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How much can I expect to improve as a runner?


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sonnylax
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PostPosted: 10/16/03 - 15:17    Post subject: How much can I expect to improve as a runner?
As a 32-year old male, returning to running for the last 6 months (after a 6 - 7 year absence)... how much can I realistically expect to improve in the near-term? I turn 33 the day after my first ever half-marathon next month in Atlanta. I'm debating training for a full marathon (TBD in the spring), but I'm frankly a little scary of that proposition.

I feel as if I'm definitely making progress and I've set 5 & 10K PR's over the last month. I feel like I'm changing the focus of my races as I transition from a jogger (just trying to finish the race in one piece) to a runner (trying to maximize my effort and attain specific time goals). When I ran several years ago, I had no focus and never pushed myself. Now, that certainly isn't the case.

Have I already reached my potential peak as a runner? Assuming I add a speed weekly workout, eat pretty good, and maintain base 25 - 35 mpw... how much can I expect to improve my current base 8:30 - 9:30/mile pace in the next year or so?

I like the challenge of improving my performance on the road, but I want to set some realistic goals for '04 as I do some long-term planning. Thanks in advance for your input.
jrjo
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PostPosted: 10/16/03 - 15:54    Post subject:
Just speaking from personal experience, at age 35 I'm definitely feeling a notch off of where I was at 30. Which I don't think is uncommon for those with high intensity training and racing..the later 30s is where slowing down becomes inevitable. So for you Sonny, I'd say a couple more years of focused training and you should be able to put up PRs to top all PRs.

Now that being said.. it's extremely difficult to be a runner that's a master of all distances. If it's the 5km-10km range you want to excel at, that's where I'd key in to and nail some great PRs. But if you spend some time intermixing halfM or marathon training over the next few years, you'll dilute your efforts. Which is what I think many people do. You might still be able to get PRs for years to come, but the shotgun approach isn't nearly as good as aiming for one distance and doing all it takes to get a steallar PR.
runaroundsue
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PostPosted: 10/16/03 - 16:25    Post subject:
sonny---I think since you are starting fairly late in life....you will see improvement as you approach your 40s if you train right. That said, I don't think you should worry about something you can't control. You will lose you raw speed, but experience at some point counts for something.

I think people peak at different ages. Someone tell Eddy Hellybuck (i know I trashed his name) that he's slowing down. I'm quickly approaching 40 and although I can't run a quarter anywhere near what I did as a teeny-bopper, 10k and up I'm better than ever.

sue
purple hayes
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PostPosted: 10/16/03 - 16:26    Post subject: Re: How much can I expect to improve as a runner?
sonnylax wrote:
Have I already reached my potential peak as a runner?


No. You've only scratched the surface. You're running moderate mileage now. Up that mileage to 50 MPW and the improvements you see will be dramatic (assuming you can keep from getting injured). Monk25 is a prime example of this. He's fast now.
spongebob
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PostPosted: 10/16/03 - 20:03    Post subject:
I'm tons faster at 30 than I was when I was 18/19/20. Like two orders of magnitude.

I do believe I would kick my teeny bopper a$$ in a 5k.
kattzoo
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PostPosted: 10/16/03 - 20:36    Post subject:
Unlike everyone else who has answered, I'm slow...very slow, but have improved dramatically over the past year and a half, and I'm now 36. I think you can definitely make improvements, especially as you build your base.

Keep it up!
sonnylax
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PostPosted: 10/17/03 - 08:48    Post subject: Re: How much can I expect to improve as a runner?
purple hayes wrote:
Up that mileage to 50 MPW and the improvements you see will be dramatic (assuming you can keep from getting injured).


Without sounding flippant, can you give me an idea of what a 50 mile week looks like? It sounds like you would have to run 6+ miles EVERY day to make it work.

Here is the training week I'm striving for in the next few weeks:
Mon - weight training with personal trainer (no run)
Tues - 6 - 7 miles easy
Wed - Speed work (~ 5 miles) plus weight training with trainer
Thurs - 6 - 7 miles medium intensity
Fri - OFF
Sat - 3 - 6 miles (5K/10K road race or easy miles on my own)
Sun - LONG run (9 - 15 miles)

I don't see how you get to 50 miles in a week with at least one off day, unless you are running like 10 miles per day. I can't imagine that is very productive/healthy, even if I had all the time to devote to it.
purple hayes
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PostPosted: 10/17/03 - 09:07    Post subject:
I Pm'd you a link to my running log. You'll see that I rarely ever actually do what I've got scheduled.

Here's an example 50 mi. week...

Mon :: 6 mi.
Tues :: 6 mi.
Wednesday :: 6 mi. AM & 5 mi. PM
Thursday :: 6 mi.
Friday :: off
Saturday :: 15 mi.
Sunday :: 7 mi.

