Now that I’m running regularly, it’s time to pick a “goal race”: a race where I train to run a specific time, rather than just running for the fun/experience/medal.
My goal race
My goal race is the Brooklyn Half Marathon, on May 18. I ran this race in 2017, as I was finishing my base-building for the NYC Marathon, and I ran the race in 1:53something. At the time, this was almost a 5-minute PR, and I was absolutely elated! Although parts of the course are boring, the course is relatively flat, and it’s easy to break it into mental “chunks” to help pass the time. I have a bit over two months to try and get back into running shape, and I’m going to do my best to train for a time that makes me proud.
my goal time
My goal time is 1:56, which is about 5:30 min/km or 8:50 min/mile. I know this goal is ambitious, but I’ve done it before, and I will do it again…even if it doesn’t happen in May.
How will I do it?
In short: speed work!
In the past, when I’ve trained for races I always made sure to get the miles in…but that was about it. I’d do the occasional speed workout, but those happened to be the workouts that just didn’t fit as conveniently into my schedule. Not anymore! I know that I need to do speed work in order to…regain my speed. Obvious, I know. adidas Runners Tel Aviv offers three speed workouts (2 interval workouts and 1 tempo run) a week, and I plan to attend as many of these runs as possible while I’m still in Tel Aviv. When I return to NYC, I’ll attend the Dashing Whippets workouts–they have two speed workouts a week, and I’ll make make attending these workouts a priority.
Speed workouts? Intervals? tempo run? What language is this?
I promise this is English, it’s just super runner-specific. Allow me to explain. Speed work are running workouts which improve a runner’s speed. They usually involve very specific paces, according to the runner’s ability/current speed, as well as their target race speed. This means that the times depend entirely on the runner. It also means that in order to complete these workouts, you need to know the pace at which you run. For me, this is easy because I have a Garmin running watch. The watch tells me my pace. Boom. Easy peasy.
Interval workouts are workouts where you run intervals–alternating between running “fast” and “slow”. The slower running is done to break up the faster runs. For example, my goal half marathon pace is 5:30 min/km, or 8:50min/mile. Right now, I can’t run that for 13.1mi/21.1km. But can I run this speed for 2 minutes at a time, times 9? With slower running for 1.5 minutes in between? Yes I can! And over time, I’ll be able to run that pace for longer and longer, until I can run it for the entire distance.
Tempo runs are runs done at a specific, usually semi-challenging pace. Again, the goal is to get your body used to running at that speed, and also develop/strengthen lung capacity.
Both of these types of workouts are important. For me, the interval workouts are much more doable when I run with a group. I can do tempo workouts on my own, but only if I have the willpower to not take walk breaks. And the more challenging the pace, the greater the chance I’ll want a walk break. So basically, if I want to run at a targeted pace, I need other people to help keep me accountable.
For now, my focus is on running 4-5 days a week, and attending the speed workouts. I’ll add in longer runs (for me right now, that’s anything longer than 10km/6.2mi) in two weeks. Right now, I have 3 weeks of solid/regular running, so I want to reinforce this schedule, before adding in the “dreaded” long runs. Plus, I’m running a 10K this Friday and another 10K next Friday…and I don’t feel like tacking on any extra KMs.
To help keep myself accountable, I will now write short weekly recaps of my runs. My main goal with this is to minimize the number of times I write, “I went and ran, but was slow and also took a million rest breaks.” If I’m going to put this out on the internet, I want to be proud of the effort I’m investing. Fingers crossed, this helps!