Focusing on "speed"

So I think I've mentioned that I'm going to focus more on my speed this winter. I felt like my 5k speed left much to be desired during the TCM build up.

I want to clarify that statement. I'm focusing on speed, while also trying to put in as much base mileage as I can. When some people focus on speed, it's ok to cut back on the mileage... you can run a pretty speedy 5k on about 40-45 miles a week.

I know that's not going to cut it for my spring/fall racing goals, so know that even though I need to develop my speed and VO2 max a little more, I need to focus on my base mileage as well. That'll be tough, given MN winters, but I'll do the best I can.

Jerry suggested I have 60 mpw be my minimum, and I agree. I'm hoping that a solid winter of 65-75+ will make me really strong (esp. considering I had just 5 weeks of 70-82 mpw in the build up for TCM).

The hardest part about focusing on mileage and speed during the winter months will be my ability to judge whether it's working. Right now I feel like my legs are no faster than they were before I started following the Daniels' 5k-15k plan... despite 1-2 track workouts a week for the last 5-6 weeks. But, maybe it'll just take some time. I'm not even 1/3 of the way through a 16 week training cycle.

But how do you judge if it's working? Will the workouts become easier to hit? Racing during the winter months is so difficult... I'm going to try to hop into a few indoor track races (if GAC will allow an old alumni to tag along to 1 or 2 of their meets...), but other than that, what do you do?

So, guess I just have to trust that it's the right thing for me to do (which I completely do) & focus on getting myself out the door as much as possible this winter, despite what mother nature throws at me!

---
P.S. Very applicable quote (and the reason I ran 70 miles last week instead of 67.5 :))

"If the most common question I get asked is, 'How do I run a fast marathon?,' the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th ... most common questions have something to do with diet, running form, sleep, footwear, stretching, weights; anything but actual running. American runners seem to have an unending fascination with all these extra-curricular activities, yet we continue to get slower at running marathons ... If you want to improve your performance in the marathon, stop worrying about minimalist shoes, caveman diets, and new-age running form, and start worrying about getting out the door and running a little more than you did last week. High mileage works!" -Pete Gilmore

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Wow...

It's so cold and miserable out! Hope I can muster the dedication to stick to the plan (today is supposed to be 10-12 400s)... there's nothing easier than staying in and skipping workouts than weather like this :(.

One cool thing that happened yesterday: Gu sent me an entire bag of energy gels and chews!!! One of the men I work with at RWSC knows the VP of sales at Gu - I was encouraged to leave my PRs with the GU VP to see what they could do for me, so I did. I didn't hear anything back, so assumed that was a "no".

But, low and behold, they did! Wow!! How cool is that?!? It's literally enough to get me through the trials next year... wonder if that's by coincidence. :)

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Another track workout...

And another workout where I got to the track, and couldn't quite remember what the workout was.

I thought the book said, 4x [200 with 200 jog, 200 with 400 jog, 800 with 400 jog]. Goal times, written on my hand because I know I have a hard time remembering these times are (after the one mixup I had a week or so ago, I learned!): 200 - 38, 800 - 2:36.

Nate was doing these with me. First 200: 39. Second 200: 39. Nate keeps going for another 20-30 meters. Why'd you stop?, he asks. Because we're supposed to do [workout above], I answer. He explains that that doesn't make sense. It was 4x[200 with 200 jog, 400 with 400 jog, 800 with 400 jog] -- it's a simple ladder. I'm not convinced... but I decide to error on the side of more than less and do his workout. I'm so sure I'm right, and he's so sure he's right that we bet 5 minutes of massage on it.

I struggled to hit my goal time, especially the 800s.

Here were my set times:
Set 1: 39, 39 (200), 2:38
Set 2: 37, 1:17, 2:39
Set 3: 38, 1:18, 2:39
Set 4: :39, 1:19, 2:40

So the 800s were on average about 3 seconds slow.

When we got home, I checked my plan: HA! I was RIGHT!!! We were supposed to do 200s, not 400s!! Was that the reason I struggled more with this workout? I don't really think so -- I think it's more that my speed and VO2 max aren't where they should be. But for now, I'll blame it on Nate making the workout too long. :)

I'm going to enjoy my back massage tonight!!! :)

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The land of the rising sun


Sorry it's been so long! I'm on a week long business trip in Tokyo.

It's my first time in Japan. It's beautiful!! Tokyo is a bustling, energetic city. At first it's a little overwhelming (26 million people), but after a while it grows on you -- it's more like an organized chaos than anything else. Everyone is so kind & accomodating. It's also a very safe place to travel - very little crime. The Japanese are very respectful, honest, etc. Wish the US was more like that.

Everything is clean (despite the fact there are so many people), and everyone takes such good care of themselves, their clothing, their appearance. They pride themselves on wearing good quality, expensive items (which is why we can sell so many Red Wing shoes there!!). Quite amazing actually. Jeans sell for $300-400, a more casual flannel or plaid shirt $150-200... wow.

One of the coolest things: the portion sizes are PERFECT! Not a heaping pile like in the US. For example, someone ordered roast pork with mashed potatoes for lunch one day. What came was a piece of meat a little smaller than the size of your fist, and less than an ice cream scoop of potatoes. No wonder there aren't any (seriously) obese people here! Not to mention, everything is super healthy. I LOVE it! Lots of rice, with a little healthy meat or vegetables. Nothing heavy. Even their desserts are light-tasting. Not like in the US where they're dense, calorie filled, and all around heavy. Gosh, I wish I could take home their cuisine and portion sizes to the US.

