Why I Run (and My Training Strategy)

I never have, current don’t, and probably never will consider myself a “runner”, despite the fact that I’ve competed in over XX races and logged countless miles during my own training. Most of the racing I do at the 5k distance but I’ve also completed a handful of 10k’s and, officially, 4 half-marathons.

Since I still regularly compete in 5k races I figured I would share with you some of my “running philosophy”, if you will. My running history and why I run, my strategy for training and competing, and my running future!

The History
If I think back far enough I think I probably started running during my soccer days as a kid. There is A TON of running in soccer. They say the average soccer player runs 7 miles during a regular soccer game.

As I continued to play soccer throughout high school, I continued to run, during the off-season mainly, to supplement my training. Once I got to college I quit playing outside of intramural and rec leagues but was still interested in exercise and staying in shape so I added more running. I was running longer distances in those days, sometimes up to 30 miles a week. I would get bored or get injured and quit for a while and then jump back into it.

Racing just came naturally, mostly as a fun way to run and to give some purpose to my running. I was never the top finisher but often finished in the top 5 for women or my age group.

After my second hip surgery, and also getting into more strength and HIIT style training, I cut back on both the distance and frequency of my running. What I found was that not only did I feel better physically, less joint pain and burnout, but I could also run much faster than before.

I was still running in races but now I was setting new PR’s and finishing even closer to the top.

Why I Run, Still
It might seem obvious, I continue to run because I love it or because I’m “good” at it. The fact of the matter is, I don’t love running. I would much rather get my workout in with weights, a HIIT session, on a bike… you name it, I probably find it more enjoyable than running.

That being said, I can appreciate the value of running as a form of exercise. Its easy, you can do it anywhere, it can be quick and efficient, and really, you can’t argue that there really is that runner’s high we’ve all heard about. Running is a great way to compete with yourself, to gauge your training, or to track progress. To see your speed increase, or to notice how much better you feel running uphill, or to be able to cover even just a little more ground with ease – it feels good. There are certainly a number of things much more fun for me than running, but not so many that are as rewarding.

The other major aspect of racing that I enjoy is the fact that I get to do it with my family! We try to stick to a once-a-month plan during the months in Michigan where there isn’t too much snow and ice. And, we’ve made it a tradition to find a new breakfast spot after each run. It’s just as much fun for me to be there when everyone else crosses the finish line.

My Training and Race Strategy
It’s pretty clear now that running isn’t my main form of exercise. However, I do incorporate a fair amount of sprint/hill training and 1-2 shorter,weekly runs into my routine.

I have noticed that in combination with simply becoming stronger, I have also become a better runner by focusing mainly on HIIT style workouts (including sprints) and strength training. Of course, every week of exercise looks different, and my training volume and intensity also goes through highs and lows depending on how I’m feeling and my life outside of the gym. Here is an idea of what a “typical” week of workouts looks like for me.

Monday: Running + Weight Interval Training
 Barbell+Treadmill Intervals

Everything here I did with a barbell, selecting one weight for both exercises of each round. You could easily do this workout with varying size dumbbells or even just one set if that’s all you have!

Tuesday: Morning HIIT Class + Evening Spin Class
Wednesday: Running, Rowing + Weight Interval Training
Thursday: Sprints + Weight Strength Training
Friday: Morning Weight Strength Training + Evening 3 Mile Run
Saturday: 3 Mile Run + Push-ups & Abs
Sunday: HIIT Training (Sled Pushes, Heavy Bag Punches, Battle Ropes, Kettlebells & Deadlifts)

I limit the total miles I put in while training to save myself from injuries and pain and to make time for other types of training, but I maximize the miles I do put in by focusing on increased intensity. That, I believe, has made me a much better runner.

I have come to love the 5k race because, for me, it is the perfect distance to really push my limits. I make every effort to go all-out, the entire 3.1 miles, for every race. It has been fun for me to look back through the stacks of race bibs I’ve collected to see how I’ve progressed over the years. I also think it helps drive home an important lesson – Yes, it’s a great feeling to PR a run and it can feel horrible to do less than your best, but everyone experiences highs and lows. Whether you set a PR or came up short of your expectations, you should feel equally compelled to train smarter and to sign up for your next race to prove to yourself what you’re capable of.

Here is a look at my last ten 5k races! Next week, I will be coming full circle, running again at Evans Lake for the Labor Day race. I will be sure to share my results!

8/30/14 – Evans Lake 5k – 18:59
10/11/14 – Run Scream Run – 10:04
10/26/14 – Wicked Halloween Run – 20:41
11/2/14 – Despicable Run 5k – 20:18
11/27/14 – Detroit Turkey Trot – 22:17
3/15/15 – Cork Town Races – 20:32
4/18/15 – Martian Invasion of Race – 19:14
6/6/15 – Detroit Riverfront 5k – 20:48
7/18/15 – Escape to Belle Isle – 21:15
8/1/15 – Timberfest 5k – 18:47

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2 thoughts on “Why I Run (and My Training Strategy)

  1. Trying so hard to get my time better. I’ve always been super slow, so I figure if I want better results to find someone that has those results and do what they do. I’d love to finish a 5k in the top ten and eventually top five. Thanks for the inspiration and great workouts!

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  2. Keep working at it 🙂 HIIT training, sprints, and hills will definitely help. Make sure to record your times so you can track your progress!

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