Week 4 of Run Less, Run Faster

Last week was a sucky week in terms of training.

Tuesday & Wednesday- Key Run #1 (5×1000 @4:20)

Attempt #1 was on Tuesday: When I saw this on my training plan, I gulped hard. I didn’t think I could do it and after trying twice, this particular work out is clearly way out of my current abilities. I went to gym, set the treadmill at 9.2 mph and tried to see how long I could hold on. I couldn’t even do one of the prescribed intervals. Since I was already the gym, I decided to do a few random intervals and try again the next day (800 m @3:16, 400 m @1:38, 600 m @2:30, & 200 m @0:49).

Attempt #2 was on Wednesday: I knew I couldn’t do 5 intervals, but I desperately wanted to do 3. I got one done. That one wiped me out and I did a few more random intervals so I would be at the gym for a bit instead of going home after five minutes. This particular speed work is way out of my league. (1000 m @4:21 [yay!], 200 m @0:49, 400 m @1:40, 400 m @1:38, & 400 m @1:39).

Thursday – Key Run #3 (20 miles @9:32 pace)

I’m very fortunate to have a job where I have a lot of flexibility in terms of my work hours, especially in the summer. When I saw that cooler temperatures were predicted for Thursday, I quickly decided to do my long run early Thursday morning and work in the afternoon. Twenty miles is a lot of miles and I wanted to make the run as pleasant as possible for me. Psychologically I found the thought of starting 20 miles away and running towards home a lot more appealing and easier than doing an out and back route or a loop. After looking at various routes online, I settled on starting at the northern most tip of Manhattan and running down the west side, around the bottom tip to Manhattan Bridge, crossing over to Brooklyn, and then running down Flatbush Ave to Prospect Park.

I woke up at 5:30 am and got on the subway at 6:30 am with all the early morning commuters to go into the city. It’s a very long train ride up. Google map said it would take an hour ten minutes, but it was actually closer to 90 min. While on the train ride, I ate a toasted English muffin with peanut butter and Nutella and a heavily sugared iced coffee.

At Inwood Hill Park

At Inwood Hill Park

On an overcast and somewhat cool summer morning, I found myself at Inwood Hill Park in Washington Heights. I had never been so far north in Manhattan before. Inwood Hill Park, by the way, is gorgeous and everyone should go there. There are woods and trails and once you’re deep amongst the trees, you seriously feel like you’re out in the countryside and not in New York City.



Unbelieveable that this is in Manhattan and it's not Central Park

Unbelieveable that this is in Manhattan and it’s not Central Park

I greatly enjoyed running in this park while trying to find a path that would lead me to the Hudson River and run all the way down. Based upon my internet research, it was theoretically possible to do this. Practically speaking, it’s very difficulty without knowing the trails well. I found a trail that followed the Hudson, but after a couple of miles, it became a dead end, so I had to backtrack out. It also rained lightly from Miles 1 to 5. I worried that I would have to stop the run if it began raining harder because I get sick easily if I get wet and cold. After backtracking and running on the streets for a bit, I found a cyclist who was able to give me excellent directions on how I could find the pedestrian/bike path along the Hudson. While I was enjoying the run, once I got on the West Side Highway Bike Path that’s when the fun of running really began for me.

West Side Highway Fun

West Side Highway Bike Path Fun

Miles 6-8 were warm and steamy. The rain had stopped and the sun was getting stronger (thought it was still overcast). The evaporating puddles created a nice sauna-like condition. I was still having fun because the West Side Highway Bike Path is a super cool place to run. On one side, you have a lovely view of the Hudson River. On the other side, there were several pieces of art installation. The pathway was nicely landscaped and always changing. Normally I’m desperately trying to figure out how to distract my mind to keep from being too depressed that there were so many miles left, but for this run, the miles were flying by!

I couldn’t take as many photos as I would have liked because my IPhone got damp and the touch screen wasn’t registering (the phone is fine). Around Mile 7, I began taking ShotBloks (raspberry flavored I think) and I finished it up around Mile 14.

I was super happy with how well the run was going. I felt good about the pace. I was having a good time running. Then it all came to a sudden sharp stop. At Mile 15, I felt sharp stabbing pains in my left knee. I stopped and rested for a few minutes. Then I gingerly tried running again. More sharp pains as soon as I began running. I knew better than to try to run through a sudden sharp pain, so I halted the run.

