How much is it realistic to improve? (Read 3325 times)

vegefrog


    Samantha I just wanted to say welcome and congrats on your running!

     

    These people are super smart and have wonderful advice. When I first logged on here it was just to log my runs. I ran in HS and have run off and on my whole life. When I started running again last September I had a marathon in mind...reading all the training threads on here and just lurking I learned so much. Mostly run a lot...run a lot at an easy pace...and have fun.

     

    Well I started walk/running...then running real slow...then adding miles...and my times dropped like crazy! Just by going from 15 miles a week to 30 miles a week ALL EASY made my 5K time drop by 5 minutes!

     

    I think (people on here will know more then me and will chime in) you can run 7 days a week with no consequences if you run some easy and  maybe one or 2 hard runs. The recovery runs after a hard day actually benefit you. It's not like weight training where you are told to switch muscle groups every other day. When you do weights you are literally tearing muscle and the days off are when it builds back up.

     

    I am a swimmer and I think running is a lot like swimming, whereas you can do it every day and as long as you don't do it too hard, too long, every day it is fine.

     

    When you ran that 10K were you in a race or just doing it on your own time? Good luck and I think you will continue to lose weight and by October...you will be able to do under 2:15 for a half Smile

     

    Oh yeah, and if you make your log public, these folks will take a look at it and give you input. It's very helpful!!!!

      To give a direct answer to your question- it is impossible to say how much someone might improve, there are too many factors involved.

       

      Some people are good at some sports but not good at others, some are all-round athletes, others are better at painting or playing the piano.

       

      In distance running the motivation and knowledge to train optimally is important, but other factors are genetic, slow twitch muscle fibre, good lung capacity, small build etc. and environment also plays a part.

       

      Certainly you can expect to continue to improve for some time- who knows where it will end?

      PBs since age 60:  5k- 24:36, 10k - 47:17. Half Marathon- 1:42:41.

                                          10 miles (unofficial) 1:16:44.

       

        Thanks for the input Phidippides.  As to why only four days a week, that's just what the training plans I've been using say to do.  I trained for the first half marathon with a group and followed the coach's schedule, and now I'm using one off about.running.com.  I've read that the rest days are really important, as that's when your muscles actually build up their strength.  That seems to be contradicted by what everyone's saying here, but I guess maybe if you run at an easy enough pace, it will still give your muscles a bit of a rest?

         

        I did a very slow 5k this morning.  It was quite hilly, but I did the hills slowly, and took 48.5 minutes for 5.5km.  (I tried a new course that I thought would be flatter than my usual runs, but I was wrong!)  Yesterday, I was able to run the beach, which is nice and flat, but only possible at low tide.  It's hard to see the times being so high though, as it feels a little like I'm going backwards!

         

        I really appreciate everyone's advice.  I'll google those suggestions for training plans.  Thanks spaniel. :-)

         

        That is the basic idea. From what I think I understand physiologically running isn't as brutal a stress on the muscles as, say, a strength training session. The muscles aren't damaged as much at the micro level as compared to lifting so the recovery process is much shorter. This is why it's completely possible to run 10+ times per week long term (assuming you build to that level) year in, year out and continue to improve.

         

        Physiologically I'm not entirely sure what goes on in the recovery process but from a training perspective easy days in and of themselves aren't a stress and allow for recovery while still maintaining aerobic fitness. Now, if your not used to running 6+ times per week and jump in, those "easy days" won't necessarily be easy because it's still a much greater volume load than your used to and the overall stress could be too much, which is essentially why it's not recommended to increase mileage and intensity at the same time, because those easy days are no longer easy because they are much further than your used to running, making it difficult to recover from hard efforts. 

         

        Basically what's easy depends on experience and fitness. For a new runner running 5k in 40 min and doing 20 mpw an easy day might be 2 miles in 30-35 minutes, but for a 15 min runner running 100mpw, 3 easy in the AM and PM in 21 minutes would probably constitute an easy day. What is easy varies from day to day to. I know in my case some days 7:30 pace might be a relaxed jog, but on other days 8:00 pace can feel like a strong run that won't let me recover at all. 

         

         

         

        As to the original question:  it's not really possible to say how much one will improve. It varies from person to person and depends on tons of various factors with complex relationships such as genetics, environmental factors, training knowledge, adaptability to training, basic speed, muscle fiber composition, etc.

         

        What I can say is that both for myself and people I have talked to that have stuck with it and trained seriously the answer has been pretty much a unanimous "more than I ever though possible". Plus, the journey is half the fun anyway and you won't ever know how good you can be till you try! 

