If, during any part of the last few years, you were the coffee junkie that I’m now trying hard to no longer be, then surely you’ve seen the quote on a Starbucks cup:
“The irony of commitment is that it’s deeply liberating…”
There were lots of other quotes like it, but this one seemed to impact people a little more than the rest. There’s even a blog named for the quote.
I first read this quote-on-a-cup at the same time as I was discovering its message for myself, through—what else—marathon training. I don’t know that I agree entirely with it: To me, “liberating” isn’t quite the word to describe commitment. I would replace it with “not that sucky, and potentially really awesome.”
It has been over five months since I’ve trained seriously. I can’t say I feel much guilt about that—after all, this Saturday I’ll be running my second 50K in a span of three months. It tells me I’ve come a long way as a runner when a race schedule like that is considered “time off.” But really, it has been relaxing. And after focusing so hard on qualifying for Boston in October, I absolutely needed the break.
But as I’ve alluded to recently, I have missed that feeling of commitment to a goal. It’s time to get back out there, to diligently pound out those track workouts, tempo runs, and long runs, one of each per week. I don’t even feel that I need a goal. I just need that structure, that feeling that every week I can run just a little bit faster or farther than I could the week before.
Run Less, Run Faster
I’ve decided to do the workouts from the book Run Less, Run Faster (Amazon affiliate link) again to get back into racing shape. This was the training program that finally pushed me past the 3:10 marathon barrier (with one modification, which I’ll explain).
I’d recommend this program not to first-time runners but to anyone who has run a distance before and wants to get faster at that distance. Here’s the premise.
You do three running workouts per week: one speed workout, one tempo run, and one long run. On two of the days between them, you cross train with swimming, cycling, or some other low-impact activity. All the paces are specified based on your current ability level, and to some extent, your goal.
Now, here’s the modification I made, and it’s a big one, given the title of the book: Don’t run less. Do easy runs in place of the cross-training.
I realize this is going against the whole premise of the book. I tried running less in early 2009, and I got hurt. I have no idea if that was the reason, but I did note that I missed running easy, as there’s none of that in this program.
But on the way to getting hurt, I fell in love with the workouts in this book. So I kept them, and threw out the “Run Less” part. I ran easy on two or three off days per week, and kept everything else the same.
The striking feature of this program, and what I credit with most of the 10 minutes I knocked off of my previous marathon time, is that you do long runs near your race pace. This is in stark contrast to most other programs I’ve done, where I’m always made to feel guilty for running any faster than 1-2 minutes slower than race pace on my long run days. In Run Less, Run Faster, I built up to a 20-mile run at 7:30 pace—a mere 15 seconds per mile slower than my Boston-qualifying pace.
A final feature I enjoyed: While you can customize the training programs to whatever your ability or goal, the training programs for the 16 different Boston-qualifying paces are pre-made, so there’s no need to figure anything out.
Along with going vegetarian and a lot of hard work, I credit this training program with my qualifying for Boston. The information you need is there; it’s just a matter of making it happen.
Please note: I earn commissions on purchases from Amazon through the links in this post.
This post is part of 10-part series on qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Check out the rest!