Although I was disappointed in not being able to complete the 20 miles, oddly this run gave me some confidence that I actually could survive marathon training. If it hadn’t been for the sharp pain, I would have definitely finished the 20 miles. At Mile 15, I felt a bit tired, but not completely exhausted and worn out like I had in the last two long runs. I was definitely in much better condition, despite running at a faster pace.

Saturday – Crosstraining

After more than a year away from regular weightlifting, I’m excited to be going back to it!

Back squats – 3x5x45 (3 sets of 5 reps at 45 lbs). I’ve lost a lot of strength. I can’t believe that a couple years ago, my 1-rep max PR for squats was 125 lbs. The bare barbell felt so heavy. This used to be my warm up set.

Deadlift – 1x5x50, 2x5x55, 1x5x60

Bench press – 3x5x45

Overhead press – 3x5x15

Sunday – Key Run #2 Tempo Run (1 mile easy, 4 miles @7:56, 1 mile easy)

What I really like about RLRF is the flexibility that I have in terms of scheduling the runs. If something should happen and I can’t do a run that day, then I can easily move it to another day. I thought about running on Saturday, but I didn’t feel up to it. I went to the gym on Sunday to muster up the energy to do a tempo run.

I did the easy one mile. I set the treadmill at 7.9 mph and mentally girded myself for staying on for another four miles. I lasted a half mile. I really didn’t have it in me. I don’t know if it was the heat, humidity, or simply the fact that I’m running way more than ever before so I’m feeling fatigue, but I really didn’t have it in me. I decided to do a few random intervals so I do some running. After a few sets, the fire alarm went off at the gym and I interpreted it as a sign that I wasn’t meant to run that day. (.5 mile @3:48, .25 mile @1:46, .25 mile @1:40, & .25 mile @1:38).


I took a look at this week’s plan. It’s brutal. Honestly the training runs would be a tough ask from me during the best running condition. It’s impossible with this awful summer heat and humidity. I’m going to change the marathon training plan to a less aggressive time so that I’m not killing myself or completely failing to complete the key runs.

14 thoughts on “Week 4 of Run Less, Run Faster

  1. Sweet Jesus. And I thought my nightmare training plan was rough. Yours is hideous. Sometimes adjusting and tweaking is better than not hitting key paces/runs. That being said, my plan says if you can’t hit the workout and “fail” 3 times, it’s time to re-evaluate your expectations. What do I say? Don’t let one off week kick you in the face!!! Hang in there, Friend!!!! 🙂

  2. Watch out for them hippos! 🙂 Sorry to hear about your knee. RLRF sounds like a brutal program… it’s out of my league. Good on you for sticking with it! Careful not to injure yourself!

  3. I run my intervals by feel rather than time, mainly because I don’t own a Garmin and it would be just too damn annoying to constantly be looking at the armband. I do my tempo runs by time. I think you would get the same benefits running by effort, especially since you’re an experienced racer. I’m sure you know what a 5k and a 10k pace feels like.

    I’ve been dying to run on the west side highway. My friends used to live by the World Trade Center and when we would take the kids to the park, I would stare longingly at all the runners out there. Creepy.

    • Right now I’m doing the intervals on a treadmill. I generally do run by effort, but I like having a Garmin because I tend to lose focus in the middle and slow down, so glancing at the watch is useful for that.

      It was my first time running on the West Side Highway (or at least running a big stretch of it, technically I did a small part of it when I did the NYC triathlon last year). I see people running there all the time when I drive on the highway. It always looked so nice and it really is!

  4. You are killing it! Never run up at Inwood but we have looked into it. So pretty! I love, love, love long runs on the West Side Highway. So beautiful. I love getting on right at the lighthouse at they GW and going down to Battery Park. Also consider the aqueduct trail up in Tarrytown of you need to mix it up. Take Metro North up and then hop on the trail. Grab a Greek salad at Lefteris after. We love it! Make it a weekend and stay at the Courtyard (cab from Metro but then walk to trail and all of downtown).

    • I know the trail you’re speaking of! My cousin lives here Tarrytown, so Ben and I run around there when we stay over at her place. Thanks for reminding me. We may go up for a mini-vacation. 🙂

  5. Nice work on the RLRF plan! I used this plan for NYCM 2013, and Wrightsville Beach this past March – both were the easiest marathons I’ve run. If this is your first time through the plan, you WILL have some difficulty hitting the paces on the intervals and tempo days, but it will get easier – especially when it cools off some. Keep it up, and good luck!


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