Beaches, BBQs and PRs?

Summer, the perfect time for beach trips, backyard barbecue and short road races, am I right? I’ve been remiss with my blogging, but I’m back with new goals and a plan for the future.

As you may have read, I struggled a lot with my motivation after a disappointing race in April. After some soul searching and some time off running, I decided it was time to take a little break from the marathon distance. That doesn’t mean a break from running, however. No, instead, I’m going to shift my focus to shorter distances this summer and to the half marathon distance this fall.

For the past three and a half years, I have either been training for a marathon, injured or recovering from injury in order to train for a marathon. I ran my first marathon in April 2013, and since then, I’ve run a total of seven marathons. That’s an average of a marathon every 5.4 months. That’s a lot!

And so, I’ve decided that I deserve a break from the marathon distance and that I’m going to focus on shorter distances for the first time since high school track and cross country.

What does that mean? That means a lot of shorter distance races—a lot because unlike a marathon, you can run more than one 5k in a training cycle! I’m coming to appreciate that fact after one hot day ruined 16 weeks of hard work and dedication in April.

Here’s my calendar so far:

Date Distance Goal
Tuesday, July 12, 7 p.m. 5k Tune up (Top 10?)
Saturday, July 16, 8:30 a.m. 5k < 19 minutes (PR:19:10)
Saturday, July 30, 8:30 a.m. 5 miles < 31:30 (PR: 33:35)
Sunday, August 14, 10 a.m.

OR Sunday, August 21, 5 p.m. (TBD)

1 mile 5:30 (PR: 5:36)
Sunday, September 18, 8:30 a.m. 13.1 miles < 1:25 (1:28:05*)

*For the full story behind the asterisk, check out my Ocean’s Run Half race report

With my races capping off at the half marathon distance, I’m doing things a little differently with training.

I’ve turned to Faster Road Racing by Pete Pfitzinger as a guide, merging a couple of his plans to prepare my body both for the 1 mile – 5 mile distances and the half marathon distance (with a bias toward the half marathon).

So far, that has meant a lot of work at lactate threshold pace, generally speaking the pace at which you could race for about an hour (roughly my 15K race pace), including some lactate threshold training on hills. Luckily, I just moved from Brooklyn to New Jersey, and now I have plenty of long hills at my disposal.

A particularly grueling workout this week was 7 x 3 minutes uphill at 5k effort. The effort part of that statement is key. If I tried to run up the particular hill I was working with for three straight minutes at actual 5k pace I’m pretty sure I would have keeled over. As it was, I averaged just around a 6:50 pace for the first few intervals, and around 6:55 for the last few intervals, while my goal 5k pace is about a 6:07 pace.

That seems like quite the difference, but my heart rate was right where it should be for this workout (in the high 170s, or about 90-90% of my max heart rate) while I was running on a 3.16% grade. That’s not insignificant.

Other workouts of late have included two sets of 5 x 200 meters at 1 mile race pace, with a 200 meter jogging recovery between intervals and a four minute job between sets. For me, that means each of the hard effort 200s were about 41 seconds, which is roughly about a 5:30 pace.

I haven’t run such fast intervals since high school, and they kicked my butt! There is just something so satisfying, though, about running that fast.

Another common workout is lactate threshold tempo intervals. The first week of my training, I ran 10 minutes-8 minutes-8minutes at lactate threshold pace, with three minutes to recovery between each interval. The next week I went 12 minutes-8 minutes-8 minutes, with four minutes active recovery after the first set, and three minutes after the second set. Soon, I’ll move that up to 15 minutes-12 minutes with a four minute recovery, etc.

I already saw a small improvement from that first lactate interval workout and the second one, and I’m only about three weeks into my new training plan. With just three weeks to go until my first real goal race I’m pretty excited to see how this progresses! It’s kind of fun to switch it up with this focus on a new distance.

Have you ever felt burnt out from a particular race distance? How did you address that feeling?

Any tips for me as I embrace this new focus?

7 thoughts on “Beaches, BBQs and PRs?

  1. A new adventure can be just the ticket to get back to fitness and health. Switching up distances, as I’ve done in the past, is fun. I do recommend adding in something like biking for some cross training and even competition. Duathlons are a lot of fun.
    I’m in that mode right now—I’ve been struggling since mid-October, and I’m focusing on cycling and swimming this summer as I start my journey toward becoming a triathlete. For me, the biking and now swimming are exactly what I needed. They are fun, refreshing and don’t come with the baggage I’ve got with running.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not much of a swimmer, but I love the idea of a duathlon! I will have to look into that. I’m so glad to hear that becoming a triathlete is helping you get past your baggage from running and back into competition. When you have that need for competition in your body, the rest of your life can become so tense without a good release for that nature.


  2. Yay for new challenges. It’s great to change things up after having been so marathon focused the past few years. The only tips I have (since you asked) is that setting PRs in the summer heat is really tough– unless your PRs for those distances are from hot races already. In the summer time, I try to set course PRs for 5Ks and I know those will translate to distance PRs once things cool down. For me, summer is all about effort level and putting in the training, and the PRs come in the fall. I think that doing all of this speedy stuff will do wonders for your half marathon time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I think with the heat a new 5K PR is going to be hard, but I should be able to run a 5 mile + 1 mile PR, at the very least since my 5 mile time was also from a hot day, and I think 1 mile is too short for heat to really make a difference. That’s a great point to focus on course PRs! Most of these will be new races for me this year since I just moved, but something to remember next summer!


  3. Great idea to focus on the shorter distances to give yourself a little break! I just read about your WIN at the last 5k, and I am sure you will have so much fun running your several races in July! I am training for a 100 miler, and my coach has me doing speedwork pretty much every day. It’s rough on the body! I have a feeling that I will want to change things up after I finish my 100 too.


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