One of the things Kristen and I have done this training cycle is to really examine what worked and what didn't in our last year or two of running. We have found that complicated speed workouts are confusing, and difficult to execute. I certainly found that I was unable to really gauge how fast I should be doing speed and tempo sessions, and was likely doing them too fast and nearly getting injured as a result.
Probably the biggest learning curve, however, was understanding exactly what format of weekly workouts worked best for us as individuals. This was the single greatest element of constructing a new training plan for me.
For example, I neeeeeed a rest day after long run day, but not before. I can run easy miles before speed work, but not after. Because I work all week, its easier for me to take rest days or cross-train during the week, and get some longer running in on the weekend. Generally speaking the weekly format that works best for me is: Monday rest, Tuesday: Easy/medium long, Wednesday: speed, Thursday, XT + strength, Friday: Tempo, Saturday XT or easy + plyo and strength, Sunday: Long.
That is what I naturally gravitated towards, and what my training plans always switched to in the past. Looking back over past training (and all the workouts I didnt complete or shifted around the week) has forced me to understand what works for my legs and my time. It really takes the guesswork out of it. As a result, for the first time, I am actually following my training plan. I still ask myself how Im feeling each day, and whether Im physically ready for the workout that I have assigned myself.... but more often than not, the answer is yes, because my legs have found a groove that Im running with (pun completely intended). The resulting benefit, of course, is that I am completing my workouts, making much greater fitness gains and gaining a ton of confidence in myself!
Do you follow training plans blindly, or reassemble them to fit your legs/schedule? Do you eschew training plans entirely and just run by feel? How do you evaluate whether its working?
With that long-winded introduction, these were the first two weeks out of base training and integrating real workouts in the leadup to my December 1st race (we are running the Vegas Rock n Roll):
October 1 - 7th
Tuesday: 6 miles easy, plus 6 x 8 second hill sprints
Wednesday: Speed: 6 miles with 2 miles easy, 5x800 at 6:27pace, 2 miles easy on treadmill
Thursday: Elliptical, easy for 45 minutes, + leg strength
Friday: Tempo, 2 miles easy, 2x1 miles at HM pace, 2 miles easy
Saturday: Insanity Plyometric circuit + easy 4 miles
Sunday: 15 miles easy, with 14th mile in 6:55
I ran some of my easy miles around the reservoir in Central Park. The 1 point something mile loop around the lake is dominated by runners. No strollers or bikes allowed, and even walkers are in the minority.
Tuesday: 8 miles easy, plus 8x8 second hill sprints
Wednesday: Speed, 7 miles with 6x800 at 6:27 on treadmill
Thursday: 45 mins easy ellipitical + core strength
Friday: This was a cold, windy night and I did not want to run. But I got out there and really surprised myself with the tempo portion. I ran 2 miles easy, then 4 miles tempo: 7:00, 6:50, 6:55, 6:56, 2 miles easy.
Saturday: Insanity Power and Resistance + 5 miles recovery
Sunday: 15 miles easy. For this run I went further than I have so far down the Hudson river trail toward lower Manhattan on the west side. It was a beautiful day for running and the water front was gorgeous!