Friday, February 11, 2011

Spring Training

I'm going to ignore the fact that winter is not letting go without a fight- it's -10 right now air temperature and was -23 with the windchill yesterday - and continue to focus on the fact that tomorrow(!) Madison will break the freezing barrier for the first time (I think) this year.  Not only that but we are forecast for a whole week of lows in the high 20s and highs in the 30s and 40s.

And you know what that means?  Of course you do.  It's time to start migrating the bulk of my training back outside.  I think I've done a good job keeping up with outdoor training during the winter, but you just can't get in a good run at -26.  You can't breathe.  Your muscles don't work right.  It's not worth it.  So most of my running been on the treadmill.  I've managed to keep my longest (and actually the bulk of my mid-week runs) at 8 miles, and I have gotten in some great speed workouts on the treadmill using this book, but I know I've neglected running up and down hills, and my races certainly aren't going to be on the treadmill.

I have two races planned this spring: the Shamrock Shuffle 10k in 4 weeks and the Lake Monona 20k in 13, and I want to find a more outdoor appropriate training plan that I can use for both.  My only requirements were that the plan had 3-4 days of running (I'm really enjoying doing more strength training and I want to have time to devote specifically to that) with one long run and at least one quality run.

I went back to my copy of Runner's World's Run Less, Run Faster, which is the training plan I wanted to use to train for my current March race.  However, I found that the workouts didn't translate well to the treadmill (for me).  I can do short hard intervals on the treadmill, but I just don't have the mental toughness (or whatever) to do a long, hard, fast run on the 'mill.

That should be no problem now that I'll be back outside (for the most part), but- as has been true every time I've looked at this book- the training plans are terrifying.  There is no way I was going to pick up on the 10k program with four weeks to go.  Run 10 miles at an 8:11 pace next Saturday?  If I could do that, I'd sign up for a 1/2 marathon and PR right then.  The 1/2 marathon program is better.  13 weeks (starting Monday) the workouts are 3x1mi (7:08-gasp), 6mi at long tempo pace (8:11 min/mile), and 11mi at 1/2 marathon pace +30 seconds (about 8:45min/mile).

Pros of RLRF:
  • I'd feel pretty BAMF after doing the workouts, and I think I'd feel well prepared for my races.
  • Even if I couldn't hit all the prescribed paces, I'd still be working a lot harder than I would be on another training program.
Cons of RLRF:
  • It's way more aggressive than the training I'm doing now.  Burn-out could be an issue.
  • Trying to do heavier deadlifts and squats might leave my legs too dead to really push myself when running the next day.  
  • It doesn't translate back to the treadmill very well.  If it ends up being cold again or really icy when the snow starts to melt then I'll have to change the workouts.

The other plan I've been considering is the Runner's World Smart Coach plan.  You supply a recent race time and the date and distance of your goal race and the website automatically generates a plan for you.  You can choose your starting weekly mileage and how "hard" you want to train (although playing around with this feature there's only a few seconds difference in goal paces for moderate vs very hard).  After tinkering with the features, I created a plan that has one quality run (alternating between intervals and tempo), one long run at a fairly easy pace, and easy runs to fill out the rest of the week.  The interval paces are challenging, but definitely not has hard as RLRF.  

Pro's of RWSC:
  • An easier transition from the training I'm doing right now.
  • Easier to fit in good lower body strength training.  I could do Upper body->quality run->lower body->easy run->full body, higher reps-> long run.
Cons of RWCS:
  • Runner's World seems absolutely determined to make you pay to use this feature somehow.  Saving and printing your plan are considered "premium upgrades" that you have to pay for (and I won't).  Lame.
  • Not as BAMF as RLRF so possibly not as much training benefit.
Right now- even though I love the idea of RLRF and really want to train for a race using that plan- I'm leaning toward the Smart Coach plan.  It definitely meshes with my strength training goals better, and I'm much less concerned about injury/burnout transitioning into it vs RLRF.  My next goal race is in August, and I could use RLRF to train for that having built back my long runs and speed work abilities this spring.

What do you think?  Want to convince me to try RLRF for my goal race in May?  Have a totally different training plan you think I should consider?  Ready for warm weather again?