First of all, I changed my mind about training several weeks ago. So for those of you anxiously awaiting news about my last 5K, here’s the tedious race report: I didn’t run it. For whatever reason, the idea of just doing a boatload of easy running and nothing else for awhile suddenly appealed to me a lot more than 5King myself to death for no reason. Then this old post from Fast Dude reappeared in the Swamp:
See the forest, not the trees. Running a lot means running a lot. It means thinking about your running in terms of weekly, monthly, and yearly mileage totals instead of any single run. The purpose of running a lot is to build the system of capillaries, to awaken the mitochondria, to strengthen the heart, to lose weight, to transform the body into a running machine. This transformation happens over the long haul. These changes are not the result of any single run, but the accumulated effect of months and years of running. Run easy most of the time. If what matters most is the forest, then don’t stress too much about any single “tree.” Running hard too often wears you out, both physically and mentally. 80% of your running (at least) should be comfortable, easy, and fun. If you’re feeling really good, then you might once or twice a week turn an easy run into a spontaneous tempo run. Do your workouts by feel, not by pace. Do not concentrate on making yourself hurt….Spending a month or so doing race-specific work will put the icing on the cake. But it’s the cake that matters. If you don’t believe me, I’ll let you in on a little secret: I did no single training run longer than 14 miles before my most recent 50k. But I had my share of 80-90 mile weeks. Plenty of cake. And I can put on the icing whenever I like. Keep it simple! Keep it fun! Run a lot! Build that base!
It kind of occurred to me that over the past year or so, my base has gone to shit. In other words, someone left the cake out in the rain.* HA HA HA HA!!!! Ahem. Anyway, in November of 2014, I ran a fairly okay marathon which, for all intents and purposes, WAS my last marathon. My training was not great, but I did manage an average of about 40-45 miles per week for the last 8 weeks of training. (I probably would have been better off doing that 16 weeks before the Marion, but oh well.)
After that, I hit the snooze button for training, all the way up to the NYC Marathon this past November. I averaged under 35 miles a week for the entire summer/fall of training. I kind of struggled and flailed through faster runs and couldn’t really figure out what was wrong. I gained 8 pounds. I hardly raced at all.
After New York, I ran a grand total of 64 more miles for the entire month of November , my lowest mileage month in maybe 8 years. Yay me! I mean, in many ways, it was nice to take a break, but in other ways…what the fuck was I taking a break from? It’s not like I had been training that hard. By January, I was a lethargic pig. I literally could not get through a 5-mile run without walking. Even so, around mid-February, I began adding the “icing” to get ready for spring 5Ks.
And then I couldn’t figure out why the 5K in March was about a minute slower than I thought it should be. Lolz.
So coming across Fast Guy’s old post from 2009 was probably just what I needed. I’m currently only running easy miles until I can get back to a respectable base. I may do this for about 2 more months. In the past 8 years of training, I’ve never focused on base-building exclusively for an extended period of time, so I’ll be interested in seeing what it does for me. I think it’s true that you clearly can’t do the same kind of training in your 50s that you did even in your 40s. The mileage whoring combined with speedwork that pushed me to PRs at 47 would only lead to burnout or shitstorm races now.
But what about being a slight whore with miles for a few months, minus the speedwork? And then back off from the whoredom and do some race-specific icing work? I know this plan is not exactly groundbreaking, and plenty of you are saying, “Tanya, you’re an idiot,” but it would be something different for me.
As I inch toward my late 50s (GAH!!), I know that my training will have to change in some fundamental ways if I want to keep racing at all. I’m not sure what is going to work for me, so stay tuned for me changing my mind again any day now. It’s a conundrum, because I still believe that miles+speed= the best race times, regardless of race distance, but ramping up miles while hurtling myself through track/tempo workouts doesn’t seem to be the key for me anymore.
The good news is that in my month of cake time so far, I’ve lost weight (cake! losing weight!) and my endurance feels exponentially better. Nothing hurts and, major bonus, I’m really enjoying the running.
* Enjoying your earworm?