>> Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Let me make my point with my "racing timeline" along with my thoughts during that given year. (If you'd like more info on any race that I mention, check out the sidebar under the given year.)


It was my second year of triathlon, and I was ONLY working on endurance. I did my first Half Ironman and my first (and so far only) Ironman. My finishing times weren't anything fantastic (5:49 half and 13:53 full), but I was in it to "get through it," and that's how I approached my training.

Pharmie and I after doing IM WI 2007 (her second IM)

About 6 weeks after that IM, I wanted to see if I could break 21:00 in a 5K. It was around Halloween, so I dressed up:

The Monster Dash 5K, 2007

I shocked myself by running a 19:28 5K, and I felt like I could go faster.

The next weekend, I WON my first race by posting a 19:11 finishing time at the Tesfa 5K. I worked on running some shorter runs HARD, and by Thanksgiving, I ran a 18:48 5K PR.

Giving Thanks 5K, 2007


I started marathon training in early March. That marathon training plan had me running intervals on the track every week. I'd never done so much speed work before. I was starting to FEEL fast. Near the end of March, I ran a 17:26 5K at the Joe Plant Memorial Run - a personal best that would hold up for 2 more years!

Hitting the line and looking for my time!
(Also, the debut of the "bowl full of sunshine" shorts!)

I swore then and there that doing regular speed work was the key to running fast. But, all that regular speed work also tends to make chronically injured runners more injured. My heel started acting up.

That fall, I ran the Tesfa 5K again, and I lowered my time on the same course from the year before by 30 seconds per mile and finished with my second fastest 5K time ever: 17:48.

Jon and I after the 2008 Tesfa 5K


Nothing really stands out in 2009. I did a Half IM at the start of the year, and then some shorter races throughout the year. I still was trying to hit the track to keep up my speed - I still swore by "the speed of the track."


I was building my mileage slowly, but I was still hitting the track pretty regularly. That combo lead to my current 5K PR on a certified course:

Flying to the finish of a 17:11 5K

I set my current 13.1 PR about a month after that 5K with a 1:22 performance in WI. I started realizing that having a lot of endurance was helping my shorter distance speed. I had some 10+ mile runs under my belt before that 5K (as part of my training for the half mary), and that endurance helped carry me through that last mile of the 5K while working hard and hurting (my closing mile was 5:19).

A few months later, I set my Oly Tri PR of 2:15:37, and I got my first Age Group win in a Tri:

Liberty Olympic Triathlon

Finally, that fall I worked with Coach Jen, and she had me put in some of my biggest mileage weeks to get me to my big goal for the year: a sub-60:00 10 mile at the TC 10 Mile. She only had me hit the track ONCE in 8 weeks, but she worked in a lot of race pace miles as I posted about last week. I remember telling her that I was nervous NOT running on the track for such a length of time. She built my endurance up, and "played" with my speed now-and-then.

Nearing the finish of a 59:05 10 mile


My 2 good running performances in 2011 don't really add much to this conversation right now, but I can still point them out. Early this year, I ran my first indoor 5000 Meters, and I finished in 17:17:

25 laps is hella-fun

And then a few weeks later, I ran a 1 mile at the Meet of the Miles in a personal best of 4:49:

Post race

Looking back, here's what I realized:

- When I started doing intervals, I started getting fast. But WHEN did I start doing intervals? It was during my training for my first marathon. Looking back NOW, I don't know how much speed was from the INTERVALS and how much was from the LONG RUNS. I assumed it was from the interval workouts that I was able to run a 17:26 5K PR back in 2008, but I was also running 15 mile long runs at that point.

- I didn't point much out in 2009, but I did note that 2009 started with a Half IM in April (in New Orleans). That built up my endurance very quickly, and I could sort of "ride" on that endurance for a few months as I then worked on my speed. I didn't realize that then, but I can see that now.

- Last fall, Coach Jen proved to me that it was NOT all about speed work. I needed to build my endurance. Pure and simple. I had the short-distance speed, but I couldn't sustain anything near that for races much longer. Her longer runs got me there.

So, here's my "Tip of the Week:"

With regards to SPEED and ENDURANCE, work on your weakest of the 2! If you can run forever, but you aren't very fast, try some intervals or fartleks (hee hee) now and then. (Sorry, I can't say "fartlek" without giggling.) If you can run shorter races pretty fast, but you don't have that speed (or similar speed) in longer races, work in more longer runs. If you work on your weaker area, you WILL become a better runner!

I kind of think of it this way: if you go out fast in a race (but at a pace you think you SHOULD be able to sustain) but get winded right away, WORK ON SPEED with intervals. If you can maintain a solid pace throughout a race but end up really dying at the end, WORK ON ENDURANCE with more long runs. That's not a perfect rock-solid theory, but that's how I'm simplifying it.

Happy training everyone! We'll see how my slight lack of endurance this year will treat me at the TC 10 Mile THIS WEEKEND!!


Alecia@tincantreader 7:55 AM, September 28, 2011  

You explained the tighty whiighties for the Halloween race, but you didn't explain a second round of tighty whighties for the Thanksgiving race.

Carolina John 7:58 AM, September 28, 2011  

Yep, you nailed it. Right where my head is on speed and endurance. I'm trying not to have many training runs faster than an 8:00 pace to work the endurance aspect for IMFL. Then it's going to be back to the track for some speed.

Kurt @ Becoming An Ironman 8:45 AM, September 28, 2011  

My training has definitely been endurance oriented since I've shot for Half Irons, Half Marys, and my first full mary next month.

It's an ironic time for this post since I've been thinking about how to add in speed work to next year's training regime since I would really like to start cutting some time. Thanks for person input!

Suzy 11:26 AM, September 28, 2011  

Thanks for the tip. I'm trying to plan out 2012 and it may affect what I am going to run.

Mark Baker 11:34 AM, September 28, 2011  

And if I need to work on speed and endurance?

Seriously, that makes sense. And I need to try to work both types of run into my running instead of just hitting the same runs over and over again. (Still even that is better than two years ago.)

Julie D 2:11 PM, September 28, 2011  

Good tips! I always feel like my downfall is my lack of endurance, not speed. My speed is where it needs to be to meet my marathon goal, so I'm happy to know that all my long runs (albeit slow) will help me overall.

Renee,  10:50 PM, September 28, 2011  

I'll be handing out water at mile 7 of the TC10. I want to recognize you when you speed by. Will you be wearing happy pants, bowl full of sunshine, tidy whites or some other fun attire??

Steve Stenzel 8:42 AM, September 29, 2011  

Renee, I'm most likely going to be wearing what I wore last year for the TC 10 Mile (as seen in this post). I'm planning on wearing the yellow shorts and the calf sleeves. If it's a warmer day (like they're talking about), I MIGHT wear a sleeveless shirt instead of that red one with sleeves, but I'm 99% sure I'll be wearing the yellow shorts and the calf sleeves on my lower half. I'll look for someone yelling for me at the mile 7 water stop!!

SteveQ 11:14 AM, September 29, 2011  

I think you're making the logical fallacy of "post hoc ergo prompter hoc." Just because you improved after doing something doesn't mean you improved because of it. You're still new enough at racing that you would've improved regardless of how you trained... Still, I'm a little jealous!

Steve Stenzel 7:30 PM, September 30, 2011  

SteveQ: I think you're on to something there. I was still early in my "running life," so maybe anything would have made me faster. So maybe this is less about how I got fast, and more about how I got fast THIS QUICK.

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