As some of you might remember, I used the Run Less, Run Faster program to train for the Austin Half Marathon, which I ran a couple weeks ago. The basics: three runs a week--one speedwork, one tempo, one long--for any distance from 5k to the marathon. All have specific paces, based on your previous race times. The splits you are supposed to hit are definitely challenging, but not totally out of reach if you can mentally hang in there. It also calls for easy cross-training two days a week and a basic strength routine.
I wasn't always able to hang in; the tempos thrashed me without fail and left me wondering why I wanted to run faster. Some other details:
Here's what worked for me:
--I ran faster. I ran a PR by about 2 minutes (1:51:25) on a pretty hilly course, despite my mental toughness being terrifically unimpressive. I walked 3 times, including up a massive hill at mile 12. 5. (After seeing it and muttering an expletive I won't reprint, the guy next to me was like, "What is this: the Tour de France? Is that Alpe d'Huez?" My sentiments exactly.)
--Did I mention it worked? I also PR'ed in the 10k on another hilly course (I promise: I'm not being dramatic about hills) about midway through the training cycle. I can't remember the exact finishing time (50:xx), but I definitely remember being able to truly kick at the end of a race. Novel--and pretty amazing--feeling.
--I ran less. I usually ran Monday, Thursday and Saturday, which left plenty of (vital) time to get psyched to run again, and plenty of (very necessary) time to recover from the intense workouts. I feel like that's the sweet spot for my injury-prone bod.
--The very specific guidelines of the workouts. They eliminated that I'm at the gym, so now what? or do-I-really-need-to-get-out-of-bed-and-run? wishy-washiness.
--They made me feel just slightly less accomplished than Apolo Ohno. I gotta admit, the days when I was at my desk at 9:15 and thinking, I've already done 7k of speedwork this morning, I felt like a serious, dedicated athlete. (The intervals of speedwork usually added up to 5k total.)
--I hit new heights. I pushed the number 8, as in over 8 mph, on the treadmill for the first time ever. Whee!
Here's what didn't:
--A 4.5-month long training plan. Unless you're starting back from having a kid or very new to running, 18 weeks is an awfully long time to train for a half-marathon. Because I didn't start it on time, I cut out about 3 weeks, but 15 weeks is also too long for me to stay focused--and, more importantly, motivated.
--I never really relaxed and just enjoyed a run. I got a little anxious, pre-run, about being able to complete the sucker, both about the effort and the math I had to do to convert random splits (5:23, say, for a 1,000) to speeds on the treadmill.
--I could never find the right song to motivate me. Because I was pushing myself out of my comfort zone, I needed fast songs. But I quickly tired of my 15 or so pulsing songs, and anything with less than a Tonight's Gonna Be A Good Night tempo didn't keep my feet quick enough.
--I felt a little deceived. Based on the I-easily-took-15-minutes-off-my-PR testimonials in the book, it sounded like I would float along the course and barely break a sweat. Um, not so much. I worked for that PR.
--Injuries still lingered. I still couldn't shake my injured left hute (hybrid of hip and glute). The speedwork exacerbated it, I'm certain, because I was so fixated on hitting the splits that I compromised what little form I have.
--I flaked on the cross-training. Because talking myself into the runs was harder than getting my son to stop bugging my daughter when she's trying to do her homework, I felt justified giving myself a pass on the cross-training. I usually did it once a week, but hardly ever the recommended twice, and I can count on one hand the number of times I strength trained.
Would I do it again? Absolutely. If I had a race and a goal for that race, I'm confident that RLRF would help me hit it.
Am I going to run less, run slower now? Absolutely.
Have any of you used RLRF? What were your results?