Am I Getting Faster & Stronger?

Three years after started blogging religiously about my running workouts, I would like to assess and evaluate myself if I am getting faster or stronger.

Looking back on my past races for the past three years, I could see and feel that I had my fastest times immediately after I’ve retired from the military services. This was due to the fact that I had more time to run and I was focused to improving my best finish time in every race. However, the main factor that was instrumental in my fast times was due to my attendance to our BR “Speed” Training at the ULTRA Oval Track.

I was able to attend at least 3 sessions of “speed” training in every week at the oval track with the close supervision of our coaches. The first session for the week was done on Tuesday evenings. The Tuesday workout consisted of the usual warm-up run of one mile and then stretching exercises. After stretching almost all the muscles involved in running, we were told to do at least six (6) sets of running “drills”. These running drills prepared us to what in store for us for the evening workout.

The main menu of the Tuesday workout was a minimum of eight to ten repetitions (8-10) of 400 meter run with a time of at least 1:42 minutes. We made sure that our last four reps were becoming faster than the average time we had for the first six reps. In between these reps, we had one minute of rest. This rest was followed strictly. After the required number of reps for the day, we were told to do another 30-minute of easy run around the oval after a 3-minute rest from the last 400 meter repetition. After a period of time or months, we were able to finish a maximum of 20 repetitions for the 400-meter run at the peak of our speed training.

On Wednesdays, we do “pyramid” distance speed training. After the usual warm-up, stretching exercises and running drills, we do 3,000-meter, 2,000-meter, 1,000-meter, 2,000-meter, 3,000-meter runs at our 90% effort with 3-minute rests in between distances, in that order. This was followed with a 30-minute easy run.

On Fridays, we do 100% effort of the ¾ distance (75%) of the road race we are going to compete for the weekend or on Sunday. However, the distance we have to race for the weekend should not exceed a half-marathon race.

On weekends, if there are no scheduled road races, we do long slow distance runs, maintaining at least 85% of our effort.

These weekly workouts made me break my PRs every time I joined road races. Results? I was able to  register a 3:48+- hour marathon finish time on the later part of 2008. And later in 2009, I have registered another 3:58+-hour finish at the Subic International Marathon. These best times in my Marathon Races were the results of the consistent attendance to the BR “Speed” Training at the Oval Track.

Since I got “hooked” on ultra running events, I tend to slow down and concentrated more on my easy long runs without thinking or knowing the degree of intensity of my training. Slowly, I forgot about those “speed” training workouts and it never occurred to me to try those 3x a week speed workouts. My specific goal in my ultra running events was to finish the race within the prescribed cut-off time.

Whenever I have plans of joining a full marathon race these year, I only need to run at least three (3) long runs that exceed 32 kilometers within the span of two-month preparation and just do some “Yasso 800s” at the oval track at least 2-3 weeks before the scheduled race and all those intensity-filled running workouts were forgotten. However, I always finish my marathon race with a decent time based from the short and lesser-intensity preparation workouts. This kind of approach to my training and goal in every marathon and ultramarathon events kept me away from any kind of running-related injury.

However, after my finish at the CAMSUR Marathon last September, I started to bring back the time-paced and Jack Daniel’s Formula of Running concept in preparation for an ultra running event which I plan to join in the middle of next year. I have to see again that strip of coupon bond where my “target pace” workout was written as my reference in those BR “Speed” Training workouts. After a few weeks of training, I feel that I am slowly regaining my speed and stamina/endurance. I observed this kind of feeling during the Mt Mayon Trail Run last week. I am back again for my race-specific training workouts.

Running "Half-Naked" at the Oval Track

For the past weeks, I’ve been going back to the Oval Track at least 2-3 times a week. The tartan surface is more forgiving to the knees and legs; it is entirely flat; accurately measured; the place has a good air quality; and I could run half-naked under the heat of the sun. I have started eight repetitions of my 400-meter runs two weeks ago and had been doing 3 X 5,000-meter runs as my tempo runs since last week. My target average pace in my 400-meter runs is 1:36-1:40 minutes and my 5K tempo runs has an average pace of 5:00-5:10 mins/km. Most of my speed runs are done at 7:00 AM up to 9:00 AM.

So far, I don’t have any soreness on my legs and I could easily recover. This proves that my leg muscles are becoming stronger due to my past ultra running events and they could withstand the speed training that I am trying to re-introduce to my body system. I may not be faster as compared from the time I was religiously doing and involved in the “BR Speed Training” but I knew that I am stronger this time as I could easily bring back my level of competitive status within a short period of time.

As part of the training, I will be joining again those weekend races as part of my “feedback” or evaluation if I am improving with my finish times. So, if you see me around on these races, you are sure that I will be focused on my strides, my running form, and the goal to be attained for such particular race.

In a few days, I will embark on a multi-day adventure run (again!) for the second time this year. It is my objective to run more kilometers every day and find out how my body recovers from the effort on a day-to-day basis. In my Manila to Baguio Run, I controlled my daily mileage to 50 kilometers. However, with this future plan, I will try to increase the mileage to 60-70 kilometers a day with more intensity (faster pace) this time.

For my age of 58 ½ and after three years of maintaining this blog, I could no longer bring back those finish times when I was in my 30s. But if there is a way I could scientifically measure or translate my finish times as compared when I was younger, I have the suspicion that I am faster and stronger this time.

See you on the roads and trails!

Running "Very Light"

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