        They say golf is like life, but don't believe them. Golf is more complicated than that. "If I am still standing at the end of the race, hit me with a Board and knock me down, because that means I didn't run hard enough" If a lot of people gripped a knife and fork the way they do a golf club, they'd starve to death. "Don't fear moving slowly forward...fear standing still."

          Samantha I just wanted to say welcome and congrats on your running!

           

          These people are super smart and have wonderful advice. When I first logged on here it was just to log my runs. I ran in HS and have run off and on my whole life. When I started running again last September I had a marathon in mind...reading all the training threads on here and just lurking I learned so much. Mostly run a lot...run a lot at an easy pace...and have fun.

           

          Well I started walk/running...then running real slow...then adding miles...and my times dropped like crazy! Just by going from 15 miles a week to 30 miles a week ALL EASY made my 5K time drop by 5 minutes!

           

          I think (people on here will know more then me and will chime in) you can run 7 days a week with no consequences if you run some easy and  maybe one or 2 hard runs. The recovery runs after a hard day actually benefit you. It's not like weight training where you are told to switch muscle groups every other day. When you do weights you are literally tearing muscle and the days off are when it builds back up.

           

          I am a swimmer and I think running is a lot like swimming, whereas you can do it every day and as long as you don't do it too hard, too long, every day it is fine.

           

          When you ran that 10K were you in a race or just doing it on your own time? Good luck and I think you will continue to lose weight and by October...you will be able to do under 2:15 for a half Smile

           

          Oh yeah, and if you make your log public, these folks will take a look at it and give you input. It's very helpful!!!!

           

          Thanks for the warm welcome. :-)  The 10 K times were just training.  I've never raced a 10K before, but I'm planning to do one in September, about a month before the half.  The only races I've done are the half I ran in April, plus a 5K in February.  I did that in 35:24, which was a good 3+ minutes faster than I'd ever done 5K before.  I went out way too fast without realising it, and ended up walking most of the last K thinking that I was going to die.  I've done a few 36 minute 5 K's in training more recently, but I've still never beat that time.

           

          2:15 sounds great, but I'm a little doubtful!!

           

          I don't actually have a log yet.  I'm new to the site, and haven't figured out how it works yet.  Is there an android app that will upload to this site?  I've just stared trying out Runkeeper, and you might be able to see my log here http://runkeeper.com/user/Samantha142506/activity/94242883.  (I'm not 100% sure that will work though!)

           

          Thanks again :-)

            Thanks to L Master and Simon R too.  So, if I'm understanding what everyone's saying, I should run every day if I can, but make sure most of these days are nice and easy, with a couple of harder runs each week.  When you say I should run as much as possible, does that many as many K's as possible each run, or should I stick to only doing long(ish) runs once a week?  (At the moment my long run is only 10K, but I'm going to start building it up soon.  My others are usually 5-8K.)  On most days, I should just work on relaxing while I'm running, and take the hills slowly.  Is that right?  Do I need to add in the extra days gradually, or can I jump straight up to doing an extra three days per week.

              Thanks to L Master and Simon R too.  So, if I'm understanding what everyone's saying, I should run every day if I can, but make sure most of these days are nice and easy, with a couple of harder runs each week.  When you say I should run as much as possible, does that many as many K's as possible each run, or should I stick to only doing long(ish) runs once a week?  (At the moment my long run is only 10K, but I'm going to start building it up soon.  My others are usually 5-8K.)  On most days, I should just work on relaxing while I'm running, and take the hills slowly.  Is that right?  Do I need to add in the extra days gradually, or can I jump straight up to doing an extra three days per week.

               

              The general oft thrown about "guideline" is to add about 10% per week when increasing mileage with a cutback week every 3 or 4 weeks. Of course, this is a guideline and varies dramatically from person to person. In my case, when I started last April I jumped in at 40 mpw and 2 months later was hitting 60-70 mpw regularly each week, it worked for me but I may be a case of someone who handles mileage well.

                  For me what worked well was basically running by feel. I ran alot and expected to be tired some as I adapted, but how I ran depended on how I felt. If I felt worn out and tired I would go slow (3+ min/mile slower than 5k pace) sometimes so slow it almost felt like a walk. If I felt good I would run easy still, but brisker. If I noticed several days in row where I was just feeling awful on every run I would take a few majorly down days, or even a complete down week. All I can say is this approach worked really, really well for me. 

