When all signs point to being ready to jump back into training

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It’s been a while since I posted a training update. But that’s because I haven’t been training much.

True to my “offseason” observations – in particular, why everyone needs it – I took one. I’ve still been swimming, biking, running, and even hitting the weight room at the gym once or twice a week, but in a strictly unprescribed fashion. I haven’t had a single structured training week since the See Jane Run Women’s Triathlon on September 27.

Well, I did run Ragnar Napa Valley in October. I got the incredible opportunity to do it with a team sponsored by Nuun Hydration (#TeamNuunNowWineLater FTW!) – and I had an absolute blast! My three legs added up to more than 28 miles, including 13.3 for the last one. It was awesome!

I’m still planning on writing a recap of the whole crazy experience, by the way. Better late than never?

Other than that, though, and the three times a week when I have a scheduled swim, run or ride with my tri group, every day in the past almost two months has been a “Hmm, what do I feel like doing now?” kind of day.

I even went to Zumba class — twice. It was fun, but dangerous for everyone around me, and so I think I better stick with forward motion from now on!

A photo posted by Aleks Todorova (@aleksruns) on

I’m one of those people who thrive on a schedule, so my level of enjoyment at the lack of it took me by surprise. As did my lack of enthusiasm and desire to impromptu-sign up for a race when I had the chance to jump into the Mermaid Sirena 10-miler at the beginning of November. I volunteered at one of their events, which gives me credit for one free run, yet I didn’t do it. Who are you and what have you done with my former self?

Goes to show that I really needed the break, I guess.

But a few weeks ago, my friend asked me if I want to do the local Turkey Trot and I didn’t feel at all disgusted at the thought of racing. In fact, I felt… tempted.

The Silicon Valley Turkey Trot is the largest in the country, with 30,000 people running a 5K or 10K on a flat, fast course, custom-made for PR-ing. If you’re in shape, of course.

Someone who’s been off-seasoning for the past two months? Not so much.

So I registered for the 5K and, with exactly three weeks to train, put myself on a “get some speed back NOW” plan.

My crazy Jump Out of the Offseason and into the Deep Plan

Three weeks are obviously not enough time to get into anywhere close to the 5K shape that I’d like to be in, so what I’m trying to do is probably stupid and won’t work. But the good news is, I don’t have an official 5K PR that’s all that great, so with this Turkey Trot, I can hopefully register somewhat of an improvement on Athlinks.

I’ve re-introduced two quality runs a week: one track session on Mondays, and a tempo run on Thursday. On Saturday, I do my usual tri-group trail run, which is usually around 7 to 8 miles, with a good amount of hills (which I take as easily as I can).

Here’s what I’ve done so far:

On Monday, Nov 9, I headed to the track for some spadework: 5 x 1000 meter repeats (after a one-mile warm-up), with 400-meter walk/jog in between. Pace for the 1000m reps was 6:38-6:32-6:32-6:28-6:33. I actually think I might have cut a second or two off those paces, had it not poured rain almost the entire time. Which was actually quite fun! If you ever need to get a run in and it’s raining, and you hate the dreadmill, consider going to your local track. It’s safe, it’s flat, and yes, you’ll get wet – but that’s part of the experience!

Thursday, Nov 12: After an easy warm-up mile (8:48), the following tempo interval: 2 miles at 7:26-7:24, 1 mile easy (10:59, including walking the first 0.25), 1 mile at 7:20, 1 mile easy (10:28), 2 miles at 7:30-7:40. I was supposed to hold a 7:20 pace for all fast miles and, believe me, I tried! But I just didn’t have that in my legs. It was pretty frustrating, to be honest, because only months earlier, I’d pulled off quite a few more challenging tempo runs, like a similar pattern where the two consecutive miles were at 7:20 and the single ones 7:15, or a straight 5-mile tempo run at 7:25. Then again, I had to remind myself, I spent the last two months offseasoning. Prolonged lollygagging will take away some of your speed.

Saturday, Nov 14: Low-effort trail run, 8 miles.

The rest of the week, I did some easy weight-training (practically a day off), swam, and rode my bike.

Onto this week:

Monday, Nov 16: 3x 1600 repeats at the track with 400m rest (walk/jog) in between. Oh man…. mile repeats. Barely held onto 6:39-6:38-6:42, thinking all the while that I am too old for this sh%^ and why do I do this to myself?

Because I can’t help it, that’s why.

The next day, I took completely off.

Wednesday, Nov 18 I swam with my tri group in the morning and that was going to be it for the day, but then I got new running shoes and couldn’t resist lacing up. A super easy-pace run around my neighborhood, 5K in 27:22 (8:48 avg pace).

Thursday, Nov 19: The dreaded tempo run. Three miles, which I was supposed to run, after a warmup, at 7:19-7:20 pace. Guess what, though: I couldn’t. I tried, but I just didn’t have it. No excuses, it is what it is: after a first easy mile at 8:56, I ran 7:31-7:23-7:18. And that felt so, so hard. I have no idea how I held that pace earlier this year, during the last 3 miles of a half marathon, at that! Or how I held an average 7:09 in a 10K (actually, that course may have been 0.14-0.2 short, so my pace would’ve been closer to 7:20)? Or how the heck I ran a 21:55 5K in the summer: a timed, but non-USATF sanctioned run overseas that is therefore not on Athlinks and doesn’t officially count as my PR… unless I can meet or beat it next week, which is exactly what I’ll try to do.

So there you have it, the reality of coming back from an offseason: it’s hard, it should be done gradually — much more gradually than what I’ve been putting myself through, but after next week’s 5K, I plan to reinstitute a more relaxed schedule for a slower comeback.

Surprisingly, I’ve been looking forward to and enjoying these workouts, which is proof enough for me that it’s time to come out of hibernation and start building a base for 2016.

The Boston Marathon awaits… and oh yeah, my very first Ironman in July!

One thought on “When all signs point to being ready to jump back into training

  • November 21, 2015 at 6:01 am

    Wow, good for you! You really dove right in! I had a break from training plan in August through mid-October. I was very active but I mainly rode my bike(s) and went swimming a few times. I was ready to start back in with my new coach in mid-October. His plan is so different than what I was used to with my former coach of 2 years. I am hoping he can break me through my running plateau! Keep up the good work, speedster!
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