I haven’t posted an entry in awhile because, well, there hasn’t been much going on, running-wise. Training for the Chicago Marathon began in late June, and I’ve been slogging through the heat and humidity for the past nine weeks.
After Flying Pig, I decided to try a different training regimen in order to get fast enough to go sub-4:00 at Chicago. I did some research and asked friends for advice before finally settling on following the Run Less, Run Faster method developed by a couple of guys at the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training (FIRST). It’s based on a 3+2 philosophy – three meticulously focused and paced runs (speedwork, tempo and long) and two days of mid-intensity cross-training. Nearly all of the online reviews praised the program for its ability to make one faster. Heck, even Amby Burfoot seemed to endorse it. Most reviewers seemed extremely happy with their results, but there was a recurring theme that kept appearing.
“It worked, but I hated running.”
“I knocked off 30 minutes from my PR. The runs were hard and boring.”
Most of the flak the program received was about the paces that are assigned to each run. No problem, I thought. My goal is to cut 25 minutes off my time, so if that means laboring through some difficult runs, surely I can do that three times a week. Right?
The first few weeks of training were hard, but I chalked much of that up to an extended break I took after Flying Pig. I’ll get better and faster in no time, I thought.
Only I didn’t.
While the book’s title implies that you’ll run less, what’s it’s really saying is that you will run less frequently, not less distance. The runs that are scheduled are extremely regimented, and every single run has a goal pace that you are supposed to hit. I was hitting none of them. In four weeks of training, I’d actually hit just one goal – a speed-work run where I thought I was gonna puke the whole time.
By the fifth week, I was crapping out early on long runs, too tired to even finish a 15 miler. To make matters worse, the failure of completing the runs in the specified time was really taking a toll on my psyche. During a particularly bad long run, I felt so exhausted at mile 12 that I started to question the point of running another marathon at all. I left my running group and sulked around a water reservoir alone. I almost called it quits.
But then I realized how crazy that sounded. Maybe it was just the training program. I mean, not every program works for every runner out there, right? I was tired of the failure, and I finally fessed up to my training partner, Scott, that I didn’t want to do it anymore. To my surprise, he shared the same concerns (although he was enjoying much greater success than me).
We tried one more long run, but after failing to meet the pace requirement yet again, we hung it up. No more RLRF. Instead, we’ve decided to combine the speed workouts and cross-training from RLRF with portions of Hal Higdon’s Intermediate 2 program. So far, so good.
Keep running, friends.