"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

New Tracks on Old Paths

It's been suggested that, if I'm no longer racing, the blog's title should be changed. I'm thinking about it - the title of this post is the best I can do at present.

Sunday, I ran 5 miles in 37 minutes. Monday, I ran 5 miles in 37 minutes. Tuesday, I ran 5 miles in 37 minutes. Today, I ran 5 miles in 37 minutes. Despite the apparent monotony, those were four very different runs; one was a steady run, one had some fast strides, one had a fast mile, one had three 1200 meter intervals. More importantly, I enjoyed them!

The race schedule I've had the past few years had me dreading going out for runs. It was like an assembly line of: run, race... repeat. Throwing out the plans and schedules has freed me to do what I want to do again. When I ran out at Afton a couple of weeks ago, people were wondering why I kept tearing off and charging ahead - it was what I felt like doing. It's called fun.

I came up with a very good plan for making the US 24-hour team (140-150 miles), but it required my being able to run a marathon in under 3 hours. Doable, but I haven't done it in quite a while. Before being able to run a marathon in 2:50-3:00, I needed to be able to run a 10K in 36-38. To do that, I needed to be able to run a mile in 5:00-5:10.

That's sort of when it hit me. Most people do a lot of long slow miles and then start thinking about running faster. I need to run fast and then start thinking about stretching the distance. The more easily obtained records are in the longest distances, simply because the fewest people have tried them. I'm not physically equipped for them (there's something to the name Quick, after all. Perhaps Matt Long shouldn't do short races, either). It's one thing to try to shore up one's weaknesses while learning something new; it's another to abandon one's strengths.

Suddenly, I'm running much faster - though not very far - and I'm having a blast doing it. Sure, if I could maintain the pace I'm running now for 10 miles, I'd be a few long runs away from that 2:50 marathon, but I'm nowhere near close to that.

I may see you on the trails or roads yet. I'll be that blur going by.


Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

I may see you on the trails or roads yet. I'll be that blur going by.

That'll be nice for a change because when I run? Yeah, that blur is usually some tortoise "uhhhh-YUMPa DUMPa DUMP-uhhhhhhh dump-dump-DOHHHHH"ing by.

Not that I can't accomplish stuff in 37 minutes. I can!

It's called a 5k.

You were always kinda blurry to me, anyway.

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

Adding ... "It's been suggested" ...

Way to go all passive voiced!

What butthole made that suggestion?

Psyche said...

I totally agree with the "inverted" training approach.

First build the engine, then while keeping your mileage up, fine tune the efficiency of the engine.

And that, folks, is the only car metaphor I have.

Unless you count, "Hey! There goes Steve! He's a blur like that really fast car I saw once."

SteveQ said...

GQH: At least you didn't denigrate the redundancy of "near close." THAT's what's important. And you weren't the only one being that particular type of butthole.

sea legs girl said...

Steve, Why do you need to run a marathon in under 3 hours to make the US 24 hour team? Is that based on a math equation of yours?

I am attempting the same strategy as you now, I guess, trying to get fast and then stretching that speed out over longer distances. Seems like it's going to take a while...

sea legs girl said...

I'm pulling a Glaven here and commenting multiple times in a row.

I just got your story draft about Afton. Can't imagine a better description of the park has been written. Thank you! You have inspired me to start writing mine.

Psyche said...

Hey, Steve! Thanks for your comment about taking it easy today. I've had lurking thoughts about being overly excited and leaving my race on the road.

I may scale it down after all.

Guy said...

Steve, I think I'll be right alongside you. After my blow up in St Louis this past weekend, I've decided I train well and run well, I just don't race well. Kinda like the kid that gets straight A's on his homework, but fails the test.

Drs. Cynthia and David said...

Glad you're rediscovering the fun! One problem with competition is that people tend to obsess and treat it as work- hence the lack of fun at times, not to mention the overtraining, stress and injuries that may occasion.

I'm discovering that I have no speed to begin with, so not sure your strategy works so well for me. Still any improvement would be nice!

(word verification "syster")

PiccolaPineCone said...

Ok then, would "Attack of the killer tomatoes" make the top 100 worst horror movies about fruit? (says good old one post behind PPC)

But seriously it is great to rediscover the fun... this business of left right left right left right can sometimes kill one's inner child.

SteveQ said...

@SLG: It's not a requirement, of course, to run a marathon in a given time to be able to make the team. While I hadn't thought of it, one of about five equations I have for the purpose is that the number of minutes it takes to finish a marathon plus miles in 24 hours equals 320. It works surprisingly well (+/- 5 miles) for most sub 4 marathoners who don't crash and burn in the 24.

Anonymous said...

I was reading the other day that one of the guys on the national 24-hour team is coming off a 253-mile week, and almost 1,000 miles in March. All at sub 8min/mile average pace. Pretty good stuff.