I signed on with Team Al during the summer of '05, and tried my darnedest to follow his very particular and inexhaustible advice. This proved to be difficult at times like when he insisted my WAVA table stats demanded a 10 second negative split over the course of a 10K race. He actually thought I could gauge my pace to within 3 seconds over a mile. I actually thought he was crazy.
However, continuous harping does has osmotic effects and so the Al message began to take hold: Every run has a purpose. It may be hills, speed, distance, but it is never to fatten up the weekly mileage total on the training log.
Rest is key.
Running the 28th mile of a 30-miler at 10K pace is a good thing, and it's a blast, too! Sprints get the fast-twitch muscles going the day before a race.
And, there were many days before many races, because racing is a main point in plan Al.. To me, it proved one of the most beneficial. By the end of the summer, rising early, eating a bagel, lacing my shoes, pinning my number and taking off at the gun was just another day at the office. Races became the challenge of negative splits, passing every woman in sight, and "putting the hammer down" (Al-speak) in the home stretch. Races were no longer dreaded; they were my friends. And they rewarded me with a clay pot, a bowling bag, a cow bell, a gift certificate and a little bit of medal bling. (OK, so we went to Purcellville and Westfields to race, so what?)
By the time the Steamtown Marathon came 'round in October, I had PRed in every distance. I took more than 2 minutes off my best marathon time, despite a nagging foot injury (don't remind Al about that part) and was on my way back to Boston. I had learned a lot about running - economy, rest, and VO2 max (well, maybe not so much about that) - but even more about myself. I learned, as Al promised, that, after thorough training, if I dug deep, I'd have more inside of me than I knew.