This Book Might/Will/Should Make Me Faster

Disclaimer: For those of you who find it incredibly annoying to listen to runners, you might want to stop here, although I promise this post does connect to a book.

It's been almost a year since I ran my first "race" (I find it odd to say I'm racing when I never have any hope whatsoever of winning), a 5k (3.1 miles) at a local park. Since then I have done two 10 ks and now 3 half marathons (13.1 miles), and have come to what I think is a pivotal point in this hobby I love to hate so much- I either need to get faster and start "training for a purpose," or I need to move on before I go crazy. At first I was running to stay fit and burn more calories. I entered races so I had something to motivate me, and you can't beat a free shirt, the medal, and all those bananas at the finish line! It has worked extremely well this year- since I started using the Nike+ Sensor five months ago I have logged over 400 miles and I average 4-5 runs a week. Unfortunately, I've gotten very accepting of an unsatisfactory pace that has plateaued, as demonstrated by coming in about 4 minutes under my half marathon PR yesterday at Rock and Roll Las Vegas. Not okay.

A day later I'm opting to be proactive rather than pissed, as my next half is in early February (Surf City in Huntington). I pulled Run Less, Run Faster, by Bill Pierce, Scott Murr, and Ray Moss, off the shelf and read through it today while recuperating from muscles that are very unimpressed by Vegas' cold and my inability to pace myself adequately (first 4 miles at 1.5 minutes faster than what they should have been... oops). I bought this book a few months ago on a book buying binge since it had very positive reviews and was affiliated with the sport's monthly bible, Runner's World. Basically, what this book promotes is three structured runs a week, combined with two or three cross training workouts. This is a hard pill for me to swallow; anything less than four runs a week makes me feel like a lazy oompaloompa. But, while reading, the old Christine who used to work in research came out and started salivating at the data the authors dangled- the people that followed this plan improved anywhere from 5 to 45 minutes on their marathon times (granted their scientific plan hasn't you know, gone through an IRB or been replicated by an outside researcher). It all makes a lot of sense on a biological level- I'm just struggling with the idea of changing what I normally do!

I doubt I'll follow their prescribed plan exactly, but I after reading I've taken away some really helpful strategies. I do need a plan- I need to run fartleks, I need to tempo, and I need to stretch (I've got the long runs down already). I also must start pushing myself more, cross training, and at least consider doing more strength training that just my abs. No more running "junk miles" (okay, maybe once a week).

So, we'll see what ends up happening at Surf City (then Big Sur in May, and then possibly Seattle June). I do think it's entirely fitting that when I need help with something I of course rely on a book.
Me after the Disneyland Half in September- I was happy that I finished. That's not working for me anymore!


  1. My wife and I have followed this program with good results. One word of caution, however - you MUST cross-train on days you are not running. Otherwise your running muscles will strengthen and become out of proportion with your non-running ones and you'll get injured. Both my wife and I got injured when we ran 3 days a week and sat around the other four.

    We found this to be a great system, however, once we dedicated ourselves to cross-training on non-running days.

    Ferdinand E. Hintze

  2. Great advice, thanks. I actually enjoy cross training, I just am having trouble getting past the mental block of only running three days a week! Right now I'm doing 4 days of running and 1 or 2 days of cross training- better than my old plan, but still not quite what the book suggests.