I had a similar post a while back where I mused about getting out and trying to work on two different elements of training. It isn't a great idea, as I have found that most coaches, including myself, instruct curious runners to select a goal, and make sure every action in the training plan is a worthwhile effort to achieve a specific goal.
For example, Runner #1 wants to improve their mile time. This typically involves lots of running drills to work on form and conservation/elimination of stuff that does nothing that wastes energy. There is also the element of a longer distance run, but it is down on the list of priorities. Hill repeats are also important, but the most important element is hot, sweaty, dirty speed. Track repeats in succession are usually the ticket here. Burn, baby, burn!
Runner #2 wants to improve their marathon time. This calls for some speed work, but it is usually less intensity, longer rep, sustained speed work. 800's at a moderate clip. Hills and tempo runs are also good, but the crux of a marathon plan is to increase the base of mileage and make being on one's feet for multiple hours as comfortable as possible.
Right now I am looking at my goals and thoughts, and I want to focus on being fit enough to run the Pisgah 50k in September, and the Olympus is really the GAC 50 miler in November. Obviously the key to this goal is to get out and increase that long run, and get comfortable with a run/walk progression, while also working with refeuling and nutrition schemes.
Deep down, though, I still have a little of an unresolved desire to get faster in general. My training so far this year has been all about going longer, which is great, but now I am thinking I want to test the waters with a little speed.
One thought has been to modify the "couch to 5k" training plan offered all over the place, and instead of using the walk/run method, I'll modify and work on run/run fast method. This makes the walking sections more of a controlled jog, and the 'run' segments a 'run faster' section. This way I am teaching my body how to run fast again, which may, in turn, help with the 50 mile training.
Right now I have no desire to get back into road racing, I am at home on the trails among friends, but it really would be nice to head to a 5k and clock in under 7:00/mile pace. Ultimately, I'd like to one day venture back under 20 minutes for 5k and get back into my old days of sub 40 minute 10ks. It is funny how when I was just getting into long distance running, I ran a road 10k in 38:27 and was disappointed. Oh, if I had only known then.... :-).
Let me be clear, the fact that I am able to run at all now is WONDERFUL. I spent too many years as a sedentary lump. So everything running related these days is a bonus and a blessing.
The trail goes on forever, and the party never ends!
Happy trails everyone!
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