Training Smarter, Not Harder
In one month I will be running Canada’s Army Run for the second time. I haven’t kept a journal of this training, but looking back at what I had to say last year makes me realize just how far I have come. My first full year of “official” training has created a monster, but this monster has begun to figure out how to push when it’s time, and to back off when necessary.
Goals – Last year, to finish. Arbitrary time goal of 2:30, which I blew away with a surprise 2:08 finish. This year, no surprises. I have been crafting my time goal using heart rate and pacing. Working goal is 1:55 but that might be optimistic 😉 – and this time I know I’m being realistic!
Form – Last year I spent most of my training trying not to be injured – I had a nasty case of posterior shin splints as a result of my forefoot landing (which I thought was my midfoot). Over the year, my body awareness has improved to the extent where I can tell when my pelvis is out of alignment because my inner left thigh feels slightly tighter. And that’s only one year! I feel strong, solid, and comfortable when I run. Some might say I could be pushing harder but since I want to do this until I’m 100 I’ll focus on my goal to run injury-free.
Pace – On average quite similar, but the way I approach my pace each run is dramatically different. Every time I add a new element, most recently my Heart Rate Monitor, the difference in pacing between LSD/Easy and Speed sessions gets wider. Looking back, my pace was pretty consistent, I don’t think I ever did any real “low intensity” runs. My ego used to drive me to shave seconds off every run, but I now understand the meaning of “train smarter, not harder”. It doesn’t feel like I’m warding off injury all the time. I am still making progress speed-wise, but also building capillaries and blood volume on slower runs.
Distance – Also on par with last year’s training plan. Using heart rate as a guide I actually do “recovery” runs on easy days. Perceived effort level over the distance is off-the-charts lower than last year, for a few reasons – namely the recent full marathon, running at 6am to avoid the heat, and spreading the miles over 5 days instead of 4.
Fueling – Perhaps I have achieved a higher threshold of glycogen storage (thank you full marathon!), but I rarely take gels or even water with me. I did a 11 mile run last Sunday and didn’t take anything with me. Some people would say that’s absolutely crazy, but I had a great steak dinner the night before, and a Vega Pre-Workout Energizer shake before I left, promptly chugged a glass of water after, and chowed down on some serious eggs, steak, and bacon when I got home.
Each goal race is an opportunity to experiment with a training plan. I’m flexible enough to consider almost any plan, but once it’s decided I am completely dedicated to what I create. When I cross that finish line I will know the result of all this experimentation. I already have my next experiment lined up, and I am looking forward to next August when I can see what has changed in another year.