Back in January, I reported that I was engaging in “experimental training” focused on building speed. I summarized by saying:
- I will run less frequently, but with greater intensity.
- The speed-work I run on the track is going to be much faster and more intense than I would ever recommend to a client.
- I will work harder on power through intense speed-work and additional weightlifting.
- My long runs will still gradually increase as I prepare to run the Boston Marathon. This remains the same. There is no substitute. The experimental side of the long runs for now is that my tempo runs will be embedded within those long runs each week.
- I will replace my easy running days with cross-training on the bike and in the pool.
Has the experiment paid off yet?
No. At least not in terms of scoring personal records.
In fact, I have had some relatively slow races lately. Am I getting slower? No, I am not. I am training as fast as ever.
What I am going through right now is called an implementation dip. I am challenging my body in new ways. Hence, my body is changing in subtle but important ways. In the graph at the right, I am somewhere in the red zone. My performance had plateaued, so I implemented alternative training and my performance dipped down. As I continue with the new training, the performance will begin to rise again. When the change is complete, I can expect my performance to not only match my prior level but to begin exceeding it. By staying the course on this plan, I should begin setting personal records again before fall rolls around.
On a related note, this is messing with my head a little. In races this year, I have not felt exactly the same as before. As a result, I have not been able to make good pacing decisions. When I get past the implementation dip, the feel of races will be more consistent. This will help me better adjust my pacing during races and maximize my race performances.
Have I seen any benefits so far?
Yes. I am healthier, with fewer aches and pains. At 46 years old, that is a big deal.
I am running fewer miles and doing more cross-training that causes less wear and tear. I am still doing a lot of cardiovascular work to enhance endurance. It is just in different formats. Fewer aches and pains means I am more comfortable doing strength training. This in turn allows me to get faster.
It also breaks up the daily grind by offering alternative training sites and experiences. Having fewer runs per week makes my runs feel even more special than before. Even though I have added biking, swimming, and some triathlons, I am still a runner. That is where my goals are. That is where my heart soars.
“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”
— P. Mark Taylor
Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running: