The Canberra Running Festival is a week away and I’ve set myself a goal of 1 hour 55 minutes for the half marathon. I hope I don’t embarrass myself! I ran my first marathon (YMCA) last year in one hour 58 minutes.
As an older runner I know I could not manage the traditional ‘Arthur Lydiard’ training concept of high mileage (something like 100 miles plus a week!). I do know though, that building up a solid base is necessary preparation for a marathon – even a half marathon. For the past month I have been running 45km a week and hope to increase this in the second half of the year to 60-70km a week.
What I have learnt so far is – it isn’t all about a base of 45km or more a week. At least not if I want to improve my time. It is also very important to put in some hard runs. Despite the very early 6am start I have really enjoyed running with the Wednesday Wests who meet to run 16km around the Lake Burleigh Griffin Western Basin each Wednesday morning. For me this is a hard run. With encouragement from other members of the group, especially veteran ultra-marathon runner Pam Munston, I have learnt to ‘run with the pack’ even if it is a struggle to keep up (some weeks I do lag toward the end of the second half). This weekly structured run really challenges me to work harder than I would normally do if I were running alone. I can feel myself getting stronger and maintaining the pace for longer. It’s a good feeling!
This mid week run combined with a longer run, 18-20km each Sunday, has been great preparation for my upcoming half marathon. I know I can go the distance. What I still don’t know is – how fast?
While the weekly 5km Parkruns have been a fun (I love them!) way to do some faster pace running – I decided a few weeks ago I really need to work even more on my speed. I have tried a few short high intensity sessions on my own but it is very hard to stay motivated when working alone. It’s too easy to just stop as soon as my breath becomes laboured.
Two weeks ago I finally started interval training at Stromlo Forest Park with Bruce Graham. To do this I have had to forgo the Parkrun as they are both on at the same time every Saturday. I am the slowest runner in the group but I don’t mind – and even better – the group doesn’t seem to mind. In two weeks I have already learnt so much including the fact I can push myself more than I ever thought possible. There is no way I would have ever done a set involving 6 minutes at close to maximum pace followed by a 60 second rest followed by 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 minute at maximum pace all with a minute break between. It was tough but is sure felt good to have done it, even though my rests were extended to 90 seconds not 60 like everyone else.
I don’t want to give up Parkruns altogether so my plan is to do at least one, maybe two, a month – at least for the first half of the year.
Fingers crossed for the half marathon Sunday 9 April.