Hello, I started running about 2 years ago and I'm trying to balance training for half marathons and also for Obstacle Course Races. I'm 31 and before 2 years ago I never ran farther than a mile in my life.
I'm signed up for my first half marathon in October and my 5K PR is 24:30 which I just set last week. Two weeks ago I also got my first top 100 finish at an OCR at the Superhero Scramble. My training tends to be about 60% street running, 30% bodyweight exercises, 10% trail running, but the trouble I'm running into now is that as I increase the amount of running I do in a week I'm having much more trouble recovering. Recently I've increased to about 20 miles in a week. A month ago I pushed my long run to 11 miles and finished feeling good at an 8:45 pace, but last week I tried to push it to 12 and ended up not being able to continue due to knee pain after 9 miles at 9:15 pace.
Any advice for balancing my training in a way that I'm able to increase my distance, incorporate all the functional fitness for the OCRs, and still be able to recover?
Full disclosure, I ran three OCRs in the last month all of which were very hilly and two of which are 9+ miles, so that may be playing a big factor.
Ahhh... the "how much should I / can I train" conundrum....
There are tons of training programs and regiments available online, but ultimately it will be you that modifies the selected program to suit your abilities and goals. One thing holds true: the more miles you do, the better your endurance. But the more time you spend on your feet, the greater the opportunity for injury (and yes, you will injur yourself - it happens, but you will recover...). Your knee issue may have been a result of that, who knows. And remember that if you continue to train while injured, you will remain injured.
You have a lot of time until your HM in October, so my very humble advice (I am not a trainer) would be to select and modify a HM training program to get you to a long run of 12-14 miles, build a nice base of 25-30+ miles per week (whatever is most comfortable and practical to you), with one day a week of speed work. For the rest of your runs, just run comfortably, run within yourself. If you have the gene, speed will come.
Depending on your athletic conditioning, run 4-6 days per week, with some level of cross training (non-impact exercise) for one or two of those non-running days. Use one day per week as pure rest - no running - no crosstraining.
Most of the HM training programs are in the 8 to 10 week range, but you can repeat a series of weeks as it suits you. Just make sure to remember to taper before your HM and that your last long run (like a 12 or 14 miler) should occur no sooner than 2 weeks prior to your HM.
Key thing to remember: arrive to the starting line healthy. Failing that, you are not going to have much fun. Thus the emphasis on building your endurance.
Good luck and let us know how it goes!
(what do I know...? I'm just getting old...)
Everyone is different, but it sounds like you might be pushing yourself too hard and need to back off a little. I usually run 3-4 times a week. I have found if I do more than 4 days a week I raise my chances of injury.
I got this really good training guide that has specific activities and distances for each day for 16 weeks! I love how each week is different, but there is always a rest day, two days of cross training, and one day of different workouts (like hills, sprints, farteks, etc.). I definitely think this training plan will work for you because it seems like you vary your types of training just like this guide does. I got this training plan from Team Fight, which has a bunch of marathons, half marathons, triathlons, and other races.
Let me know if you want to learn more about this training plan (and I recommend it). You should also contact Team Fight because they have a lot of other training help and many races, like the Baltimore Running Festival in October. I love being part of this organization because it not only gives me cool gear and training plans, but it also changes the lives of young adults affected by cancer. Let me know if you have any other questions! I hope this helps!
Here's the website just in case! http://ulmanfund.org/teamfight/
That training guide looks like a good one, but I would probably need a custom training schedule because I've got a Spartan Beast and a Tough Mudder in that time frame. I'd need to design something to work around the other events I've got on my schedule.
Thanks for your answers everyone, it seems like the best course of action is to work up to 14 miles and 25-30 miles per week, but also resist the urge to overtrain.
I tend to set my goals incrementally, like currently my goal for 5Ks is 24 minutes, when I hit that it will go down to 23 minutes, when I hit that it will go down to 22 minutes, etc. But I think I've also hit the point where I'll have to work harder for gains.
My best 5K time in February: 27:45
In April: 26:10
In May: 24:45
With regards to your 5K times: don't train like you are racing, train so that you can race. Another way to put it is, regardless of the distance that you are running, make sure that you can run the distance. Do your speed work (as in intervals once a week), and you if you have the right stuff, you will naturally see your everyday times get a little better every week or so. The point is that as your endurance levels improve, so will your ability to naturally run faster. It will happen without you really realizing it. Then on race day you will reap the benefit from all the training and you will be surprized at how well you can run.
