In 2013, I started running. I also discovered that there are LOTS of books about running. I’m a librarian. I like books.
To get myself started I used a Couch to 5K app on my phone. It worked all right. When Mr. Neon surprised me with a back 2 back half marathon registration for Christmas, I knew I would need to find something a bit more serious. I began the search for a training plan. I discovered this was quite the task!
2014 was the year of the Galloway method and Train Like a Mother. The Train Like a Mother plans are great. They are flexible and customizeable (spell check is telling me this isn’t a word…) depending on your fitness level and goals. The only con is that they don’t give you a ton of direction in how fast or slow you should run the different types of workouts. No pace charts, no direct RPE suggestions. As far as Galloway goes, I believe his method is the ideal way to get started running long distances. Built in walk breaks make a world of difference, especially walk breaks early on in long runs before you actually get tired and need them.
2015 was the year of Run Less, Run Faster. This plan made so much sense when I read the book. Track workouts and tempo runs will make you faster. But in practice it proved otherwise. Running only three days a week threw my body for a loop. My metabolism got out of whack. My sleep patterns were weird. I started to dread the two work week runs because I had to get. up. so. early. The major pro of this plan is the perfect paces. Every run was mapped out with the exact pace you were supposed to hit. I will say this plan worked, but the burnout is something to contend with. If you don’t get burnt out and can handle speedwork twice a week, then definitely give these plans a try. I’m just not sure they are doable long term, which they propose they are.
When I worked out a plan for my spring 2016 half, I just assumed that I would once again work with Run Less, Run Faster because it worked well for the marathon, minus the whole dreading waking up early two days a week and a wacky metabolism / eating plan. Then I started working on Mr. Neon’s Ironman training plan. He’s using the Essential Week-by-Week Training Guide published by Triathlete Magazine and written by Matt Fitzgerald. I gave Mr. Fitzgerald a Google and came across his other books. Racing Weight and the Racing Weight cookbook are currently on my nightstand, alongside both the Runner’s World cookbooks. Nutrition is getting serious around the Neon Runner household.
I also came across this book.
Run Stronger and Race Faster by TRAINING SLOWER, you say? This is a stark contrast to my current outlook of Run Less, Run Faster. Could this work? Well…this is sort of how 2014 played out. I ran a lot of miles in 2014 and early 2015, without much focus on pace and with more focus on volume and form. And 2014 was a far better running year than 2015. I devoured 80/20 in one day and I have officially drunk the kool-aid. I’m ready to relax, run some easy miles, and start enjoying running again. Who cares if I’m back to an 11min pace on my easy days? I bet I’ll look forward to getting up at 5am to run a leisurely 40 minutes and then hop off the treadmill refreshed and ready to tackle the day. The current alternative is limping off the treadmill and rushing for the calf stretcher or the foam roller and moaning that I had to get up at 4:30 to squeeze in 7-8 miles at paces that frankly are darn uncomfortable on a daily basis. My body doesn’t need to live in Zone 4. Let’s give Zone 2 a chance this year!
So how about you fellow runners, where do you get your training plans? How often do you run slow vs. run fast?