From Complete to Compete: StrongFast Begins

This is it, the 6th and final set. I can do this. I’m feeling the blisters on my feet and the fatigue in my legs. I’m also feeling pride in my ability, and a wonderful stream of endorphins running through my system. This is the last of 6 sets, but it is also the last 5 km of Around the Bay, a 30 km race that has been run every year since 1894. As I complete this last 5 km, it not only marks the end of the race, but also a transition from a dabbling runner into a runner with a goal.

As my final dabbling goal, I signed up for Around the Bay, and spent the months leading up to it preparing my legs for the task. Included in this were squats and lunges to build up my legs, many long runs through the cold Ottawa winter (the highlight being an 11 km run in -38 wind chill) and intervals and pace runs across snow covered sidewalks. I worked my way up, so that on March 24th 2013 I was able to complete my longest run to date, 30 km, in a time of 2 hours and 36 minutes. A time that placed me 52 minutes behind the winning female, but also 23 minutes ahead of the average time and placing 365th out of the 3330 other women running that day.

The system (more accurately termed a semi-system) was the same used to complete a handful of half marathons, Olympic triathlons and 10 km races.  I did some form of strengthening, completed sport specific training sessions of increasing difficulty and recorded and tracked my workouts. This allowed me to complete various events, injury-free, and with decent results.

What I found over the course of 6 years of racing was that as I trained, I wanted to train more. As you would expect, as I trained more, I performed better, which always made me think, if I can do that with my current training, what could I do with even more? This led me to sign up for races of progressively longer distances, a pattern that many runners follow. And then I made a decision. I want to focus my training toward a specific time goal, not an event. Rather than think about how far I can go, I want to know how fast I can go!

Thus the creation of my StrongFast goal, to run a 5 km run sub-19 minutes, specifically 18 minutes and 45 seconds.

Why sub-19 minutes? Because this classifies a female runner as elite. I wish to be an elite runner and I am committing to the work required to reach this goal.

The process of reaching this goal will be running progressively longer intervals, with shorter rest periods, at a pace of 3:45 min/km. Along with this will be sprints, volume, strengthening and plyometrics, in various quantities. The layout of these sessions will be based on the current body of research relating to running as well running programs and advice written by sub-20 runners and coaches. As I move towards this goal, I will be reflecting and reporting on my progress and the research that I am basing my training on, as well as commenting on the many triumphs and roadblocks that I experience along the way.