But while you are training, if you want to see how fast you can do a 5K distance, find a 5K event some weekend and run it as part of your training program. The cool part about doing that is that if, for example that day is supposed to be an 8 mile day, run 2 miles before the event, run the event, and then run another 3 miles afterwards - tadaaa... 8 miles and an awesome workout.
(what do I know...? I'm just getting old...)
Usually I follow that advice, I just replace an interval workout with a time trial maybe once every month or two as a progress check. That 24:30 result was meant to be a 4M tempo run but when I was at the 2M mark I realized I was on pace for a personal best 5K and kind of just went for it.
Yeah, I need to work on pacing.
I try to follow this pattern:
Saturday long run
Monday speed workout
Tuesday 4-6 mile easy run
Wednesday hill workout
Friday short easy run with 3 60 second race pace intervals around midpoint
Just all these obstacle course races and obstacle course training sessions I signed up for tend to fall on the weekend then I try to shove the long run in somewhere else in the week.
I usually run 40k a week, it sounds may diffucult in the begining but you will get used to this routine very quickly. When I trained for London Marathon, I was doing up to 50 a week and usualy I was runing 10k for 5 days. I never run more than that!
I started targetting 25 miles (~40k) a week. I feel like I'm starting to get used to it but still not quite recovering as much in between.
One more question, what is the expected decline in pace when it's really hot out? During the Spring when it was in the 50s and low 60s, my 'Easy-medium effort' pace that I could sustain over long distance was around 8:45. Now that it's in the 80s, it's more around 9:15. How much of that should I chalk up to the heat and how much to recovery problems?
I would say pretty much all of it is heat related (assuming you hydrate well enough post run). That said, your body will acclimatize and you'll probably be able to run more like a 9:00 pace before too long on an 80 something degree day.
Fat old man PRs:
I have seen numbers like 30 seconds per mile slower for every 5 degrees over 60 (maybe it's 10 degrees). BUT . . . I have never seen that much loss in practice. And as shipo said, you can acclimate to the increased temps and regain some (but probably not all) of the lost performance. Honestly, it's not worth worrying too much about it, because when the cooler weather returns, you will easily regain your pace.
I think you should vary your mileage just like you should vary your speed.
I train seasonaly. At the end of my racing season I will run one last hard race. Rest two weeks with very little running then start new training cycle.
Start of at 30 mpw. This works out well because I don't run on TM so I miss some running days because of winter weather.
Ramp up to 50 mpw and run a few 5-10ks.
Ramp up to 80 mpw for one week then back off to 50 mpw for one week then 80 mpw for two weeks.
Taper 3 weeks then run my key race of the year. Start overI
If you train in the heat you can run a 5k perty close to full speed.
Any longer and the heat will get you.
Thanks for the advice! I think 50 mpw is a good goal, but I'm not sure about going up to 80 mpw unless I start training for a marathon. Running five times a week that's more than a half marathon every day! And right now I'm still struggling with recovery in the 25-30 mpw range.
This weekend it was a bit cooler (75F) and I was able to extend my long run to 12.4 miles (9:12 pace), but that same knee pain started coming back around the 10 mile mark. I don't know if it's a form issue, a muscle endurance issue or just an injury, but this pain only seems to come in toward the end of longer runs, and whenever it comes in it bothers me even in shorter runs for the next week.
Winter's going to be tough. Snow removal isn't the best around where I am, and a TM won't fit that well into my apartment. And the only gym I currently have access to which has treadmills is a rock climbing gym where the treadmills point away from the televisions, so trying to run extended periods of time on them would be torturous.
If recovery is a problem, slow down to more like a ten to eleven minute pace; that should also help out your knee issue. Another thing you might want to consider is finding a dirt trail to run on; pavement is really hard on the body.
A key point to remember, you do not need to train fast to race fast; I'm 57, an easy 30 pounds overweight, and my typical training pace is thirty seconds either side of ten-minutes per mile. Even still, I just ran a 21:31 5K last Thursday on a very hot and humid day (my shoes and socks were so wet by the finish line they squished like I'd walked through a stream or something).
Fat old man PRs:
I have difficulty running slower than the 9:10-9:20 range. This is the pace where it feels like I'm putting no effort into pace, and I feel like to run slower I'd have to put more effort into it. I've read a lot of articles which say just as you say 'Make your easy days easier and make your hard days harder', but in actual training it feels like I have two grooves: If I'm putting no effort into running fast I run 9:15, if I put effort into running fast I run 7:30, and any attempt to run any other pace gradually sinks back into one of those two grooves.