Total mileage = 51 miles
jrjo
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PostPosted: 10/17/03 - 09:27    Post subject:
sonnylax wrote:
Wthout sounding flippant, can you give me an idea of what a 50 mile week looks like? It sounds like you would have to run 6+ miles EVERY day to make it work.

A routine I recommend and base my own schedule on is a 6-day running week broken up into 3/1/2/1/2/1. I've had good success with this and others I've help tell me it worked well for them too. Not only do you get the weekly 'long run' in but it keeps the hard/easy rotation going throughout the week. There's actually some additional science behind it I won't go into right now.

So Sonny, if you're looking for a 50-mile week. I'd break up the mileage to be 15/5/10/5/10/5. And put that off day wherever you feel it does you the most good. I'd wager that once you give it a try, you'll find improvements in your running come faster than a 6mi/day routine.
runaroundsue
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PostPosted: 10/17/03 - 09:32    Post subject:
purple hayes wrote:
I Pm'd you a link to my running log. You'll see that I rarely ever actually do what I've got scheduled.

Here's an example 50 mi. week...

Mon :: 6 mi.
Tues :: 6 mi.
Wednesday :: 6 mi. AM & 5 mi. PM
Thursday :: 6 mi.
Friday :: off
Saturday :: 15 mi.
Sunday :: 7 mi.

Total mileage = 51 miles



good plan!! I like the thought of doing a double rather than sacrificing a day off. Also when you are building up to 15 miles it is good to have the day off before that long run. However, once that 15 miler is secondhand, you should probably switch your day off to be anything but, if you plan to do longer distances. One of those runs on Wednesday, should be done at a quick pace.

There you go---PH provided you with your perfect plan!
sonnylax
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PostPosted: 10/17/03 - 09:34    Post subject:
Whoa! I'm not looking to jump into a 50 mpw (yet). I'm only at 25 - 28 miles at the moment. I just wanted to know how someone squeezed in 50 miles in a week without killing themselves. Smile

I think I'm going to add a speed work (intervals or hills) on one of my running off days (Wednesdays) and work toward this plan I presented earlier. This will boost my base mileage up to around 30 - 35 miles each week:
Mon - weight training with personal trainer (no run)
Tues - 6 - 7 miles easy
Wed - Speed work (~ 5 miles) plus weight training with trainer
Thurs - 6 - 7 miles medium intensity
Fri - OFF
Sat - 3 - 6 miles (5K/10K road race or easy miles on my own)
Sun - LONG run (9 - 15 miles)

I'm going to do this for a few months and reevalaute my training/'04 goals around the Holidays. Thanks to all for the tips.
coachmarkos
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PostPosted: 10/17/03 - 13:23    Post subject:
sonny,

I just totally and completely with everything jrjo has said here.
sonnylax
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PostPosted: 10/17/03 - 13:46    Post subject:
So using jrjo's "3/1/2/1/2/1" suggestion, my Sun - Sat running week between now and Thanksgiving (Atlanta Half Marathon) should look something like this:

Sun - LONG run (10 - 13 miles)
Mon - 3 miles easy plus weight training
Tues - 6 miles moderate
Wed - 3 miles easy plus weight training
Thurs - Speed (Hills/Intervals for ~ 5 miles)
Fri - OFF
Sat - 3 - 6 miles (5K/10K local road race or easy miles on my own)

That should be close to 35 mpw when my long run maxes out in mid November. Another couple of questions...

1. If I'm currently doing my long distance run at ~ 9:30/pace, how much should I pick things up for my "moderate" runs (non speed work)? Is 8:30/pace OK or should I push it down even further? (I think I can maintain 8:30 pace for about 4.5 - 5 miles on the treadmill with incline, but after that I need to slow it down a little. My aerobic condition ain't quite there just yet.)

2. Does anyone do speed work (intervals, hills) on a treadmill? If so, can you share/post the details.

Thanks to all for the tips/suggestions! I think its really going to pay off for me in the long run.
jrjo
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PostPosted: 10/17/03 - 15:21    Post subject:
Cover your eyes if you think those "online calculators" are wacked...
http://www.geocities.com/crgrunner/calculator2.htm

This one is as good as any, not so much for "predicting" race times, but scroll a little farther down and the "estimated training paces" is a decent way of getting where your pace should be for a specific type of workout.
shelee
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PostPosted: 10/18/03 - 17:37    Post subject:
i think adding speedwork and improving your overall conditioning over time will ultimately make you faster and a better runner. personally, i started speedwork and only after a few months dropped 2:29 minutes off my pr. also, training for a specific distance is key. i was vacillating between doing a marathon, training for one, or working on speed. my first year of running was all about increasing miles. I was running just over 1/2 marathon distance, but i wasn't seeing much improvement in speed. over the summer i started speedwork and shortend my long runs, concentrating on the 5 and 10k races and, yeah, it seems to be working for me. i was told you can always increase your miles, but more distance isn't going to make you faster. i personally want to get faster. my plan is to get faster and then increase the miles. good luck to you!



Shelly
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