Ok, on to running: My training has actually gone better than expected during the trip. At first, I wasn't planning to be able to get in many miles at all. But, then I found that the hotel had a gym (only free from 5-6:30am, otherwise an outrageous fee), so hit that up the first two days. It was pretty much awful. First, I am NOT a morning person. Perhaps the fact that 5am in Tokyo is really 2pm MN time helps. Second, it's warm, without any fans. Third, I forgot my ipod. They have 3 TVs in the room, but there's no sound (and even if there was, I couldn't understand any of it). So day #1, I stared off into space, thinking about nothing at all, for 10 whole miles. I guess I did get to occupy my mind a little bit by converting miles to kilometers...

Day #2: Back to the gym again. 3 mile warm up, and then I tried to pick it up. I did 20 minutes hard (I think 6:10 to 6:00 pace, but it felt harder than that). Then I started on a cool down. 1 mile into it, I suddenly felt really tired & sick. It was a weird sickness feeling... hard to describe. I decided to shut it down for the day. Even though 6:00 pace shouldn't be hard, maybe that's what triggered that feeling?

Day #3: The team in Japan drew out 3 different courses in Tokyo for me. YEAH!! The first was Yoyogi park. I woke up and hit up the gym to get a strength session in, and then hit the streets, map in hand. It was a 2km jog over to the park. It was BEAUTIFUL inside. Sort of a santuary inside the bustling, stressful city. About 20 minutes into the run, a Japanese runner passes me pretty quickly. I decided to chase after him & asked if I could run with him. Wish I would have worn my Garmin -- I have no idea how fast we went, but it was really quick. I don't think I could have gone much quicker. So much fun to run hard with someone!! I don't know if that was his normal pace or not (could be, he looked very smooth/fit and said he was a 2:33 marathoner), or if he kept picking it up because he had a young American girl running along side him :) He stopped after about 20 minutes. I continued on, at an easier pace, to finish a 1:30 run. Not bad!

Day #4: Tomorrow. Going to venture to the price's palace. I have to take the subway to get there... should be interesting.

I LOVE the fact that I'm a distance runner and can explore so much more of a city than those that don't run!!

So, all in all, not a bad week (I think it'll be 60-65 miles)! Not bad for a week I was expecting 10 or less!

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What?!???

I went to the track today. Workout: 5-6x1000 with 3 mins rest in between each. Goal time 3:38. I hit the track and had a great workout! I did all 6: 3:37, 3:37, 3:34, 3:38, 3:37, 3:35. I was proud, I ran really hard, through a good wind (and didn't even try to wind aid the reps), and was at or below my times.

I checked my 1000 rep times before the marathon. They were 3:31-3:35. Hmm, I was a little slower than that today. Bet that was the wind. Or maybe I just had a good day then.

BUT THEN I came home and checked my plan. Goal time: 3:28. What???!!!??? NOOOO! Check the book, make sure. Yep, 3:28. What a sinking feeling.

I start to think: did I work to my full potential? Could I have gone harder? After the first one (3:37), if I would have known I was 9 seconds slower than goal, would I have gone harder? ARGH!

I know I couldn't have hit 3:28s. If I would have had someone to chase, then maybe I could have been a few seconds faster. Maybe I would have gone 1-2 seconds faster each if I would have known how far off I was. Those two combined, I would have been MAYBE 3:32-3:33. That's a MAYBE. It wouldn't have been 7-9 seconds each time.

So -- need to figure this out if I'm going to get anywhere. Part of it is I haven't adjusted to VO2 max/speed work. I can hit tempo pace without any trouble. Hard long runs? Love them. But rep or interval pace, I'm not even close.

It's also because I've bumped up my pacing. Instead of 2:50 pacing, I'm now at 2:48 pacing (and in a few months, hope to bump that to 2:46). Again, I have no problem with the tempo pace change -- but everything else... it's ugly.

So it's really, really good for me to realize this is a such big weakness. I need to focus, really get after it. So, with that -- enough said! No more missed paces, if I have ANYTHING to do with this. I CAN do this!!

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Goal Setting

I am such a goal oriented person. Anyone that knows me will agree (ask Nate :). Give me a goal, and I'm happier than ever to chase it, no matter what it is.

Goal setting also gives me renewed pupose behind my training. I tend to think of ways to get out of workouts or cut them short if I don't have something specifically I'm working towards (It's too cold today! It's already 8:30pm... let's cut the run in 1/2 tonight, etc.).

So, I've set out to do some concrete goal planning for this winter and early spring. I'm still working on finding races, but here's my tentative plan:

November - 1 or 2 5ks - just to see where I'm at. Hope to be somewhere around 18:00

December - 5k - Anyone know of any good ones?

January - Late Jan - the Mankato indoor track meet with the Gusties? 3k? 5k on the roads, 17:50 (know of any good races?)

Feb - Meet of hearts @ Carleton indoor meet - 5k, sub 17:45

March- Late March: Human Race 8k - sub 29:20. Mid march: irish for a day 10 miler? or a 10k?

April- GAC Alumni 5k. Sub 17:30. Get in gear 10k - goal high 36s. Potentially a 1/2 marathon, goal sub 1:22.

May- 1/2 marathon. Haven't picked one yet. Anyone know of any fast/flat ones? Goal will be sub 1:20.

June- Grandma's. 2:46!

I know this is really far out to be setting time goals, but I think more than "goals" these are benchmarks I need to hit in order to make a legitamite try at 2:46 at Grandma's in June.

Just writing this down makes me want to get out & run :). Love it :).

P.S. I'm working on a training partner/group -- SUPER excited about the possibility, but there's still a decent enough chance that it might fall through, so I don't want to mention anyone specifically yet. So excited, though! I know this will make a huge difference in my training. Sorry for the cliff hanger :)

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