On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Thoughts on the Runner's World "First or Fastest 10k" training program

Speaking of Runner's World...  As I've alluded to throughout the past few weeks, I recently participated in a free program cosponsored by Runner's World and the Foot Locker Run store.  It met twice a week, Mondays and Wednesdays, at 6:30pm in Central Park.

Now that the program is over, I thought I'd share some of my thoughts on it.  I truly, truly hope they do this program again.  The coaches were amazing, the workouts were well thought out, and the program was well organized and well executed.  We even got a free t-shirt!  (Sadly they were low on women's sizes and the shirt doesn't really fit me, but I still appreciate it.)

I can definitely say that I pushed myself and did speed and hill repeats that I wouldn't have otherwise.  Between the shaming of the coaches' presence (they were nothing but completely supportive, but I'm not used to having someone monitoring my workouts) and the variety of the workouts they offered, I did the speed and the hills and am a better runner for it.  The coaches gave us a pep talk before the run, telling us what to focus on.  The head coach was good.  I've been leery of being "coached" for naive reasons - "I've been doing this for a decade, how much more do I need to learn?" or, "It's running; it's intuitive."  I was wrong.  His advice was solid and gave me a lot to think about.

I also loved how respectful the coaches were of everyone's individual abilities.  They split us into Beginner v. Intermediate/Advanced, and they made a point of clarifying that this was an experience distinction and not a speed distinction.  So I got to feel like an advanced runner for once!  It felt nice.

My only problem with the coaches is that there weren't more of them.  Being slow as molasses was frustrating at points because there weren't other runners to run with me, and several of the workouts called for us to run some substantial mid-week distance (a half-mile warm up and then the 10k loop, for instance).  The group warm ups were usually done at about a 9 minute mile pace - just enough for me to hold on, but I would be wiped at the end of the warm up.  And then during the workouts, the difference between an 8 minute mile and my 10 minute miles added up to me finishing sometimes 15-20 minutes behind most of the group - and only having one person to run with some days, sadly.  Luckily the person I found to run with is pretty awesome, and I've kept in touch with her now that the program has ended.

Of course, I was out of town during the "goal" 10k race, so I can't measure the effectiveness of the program.  But overall, I liked it.  A lot.  And, I'll admit, I also like that tonight they're having a get together to celebrate the end of the program and offering each of us three free drinks.  As in, more than I can reasonably drink in one sitting these days.

Some alluring eye candy for you to take the edge off the summer heat: me at the start of the New Year's Eve Emerald Nuts Run, a miserably cold midnight experience.


  1. Hahaha, great pic! Program sounds interesting. I'm in a running group, and do most of my speed work in this group, and it's true that you just push it a bit harder when running in a group (it also helps that a coach is yelling at you to go faster...). Have fun on the get together! :)

  2. I completely agree with your assessment. Now that the group is over, I have barely been dragging myself out for runs because I feel unmotivated. While it was going on, I felt stronger and faster because of the hill/speed work and didn't mind doing my 2-3 extra runs per week outside of the group. More coaches would help because, exactly as you said, being slow, I need the coaching to help pull me through sometimes and hate always being the last runner in.