there, here is what my days look like now.
Monday – Easy Effort// The main priority with Monday is to recover from the long run on Sunday. These workouts range from 30-60 minutes based solely on how I feel when I walk out the door. Pace and/or distance is not important, but rather staying at an easy effort level. Once my watch hits the pre-determined time, I stop running.
Tuesday – Speed Work// My workouts so far have all started with a 1-2 mile warmup and ended with 2 miles or so for a cool down. The middle section of these workouts have taken on different types of speedwork. Some have been a tempo workout, where I have done a 3-4 mile block of a pre-determined, faster pace (usually 7:15-7:30 per mile).
A couple of times I’ve done shorter interval workouts, where I have done three sets of faster pace with short recoveries. For example, 5 x 1 minute at 7:00 minute per mile pace (with 30 seconds recovery) or something similar to that, then for the second and third set I would change the paces slightly.
Wednesday – Easy Effort// Basically the same as Monday with a focus on staying at an easy effort level throughout the run.
Thursday – Time Trial// These have been a great opportunity for me to simulate a race in some ways, which will help me to be better prepared for when I start doing some races again later in the year. So far, I’ve done 5 time trials – two one mile, two 5k and one 10k.
These days have probably been my favorite because I’ve been able replicate race day and get into a good mindset and then push myself to put in more effort. While I haven’t set any new personal best times yet, I have improved each week on these and am coming closer to my current personal bests.
Friday and Saturday – Easy Effort// These are the same as Monday and Wednesday, except on Saturday I keep it closer to the 30 minute time to make sure that my legs are ready for the long run on Sunday.
Sunday – Long Run// Even though Thursdays have been my favorite because of the opportunity to see what my times are like in a race setting, Sundays have provided me with the best indicator that my changes are beginning to show some actual results.
In the weeks since I made these changes, I’ve run half marathon distance or greater 4 times on Sundays, including a 20 miler.
Where I’ve really felt the impact of these changes in my running plan is on these long runs. Once I get 7 or 8 miles into these longer efforts, my legs have begun to feel stronger. I think this is a direct result of having four easier days during the week where I’ve been putting less stress on my mind and body.
As time goes on, I’ll continue to adjust my workouts to maximize the results. When the timing is appropriate, I’ll make the necessary changes to my plan to specifically prepare for whichever races I will be doing to make sure that I’m ready for them. Also, in the next few weeks, I’m planning to add some strength and conditioning exercises, some stretching and yes, even some foam rolling.
The early results from my shift in focus have been positive and hopefully that will continue! With continued hard work and smart adjustments, I’m hoping the next time I give an update on my training plan, I’ll be able to tell you about even more progress and better results!