KEEPING IT SIMPLE
Today was my first run after the end of daylight savings time. It was nice to not be running in that darkest hour before dawn for a change. I know it will be only a few weeks, if that, before we return to the dark side again. The weather is changing as well, making gloves, tights, and earbands a requirement for all runs. The end of daylight savings time also effectively puts an end (for me) of any outdoor after work workouts. The only thing I hate more than working out after work is working out after work in the dark. I don't mind running in the dark in the morning, when the end result is daylight. I do mind running in the dark in the evening, not being able to use the bike path for safety because of darkness, and unwilling to risk the frenzied drivers trying to get home.
Today also starts another training schedule for me. After the tongue lashing my knees gave me this weekend for thinking why not? continue on with the same crash course training I did for the GR half, I realized a more sensible approach was necessary if I wanted to continue running without injury. Doubling your mileage in 3 weeks and then tripling it in 4 isn't a recommended course to follow, as I learned the hard way Saturday. That was a one-time deal.
I decided Saturday that my long run would now take me through the hills (if you did the half or marathon, you know the hilly area that eventually goes to Millenium Park). Not that the hills are horrible, but I realized just how tired my legs still were in going this route, instead of the flat bike path. My reasoning was two-fold, however. First, knowing that the bike path becomes impassable for most of the winter once the snow starts (they don't keep it clear), I wanted to start getting used to the hill route. Second, I felt it was time to start working a little harder on my runs; it was time to start putting some quality into running again. Once I reached Millenium Park, sensible me should have turned and gone back to my car on the flat bike path. Not so smart me decided to add another mile and a half, to round it out to 9, and turned the opposite way, only to find myself walking at 8 miles, thus defeating that whole plan.
During that extended walk, I decided I needed to look for a sensible buildup plan. Is it me, or are all these training plans obsessed with numbers? I seem to be one of those runners who fall between the cracks right now, because it seemed like all the "free" training schedules I could find were either too easy or much too hard, and just as hard to follow. I wanted something that would spell out for me a way to increase my weekly mileage without having to run x miles at this pace, then x miles at this pace, then, for example 3x___ at ____ pace. And on and on it went.
I've always followed some sort of schedule or another, nothing always written in stone, but simple to follow. Even my first marathon training schedule was so easy I was able to memorize it and used it for later marathons, even when I couldn't find the written version. And it obviously had a good result, based on my finishing times. I could probably go back to that schedule, but I am not in the same running shape I was then to start. I don't plan to do any speed workouts or hill repeats just yet. I know that the tried and true approach to building on my running comes mainly with doing the distance first, conditioning myself, and later adding those technical aspects of training.
Then I started thinking of the training schedule for the 25k race in May. Even that seemed a little too agressive, with the "expert" schedule having you run 6 days a week. With a little modification, I decided then to go with this plan. I'm not really sure if I can handle 5 days a week of running, since 6 is clearly too much, but if not, I think 4 days will work. I am actually going to start at 5 and see how it goes. Two days a week will only be short runs, probably not more than 20 minutes, and will follow a weight routine. I will swim two days a week, do a "continuous" run one day a week, a mid-week 5 miler, building on longer running intervals, and one weekly long run, starting back at 7.5 miles (a loop I can do from the park) and building until I reach my half marathon distance again. If all is successful, and I can accomplish this by the middle to end of December, then I will see what January brings. My plan for January is to do the Mississippi Blues half, but that mainly depends on travel costs more than anything else.
So, keeping it simple is clearly the way I will go. If anyone has any successful training programs they want to point me to, I welcome your suggestions.