|My Boston Qualifier: Illinois Marathon on April 26, 2014|
To summarize the FIRST program, you have three runs per week: fast repeats (400m to 1600m), steady tempos (3-8 miles), and a long run (13-20 miles). You are supposed to supplement the 3 runs with 2 cross training activities each week. As an ultrarunner, I'm more into lots of runs, including plenty of long ones, at a pretty pedestrian pace. This new program is about maximizing improvement with minimal miles. Run less, run faster. Each workout counts! Even the darn long runs are performed at a good pace (at MP to MP+60 secs).
What's the biggest change for me?
Speed. Running 400m repeats, or a 5-mile tempo run, or a medium fast long run is crazy for me. I haven't done any speed work on a regular basis for years. And the long runs are much faster than I usually do. Lots less mileage, but all at a faster pace. Big change for me!
Most fun of the three runs?
Interestingly, I enjoy the fast repeats the best. Running fast, then jogging for the rest interval, then repeating the cycle again and again is actually fun. Who doesn't like to run fast? It's a challenge keeping the exact pace of the repeat (400m @ 6:08, 800m @ 6:16, or 1600 @ 6:31), but it sure feels satisfying to complete the workout.
Hardest of the three runs?
Believe it or not, the dang long runs have been the hardest so far. Partly due to the crappy Midwest winter weather (cold, snow, ice, wind) and partly because of the faster paces prescribed by the program. It's another challenge, but I'm confident that my body, and mind, will adjust and all of these distances and paces will be fine.
Any noticeable changes yet?
Even though it's only been 2 weeks on this new program, plus about 4 weeks transitioning into it, I feel faster. Could I run a fast marathon next weekend? Nope. But with 14 more weeks to adapt and develop, I should be ready on April 26th. I will be ready.