Making my mind up

My post-Juneathon plan appeared to be simple and yet I nearly fell at the first hurdle, which was to find a training plan. I’m not training for a particular event, just trying to get out of doing junk miles and turn my efforts into actual improvement in terms of endurance and maybe a little speed. I decided that a half marathon programme fitted the bill and that’s where the choices began.

Using the scientific method of googling “half marathon training”, I found a multitude of different regimes and didn’t know where to start (and for once this wasn’t just advanced procrastinating).  Did I want an eight week plan? Twelve weeks? Fifteen perhaps? Am I using heart race or pace? Do I want fartleks? Do I want to be paced by speed or subjectively by myself? Am I that much of a Guardian reader that I want to use their training programme, or do I just want the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipes from the Saturday magazine?

Eventually I came to the conclusion that they’re all more or less a variation on the following

  1. Run fast on this day
  2. Run long on this day
  3. Run for a bit to recover on this day
  4. Repeat

I’ve plumped for the Runner’s World Garmin ready programme on the grounds that it’s Garmin ready, it gives pace in minutes/mile and I couldn’t be bothered looking at any more as my eyes were going funny. The pace thing is because I need the discipline of sticking to a slower pace on my long runs and if I have to judge it myself, I’ll set off thinking “I feel fine…” and then run out of steam. Using their Race Pace calculator, Runners World have taken my single 10k result (1 hour 6 minutes 7 seconds – it’s etched in my brain) and told me that I’d potter round 13.1 miles in 2 hours 25 minutes. Using the pace guide thingy on the training programmes, I’ve decided that I can knock ten minutes off that and am following the plan for a sub-2.15 (just typing that makes me feel like a real runner). So that’s that.

With the benefit of training plan hindsight, I can say that Wednesday morning’s 3 miles round the village was actually a Steady 3 miles. Even better, my 3 miles up and down the canal hearing about my mate’s exploits fending off amorous Italian waiters (they’ve got some classy lines and only claimed to need two minutes for whatever they were promising. Romantic and efficient…) was in fact a perfect Slow 3 mile pace. I’ve decided that these are near enough the plan to count towards it, even though I only chose the plan after the canal run…

Which brings me nicely onto the second part of my post-Juneathon plan – stick to the plan and not decide that I know better. Trying to run at an easy pace was so much harder than I imagined – it was excruciating and embarassing and I wanted a sign saying “I can go faster you know”. There was no way  that I could have managed to slow down to my prescribed pace of 12.21min/mile; I tried everything, but just ended up with a strange sort of jig-jog where I held my arms like Riverdance and shook my head in despair. In the end my garmin told me I’d done an average pace of 11.46min/mile, but couldn’t tell me any more than that because you can’t use the autolap feature with advanced workouts, giving me a single split of 5 miles which is neither use nor ornament.

So these are the scores on the doors so far, tomorrow should prove to be hilarious.

Week One I should have run… I actually ran…
Session 1 3 miles easy (12.21 min/mile) 3 miles at 11.59
Session 2 2 miles steady (10.44 min/mile) 3 miles at 10.49
Session 3 5 miles easy (12.21 min/mile) 5 miles at 11.46
Session 4 1M jog, 4x400m fast with 200m recoveries, 1M jog tomorrow