Last year I moved from running just about every day to a lower-volume methodology that had me running just two key training runs a week plus running for fun in between. The results for me were:
- super simple program to administer
- increased race performance
- reduced injury rate
- time and energy for all of the other athletic activities I enjoy
- rediscovered JOY in running
I don’t necessarily advocate this approach for others, but for me it has been a good fit.
Enter the Stryd. After “getting to know” the device for a few months, I made my first foray into training by power in February. Mike Ricci published a power-based training plan that I adapted to my 2-key-runs-a-week approach. After some base building, this effectively meant alternating one week of a long slow road/trail run and intervals at the track with a week of road/trail tempo and road hill intervals. Other days of the week I would be doing strength training, swimming, playing beach volleyball, hiking, bootcamping, or taking my dog for an easy half hour jog.
Let’s take a look at each of these workouts in turn:
Long Slow Distance
Since I’m a short and middle distance runner, my “long” distance may not seem very long to most of you! I started the program with an hour in power zone 1 and worked up by the end of March to 90 minutes in Z2. My goal for these runs was to maintain consistent power and to focus on form throughout.
These started as a mistake. This was apparently supposed to be a Repetition workout, with Ricci’s program specifying 1-minute intervals at Critical Power followed by 3-minute recovery periods. The first time I tried it I mistakenly read 1-km intervals, rather than 1-minute, so it was much more of an Interval workout for me than repetitions. It felt great, though, and I thought it would be helpful in preparing me for my first key race of the year, the 4-miler I posted about yesterday. So I started with 5x1km, averaging 351W and worked my way up to 7x1km, averaging 377W. It was freeing to focus on wattage rather than splits on the track!
These began as 15 min Z2, 15 min Z3, 15 min Z2. Over the course of the program I pushed these up to 25-25-25 with 5 minutes of Z1 on either end as a warmup and cooldown.
These are my favorite by far – which is ironic since, moving to Chapel Hill from flat, flat Houston, these were and still are my weakest point. Still, running up hills is the closest I come to pushing weighted sleds on the football field and it just feels good! Chapel Hill is aptly named and I’ve got a great, miles-long 6% grade sidewalk right outside my door. Per Ricci’s prescription, I started with 6×2 minute Z5 intervals, then slowly increased the reps to 10, and then slowly increased each rep duration to 2:30. Initially I was sustaining ~385W for 6 reps of 2 minutes, but by my last session I was sustaining 405W for 10 reps of 2:30.
This was about a 12-week program for me, including the taper before last weekend’s race and has been my first attempt at training by power. At the end of the program I conducted a Critical Power test, which I will post about tomorrow, but, spoiler alert, my Critical Power increased substantially over the course of this program.