Fall 2016: Finding my training sweet spot

As I launch into fall training training this week, I decided to try something new here (well really it's more like reverting back to something old from my earlier running days). 

I'm going back to the "run less, run faster" idea with only running 3 quality workouts a week, so speed, tempo or mid-distance run, and long run plus an optional short, easy run either on the beach or trail, or with a stroller, for just 3 to 4 runs total per week. And because I really want to continue working on strength and flexibility, I'm trying out double workouts with yoga and barre a few days a week (and sometimes paddleboarding). 

fall 2016 training

When I first started running, I only ran about 3 times a week. Once in a while, I ran 4 times a week, but I never really had weekly mileage higher than 15-20 miles per week, even when marathon training (although, that was a bit on the nutty side and not recommended). But for the shorter distances, I managed to run some pretty decent races pretty quickly with that cadence (including a sub-2 hour half, a sub-50 minute 10K, and a sub-24 minute 5K). Back then I was doing barre two or three times a week as well and a bootcamp style workout.

Since having B, I've been trying to find a sweet spot with running and cross training for a few reasons. One is that I like variety in my workouts and have varied fitness interests, including barre, yoga, and paddleboarding. I'd add a dance class in there, too, if I could find a studio close enough to my house for it to be convenient. Another reason is that I don't have a tendency for injury in general, even when my running mileage gets up around the 30 mile per week mark, which I did last fall, and I think that's largely due to all of the cross training I do. 

So I'm not sure I'm really one of those people who needs to run a ton of miles to see improvements (at least not yet), as long as I'm healthy and not sleep deprived. What I do think I need to do is increase the quality of my workouts, either in distance on in speed, if I'm running less.

Previously, I did one long run per week and two other runs, but not a ton of regular speed work. And forget tempo runs and their ilk. Those are my nemesis. But I think, rather than increasing my miles to a really high number, I want to focus on quality runs right now. It also matches up with what I deemed my workout theme for 2016: Strength and Speed. I've been doing so much barre and yoga already and I look and feel stronger. Let's work on that speed thing now because that seems to have completely left the building. 

I think this will help me as I continue to recover from this extended illness, both mentally and physically. I haven't really been enjoying running lately because I've been running so terribly due to illness and cutting back may help me regain some of that joy again. 

Sample weekly schedule

Mon Tues Wed Thurs
AM: BodyFlow
PM: Barre and/or SUP*
Run - Mid-long easy AM: Optional easy run OR SUP yoga
PM: Orange Theory Fitness**
AM: Run - Speedwork
PM: Barre (optional)

Fri Sat Sun
BodyFlow or Barre Long run, race or SUP* AM: Barre
PM: BodyFlow or Long run

* Morning SUP classes will only last through October and I may or may not be able to get there every week. In August and part of September, I'm doing a Monday evening and Saturday morning series.

** There's on of these coming to my town soon, so I'd love to add that in as my optional run day later in the training season and get a little cross-training in, too. But for now, that's not an option, so I'll keep with what I have.

This is why I have a running coach. Because scheduling all of these things at the right mileage paces is best left to someone who knows more than me about it. It's just one of the things I'd rather let someone else who knows what they're doing figure out for me. It's nice to know what distances I'm supposed to be running each day, my specific speed work workouts, and paces (and adjustments) for all of the above. She also helps me smartly increase my mileage week over week and builds in cutback weeks. 

I have two half marathons planned for fall - the Disney Wine & Dine Half in November, which includes Lumiere's 2-Course Challenge with the 10K the day before the half, and the Kiawah Half in December. Kiawah is my goal race. For Disney, I just need to be able to cover the miles since I'm running that with the same friend I ran the Disney Half with back in January.

After discussing with my coach, she also thinks I can do one speed session or tempo run per week and still be okay through Disney training. We'll use that to rebuild any base I've lost in my lazy (and sickness-riddled) summer, then start with more intense and frequent speed sessions in the 5 weeks between Disney and Kiawah. We also shifted my speed sessions to Thursday instead of Tuesday because Monday is a pretty intense cross training day for me. 

But I'm really hoping I'm in PR/sub-1:50 (or faster) condition by the time Kiawah rolls around. Since I start allergy testing this week, I could possibly start to get some relief soon. 

In addition to those races, I'll probably have a good amount of 5Ks and maybe a 10K or two on my fall schedule but I'm not sure about any additional half marathons at this point. 

How about you? Have you ever done run less, run faster or are you more into running higher weekly mileage? What type of cross training did you do? If you've done both methods, did one work better for you?