I am feeling a little bit like I have ALL the answers at the moment! Go on ask me anything, I bet I have the answer ;)
I have been really struggling to find a workout routine that works for me (and by me I mean the kids) for the last few months. I have been getting up early, going to the Y during the morning and even occasionally running of an evening (which I HATE). Last week was a disaster. I missed 2 days due to a sore stomach and another 2 due to those unforeseen things that life throws at you every now and again (broken air con and dislocated elbows amongst other things). So that was 4 days of ZERO running. The knock on effect of that is awful for all concerned. I am like a bear with a sore head if I miss one session let alone 4. It scares me a little how dependent upon running I have become in the last 18 months just to help get me through the day with my 3 young kids and life in general as a stay at home mum. But that's another post.
The positive from all those missed sessions was it forced me to concede that the ONLY time I can guarantee fitting all my training in without outside influences affecting them is lunatic o'clock. This involves getting up at 4:00am and being ready to run at 4:30 for those of you unfamiliar with lunatic o'clock. So that's what I've been doing and what I will continue to do as it's what works for me and my family.
I cannot begin to express how good it feels to finally be at peace with how to juggle a family and running schedule. The good thing about it is that when I am reaching my big miles in the build up to Houston I will be able to fit in a second session later in the morning to help accommodate all those miles.
Onto my next reason for feeling so much more settled and at peace this week. I have my new training schedule in from Coach Doug :) I have been taking it easy and just winging it for a while now and was chomping at the bit to get back into some more structured training. I am really happy with how it looks. We are starting at around 40 miles with a high of 50+ in the next month and so the climb towards those 100 miles begins. I would love to rush in and start putting in 80+ miles a week but that's why I need a coach, to make me behave myself. I have openly admitted in the past to being a lazy runner in as much as I am happy to be told what to do and I will do it but as I learn more and get to know myself all over again as a runner my input into these schedules is increasing.
I politely requested lots of miles, hills and balls out (threshold/tempo) runs and Doug happily obliged. I asked for 5 mile threshold runs building to 8 and 10 and he has happily obliged. There is still a bit of negotiation to be down pace wise on these threshold runs (I want them to be faster than he has requested) so we'll see how that goes.
I feel like I have had a bit of a eureka moment with regard to my running whilst I've been taking it easy these past few weeks. It's nothing earth shattering, and the majority of motivated runners out there will already have this firmly imbedded in the training philosophy I'm sure, but for me it was a eureka moment. I feel like I realized what's been missing for me for the last few months - threshold. Some serious threshold miles strung together one after the other after the other (after the other and other, I like 5 miles what can I say!) I have had 3 threshold miles in my long runs all summer but in all honesty have found it hard to hit the paces I'd like and I blame that pure and simply on the heat and humidity of Houston. Here comes part 2 of my eureka moment:
ALL my threshold runs have to be done on the treadmill in the relative comfort of my local Y during these hot months. It seems so clear to me now. The ONLY way to get faster is to push hard, really hard on a regular basis. That's how I dragged my approximately 158lb self from only managing 3 miles at 10 min mile pace 18 months ago to running my 1st marathon in 3:13 12 months later (weighing in at 137lbs). I love to run hard, and as much as I loath the garmin I have found the treadmill to be a wonderful tool to help me achieve the kind of nausea enduring runs required to get me where I want to be.
I have missed these runs for the last few months and whilst the twice a week track sessions have been tough they don't get me to the same place a good solid threshold run can.
This all leads to a question, one that I will ask Coach Doug too (when I'm sweet talking my way into faster than 6:30-6:40 pace for my threshold runs). I have the book (Daniels) sometimes I even open it ;) and I look at the calculator (McMillan) but I feel that the paces my races indicate are too slow, I mean I can perform my threshhold runs at a faster pace than they suggest I ought to and I feel that, for me, these runs ought to be unlimited in as much as I want free reign to really go for it and, for instance, go for my best times when I'm feeling good.
I am still only 18 months back into running (starting from zero exercise and being completely out of shape) and am still improving and I want that improvement to keep going.
With all this in mind, why shouldn't I (or anyone else) push myself HARD on runs that are supposed to be hard, what are the benefits of holding back a bit? Is it risk of injury? I hate to be limited on threshold runs and whilst I get the reasoning behind the paces for recovery runs and long runs, I don't understand why threshold/tempo ought to be anything other than 'balls out'. Thoughts please???
One final note, I am excited to think that I am where I am but still have the benefit of a LOT of threshold runs to come, I am looking for a big half marathon PR this autumn, watch this space! :)