Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Runner I Am

I'm a runner. In fact, I prefer to be called an ultrarunner. Sounds nice, eh? I'm closing in on my 100th ultra/marathon so I feel I deserve that moniker. Still, as an ultra guy, I don't just feel pride in running long distances. I am proud of my 5K, 10K, half-marathon, and marathon times (those are all "short" races according to me). Definitely proud of my 50K, 50 mile, 100K, and 100 mile accomplishments too. Lately, I haven't really figured out my niche. I want to set new personal records in short and long races. This year I set new PRs at 50 miles and 100 miles. Thought I would also tackle a couple of short PRs too. Didn't happen. After the 100 miler in April, my training never gelled. It was inconsistent and had no focus. Was I training for another 50K, or was it a possible 5K? The training for those distances isn't the same. I kept telling myself that I should put in "consistent, aerobic, miles" and that would satisfy my needs for all race distances. Lot of aerobic miles would lead to faster runs and plenty of endurance. Maybe, maybe not. Never got to test that theory since I rarely had several weeks of solid training. If I had week after week with lots of slow and steady miles, maybe my wishes would have been realized. I should have known better. That's not the kind of runner I am. I'm a low-mileage, faster pace, kind of runner. One or two easy runs per week are fine, but I need one or two faster ones too. And my total mileage rarely exceeds 40 miles. I typically settle into 25-35 miles per week...and that's with 3-4 runs/week. That's who I am. That's the runner I am. It's OK. I've managed to break the golden 24-hour barrier for a 100-mile trail race on only 30 miles/week. I've done well on that minimal training.

Well, it's time to embrace who I am as a runner. I don't do lots of miles. I don't run every day. I don't like super-slow runs. Still, I'm competitive. Why ignore that? It's time to maximize my training with a minimum number of runs and mileage. Heck, that sounds good! So, I am starting a new phase in my training. (Yeah, you loyal readers have heard this before.) I'm basing my new schedule on the "Run Less, Run Faster" book. They focus on 3 quality runs per week (long, tempo, speed), plus some cross training. My plan is similar, but based on what I like.  Here we go...

4 runs per week (1 long, 2 speed, 1 easy)
3 gym workouts (weights, hill walking, elliptical, stretching, etc)

Here is the basic structure:

Mon: Gym or OFF
Tues: Speed (tempo, fartlek, or track)
Wed: Gym or OFF
Thur: Speed (tempo, fartlek, or track)
Fri: Gym or OFF
Sat: Long run
Sun: Easy, short run

Pretty easy. Lots of variety, but only three "real" runs per week, plus that extra easy run. The rest is off (or a variety of gym work). The "gym days" will hopefully keep me fit and strong and likely reduce injuries. Still, I'll be able to recover from my hard running efforts. The runs will be hard, but controlled, and will incorporate a variety of stimuli for improvement. If this winter schedule goes as planned, I will be ready for 5Ks or a marathon. Probably not ideal for ultras, but still OK (I've succeeded on less).

I've dreamed of being one of those super-mileage runners. I would love to run every single day, sometimes twice. I'd love to have 100-mile weeks. I'd enjoy being an aerobic monster. That's not me...and that's OK. I did once run 303 miles in one week. Yep, over 300 miles in just 7 days. That was one of my all-time greatest achievements. It's not going to happen again. Now, I need to have intelligent, well-planned training, that builds upon who I am as a runner. That means only 3-4 runs per week, maybe 30-40 miles. This all starts next week. Thanksgiving week is a great time to give thanks for your running...and make a commitment to being a better runner. That's what I'm doing. I am giving thanks for being the runner I am...and still improving, but remaining true to myself.

Care to join me? What kind of runner are you? Are you embracing your inner-runner? Maximizing who you truly are as a runner?

No comments: