On October 9th I ran the Towpath Half Marathon and set a new PR by 8 minutes. While I was happy about my accomplishment, my excitement was completely overshadowed by the many inspirational performances I witnessed from other runners that day (See Finding Inspiration at The Towpath) and the fact that my goal was to run about 7 minutes faster. Since that race I have focused on recovery and deciding what my training should look like this fall/winter season and I've decided that it's time for me to go back to the basics. I know it's nothing revolutionary and with the minimalist movement your hearing a lot about getting back to the roots of running but that's not exactly what I mean. Maybe it would be better for me to say that what I need is to go back to the base-ics.
Here's what I mean.
Since my very early stages of running I have always raced. As a matter of fact, I raced long before I considered myself a runner so my running career has really consisted of following one training plan after another. I was either working towards a race or not running at all. The fall/winter holiday season is always a difficult one for us financially so racing is not really on the agenda and my running regimen typically has tapered off to practically nothing. But not this year. This year I've got my eyes set on another PR in the spring! So I began weighing my options.
I'll probably run my next race mid to late April. In the past I've always used the Runners World Smart Coach app for iPhone and, I'll be honest, I have been very happy with it. Unfortunately, I'm going to need a training plan that's at least 26 weeks and my app won't create a plan longer than 16 weeks. Also, I've been dealing with some knee pain for a couple months and I probably don't need to be doing speed work and tempo runs while I'm trying to rehab my knee. Furthermore, in all my racees I have faded between miles 10 and 11. So, a training plan that has most of my long runs between 10 and 12 miles has obviously not built a big enough base for me to be able to run as hard and long as I want to. As a great man once said, "The spirit is willing but the body is week."
So I decided to take matters into my own hands! Instead of following a training plan geared toward a race in sixteen weeks, I am going to spend the next 16 weeks building a stronger base. That means focusing an running longer not harder and working in as much cross training as I can stand! I'm going to take all my runs slow, use my GPS only to track my distance and ignore the pace. I'm going to gradually ramp up my weekly mileage and hopefully come out running further, stronger and pain free.
I've already mapped out and began my November plan. I resisted the urge to plan out the next 4 months all at once because feel like I should to sit down at the end of the month and evaluate my progress. I know that if I map out the whole sixteen weeks I will loose sight of the real goal, being stronger, and instead focus on total weekly mileage achieved. It's an experiment really, and I'm excited to see what the end result will be!
So, until it's time to begin a spring training plan I'm getting back to "base-ics"!