It may seem strange to drop my 2011 running manifesto a solid 29 days into the new year. The fact is, I considered the Weymouth Woods 100k more of the final hurrah to 2010 than the first race of 2011. I jetted off to New Hampshire 36 hours after finishing, and enjoyed some Nordic skiing, a little snowshoeing, and a snow day spent playing the game of world domination. I didn’t run a step for eight days, the longest time I’ve taken off from running in a year and a half.
With Weymouth over, and a decent amount of time before my next race, there’s time to make some changes. And change is really, really awesome. The break from running, but by the time this Monday rolled around, I was ready to go. Monday marked the start of 2011 training in my book. And in 2011, three (running-related) things are going to happen:
1) Actually training like an ultrarunner
2) Settling some unfinished business
3) Doing more things I hate
Let’s take each of those in turn.
Actually training like an ultrarunner
You want to know how many long runs I did after the Vermont 50 (in late Sept.) in the four months before Weymouth?
Two. And a lot of ultrarunners probably wouldn’t consider them worthy of the term “long.”
Yes, two. I ran 16ish miles one day during finals week last month. Then, a couple weeks later, on December 29, I did my “2011” run, running 20 miles in the morning and 11 miles in the afternoon. That’s it.
But maybe I was just coming off the great base that I’d built for the Vermont 50, right? Ummm…no. Once again, I did a couple of approximately 15-17 milers, one in July and one (possibly two) in September. Oh, and on my birthday in August I did two 10 mile runs so I could say that I’d run my age.
In short, I can count the non-race long runs I did in the latter half of last year on one hand.
Which is ridiculous, of course. I mean, there’s a lot of training philosophies out there, but they all have one thing in common: you have to do the long run. I definitely didn’t nail that one last year.
Actually training like an ultrarunner comprises the middle theme of my three-year long ultrarunning plan. It goes like this:
In 2010, I became an ultrarunner.
In 2011, I train like an ultrarunner.
In 2012, I take the ultrarunning world by storm.
At least that’s how I like to think of the plan. So here’s the goal: one 20+ mile continuous run a week and a second day where two runs combine to be at least 20+ miles.
Of course, I have to analyze my schedule to see when those runs are going to happen, but I think it’s doable.
Settling some unfinished business
Last year, I came up with the idea of attempting to set a new PR for every distance under the sun (well, not quite) before I turn 21 (which happens in late August). A critical part of the idea was that, in the midst of expanding to race longer-distance events), I not lose whatever speed and agility I had previously.
I still like that idea, largely because I’m sick of my mile and 5k PRs being from 2006, which is now five years ago. So this spring we’re going to try and purge those from the record books and take care of some unfinished business in the shorter races before the focus on the ultra-long.
What this means: In February, I’ll aim to beat my half marathon PR of 1:17:58. When the track thaws out at UNH, I’ll aim to break a five minute mile for the first time in my life (let’s just say I wasn’t much of a prodigal in high school track…and that I was injured a fair deal), as well as my 10:26 two mile PR. In early April, I’m eying this 5k in Durham for a sub-16:35. Judging from past results, it seems to be a fairly fast course. Seventeen days later, I’ll skip Monday classes and look to go sub-3:06:30 at the Boston Marathon, which I think is doable (in fact, I think sub-2:50 is quite doable).
Then, in May, I’ll look to get back to the ultra scene. If I feel like going all the way, I could look for a 10k to try and knock out in sub-36:31 (which should be fairly easy, as the per-mile pace for that is nearly exactly the same as that of my present half marathon PR).
If you didn’t catch that, my expected race schedule is here.
Doing more things I hate
Despite what “training like an ultrarunner” might have suggested, I don’t feel that the trial by miles is really the key to success and longevity. Rather than spending my mid-40s waxing poetic about running five million miles a week in my early 20s, I’d rather still just be out on the trials. So I’m looking to continue the expansion into a little more of a fitness balance: a little less emphasis on mileage and a little more emphasis on the other aspects of fitness.
The bad thing is that I pretty much just like running.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I like hiking and snowshoeing and (as of last Tuesday) nordic skiing. But those are too similar to running.
In 2011, I will be placing an emphasis on things I hate to do, some rather immensely. That will include going to the gym and doing things other than cardio. That will include running endless intervals on a track. That will include a return to daily crunches, push-ups, etc. I can’t stand that stuff.
I did some weight training once over break, back at my old high school with my old cross country coach. I actually did a bunch of machines for once (usually I just waste a lot of time on the bike and at the water fountain).
I was sore – very sore – for the next three days.
Then last weekend I went to the gym back here at UNH with a friend. He’s one of those guys who actually goes to the gym, so he knows a thing or two. We did a bunch of functional stuff – no machines, a smidge of free weighs and medicine, but mostly just contorting the body doing this and that.
About five minutes in, I was already using the word “brutal.” Oh, and I was sore for the next three days again.
It’s hard to get myself sore running these days (though perhaps once I start doing back-to-back long runs). But it’s a wonderful, wonderful feeling. I need more of it. And I think the functional stuff is where the focus should be – it makes sense to cast aside the security (and slacking off) that machines allow.
So gym. Track. Things I hate. Good things to embrace in 2011. If I sacrifice a few miles, so be it. The trial-by-miles approach certainly isn’t time-efficient.
That meets the crowd-pleasing three-things-to-a-list component, but safe to say it doesn’t cover everything. Nutrition, for one, which is actually by far the subject of my greatest self-experiment at the moment. There’s some skill sets that I would like to acquire, such as night running, for whenever I make my 100 mile debut. But we’ll save those for future posts. I always need excuses to blog.