I've been running off and on for over 25 years and have learned a lot about the subject through reading and actual trial and error. But I sometimes feel like I've only scratched the surface on this topic. To complicate matters, my aging mind and body has had to adapt to less running. This is one issue that I struggle with because four years ago, I had decided to try and increase my mileage to an all time high, 70 to 100 miles a week. I set this goal in part because of my prostate cancer diagnosis and subsequent surgery.
I'm presently running 3 to 4 days per week, between 16 and 25 miles, with one speed session and one longer run of 7-8 miles. This is a far cry from where I wanted to be, but I have to be careful not to overdo things and re-injure myself. But let me get to the real reason for this post.
I have recently noticed that if I don't rest by running easier on my non-speed and long run days, my times suffer significantly. I have noticed a drop in speed on my two hard days of 15 to 20 %, which really prevents me from improving. But if I take it easy, say run 1 to 2 minutes slower than my 2 hard workouts, I have steadily gotten faster. I recently improved my times on a course by over 45 seconds. I'm confident that the reason is directly related to feeling rested and running occasionally with faster runners. I have also started to do push-ups and sit-ups every other day, which makes me feel like my core is getting stronger.
My present goal is to get back down under a 7 minute pace for 3 to 5 milers. My speed session this week was composed of two 2.25 mile tempo runs with a half mile rest jog in between. I finally broke 16 minutes for the first 2.25 after two months on trying. I'm confident that I will crack that 7 minute barrier ( 15:45) and beyond over the next month or so as long as the temperatures stays moderate. I've also had a significant improvement in 7 mile time three weeks ago. Tomorrow I intend on trying to push the pace a little to see if I can come close to that time on a nearby dirt rail trail. My best time for the 7 miles has been 53:26, which translates to a 7:38 pace. This out and back course is mostly up hill for the first 3.5 miles too.
I plan on trying to find a race to run a week from this coming Sunday. Hopefully, there are some close local races to do. Happy running.