After ten years of gaining weight and running less and less, I made a 2014 New Year’s Resolution to drop the extra forty pounds and get back into marathon shape. I ran my last marathon in 2004 and this year I finally decided enough was enough.
I started running in January and went on Nutrisystem in February. So far so good. I registered for the Pittsburgh Great Race 10K scheduled for September 2014 to give me a goal to shoot for. Nothing too crazy, but doable. Then maybe one day I would somehow get into good enough shape to run another marathon. By the end of February I was making slow but steady progress.
Then everything changed.
In March, The Run SMART Project Supercharged my New Year’s Resolution. That’s when I started training with The Run SMART Project’s Jack Daniels’ 15-Week Marathon Plan and their VDOT O2 App. My training and goals changed drastically overnight and everything I was doing immediately kicked into high gear. Check out this RunKeeper graph of one of my cool Run SMART Project Workouts:
Empowered by a world-class training plan with elite coaches to provide guidance, I gained more confidence in my ability to get back into shape and I set my sights higher. I registered for the ½ Sauer ½ Kraut Marathon here in Philadelphia on 14 June to coincide with the Jack Daniels’ 15-Week Marathon Plan. The Run Smart Project founder and coach, Brian Rosetti, sent me my training plan and then answered my questions with a very detailed email about his experience with successful masters runners.
I started doing quality workouts that I didn’t think I was capable of completing. When I started running in January, I struggled to keep up a twelve-minute mile pace for five or six miles. Last Wednesday I ran twelve miles at 7:54 per mile and could have gone a lot faster. I’m still amazed at the progress I’ve made. In a nutshell, the hard runs are harder and the easy runs are easier.
That’s the big difference. When I was running on my own, I ran the easy runs faster than I should have and I ran the hard runs slower than I should have. It was easy to pick the low-hanging fruit by running too fast on my easy days. It was also easy to dial it back on harder days while I was still recovering from the “easy” days. Wrong and wrong.
What I learned from the Run SMART Project is this: just because I couldn’t run a full mile at 7:06 pace didn’t mean I couldn’t run two or three minutes at 7:06 pace for six or ten reps. And I was doing 400 repeats and other fast work. All of a sudden I felt like a runner again.
I could not have scripted these workouts by myself. I appreciate the knowledge and wisdom behind the workouts because I have long been familiar with the empirical nature of Jack Daniels’ training paces and the Run SMART project coaches are elite runners who have walked the walk.
Let me give you a few examples of my recent progress.
I did a 14-mile long run on 23 March. Here’s the RunKeeper screenshot for that run:
The next long run was 15 miles and was scheduled for 20 April. Before I show the chart for that run, take a look at what I did between the two long runs.
Here’s the April VDOT O2 schedule and a summary of the workouts I did between 23 March and 20 April:
3/26 – Marathon; 9 miles at Marathon Pace 8:13
3/29 – Threshold, 5 miles at 7:36 BoMF 5-miler
4/2 – Easy, Marathon, Threshold; 1 x 1mi @ 9:06/mi, 1 x 6mi @ 8:19/mi, 1 x 1mi @ 7:36/mi, 1 x 3mi @ 8:21/mi, 1 x 1mi @ 10:43/mi
4/9 – Interval; 2mi warmup, 10 x 2min @ 7:06/mi with 1 min recovery, 2mi cooldown
4/13 – Threshold; 1.5mi warmup, 1 x 3mi @ 7:50/mi, 4 x 20 second strides, 3.5mi cooldown
4/16 – Interval; 2mi warmup, 7 x 3min @ 6:58/mi with 2 min recovery, 2mi cooldown
I felt great and had to keep myself from going too fast. The last mile was a blast and felt easy at 7:45 pace. There was a huge difference in how I felt in just one month.
I went a mile farther, it only took two minutes longer, and it felt much easier.
Then I nailed my 12-mile Marathon Pace Run on 23 April. I wasn’t sure if I was capable of making the full 12 miles at the planned 8:05 pace. It turned out that I had to keep myself from going too fast again and ran at an average of 7:54 mile pace.
I’m looking forward to my upcoming marathon as much as I look forward to my hard workout days. I am running easier on easy days and harder on workout days than I ever would have on my own. And I’ve gotten into shape much faster after The Run SMART Project Supercharged my 2014 training!