I am a longtime lurker on this message board but this is my first post. First, I would like to thank those of you who frequently post to this forum as I have learned more about running from this forum than from any other source of information.
My question relates to training. Should I just continue doing what I am doing or change up the routine. Here is some background information.
I am a 42M and I got "serious" about running approx one year ago (started tracking my weekly mileage in September of last year). I have no running history (no high school track etc) but I have always tried to stay in reasonable shape. I got into running last year because I thought it would be fun to try a triathlon and, since I have a competitive swimming background (high school) and I was never a "runner" I thought I should start working on the running part first, get that up to speed (so to speak) and then working on the cycling and swimming (in that order). Well, as you might have guessed, I caught the running bug and I am not really interested in the cycling and swimming. I always viewed running as very difficult and thus if I needed a quick workout and I couldnt get to the pool or the gym, I would go for a 15 to 20 minute run and I would be so incredibly exhausted that I had a great workout.
With respect to my goals, I am interested in the 5K and 10K distances. My current goal is to run a sub 20 minute 5K. I am not really sure why I chose this particular goal, it just seems that most of the local races are 5ks and sub 20 is pretty hard to accomplish yet not crazily unrealistic. Also, if I ever do decide to try a triathlon, the local sprint triathlons have 5K running legs. If I can accomplish this goal I expect it to take a few years.
One thing I am concerned about is my age. Considering that I am already in my 40s, I only have so much time to "get fast" and my guess is really fast is already not achievable (that would be sub 19 5Ks in my view). On the flip side I can look forward to accomplishing PRs as I advance through my 40s (it will be interesting to see at what age the PRs top out!).
I have been trying to put in around 20 miles a week although most weeks I am closer to 15 miles. A typical week for me is three days of running, one easy 5 mile and one tempo 5 mile (prefereably outside but the last few month most have been treadmill) and then intervals on a treadmill at the gym. The interval workout is typically 5 miles total but with 3 miles of "speed" and 2 miles of recovery. I typically do six 1/2 mile repeats at starting around at 9-9.5 mph and working up to 11-11.5 mph and then back down ( 9.0, 10.0, 11.0, 10.0, 9.5, 9.0...something like this). During a 20 mile week I will add a fourth easy 5 mile run.
I ran my first 5K last week at a local event and finished in 22:30. I wasnt sure what to expect having never run a race before...I was thinking anywhere from a high 21 to a mid 23 so I was very happy with the time. I am expecting it to take a couple of years or so to get that 22:30 to a 19:59.
So, should I just continue what I am doing, drop the interval work and do more mileage, continue the interval work and do more mileage etc? I really enjoy the interval work even though for me its incredibly exhausting...my legs are wrecked (like jelly) immediately after but it feels like a really accomplished something (sometimes I have trouble sleeping at night as my legs are still humming from the morning interval workout).
The main reason I started the interval work was because I wanted to "feel" the sub 20 5K speed....my theory was (and still is) that if I can hold the necessary speed for 1/2 mile, then my body will adapt and I can stretch it out to 1 mile, then 1.5 etc and eventually I will hit the 5K mark. I have also been increasing the speed of the intervals beyond the sub 20 min 5K pace based on the theory that if I can hold my form together at for example 11.0 mph (5:27 mile pace) for a 1/2 mile interval then my 5K goal pace of 9.5 should be easier.
By the way, that first 5K was a blast! Super fun. Its the first time I have been in an organized competition since my college years (and those competitions were always water realted...water polo and swimming).
Any comments would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!