Posted by: Karen | December 7, 2007

A Good Question

Yesterday I made to the Oval late as usual for a Thursday. The mom-taxi schedule just hasn’t worked out that kink yet. Gabino was still there, wrapping up some interviewing he’d been doing with the Dinos. He had 4 minutes of tape left, if I had a little time to answer a question or two. We talked a little bit about the mind-set of back-of-pack racers versus faster ones, and competition-based relationships.

Then he asked a question I couldn’t finish answering on tape, but it got me thinking. The question went something like, “You’re in maintenance mode in your training right now. Do you expect to train harder in the new year for some big goals, and if so, how?” (not verbatim; I can’t remember the exact words). I chewed on it overnight and here’s what I came up with, as I e-mailed to him this morning:

Next time you’ll have to bring more tape. Darnit, I think I was having a GREAT hair day yesterday.

You asked a question about maintenance mode and training harder, which probably gave me a look of befuddlement as I thought about my answer. The answer to that question is not a short one at all.

I realize the Roadrunners’ 10k training cycle and many of THEM are in maintenance mode, but personally, I’m building base for next spring already. I’ve been in maintenance mode forever. This last 5 months is the first time in 3 years that I’ve done speed and hill work this consistently. For a few winters I trained at Gord’s on Tuesdays – mostly with beginning Penguins, no speed work, occasional hills. And I did random hill repeats on my own. Last January – April I showed up on Wednesdays for hills and very random speed repeats with the Running Room, and kind of did some 5ks around the neighbourhood on Mondays on my own. I hardly did any speed work during marathon training in 06.

I’m playing catch-up right now, and shooting for a 10k PB sometime in May/June (not St. Pat’s. I’m so sick of trying to PB on that course). I’m not expecting the spring Tues/Thursday workouts to FEEL much harder, as long as I can stay consistent this winter. I’ll be accomplishing more and doing better, but not necessarily training very much HARDER than I am now.

The difference my the spring/summer training will be LONGER, not more intense. The weekend runs will be making all the difference, as long as I continue the speed/hills cycles with the 10k group. I have to work the weekend long runs firmly into the schedule and stop letting them bore/intimidate me. I need to find a way to make them something to look forward to. That’s my training challenge for 08.

Hey, thanks for asking such a theraputic question! Hope I didn’t bore you with my answer. Gabino? You can wake up now…


What do you think, oh great blog readers? Is that answer true? How do I make those longer workouts more attractive to myself next year? Should I train harder, AND longer? Go ahead, find that commenty box below and fill it in.



  1. Hi Karen,

    Well, being much more of a rookie runner than you, I don’t consider myself qualified to offer any advice. I do find that having my iPod makes ALL the difference on the long runs.

    Maybe it’s because it’s still new that I don’t get bored much… unless I’m on an indoor track. I find that mind-numbing.

    I do think it’s good to set goals and keep changing things up. Keeps it interesting!

  2. Hey Karen

    [I know I emailed this to you, but I thought I would post it now anyway. I like the dialogue we had around it.]

    I’m really just supposed to “observe” the human specimens in my video archive, but I always seem to interfere. 🙂

    And forgive me if you know most of this.

    From what I’ve read, you can add mileage or intensity, but not both. Increase mileage by 10% or less each week, and while the Dinos can do 3 quality workouts a week, most of us humans should do no more than one. Personally, I prefer adding mileage, because I’m not a huge fan of interval workouts. I can do one long tempo run a week, and each time I do it I try to get close to or improve on my best time. And my tempo runs are tuned to whatever goal race I have.

    If you want a stunning 10k, then I would work on eventually getting to tempo runs of 6k at your goal race speed. Like, you want to do a 10k in 50 minutes, then you should be running as many consecutive kms in 5 minutes. Start with trying to do 1 km in 5 minutes, and do that once a week for a month. Then 2km in 10 minutes, once a week for a month. Slowly build up your tempo runs at your goal pace so your body gets used to that goal race pace. Also do 10k runs at slower than tempo pace so you get familiar with the distance.

    I don’t personally see the point of hills and stairs unless you’re working towards something. Why risk the damage? But then again, I really suck at the CRR XC races. But I don’t mind that, if I can do a 40 minute 10k some day. For that I think tempo runs are the answer, but I’m no expert.

    Also, increase the number of runs you do each week. 3 or 4 isn’t enough for weight loss or mileage. Aim for 5 or 6 runs per week, and the only day off is after a hard run / interval / tempo. This way you can run shorter distances, get your heart rate up almost every day. Especially for us desk-bound types. Also, if you miss a run and do 4 instead of 5, it’s still good. Even an occasional 3 run week is still good if most are higher mileage.

    You only need a run longer than an hour if your racing is going to be longer than an hour.

    You’ve got enough of a base that you can work to 50k/week as a goal instead of 30k. Bit by bit.

    Try four 8k runs a week, plus one 12k run, plus one tempo run. The tempo run has a 30 minute warmup easy run, followed by a 1 or 2 k tempo speed, then a 10-20 minute cool down. If possible, always run the tempo on the same route so you can measure time and conditions accurately. Total weekly mileage increases to about 50, so add things in slowly.


  3. Some good advice but what you do should be based on the races you plan to run next year. What do you want to accomplish – a PR, a longer race or something new.


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