It was the weirdest thing. Sunday, I decided — after reading a great article on it in January’s Running Times magazine — that I would use the Run Less Run Faster, or Furman’s FIRST, advanced 5K plan to train for a speedier 5K in March. I’ve also heard good things about it from other runners. I ordered the book from Amazon that day and used my 2-day shipping for fast delivery. I expected to get it Wednesday.
I found the FIRST training program I wanted online on Sunday, but I didn’t know how to make sense of it, which is why I ordered the book (note: I’m beginning on Week 9). On Monday, after dog-showing it solo with Bennie, I was itching to start my new training to calm my frazzled nerves. I had the workout — track repeats — but I didn’t know what times I needed to run them in. I was desperately searching the Internet, hoping to find some clues as to how to calculate my times when the dogs started barking and there was a light double-knock on the door.
Annoyed because T Junior was napping, I quietly yelled at the dogs, and got up off the couch. I peeked through the peep-hole and saw a delivery van backing out of my driveway. “What in the…?” I opened the door.
There, on the cold concrete, was a padded envelope addressed to me. The book!
It was as if the RLRF authors knew I needed to get started now! I ripped open the envelope and settled onto the couch, my Excel training spreadsheet open on my laptop next to me. About 30 seconds later, T Junior came down the stairs, and 30 seconds after that, Mr. T walked in the door — home early because we are having some snow storms here in the Seattle area, and even though it snows every year here, we continue to pretend like it doesn’t and then freak out when it does.
I had to put the book down for a bit. But when I was able to pick it up later, I finally had my workout. The only problem: It was all in meters. I don’t know meters. Neither does my treadmill (and I was not finding a track…in the snow…at 8 p.m.). So, I used Bing to translate 200, 400, 600, 800 meters into miles. Then I used DailyMile to convert the times in to pace/mile. (Later, I learned about this pace calculator here from my fabulous DM friends!)
Finally, at 8:39 p.m., I stepped onto my treadmill. Here’s what happened:
I ran a little over 10 minutes and sped up the treadmill a few times in the middle to do some strides. I moved the treadmill up to a .5% incline. I once read somewhere that a 1% incline more closely mimics the outdoors, but this was supposed to be a flat track, so I compromised.
200 meters (about .13 miles) @ 7:16 pace
My treadmill doesn’t do exact paces. A 7:12 pace was the closest I could get to 7:16, but RLRF had cautioned against going faster than the planned pace, so I quickly changed it to the next closest available pace: 7:19. This is hard, I thought, but it’ll be over quick. And it was.
200 m Recovery Interval
The 7:19 had felt fast and so I just hit any low-numbered button to slow myself. Most of my Recovery Intervals were done between a 10-12 pace, except for once.
400 m (about .25 miles) @ 7:16 pace (actual 7:19)
This was harder, but I was able to hang on even though I couldn’t hear my music through my pounding feet. Trying to figure out at what mileage I needed to stop and start the intervals became increasingly difficult as math is not my strong point, but math on a treadmill is basically impossible.
400 m RI
600 m (about .37 miles) @ 7:28 pace (actual 7:30)
Again 7:30 was the closest I could get to the time on my treadmill without going under. About half way through, I felt my stomach lurch. I immediately regretted the dinner I’d eaten two hours prior (two pancakes with syrup, two pieces of bacon and an egg scrambled in bacon grease).
400 m RI
800 m (about .5 miles) @ 7:24 pace (actual 7:30)
Honestly, I didn’t even try to see if there was a closer pace on the treadmill. 7:30 had been hard enough before, I knew it would be tough for a half-mile.
800 m RI
800 m @ 7:24 pace (actual 7:30)
Thought: I’m going to die. I’m AT LEAST going to pants my poop. When the Lakers game went to commercial and I had nothing else to get my mind off the pain, I hit “stop.” I was at about 400 m. I took about a 10-second breather. I began running again at a 15:00 pace, then bumped it up to 10:00 for the remainder of the repeat, then lowered it to 12:00 for the recovery interval.
400 m RI
600 m @ 7:28 pace (actual 7:30)
I willed myself to make through this one. I barely did. I promised myself I was almost done!
