It feels like forever since I’ve dedicated a blog post to my running, so I guess I’m overdue for some updates on that front. Since I don’t really have anything running-related to talk about these days, I’m going to talk about my upcoming 10K training. It seems early to write about it since it is still 2 months away, but I won’t be able to blog about it at all in July (you’ll find out why in my next post!), so I might as well do it now!
In case you have missed my sporadic running chat these past few weeks, I am taking a break from “training” for the next couple months, and just running for fun/maintenance until August, when I’ll begin my next training cycle. For the first time in my running career, this training will be focused on shorter distance running – specifically, the 10K.
Today I’m going to go over why I chose this focus and what my goals will be, as well as a couple other big changes I’m making.
I am doing something new this time around and having someone else put together a training plan for me.
I don’t want to take too much time explaining this decision but basically, I just feel my training regimen could benefit from a fresh set of eyes. I typically create my own plans, since I do not thrive on cookie-cutter training plans. But this time around I’m just not feeling motivated to put in the time and research necessary to make my own plan at a distance I’ve never trained for, or do all the work of figuring out my workout schedule every week. So I could just buy a plan online or in a book…OR…I could support a fellow run blogger who I already have a relationship with and will provide a more personalized service.
So I’m having Laura put together my 10K training plan. We’ve been blog friends for the past year and I can tell that we are very similar people. More importantly, we have very similar approaches to running – she shares my belief in having a flexible approach to training and doing it by effort rather than pace. I like her intuitive approach to the process and I think we will work well together. Plus, she has put a lot of time, hard work and passion into growing her business this past year so I’m happy to support her!
Laura and I won’t start talking about my training until next month, so I don’t have many details to share now. Obviously, unlike my previous training, it will emphasize speed over distance and include many more shorter, harder speed workouts. One thing I do know is that I’m really going to have Laura throw the book at me in terms of sticking to my cross and strength training and building a well-rounded fitness base this time. This is another reason I’m recruiting outside help for my training – I have no problem running all the miles, but time and time again I fail to hold myself accountable for all that extra stuff.
Most people have the 5K in mind when they decide to focus on shorter distances, because you really have to hone some serious speed and power to race it. So why pick the odd and less popular 10K?
The first reason is that it’s just fun, and I have happy memories with this distance. I raced three 10Ks last fall/winter, each one of them sort of spontaneously, and I had really positive experiences at each one. I wasn’t in training and ran them all without my Garmin, and it was just so much fun. One of them was even in 90 degree heat and I still had a blast.
More than any other distance, the 10K is a “best of both worlds” story in so many ways. It’s long enough that you have time to enjoy the experience and feel it was worth getting up at the crack of dawn for, but it’s also over with in a reasonable, manageable amount of time and I don’t have to line up at the start feeling daunted by the prospect of slugging it out for the better part of 2-4 hours. The 10K requires an intricate balance of speed and endurance, so training for it will allow me to work on my weakness (speed) while also utilizing my strength (endurance). It’s long enough that you have to be smart about pacing and you have more opportunity to make up for lost time, but it’s short enough that you can push yourself to run really hard and a too-fast start won’t necessarily tank your race.
So, this is where things get really fun. When I say this training cycle will be totally different than anything I’ve done before, I’m not just talking about the fact that I’ll be doing harder workouts and more strength training. This will involve a completely different mindset and goals than anything I’ve done in the past.
Unlike the longer distance process where you pick one race, set a performance-related (usually finish time) goal, and focus your training on peaking just in time for whatever that race date is, my training for the 10K will be centered around a series of races that will occur over the course of 6 weeks. I will do a full training cycle to build up to the first race of the season but rather than a one-and-done approach, I will keep racing after that, using my races to build off each other, to keep learning and making tweaks as I go.
I’m not training for a goal time, and the focus of my training will be built around some less concrete goals. This is probably the most radical shift for me. I’ve had a time goal in every single race I trained for except for my first marathon. It’s such a hard mindset to break out of, but I am also just so over stupid meaningless time goals. My focus this training cycle is simply to improve my overall running and fitness by training in a way I’ve never trained before.
I’m also really curious to see if I have more potential in the shorter distances than I’ve given myself credit for. I’ve always written them off saying, oh I’m better at endurance, I don’t have natural speed, I’m not cut out for shorter distances. But those are unfair assumptions to make because I’ve never even trained for short distances. How do I know I’m not good at something if I’ve never really tried?
And yes, I do want to push myself harder and run faster. Not because I want the bragging rights of being a “I run at X:XX pace” runner or having a certain race time to my name. It’s because I want to see what crazy things I’m capable of when I push myself outside my comfort zone, what barriers I could break when I really set my mind to it. Maybe this will be the season I can finally run a 6:XX mile during a workout or race – something that has never happened for me yet. Maybe this will be the season I win my age group in a race or even place in the overall females. If these things don’t happen, that’s perfectly fine, but I really feel like this is my shot to do things in my running that used to seem literally impossible (and still seem impossible now). And that’s what I want, that feeling of “holy crap, I actually just did THAT?!?!”
Finally, as I alluded to above, my other big goal for this training is to just get and keep myself in good shape. I want to be and feel fit. I look at Ali who, like me, is stepping back from long distance to train for shorter races this summer: that girl is killing it in the fitness department right now. In the past I haven’t been good at finding a balance between cutting back my training load and staying in good physical shape – if the former goes, I just let the latter go with it. But no more!! Just because I’m not training for a half or full marathon doesn’t mean I can’t be a strong runner!
All along my plan has been to start training on Monday, August 1st. But my first race of the season isn’t until October 23rd, so I may end up pushing my start date back, depending on how my fitness looks by the end of July. 12 weeks seems kinda long to train for this, but again, I’ll discuss with Laura and we’ll see.
As for my races, some of the dates are still tentative, but I’ve picked out which races I want to do and what my schedule will probably look like. I will do four races spread out over 6 weeks – one every two weeks starting October 23 and ending December 4. One of them will actually be a 5K! I just have to support the MKE Running Festival in its sophomore year, especially after enjoying it last year. The timing of the race is perfect but sadly, there is no 10K option, so I’m going to do my first 5K in almost 2 years. I think will be a good challenge for me and a nice way to shake things up.
I’ll fill you in with more deets when I can, but it’s likely that by the time you hear from me about 10K training again, it will be August and it will already be underway! I’m really excited and I hope you are too. I have to admit, it will be kind of fun to go against the grain and be one of the few bloggers focusing on shorter distances while everyone and their mothers are training for marathons (and 90% of them are even using the same plan).
Ever trained specifically for shorter distances before? Any tips?