                   When your focused on increasing mileage I wouldn't worry a ton about having planned hard workouts, though if your out on a run and feeling great then feel free to break into a spontaneous tempo run in the last couple miles. This shouldn't end up being hard or painful, but it can be pretty brisk as long as it remain smooth fast/comfortably fast.

               

               When you say I should run as much as possible, does that many as many K's as possible each run, or should I stick to only doing long(ish) runs once a week?  (At the moment my long run is only 10K, but I'm going to start building it up soon.  My others are usually 5-8K.)


              General recommendations I see are around 20-25% of weekly mileage would be your long run length. So a person doing 40 might do a long run of say 8-10. Enough to be longer than typical, but not so much that it becomes a big stressor in and of itself. 

               

               On most days, I should just work on relaxing while I'm running, and take the hills slowly.  Is that right?

               

              Essentially yes, just learn to listen to your body and run easy. Hills don't necessarily have to be a lower effort than anything else but by and large your goal would be trying to learn what easy feels like, I like the analogy that nice, easy recovery type runs should leave you feeling like your "storing up oxygen and energy" for your next run. 

              They say golf is like life, but don't believe them. Golf is more complicated than that. "If I am still standing at the end of the race, hit me with a Board and knock me down, because that means I didn't run hard enough" If a lot of people gripped a knife and fork the way they do a golf club, they'd starve to death. "Don't fear moving slowly forward...fear standing still."

                Samantha,

                 

                as for your question of how to add extra days, well depends.  if you just go out & say run 1-2 miles you can add 2 or 3 days immediately.  if you plan on doing 5k distance you should add a day maybe every 2 or 3 weeks.  If you want to add a day AND continue to slowly build your long run, then I would suggest adding just 1 day of 2-3 miles every  few weeks.  all the additional miles however way you slowly add them, make them easy runs confortable pace & no or light hills.    While doing this do not add anymore intensity or hard stuff on top of whatever you are already doing.  Difficult to add mileage & intensity at same time, can be done if more experienced, but still difficult.  For most newer runners adding more easy miles is better

                 

                just by slowly adding more easy miles, running more often, & getting more experienced at "racing" you will lower your times. It will happen naturally. At some point in the future & who knows when that will be, you will need to change things up to continue to see real improvement.   but not for quite abit of time.

                  Thanks for the input Phidippides.  As to why only four days a week, that's just what the training plans I've been using say to do. 

                   

                   

                  Cookie Cutter training plans are good (often very good) for people that dont really know where to start or really know what to do, to begin training for a specific target race.     But they are only Cookie Cutter ideas to be tailored and used as a guidelines.   Definitely if you find one you want to use then go ahead and use it but use them with caution and also use them as a starting point for creating your own training plan.

                   

                  Creating your own training plan can be half the fun........

                   

                  NOT SURE WHERE TO START --- a good place to start is by asking people in Running Ahead..........there are a LOT of people that will give you great help........I doubt anyone here ill do a training plan for you but ask a lot of question about what needs to be done for this or that race and you'll get a lot of answers and even though the details might vary, as a general rule you'll probably find the general direction from everyone will be pretty much the same.

                   

                  As a general rule what most RA runners will say will be:   1.  To run as many days as possible....take a day off if you need to.    2.  Run as many miles as possible but very gradually increase your mileage (the more miles you can run the better you will run).    3..  Mostly run easy and within yourself.....sometimes run a little faster than normal, but never let your running get out of control...   4.  Don't try to run FAST too much cause you'll probably get hurt....run fast a little bit, but not too much....

                   

                  Now, the details of how we will all say it might be different but when you boil it all down, the above is about all there is to it.......'least that's what I think.....

                  Champions are made when no one is watching


                  Bushrat Runner

                    When I started to try to incorporate easy running into my former cycle of running myself into the ground on every workout, I didn't have a running partner. Having somebody to run with makes it real easy to see if you are running too fast to talk, which is too hard if you wanted an easy run. So I made an effort to run so easy that it didn't really feel any harder than walking. 

                     

                    Warning, it will feel really slow...which is okay. Run fast on the hard workouts. Not on the easy ones.

