11 weeks of training. 374 miles. 6 speed workouts. 6 tempo runs. 5 hill workouts.
Over the course of the 11 weeks each of my key workouts increased in distance and difficulty. This was my second year using the spring season to focus on the 5k, so it seemed natural to compare the two seasons where they over lapped. Last year with 9 weeks of training I set a new PR of 21:02, an improvement of one minute and 11 seconds.
This is the progression of speed work that I followed this year. I ran a similar, but shorter, progression last year and have included my past paces for comparison. On average this year I have been about 10 seconds faster (with the exception of one workout).
5 x 2:00 at 6:30 avg (training log missing pace for 2015)
5 x 3:00 at 6:42 avg (6:40 avg in 2015)
4 x 4:00 at 6:43 avg (6:55 avg in 2015)
5 x 4:00 at 6:44 avg (6:54 avg in 2015)
4 x 5:00 at 6:39 avg (new for 2016)
5 x 5:00 at 6:41 avg (new for 2016)
I initially didn’t think I would be able to handle adding a tempo run to each each on top of a key workout (hills or speed work) and a long run. Three hard days just sounded like too much. I tried to do that last year (hills, speed, and a long run) and it was awful. I ended up dropping the hill repeats completely. If I recall correctly it was Hanna that suggested I add some tempo miles or fast finishes to my long runs. This worked out perfectly! I started with just 1 measly tempo mile (which felt awful) and built it up to 2 sets of 2 miles (which felt awesome!).
I have only 1 tempo run for comparison from last year. The week of my PR I ran 4 miles at 7:48 avg pace. My tempo runs this year have all been shorter, but significantly faster (7:16-7:33).
These are probably my least favorite workouts, but I am almost certain I have gotten faster this year, so I can not deny their value. The fact that I find these workouts to be the most challenging probably means I need to do them more often.
8 x 30s
6 x 60s (2015)
8 x 60s (2015)
4 x 90s
4 x 90s
2016 has been so much more consistent than 2015. In April 2015 I missed two full weeks of training due to a chest cold and an injury (week 5 and week 8). After just two hill workouts, I cut them from my training program entirely.
This year I have only missed a handful of easy runs (week 7). I only had to modify one key workout. My weekly mileage ranged from 20-41 (average 34). I honestly can’t think of anything that I wish I would have done differently this year. I’ve even been on top of the little extra things, like strength training once or twice a week and cleaning up my diet so I could ditch the post marathon/holidays/stress weight gain.
My improvements in my training make a PR feel almost inevitable. How big of a PR is hard to say. I really, really want to break 20 minutes. But if I’m honest I don’t think I am quite there. 19:59 is an average pace of 6:26. Although I have had some faster than average intervals, they were still in the 6:30s. I would need to shave an additional 7 seconds off of my fastest interval AND hold that pace for 20 minutes instead of 5. That is asking quite a lot.
On the other hand, last year’s longest speed workout had an average pace of 6:54. On race day I held an average pace of 6:46, an eight second improvement. So I don’t want to completely rule out the possibility. If I go into the race doubting myself before it even starts, I will never hit my goal. Also yesterday I ran some shorter intervals (10 x 400m) and my average pace was 6:25 for that workout. So I CAN run fast enough, I just need the endurance to hold on.
I think it is going to be damn close. The problem is if I start too aggressively I run the risk of fading hard after the first mile. But if I start too conservatively, the race isn’t long enough to make up for lost time. Fortunately I’ve given myself at least 4 chances to get it right this spring/summer.
April 24: Glass City
May 7: Shanty 2 Shorts (current PR set here)
June 4: Run 2 Save Our Youth
June 25: Charlevoix (because the half turned out so well last year)
I am also considering adding a race on May 28/29, June 11/12, June 18/19, or July 2/3, but I don’t want to race too often and find myself constantly tapering/recovering. I want to have time to keep training and keep improving.