I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve still been running, and running quite a bit. More than 100 miles in October. But it’s been a lot of very slow (even for me), very boring miles, and I haven’t made the time to write about it.
A few weeks ago I signed up for a heart rate half marathon training plan through Train Like a Mother, which is the training arm of Another Mother Runner (“AMR”). I’ve been listening to the AMR podcasts for a few years now. Last year they did an episode launching the heart rate training program, and their guest was the HR coach, MK Fleming. Everything that MK said made so much sense, and I loved her instantly and knew I wanted to work with her someday. But at the time I was already in the middle of training for my first marathon, so I knew it would have to wait.
This fall the timing seemed right. Since being cleared to run I’ve been slowing working my way back to fitness, but I’m still nowhere near fit enough to tackle a new goal. I’m already signed up for the Shamrock Half Marathon in the spring, and I really wanted to try for a big PR there. I really liked the 80/20 program I did for Shamrock last year, but I wasn’t too excited about doing the exact same program over again. Plus, I already knew that HR training is tough. It sucks to not be able to keep up with your friends, and to look at Strava and see that your running buddies that you used to keep up with are running several minutes per mile faster than you are. I wanted to continue HR training, but I felt like I needed some emotional backup. Via the Facebook page, Strava group, and the opportunity to talk to MK during office hours, the Train Like a Mother program gives me just that.
In a nutshell, this training plan involves spending a lot of time running VERY slowly. Most of the runs on the plan so far have been either Easy Effort (heart rate under 140 bpm) or Recovery (heart rate under 120(!!!!) bpm) runs. None of the runs is shorter than an hour. I do get to do some “speed” work, but so far the speed part has been very, very short. Like pickups for 20 seconds. So far, most of my easy effort runs have been 12-13 minute miles and my recovery “runs” have been 17-18 minute miles, which is mostly either walking or a shuffling approximation of running that is probably even slower than my walking pace.
Running this way is extremely frustrating, at least so far. I definitely wouldn’t be able to do it if I didn’t really believe that it will work, or if I didn’t have the support of the other mother runners on the Facebook page. Other than the once-a-week “free runs” on the plan, I haven’t even tried to run with other people because I would be so far behind that it wouldn’t be worth it.
The training plan also involves mini-strength training sessions six days a week. Some are body weight exercises, some are on the bosu, and some use resistance loops. I REALLY like this aspect of the plan. If I have to go to the gym and/or take an hour-long class for strength training, it’s not going to happen. But five minutes is always doable. And I like that the routines are specifically geared toward running.
Next week I’m running the Norfolk Harbor Half Marathon, a race I signed up for back in March. At the time I signed up, I hoped to go for another big PR on this flat, fast course. Now, my goal is to have fun, finish strong, and focus on the long game.