Fewer Races, Faster Times (Hopefully)

“The Last Banana”

When I first started blogging regularly, I planned to chronicle my efforts to get out of “the last banana club.” This post is the first one I ever wrote about my goal of improving my 5K time to the point that I could finish in less than 30 minutes (and have a broader post-race snack selection than that last sad banana half).

St. George Island Sizzler
June 27, 2009

As I approach the three-year mark of that goal (without having achieved it), I find myself utterly unable to commit to any other goals for 2012 (I usually have 3 goals for each year). It is time to admit that, although I have definitely made progress, something I am doing (or not doing) has to change in order to get me there.

I finally purchased a heart rate monitor. I purchased the heart rate monitor when I entered into a coaching relationship with Coaches Jeff and Diane of PRS Fit. I have spent this first week talking back and forth with Jeff about my goals of running a 5K in less than 30:00 and completing the Boston 13.1 Marathon for Autism Speaks on September 16, 2012. One of the keys of establishing the coaching plan is an assessment. The assessment thus far has involved the heart rate monitoring and preparing to adjust my weekly workout schedule.

I did a maximum heart rate test on Tuesday (and, for the record, ran my first sub 10:00 minute mile in the process!); and lactate threshold testing on Thursday. Yesterday involved one of the first adjustments I have had to make to my workout plans. Prior to having a coach, I had planned (for yesterday) to run a 10K race here in town. Subsequent to having a coach, I ran 1.5 hours instead, keeping my heart rate in my Zone 2, with a three minute push at the end. The goal is to build an aerobic base.

Coach Jeff’s rationale for forgoing the 10K is that I was making a common mistake: racing too much, training too little. As much as I missed everything I love about racing yesterday — my friends, the excitement in the air, the challenge, the race pictures we would see afterwards (hey, maybe one of these days I will like one!), the results, and helping a good cause (in this case, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Tallahassee) — the coach is right in this case. I would have completed the race, I would have LOVED it, I would have had some good stories to tell.

But I would not have known enough or learned anything else about my body, my technique, or my mental approach to make any changes that would make a lasting difference in my 5K speed.

I also know I am probably going to have to change my fitness schedule around so that my Tuesday intervals aren’t followed the next day by boot camp* with stadium stairs (because there is not enough recovery time between the two). It has taken me so long to get to a point that is a hair below dread every Tuesday night that I have asked the coach to leave intervals on the schedule in lieu of doing something different with the time I have been devoting to reaching Row 85 of Doak.

As much as I will miss my boot camp buddies, I’ll pay the price for now.

Anyone want to do stadium stairs with me some other night?

Run for the Cookies
February 12, 2012
*(Here’s a blog about boot camps – note Doak camps are usually on Wednesdays now.)

4 thoughts on “Fewer Races, Faster Times (Hopefully)

  1. I have faith in you…..YOu will reach you goals what ever they may be…not sure agree with the coaches perspective, but I will be here to follow yor progress and see.

  2. I do understand the foregoing a race. I ran my last race April 1. I could have run one or two 5Ks every weekend since but Easter weekend. I let it go as my goal race is my marathon on Sunday. I had to let those races go.

    I haven't put my heart rate monitor on this entire training session. Guess I should get back to it for my summer training.

  3. I am intrigued! Love the change of focus that your coach has suggested. I believe that periodic shifts in focus (particularly with regard to fitness) are a vital part of improvement.

    I'm not a “run a race every weekend” type of runner, mainly because I prefer to do my long runs on Saturdays and shorter races thwart my long runs. I also favor the half marathon distance and will be training soon for my first full, so the shorter distances aren't my favorite I guess. I do share your goal of wanting a sub 30 5K and hope that I will get there eventually. I have run a sub 30 5K in races of longer distances (oddly enough), but just haven't been able to do it in a 5K race…..yet.

    I like your coach's advice to focus on heart rate training zones. You are stronger than you think, and this focused training will get you to where you want to go. I believe you can do it!!!

    Keep us posted 🙂

  4. How many races/year have you typically done?

    I think limiting the number of races makes a lot of sense if you have serious race goals for yourself (time or distance).

    Looking forward to following your progress this season!

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