Kind of by accident, it seems I may have upped my training game.
It was on one of these routine Monday runs (a 3-miler on August 28th, to be exact) when I noticed the second mile's 9:33 split was substantially faster than the first mile's 10:09. I usually keep these Monday runs easy-paced, but for a split-second I felt a wave of competitiveness wash over me. Why not try to run the third mile even faster? I seldom look at my Garmin as I'm running (other than at the mile splits), so I just ran that third mile (almost blindly, LOL) with no definite idea if I was going any faster or not. When my watch buzzed at the 3-mile mark, I glanced down and saw that I'd barely bested the previous mile (9:30, a mere three seconds faster), but I couldn't help feeling victorious.
|average pace 9:44
And, my friends, that's where it all started. Little did I know, at that very moment, my easy-paced Never-Miss-a-Monday runs would be morphing into weekly progression runs for the next five weeks. I did have the IMT Des Moines Half Marathon happening on October 15th, so why not?
First off, what is a progression run?
A progression run involves starting at a relatively slow or easy pace and getting progressively faster throughout the run. It’s a pretty broad term, says Jess Heiss, certified run coach and personal trainer in Portland, Oregon, so you have lots of options for how to make it work for you. (source)
Though I do enjoy an occasional session of hill sprints, I'm not very disciplined with speed-training. After all, I do have access to the Grinnell College track close by, but I shun it (I know, #MyBad). Still, the thought of doing progression runs had some intrigue...it would allow me some speed-training without a 120% all-out effort. I'd call that a win-win! Besides, I rationalized moderate speedwork was better than no speedwork.
So, how did that work for me?
Labor Day, Sept 4th, was the next so-called progression run attempt. Being it was a holiday, I didn't have to work. I allowed myself a slight sleep-in, and headed out after I had daylight.
|average pace 9:02 (72F, with 91% humidity)
|average pace 9:03
Next, on September 18th, I found myself running in the low-50F temps, right out of bed. No, it wasn't freezing cold, but it was chilly in comparison to the previous weeks' antics.
|average pace 9:09
The following week, on September 25th, I kept the run short (just a 2-miler). The day prior was the Mollie Tibbetts Memorial Run, a 5.5-mile endeavor on a very hilly route, so this Monday run was all about recovery (well, sort of).
|average pace 10:14
The grand finale was on a hot day, October 2nd, after work. It's no secret I love the heat! Thankfully, the warm weather conditions (usually) don't affect me much, and this run felt really, really great. It also gave me a huge boost of confidence going into taper for the IMT DSM 13.1.
|average pace 9:16 (88F temps)
***While I was able to pull-off negative splits on all of these Monday runs, my finish times were all over the map. As mentioned, I seldom let the Garmin dictate my pace. I've always been a "run-by-feel" runner, rather than a "hit-XYZ-pace" kind of gal. That rings true for training runs and on race day.
***Looking back, I noticed that none of these runs were on the exact same route. The weather conditions varied each week as well. Some were run in the morning, some were after work. One of them was only two miles in distance. Truthfully, I think they would have been boring (for me) had I done them all in the exact same manner. Also, there's no telling what Momma N will serve-up for race day conditions, so I think keeping the routes varied is beneficial.
An interesting tidbit, just last week I noticed the "predictions" feature on Garmin Connect. My trusty Garmin seems to think I have the potential to PR my half marathon finish time. Hmmm, we shall see.
Your thoughts...Speed-training: yay or nay? Do you have a favorite method of incorporating speedwork into your training? Have you ever done a series of weekly time trials?