So for a change of pace (ha!), I am focusing my current training on speed. I want to document my training plan here so that later I can look back and re-evaluate, tweak and improve.
I'm following a speedwork plan developed by my favorite running guru, Jeff Galloway. I do one speed session each week, running around Daffin Park because the path is marked at every quarter mile. The basics are this: 5-10 minute warmup walk/jog, then 3 acceleration gliders. This involves running 10 steps really slowly, then 10 steps at normal training pace, and then 20 steps in an all-out sprint before gliding back down into a slow jog. I'm pretty sure the other runners at Daffin think I've lost my mind with all the speeding up and slowing back down.
After that, I run 800 meters (1/2 mile) as hard as I can, and the goal I set was to run that distance in under 5:15 minutes (I've been averaging about 4:30, so yay!). I do this three times and nearly fall over. Then I repeat the acceleration gliders and call it a day.
The funny thing is, I measure the whole workout (not just the 800-meter intervals), and my overall pace on speedwork days is usually slower than my other training runs. I get so out of breath during those 1/2 mile runs that I have to walk for a while to regain my composure before starting the next interval.
From what I understand, the point of all these gliders and intervals is to help my body learn how to run more efficiently, and therefore more quickly. I get to test the theory next Friday when I run my next 5K. I've only been doing the speedwork for a month, so I don't know if that's long enough to see any real change. I would really love to run a sub-30-minute 5K this year, but that would mean shaving more than three minutes off my most recent race time. I think that should be do-able this year, but I may not be there just yet. We shall see!