If you're not familiar with Ed Whitlock, he's a now 80-year old Canadian distance runner who, at the age of 73, became the oldest person to run a sub-3 hour marathon (2:54:48). At 75, he ran a 3:08. Recently (at age 80) he clocked a 3:15 marathon. All of these are world records for his age group. Unbelievable stuff!
How does he train (or claim to train)? He runs 2-3 hours very slowly around a cemetery every day. He says his only true "speed work" comes in the form of frequent races. Due to an Achilles problem and arthritic knees, he avoids hills and speed in his training.
For the next few months, I'm going to adopt his approach...well, minus the 2-3 hour runs and the cemetery. I will be keeping ALL of my runs slow, 3-5 miles, focusing on a low heart rate. To a great extent, I've been doing that, but my competitive juices (and my impatience) have led me to sneak in some tempo running...or flat-out speed (a 6:42 mile I had no business running, sandwiched between a couple of slow miles three weeks ago), plus a few tempo-ish runs that got away from me. As I continue to rebuild from this injury (or "these" injuries, as my old knee injury is acting up again), I need to continue building a fitness base; increasing my capillary beds and cardiovascular fitness. I will also keep this mindset when I'm on the bike trainer twice per week. I was on the trainer twice this week, and both times I hammered more than I should have (and my knee said "ouch"). As for the pool, it'll be harder to hold back. Whenever I try to swim too slowly, I feel like I'm about to sink. At least a moderate effort in the pool won't hammer my heel and knee.
So, until the end of January 2012, my training will remain slow, but any racing (no longer than 5k) will be at tempo/threshold pace. Hey, if it's good enough for Ed, it's good enough for me. I'm sure my first couple of 5k's will be embarrassingly slow. I hope to run 1-2 of them per month next year.
A quick update on my daughter Natalie (who has some heel pain). She will be seeing her pediatrician on Monday, then a specialist (sports PT) on Wednesday. I'll post whatever we find out sometime next week.