Ya’ll I am so motivated right now.
This morning I went to run with a friend at the trails around here. I’ll admit I was nervous. I am much slower than her and I have never ran on difficult terrain. I thought she would smoke me (spoiler alert: she did). I was scared but I agreed to go so off we went! That is the most fun run I have done in a long time. It was hard, really hard. My body feels like I ran a half marathon. I’m sore all over and I took a 2 hour nap when I got home. But I pushed myself, and that’s something I haven’t done in a long time. The terrain was difficult. We meant to run 3 miles but we got lost and I ended up with 5 (she had a little more but I cut across a few switchbacks at the end so she didn’t have to wait as long). I haven’t ran more than 3 lately, and I did 5. FIVE! I’m so stinking proud of my hard work and I had a GREAT time.
Of course, knowing me, this led to some thinking. This was such a different run for me for many reasons. The terrain of course. Running with someone much faster than myself. But also, how hard I pushed. I never gave up. I was uncomfortable and I kept going (saying “a finish is a finish, just don’t stop” in my head over and over at times). That’s not something I do regularly. I run easy in the pasture. I run easy with the stroller (much slower than the pasture), and I plan to run easy on Saturdays to increase my long runs. But I imagine that runs like today are the ones that net results, whatever those may be.
So how do you train hard when you don’t have a goal? I don’t have a race in mind. I want to be flexible. I’m not saying “marathon time!” right now because after 2 days running 3 miles each day my leg was hurting. I don’t even really want to run the next big half because it’s expensive and cold and I don’t like being cold. ha. So what is my goal? Other than “get better.” And what does “get better” really mean?
There are a few things I know. I’d like to keep extending my long run. I want to be able to do whatever, whenever. To me, that means being able to pick up a 5k or 10k for fun with very little notice, and being able to pick up a half without an entire training cycle needed. Essentially, I don’t want to ever have to start over! So a long run of 6-10 miles would be a great place to sit. I want to keep running easy. I believe in easy runs. I believe they’re good for your body. I want to increase aerobic capacity (although not drop everything for that goal as the Maffetone Method recommends). I believe in active recovery. I want to be able to run often, because I like running and I don’t think running hard every run is conducive to that goal. So I see myself as having 1 run a week that isn’t long or easy. 1 run where I want to push myself and work on some sort of goal.
I have 2 possible goals in mind. The first is one I did back in the summer of 2016, but haven’t really focused on since. That is a faster mile. I wanted to get my mile time to 8 minutes. The fastest I made it was 9:06 in July – I only worked on this goal for a few weeks. It wasn’t a big goal at the time. More of a “it’s too hot to try to get my 5k time down (training in 100 degree +) so I’ll work on my mile time instead” and after that I switched back to longer mileages. The second one is similar and that is getting my average pace down to a certain number. I don’t know what number that would be, and the distance would play a lot in to that. Essentially, it’s the same goal, just the distance that I’m unsure of.
In July I ran a mile at 10 min pace. Beyond that I have times from 11:45 to 18. The data isn’t very useful though. The runs in town (14:01-15:00) I push my daughter in a stroller which is more difficult. The runs in the pasture (14:27-16:28) are slower than what the road would be. And for most of these runs I have been attempting to keep my HR low. All that to say, I need to choose a goal and a day to complete it. Do I want to speed up my mile? I’d love to speed up my 5k… but maybe starting with a mile would give me a quicker victory. If that is the plan, I need to set a realistic goal for the mile – something that I can accomplish relatively quickly, so that I can set the next goal and continue on towards the ultimate goal of a faster 5k.
I would love to run a sub 30 5k – 9:39 pace. So to break that down, I think the first step is running a 10 minute mile – this may be more of a test than a goal as I really have no clue if I can do it or not. So I will attempt to run a mile in 10 minutes on the road or 11 minutes in the pasture or with the stroller as step 1. From there I can move on to either a faster mile time or longer distance.
Saturday – long (starting at 5 since that’s what I did today on the trail)
Sunday – rest
Monday – goal work
Tuesday – easy 3
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – easy 3
Friday – rest
The occasionally I will hopefully do a trail run instead of long run, but since my recovery for this says I need to rest til Friday to not be super strained… I don’t want to do that too often!