Sunday, December 23, 2012

Correcting an imbalance: aerobic base building

It's hard to know what lessons to draw from last cycle's half marathon training about what worked or didn't work because the conditions were so terrible during the goal race.

But reflecting on a year's worth of training and racing, I've come to a conclusion: my aerobic capacity is weak in comparison to my leg strength.

I spent a lot of time this year in the gym working on leg strength. Weekly running-specific strength and plyo workouts made my legs stronger than they've ever been.  Until this year, I'd never squatted more than my body weight. I definitely put on some muscle.

I also felt stronger running at 5K pace for short intervals than I did for threshold runs at a little slower than half marathon pace. My hardest runs during last cycle's half marathon training were definitely the thresholds. In contrast, I responded very well to speed interval training. Each week my speed workouts felt easy, even the pinnacle workout of 15 x 0.5 miles at 6:27. But I cut a lot of threshold runs short, unable to hang onto the pace. I also ran my long runs slower than I ever have before - but that could have been the heat wave that sat in San Diego all summer and fall.

Further evidence in the case of weaker aerobic capacity: I performed better in short distance races this year. My best 5K and 10K race times indicate faster half marathon times than I achieved. My June 5K time of 19:53 indicated a 1:31 half marathon time on a pace calculator. But I ran a 1:34 PR half in June. My November 10K pace of 6:33 indicated a 1:29 half.

Solving it - my to do list (Penny, note the effective use of a bulleted list, :)):

  • Increase overall running volume by adding an additional easy run in the week or by making easy runs slightly longer. 
  • Run more thresholds.
  • Tack on some progression runs to the end of easy and long runs. 
  • And since I'm now in marathon territory, I need to run longer long runs. 

Week 2, Unknown Spring Marathon: 32.25 miles/4h27m

Sunday 12/16 - Easy run (8:30, 2% treadmill incline) + progression (7:15 for 20"): 7.25 miles in 60"
     In Boston this week for work. Thank god for treadmills - it was cold, windy, rainy, and snowy. And thank god for hot tubs in hotel gyms. Felt so good to soak after a long plane ride. 

Monday 12/17 - Easy run (8:15, 2% treadmill incline) + fartlek (4 x 2 minutes at 10K pace): 4 miles in 30"

Tuesday 12/18 - Rest day, kind of.
     Lots of work, full day in court.

Wednesday 12/19 - Rest day, kind of.
     Another full day in court, plus over 8 hours on planes traveling back to San Diego.

Thursday 12/20 - Easy run (8:15) in Balboa Park: 7.2 miles in 60"; yoga

Friday 12/21 - Easy run (8:45) in Solana Beach: 6.8 miles in 60"

Saturday 12/22 - Easy run (8:00) in Del Mar/Solana Beach + 6 short hill sprints: 7 miles in 55"; yoga

two little runners


  1. adding those threshold workouts are key and will give u SO many rewards. especially for the longer distances they'll give u the best bang for your buck; the good news is that base can come to anyone who works it and sometimes it's easier to achieve than the legspeed, which u've got. so get after girl and can't wait to see u rockin those races in 2013! :)

    1. Thanks Cait - definitely going to make threshold runs a priority in 2013! :)

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