400 m RI
400 m @ 7:16 pace (actual 7:19)
Then I realized I had to go at a 7:19 pace again. Crap. This actually felt easier than the first time, though, which is odd.
400 m RI
200 m @ 7:16 pace (actual 7:19)
Still easier than the first time. Thoughts: I cannot wait for the cooldown!
10 minute cooldown
I began at a 12-minute pace and then gradually increased it to about a 10-minute pace for the middle minutes, then slowed it down again at the end. I ended up walking for about a quarter-mile after the cooldown, too. I stretched briefly before, in and after a shower.
- The sweatiest, most difficult workout I’ve done since my sub-2 training over the summer.
- I am going to find a track because I’d rather do these off of the treadmill.
- I can’t wait to try Wednesday’s workout.
- I hope Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred and Yoga Meltdown workouts are good enough for cross/strength training. I may go back to the pool, but it’s too cold for biking (yes, I’m a wimp when it comes to the bicycle — I need an indoor trainer).
Here’s my question to all you experienced RLRFers out there: I calculated my paces to train for a faster 5K off my most recent race time, which was the 24:42 5K in December. Does that make sense? Or should I have used my 10K time of 49:48 from October (which actually gives me faster training times)? I probably should figure that out…
I would have to say that if you are training for a 5K then you should use the latest 5K training time. With the 5k times you struggled in this workout. If the 10k times are faster it would be even harder. If this was a breeze, I would say go faster. But I am only imagine that the training plan has you lower the times as well. Stick with this for now and gauge the difficulty. when you can finish all the repeats and it doesn’t feel like you are puking, then you can go faster!
great job so far!
Yes, that is true! The paces based off the 10K time were lower and seemed too fast for my current fitness level.
If you aren’t reasonable about it, you’ll get hurt. Just do what you can. Not being able to do the full 800 tells me that these paces are a good place to start!
I would start with the most recent race results as your pace guide (the 5k) but if you find you are finishing the workouts and have juice left in the tank or are recovering quickly after each repeat/tempo run, then bump up the speed to the next level. Better to start slower and ease into it than do too much too fast and mess yourself up. You can even bump up in a couple weeks if you feel the workouts are too easy. I LOVE THIS PROGRAM! I love the structure, having something to work for during each run. You will be happy with the results 🙂
I know you love it; it’s one of the reason’s I was considering it. 🙂
I agree with Alma. Oh, and she’s a great resource for RLRF questions.
Go with the recent 5K time. I am not what you would call an experienced RLRF runner but I did read the book and follow the program once, and from what understand you should use a recent race result as your gauge. You can always email the authors (Bill Pierce). Believe it or not, they are pretty responsive. Good luck! RLRF is a tough program but it definitely works if you stick to it.
Thanks. Good to know they author is available to answer questions!
Wow, sounds like an INTENSE workout! I can’t even imagine! So, when is your next 5K? I can’t wait to hear your results from the program!
Aw, the LADDER!! Man, those are killer workouts! It hurts so bad when you’re doing it, but great reward once done, right?! Great Job Kerri!! I literally studied that book and had a notebook full of notes when I used it last spring. You’re gonna be soooo fast this year!
Great run! I’m also trying to follow the Run Less Run Faster plan (somewhat, definitely not as hardcore as it is because it is hard core, just like your workout!) to reduce the overuse injuries I always get. I hope it works (for you and I!)!
Great job on a tough workout!
I realllllly like the RLRF program. I gained so much speed & endurance when I used it last summer/fall.
I can’t wait to continue to follow along on your training with it 🙂
Hi Kerrie, I’m also following the RLRF program. I really love it. I run a winter series of 5k races and I use it to get faster, tracking my progress during the series. The first race in December I use as my baseline for my paces. I ran 24:40 in December then started the program. In January I ran 23:16 and so adjusted my paces. Even if you don’t run a 5k for your time, you’ll probably wind up adjusting your paces too since the current paces will start to feel easier. I followed the plan last year after not running for a while due to anemia. It’s definitely easier to follow this year! This year I started following it after two months of not running due to runner’s knee, which is another great reason to use it. I love the cross training part too. I could never run the paces I do now before using this plan.
Please post your progress. I’d love to see how the plan works out for you!! Have fun with it 🙂