The question is, what to do over the next few weeks? Actually, I know what I want to do, the question is how to accomplish it. I probably won't set up a formal plan (though putting things on paper is always fun, and it might be a good idea just to keep track of races and not miss any or double-schedule myself).
My focus is going to be working on getting my half marathon pace back to where I was last year, hopefully so I can work toward a PR, as well as doing a few speedy short races (5K and 10K). I will continue to work on those goals when I return to marathon training, since I don't expect to accomplish them in just two months. This will also hopefully help toward speeding up my marathon pacing abilities.
I have been reading Mastering the Marathon by Don Fink, which is geared toward athletes over 40. The basic premise is that you can improve your marathon performance and time by including three key runs in your week: a marathon-pacing run, higher-intensity repeats, and a long run. He also suggests how you can fill in with other runs or cross-training, and how you can substitute cross-training for some of the key runs as well, particularly if you are injured.* He also discusses the importance of rest and recovery, and includes anecdotes about runners who have done well after 40. He goes into specifics about how to do these runs to work toward a specific marathon finish time.
His premises are actually similar to how I structure my training already, but I am enjoying the book (reading it on my iPhone during down times in court), and I think I can use it to fine tune my training program.
My training plan for the next few weeks will include:
- 4 (sometimes 5) runs a week: easy/recovery, speed work (track or tempo), medium-long run with goal pace miles (half marathon effort), and a long run. Long runs will not exceed 15 miles until after the end of June. The fifth run might be the odd 5K now and then.
- Yoga about twice a week. I may consider adding a third yoga class, if I can manage it. Meaning if I can make myself drive to Monroe an extra evening in the week....
- Cross training on non-running days (mostly elliptical).
- Figure out a plan for weights and strength training.
- Continue to work on achieving a more desirable racing weight.
This will probably be the same when I resume marathon training, actually...except that the length of the long runs will increase, of course.
I have a few half marathons either on the books or in my head...one reason to make up a written training plan would be to get them on a calendar! I also want to do some shorter races for sharpening and working on my cardio ability. (Sucking air is great for your lungs, right?) I tend to consider races to be a good variation on tempo runs.
This week I've had two good runs so far on our two sunny afternoons (Tuesday and Wednesday). I will admit that the reason for the afternoon runs rather than my usual mornings was pure laziness and reluctance to face the weather! On Tuesday morning it was raining, but the forecast promised sun by 5:00 (which arrived, though it was windy!). That day was an easy run, but I did push myself just a bit after the early warm-up miles to get my average pace under 10-minutes...9.34 miles at 9:53 average pace.
Yesterday the weather was dry but a little cold in the morning, and my legs were still a litte tired from the night before, so I put off my tempo run until after work. I was able to go out in a sleeveless top! I started with 2.2 miles easy warm-up, then launched into 3.1 miles tempo (8:29, 8:16, 8:22, .1 at 7:57 pace). I finished with another 2.44 miles easy (though faster than the first two miles). Total distance 7.75 miles. Average overall pace 9:28.
Today was an off day from running, thank goodness. I have felt so tired today. I went to the Y before work and did 70 minutes on the elliptical plus 15 push-ups, but I did not feel up to par at all. I've just been lethargic all day. The weather has gone back to gloomy and dark, although not rainy. I will probably go to yoga tonight (I've missed my Thursday night class through most of April due to my travels), but I might take a little nap at home first!
*Although in my opinion if you are so injured or so prone to injury that you are trying to use cross-training for all of your runs, perhaps you should reconsider marathon training for a while!