Training by Time Instead of Miles

This may be a real 'captain obvious' post here, as I'm sure many runners plan runs by time.  But I HAVE to express my enthusiasm for this practice!  I'm sort of a slave to the mileage...  Unless it's a cross or rest day, I feel like every run should be at least three miles.  I try to hit at least 20 miles a week, and at least 1000 a year.  These goals have served me just fine over the years, but I had been feeling a little blah in the last few months (I realized that I haven't raced since MAY) and I chose a plan from Jenny Hadfield that was solely focused on time. 

I found it via Pinterest, people, so we'll see if it actually gets me some results.  I'm hoping to run between 25 and 26 minutes (which is a range within 30 seconds of my PR) for my next 5K.  I REALLY want to win an age group award which is PIE - whatever my time.  Even if I don't accomplish either of these goals, I am looking forward to my workouts more these days, and that's already kind of a nice result of this plan.  Telling myself I have to run 20 minutes out and back is SO MUCH NICER than telling myself I have to run four miles.  Also, intervals are SO MUCH NICER in minutes.  If I'm running on a track, or on the trail where I've pretty much memorized every half mile marker, I know EXACTLY how far I have to go when I'm running 400s or 800s.  This is mentally rough, gazing at the end in sight.  In the last weeks of this plan, I've been doing five minute intervals and I'm often pleasantly surprised when my watch beeps.  I'm even more pleasantly surprised when I see how many miles I put in.  It takes too much mental power in the morning to ascertain how far I'll get after a ten minute warm up, followed by four x five minute intervals with two minutes of rest and a ten minute cool down.  And, lo, I ended up putting in 27 miles last week!

This way of thinking has also tricked me into a kick ass long run (pictured above).  For whatever reason, to me, looking at a progression run (what Hadfield terms a 'race simulation' workout) in terms of miles feels just so daunting.  But breaking up a run into three 15-20 minute segments?  Not so scary!  I did my longest progression run on Friday and was TRICKED into doing my longest long run in months.  I was a little intimidated by three 25 minute segments, but I figured - eh, a five minute difference per segment shouldn't be too much harder.  After a nice and easy 25 minutes, I managed a slightly slower than half marathon pace for the next 25 and slightly slower than a 10K pace for the last 20, speeding up to about a 5K pace in the final five minutes around the 8:30s.  I looked at my watch a few times along the way and thought, whoa, I'm going to end up doing over eight miles for the first time in many, many months.  AND I FELT GREAT.  If I had set off with the intention of going out for an easy long run of eight miles, even doing close to an 11 minute mile pace, I probably would have become achy and a little bored by the end.  But, damn, if I didn't feel like I could run a few more miles after that progression run.  That was my longest run for the ten week plan and I must say that I am also DIGGING 5K training.  I've never trained specifically for a 5K and I feel like my mileage is still in a good place (and the numbers on my scale), as is my strength and endurance.  

Okay, I'll stop gushing about what a revelation this has been for me.  Even after a good five years of taking this running thing somewhat seriously, and hanging out with a bunch of runners, I can still learn something new.  So, if you're also late to the game on giving this way of training a try - I HIGHLY recommend it!


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