May 21, 2013 Leave a comment
“I want it all. I want it all. I want it all, and I want it now.”
Desire. Goal-setting. Dream big. It all sounds good until you want too much. When you go after too many things at once, most of the time you end up with little or nothing. If you do this with your running goals you will end up disappointed and/or injured.
I have been wanting too much. My biggest goals have been in the 1 mile and the marathon. It may not surprise my friends when I divulge my dirty little secret. I have set huge goals in both distances and failed miserably. Yes, I have made big gains in my marathon, just not as big as I had planned. Yes, my mile is faster, but nowhere near the pace I set out to conquer. I am tired of being disappointed.
You see, there is an inherent conflict in training for both goals. There is a certain point in marathon training when the experts warn that you must stop doing true speedwork. Marathon training requires fast miles, but not for the purpose of running a mile faster. The primary focus of marathon training is to cause your body to be able to run fairly fast and maintain that pace. The fast marathon training miles are much slower than the fast mile training pace.
The beginning of my last training schedule had me doing repeats at a 5:30 pace per mile. I did quarter miles, half miles, and mile repeats. In the middle, the focus changed to intervals at a 6:30 pace. Did these help me run a faster mile? Yes, but only by a little bit. My goal is to get my mile time down to about 4:45. How can I ever expect to reach that when my fastest training is done at 5:30? I can’t. Expecting that would be just plain crazy. No, to train for a 4:45 mile, I need to be doing quarter-mile & half-mile repeats at a 4:30 pace or better.
I had been thinking that I can use the time in the marathon off-season (April/May/June) to do my mile training. This does make some sense, but it simply not enough time to meet my goal. I have to choose between my two biggest goals. I proven to myself that I can’t accomplish both at the same time.
I firmly believe that a narrower focus will lead to greater success.
I also believe that while focusing on one goal, I will still make gains in the other. With this as my new philosophy, I will now focus my efforts for the next year on running the fastest mile that I can run. I can’t tell you how fast that will be a year from now, but I believe it will be under 5 minutes. The question will be “How far below 5?”
Does this mean that I will not run a marathon? No. It does not. I will still maintain my schedule of one marathon each spring and one each fall. It means that my training will not be focused on those marathons. I will maintain a year-round focus on increasing my speed in the mile, but I will not neglect distance running. I will still schedule long runs of 13 to 18 miles periodically. I will still gradually increase mileage as the marathons get close. What I will not do, however, is give up my mile training. I will maintain that all the way through the marathon schedule, stopping only for the taper and recovery periods.
This change in focus is a big one. I have heeded the traditional marathon training advice and my goal in the mile has suffered. I have made the mile wait for marathon training to end. I have denied it the attention it deserves. The mile shall wait no longer.
I love running long, but I love running fast too. It is time to focus.
It is time to specialize.
It is time to run like the wind, with no more speed limits imposed by marathon training.
It is time to rock the mile.
Train hard, eat well, & enjoy the run!
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