I am having a crisis of faith, and it started on Sunday with a terrible long run. By the time I stepped out for my 6 miler, it was 95°F...of course it did not look that hot, so I thought I would just go for a quick run at a good pace and left without even a drink. After 2 miles, I was soaking wet, and feeling terrible. I walked the rest of the way home. Come Monday (a rest day), I ran the remaining 4 miles, and was that an effort! It was so hard that I started questioning the type of training programme I am following. Needless to say, these doubts are compounded by reading other people's blogs - people who are pounding out miles and miles and more miles.
So on Tuesday I looked at another programme which has quite a lot of miles per week, and began to think about switching programmes. Not ideal, but I was feeling slightly desperate: I do not want to get to November 21 and find that I do not have the 'legs' to get through it. I had a quick chat with Stuart who felt that my current programme is of a better quality with regard to the type and intensity of workouts. I also had a chat with a colleague of mine who only does triathlons, but her response left me dissatisfied. Why can't people think outside their own little boxes for once??
Well, Tuesday's training was HR1 mile E, 6x1 min HR, 1 mile E. Did the first mile on a 2% incline, then 6 x1 @ 6% and 6.5 mph. Last mile at 1 and a half % incline. I Felt a bit better after my previous 2 runs, but not much since by now I was in the midst of a full crisis of faith. After yet another unsatisfying conversation with another colleague, who seemed convinced that one has to run quantitatively, I took matters into my own hands.
I emailed the creator of the programme directly, and have spelled out my concerns to him. This is a beginner's marathon programme that I found in Women's Running (May/June 2009). It has been designed by Matt Fitzgerald, who also writes for Triathlete. In fact, I first got to know him through that magazine, and always liked his advice and approach to tri training. When I saw his marathon programme (that was not geared towards triathletes), it seemed like a gift from the gods.
So whilst I am waiting to hear back from him, I have also read a bit more about his approach to training. Matt's approach is that Feel Good Training = Better Results. No, he is not advocating cruising along, doing little or no work. He believes that runners should train by feel. The reason is that how a runner feels during runs and about his or her running generally at any given time is the most sensitive and reliable indicator of how well the training process is going. The mind and the body are deeply interconnected. He goes on to say that "There are two enemies of feeling good in training. The first, as I’ve already suggested, is lack of fitness. If you train too lightly to stimulate steady improvement in your fitness, you will not enjoy your training as much as you would if you worked harder, suffered more, and grew stronger for your pains. The second enemy of feeling good in training is fatigue. The more fatigue you carry into a workout, the lousier you will feel, regardless of your fitness level. Therefore, maximizing your enjoyment in training requires that you minimize fatigue".
So far so good, but what does this translate into? It would seem that he proposes shorter and better quality workouts, rather than just grinding out the miles. I have to say that on the few long runs I have done thus far, it does feel as though I am running at a more consistent pace with each mile, rather than falling off midway.....still, Sunday is a 12 mile run, and I am anxious to see how that works out. In the meantime, I will do a short test today, with my 4 mile Easy run. Has anyone else ever had a crisis of faith with their training programmes? If so, what did you do about it?