Training "Plan"

"Don't forget that the most important problem to solve is to make easy what is difficult, and for this goal we need to be very simple, natural in our approach, bringing our athletes to train more without too much pressure from hard workouts. That's the reason because too much hard training is a mistake, because athletics become a continuous examination, no more a pleasure. You can train hard preserving the ability of enjoying training, instead too many times athletes think that training is a must, and lose their nervous energies in fighting in training. Many runners leave good result in practice but have little energy for good result in races."
--Renato Canova

Here are some thoughts on my training over the next four months.

I don't write much about training, at least on this blog. I do act the expert on some running forums, but I try to keep my expertise as vague as my knowledge. Running being a simple act, training is also best kept simple. Push the limits of your ability to handle mileage, push the limits of your ability to handle intensity, and let your body rest and recover when it needs to. This is really all the runner needs to know to undertake the experiment of getting faster. The details have to be worked on the roads--and balanced with the rest of life.

If you're lucky, you'll also find two or three folks who know your strengths and weaknesses, your blind spots and your enthusiasms, both as a runner and as a person. You can count yourself even luckier if these folks have the good will to listen when you ramble on erratically about your half-formed training plans--and occasionally drop in a nugget of wisdom. That's about the most you can ask for in a coach. In fact, if a coach gives more than that, he threatens the singleminded stubborn autonomy that is the runner's greatest asset. When the race is on the line, there is no coach, there's just you. That's the beauty.

All this is a long-winded way of saying that the training plan I'm about to undertake is not based in much other than what I think will be best for me. It pretends to no universal applicability. I offer no keys or secrets. And it is not based on the latest physiological research, which I have not read. It's a training plan for me, by me. And it is simple.

Here it is:
Longer, steady-paced (MP-MP+60) singles will be the heart of my training. The idea is to shoot for 3-4 moderately paced runs of 60-100min every week. I will do this for two months. STRENGTH.

After this, I will drop the miles down and/or break them up into more doubles, and run easier, but twice a week I will be a demon on the track. SPEED.

The rationale here is as follows. Over the last year I've put in a lot of miles, and I've been conservative with my paces. I concentrated most on weekly mileage, and the best way to get that up was to run a bunch of easy doubles. This approach has been really great--it's kept me healthy, it's gotten me some good times, and it's kept me motivated and out on the road. That's about all you can ask for, really. But it's time to change things up.

Why go to longer, moderately paced, singles for a period of time? First, it's something new. Most of my runs over the last year were around an hour. I spent very little time on the road for over 90 minutes--and there's a reason for that. It's not my wheelhouse. Those runs are harder for me. They push me. Which means that they are doing some work.

Second, historically, moderate-paced running has been good for me, as long as I don't get caught in the trap of doing every run at a moderate pace. Very often runners are advised to "keep their easy runs easy." This is good advice. If given the choice of every run being easy or every run being moderate, I'd choose easy for long-term development. Fortunately, though, we get to be a bit more experimental than that. I believe that my body not only can handle 3-4 moderate paced runs per week but will thrive off of them, especially if I'm not doing any hard speed work, and if I do my fair share of easy running the other 3-4 days.

January and February will see this experiment unfold. If all goes well, I will have built the kind of base that "moves the line"--that makes me into a new kind of runner with new potentialities. Middle March, at the Tom King half-marathon, will be the first test of this base. But the real hope is that it will catapult me, after some specific training, into new territory: a late spring 5k perhaps, a fall marathon, possibly.

They say that ghosts will haunt us until we give them what they want. There is a runner-ghost that haunts me. It is a ragged beast, pieced together by flights of fancy, post-workout lightheadedness, late afternoons of invincibility, those rare perfect races. Time for an exorcism.

Yo llevo en el cuerpo un motor
Que nunca deja de rolar
Yo llevo en el alma un camino
Destinado a nunca llegar


  1. Like your new blog picture - "Kenyans Running On Air" might be a good title. Like your plan too. Ken

  2. Great running with you this morning! Good luck w/ the training through the Spring. I look forward to comparing notes. Badass picture btw...

  3. Good luck with it, brother. Here's hoping we get to run a few miles together in 2010.


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