The first problem when attempting to train towards something is that there is no shortage of training plans out there on the internet and in running publications. I've tried the Runner's World Smartcoach app before, but I would grow really bored of the monotony of it. Given it's a four week cycle with a taper as you approach "race day", I'm not surprised I grew bored of it. This time around I'm trying one of the 5km/10km programs in Claire Kowalchik's The Complete Book of Running for Women. I like that different plans can be connected (e.g. base level Bronze 5km to mid-level Silver 5km, or base level Bronze 5km to base level Bronze half-marathon), and that there is variation week-to-week in the interval training and that easy runs have variation in distance.
|Image from its Amazon listing.|
I had initially planned to play mix and match between the Silver and Gold levels as I had felt that I could handle the Gold interval training and long run despite my overall mileage being relatively low (and thus more Silver-like). While there are recommended paces in the text, I can't get my head around running the same pace for 400m intervals and for 1600m intervals - so I'm using the training paces from McMillan Running, which are faster than recommended for my pace (and faster for shorter intervals), but I knew I was capable of hitting those paces provided I walked the recoveries as I had tested for this before the asthma set in. I'm happy to walk recoveries as it means I put all my effort into the speed component of the run.
Of course this plan was completely thrown into disarray as I had to ease back on running thanks to the asthma symptoms (which oddly went away once the new heater at home was reinstalled, leading me to believe that perhaps the cold night air was causing the spasms). I did initially start at with the interval session from Week 1 of the Gold training program, but I couldn't finish the planned intervals despite increasing the recovery period by an additional two minutes each time. The plan was to complete a pyramid of 400m, 800m, 1200m, 800m and 400m. By the time I started the second 800m interval, my legs were pooped so I eased off and only really did a half-pyramid.
This week I went switched to the mid-level plan, where this week's interval training was 400m, 800m, 1200m. Yup, just an easier version of the advanced level with a one-week delay. I have to admit that it made changing the workouts on Garmin Connect a lot easier than entering them all in from scratch! The two plans look fairly similar, although the Gold Level starts with more intense interval training types. Also, the Gold Level intervals are generally bounded by longer warm-up and cool-down distances, along with longer intervals and/or more repeats. By missing the first Silver Level 400s & 800s session the Gold Level has an extra full pyramid and an extra rollercoaster.
|Week||Silver Level||Gold Level|
|1 (6th Oct)||400s & 800s||full pyramid|
|2 (13th Oct)||half-pyramid||taller full pyramid|
|3 (20th Oct)||full pyramid||rollercoaster|
|4 (27th Oct)||rollercoaster||mile repeats|
|5 (3rd Nov)||mile repeats||rollercoaster|
|6 (10th Nov)||steep pyramid||steep pyramid|
|7 (17th Nov)||800s||800s|
|8 (24th Nov)||400s||400s|
|Race prep (1st Dec)||300s||300s|
|Recovery (8th Dec)||half-pyramid||mini pyramid|
As my asthma had settled down I decided to stick to the recommended recovery time (and skip the additional 2 minutes I gave myself the previous week). I ended managing the interval perfectly fine. :) So I'm back on the right track - although I now need to build up my mileage and long run again!
|What's not clear here is that I was doing laps of a wetland with a short climb on one end (and thus a descent at the other). The Smashrun plot that shows elevation just wasn't as clean as this figure!|