How I am rebuilding my Mileage base.
Last year, I took a particular approach to getting back to running after the NYC marathon that I thought worked well.
I’m going to post it here…not because I know squat about this sort of stuff, but because this is as good a place as any for me to keep track of what I’m doing from year to year.
My point: I’m not a running coach, and don’t intend my blog to be running advice or coaching.
I break my base-building down into 3 phases.
Phase 1: Base phase
I spent about 4 months rebuilding my mileage base to around 25 miles per week.
It was harder than I thought it would be and took longer than I wanted.
Mostly due to my work schedule last winter/spring, and …. get this…
….I pinched a nerve while getting sick during a food-poisoning ‘event’ in December 2016.
It was bad…couldn’t sleep at night from the pain, running was making it worse, and so I spent 8 weeks with a physical therapist – Bo Harris over at Harris & Renshaw – getting my upper back and neck strengthened.
Give him a call if you are in Little Rock and need a physical therapist….
….not only has he put me back out running with minimal down-time after an injury, but he also gave me the tools to prevent the problem from coming back.
2 Key Metrics for me in the Base Building Phase
Metric #1 – Weekly Mileage Increases.
I don’t increase my weekly total mileage by anymore than a factor of 1.2x – 1.4x for the first 5 weeks, and then once my base is set at Week 8, my maximum increase in weekly mileage is 1.2 times my 4 week average total.
Metric #2 – Long Run as Percent of Total Miles.
I keep the long run each week as close or below one-third of the total mileage.
Here’s why I use those numbers.
After the NYC Marathon in 2016, I realized what I really like about running is first, the experience of running, and second, the challenge of pushing my body a beyond its limits.
Those are 2 very different things.
Given the chance, I push myself to the limit; when I do that, I eventually wake up to discover running stopped being fun.
One of the cool things about starting as a runner over 40 is that I know that slow growth is stronger growth, and more fun growth.
So, to keep my growth slow, strong and fun, I use those 2 limits – they may not work for anyone else, but they keep me in check.
Here’s the 8 week base-building plan.
Week 1: 15 miles total (4 days running 2.5 miles, 1 day at 5 miles)
Week 2: 18 miles total (4 days running 3 miles, 1 day at 6 miles)
Week 3: 23 miles total (4 days running 4 miles, 1 day at 7 miles)
Week 4: 28 miles total (4 days running 5 miles, 1 day at 8 miles)
Weeks 5 – 8: 30 miles total (4 days running 5 miles, 1 day at 10 miles)
Phase 2: Speedwork
My half-marathon training plan has me running tempo pace at 8:25/mile.
I know I can run a half at 8:55/mile, so I’m going to need to do some speed work before I start that training plan.
This is new ground for me – though I did speed work for a few weeks last year, I have no idea what it takes to reduce my tempo pace by what seems a pretty massive 30 seconds per mile.
So, I’m just going to play around and see what happens.
There are 2-3 speed workouts I really like – sprint & recover road runs, intervals on the track, and uphill sprints.
Being over 40, I have to take it really easy on speed.
My body will still go fast (at least by my standards): my PR for a mile is 7:04, and for a 5k it’s 23:43.
But my only big running injury – which sidelined me for 8 weeks or so in spring 2016 – happened when I pushed too hard and too quick on speed workouts.
So, this year, I’m just testing to see what a good speed phase would look like, and how much time it could reasonably shave off my tempo pace.
Phase 3: Targeting a Specific Event.
I had such a good experience with a marathon plan (I used a slightly-modified-for-over-40-runner BQ plan from my favorite podcaster, Chris Russell over at Run Run Live) that I decided to splurge and get the $4.95 half-marathon training plan from Runner’s World.
That’s the event I’m working up to in the Spring – the 2018 Little Rock Half Marathon (and the annual fundraiser for the Access School in Little Rock).
So there you have it… how I’m planning to re-establish my base in anticipation of a new goal for the start of spring racing season.
More on that goal later.