                      Well, today I did about 4.5 k, nice and slow, and on the beach, so flat. I think maybe I need to stop running with a gps on the easy days, as it's discouraging when it calls out the super slow paces. I felt pretty tired, but this is now my third day in a row of running, and I don't usually do more than two. It would have been a 5k route, but when I started heading uphill to go back home, there was no way I was going to be able to carry on a conversation while running up the hill, so I stopped to walk. The "conversational pace" thing is a little odd to try and get a feel for. When I first started running, I read something about running at a conversational pace, and thought that I'd never be able to run and talk at the same time! I tried talking to myself today, which felt pretty silly! I could carry on talking for short bursts (2-3 sentences) but then I'd need to stop talking and catch my breath. I wasn't sure if that meant I was too fast, or if it was okay, as you would usually take turns with someone else in a conversation. The half marathon training plan I was planning on following officially starts the first week of August (12 weeks before the race). I'm wondering about spending the next month and a half just building up more k's, and then keep my eye on the training plan as a guide for long run distances, etc., but add in more easy running. Does that sound like a sensible plan? What would be a good mileage goal to shoot for? Thanks!


                      Bushrat Runner

                        A gps watch is not your friend if you are having trouble keeping your effort level down. What you might find more helpful is a heart rate monitor. That can give you immediate feedback that you are putting forth too much effort and need to throttle back. It also gives you a consistent way to gauge hard and easy efforts without reference to speed.

                        Julia1971


                          Well, today I did about 4.5 k, nice and slow, and on the beach, so flat. I think maybe I need to stop running with a gps on the easy days, as it's discouraging when it calls out the super slow paces. I felt pretty tired, but this is now my third day in a row of running, and I don't usually do more than two. It would have been a 5k route, but when I started heading uphill to go back home, there was no way I was going to be able to carry on a conversation while running up the hill, so I stopped to walk. The "conversational pace" thing is a little odd to try and get a feel for. When I first started running, I read something about running at a conversational pace, and thought that I'd never be able to run and talk at the same time! I tried talking to myself today, which felt pretty silly! I could carry on talking for short bursts (2-3 sentences) but then I'd need to stop talking and catch my breath. I wasn't sure if that meant I was too fast, or if it was okay, as you would usually take turns with someone else in a conversation. The half marathon training plan I was planning on following officially starts the first week of August (12 weeks before the race). I'm wondering about spending the next month and a half just building up more k's, and then keep my eye on the training plan as a guide for long run distances, etc., but add in more easy running. Does that sound like a sensible plan? What would be a good mileage goal to shoot for? Thanks!

                           

                          Ditch the GPS if you think it'll help but personally, I find it helpful for slowing down during easy runs.  But, that's probably because I believe in the benefit of slow miles and you haven't gotten there yet.  Smile  For what it's worth, my recovery runs are 2+ min/mile slower than my 5-10K pace.  So, although they aren't rest days, they aren't particularly taxing and so I manage to run just about every day.  And, I never got the "conversational pace" thing myself. 

                           

                          Your plan sounds sensible.  Find a base weekly mileage and long run and gradually build them both through August.  A common rule of thumb, someone may have mentioned it earlier, is 10% a week and a long run no more than 20-30% of your weekly mileage.  (I highly recommend the training log feature on this website if you need any help with that).  You'll probably get a lot of opinions about mileage goals and your training plan will guide you.  I'm looking at Glover's Competitive Runner's Handbook, one of the books I used when I was starting out, and his novice/intermediate competitor's plan is 12-weeks and peaks at 30 miles/week with long runs in the 10-13 mile range. 

                           

                          Good luck.  And embrace the slow miles!

                          Run the mile you are in.

                          hokiemamba


                            Several people mentioned "have fun" as part of their advice. That is very important.  A year or so ago I set some arbitrary mileage goals for myself and turned my running into a job.  It became not very fun after awhile and then I missed one of my goals and got discouraged and then I got hurt. 

                              I think maybe I need to stop running with a gps on the easy days, as it's discouraging when it calls out the super slow paces.

                              So turn off the pace alerts and split messages.  Just use it to collect data for post-run obsessing!

                              Cool

                              “Everything you need is already inside.” -- Bill Bowerman

                                Samantha,

                                 

                                Not sure what 12 week plan you are starting in August but would agree with your thoughts on what to do before that starts.    very reasonable.   right now just concentrate on running more often & slowly build on your weekly mileage & weekly LR.  Julia's advice is always spot on.  whatever additional mileage you add make them mostly easy. every now & then throw in some short moderate harder efforts. don't worry about pace.   Also agree with ditching your GPS on your easy runs.  use a watch of course & keep track of your duration.  time on feet more important at this stage than pace.   slowly build & maybe throw in a couple of 5k or 10k's for the experience & fun before your "official" training plan starts.  And as Phillipieades said any training plan is a guide, ok to follow general thought of plan but also be flexible according to how you are responding.

                                 

                                good luck & have fun!