Monday, February 25, 2008

The Truth Doesn't Have to Hurt

I don't know about you, but I'm a little numbers obsessed. Well, obsessed may be a strong word. I mean, sometimes my sense of self-worth as a runner is wrapped up in things like average pace and split times. To combat this annoying habit I often leave my watch at home or do workouts like fartleks to ease the pressure on myself to run a certain pace. It definitely helps and I enjoy my runs much more especially during my downtime when the point is to just run by feel anyway.

My schedule for February should help ease my transition back to timed workouts. While I'm building my strength and fitness back up, I am to run 6 days a week including 3 easy 1 hour runs, 2 fartleks, and 1 longer run in the 90 minute neighborhood.

I already told you about fartlek #1 in my last post. I did fartlek #2 on Friday. It's more focused on leg speed than cardio vascular fitness building. After a 10:00 warm-up I ran 20 x :35 at 5k effort every 2:00. Just like in fartlek #1, I focused on running strong and smooth. This workout sounds a lot easier than it is. Maybe I run the reps too hard, but by 12 or 13 my legs started to feel toasted. By the end, my hamstrings are just dead! I suppose that's probably the point, huh? But I really like workouts like this because they're new and different for me. I like the idea of working on my weaknesses and speed and strength are definitely two of my weaker points!

I also had 2 of the shorter (1 hour) easy runs that were surprisingly quick for me this week. When I was running really low mileage I was consistently running sub-8:00 for my general runs. Sure, those runs were 4 or 5 miles long and I wasn't doing any workouts or even marginally long runs then. Once I started inching the mileage up and adding in harder runs my pace for my easy runs slowed a bit. They were still generally faster than the 8:30 or slower easy runs I was logging during marathon training--around 8:00-8:20 or so. But on Thursday, I was surprised to run 7.5 with my friend from work at 7:53 pace and gabbing the entire time the day after a workout and on Saturday I ran comfortably averaging 7:52 the day after another workout.

I was worried that 4 days with no recovery paced slogging meant I was doomed for a crappy "long" run on Sunday. I've been avoiding the Garmin for my long runs to avoid because I wanted to get the miles in and I didn't want my slow pace and deteriorated long run fitness to make me cry. But this Sunday I was intent on running a couple miles at "tempo" pace just to see where I'm at, as they say. I wasn't expecting anything blazing fast and I was a little worried about what I'd find out. But, since my last couple of races haven't been the best I have accepted I'm not at my peak fitness anyway. My expectations were not high. I just planned to pick up the pace and see what happened.

So, I strapped the Garmin on and hit the bike path for a hilly run. It usually takes me a mile or two to warm-up and the first mile already had a fat uphill and a turn-around so I was very happy with 8:12. The second and third miles were 7:57 and 8:01. Then I must have warmed-up because the pace just started dropping from miles 4through 6: 7:48, 7:35 (down a big hill), 7:36 (back to rolling). And then I had to face the consequences of my decision to go down the big hill. It was time to climb! Mile 7 was all uphill, with about half of that very steep and winding. I didn't look at the Garmin while I ran up it. I just wanted to make it to the top and not worry about how slow I was. I figured I'd be lucky to make it in 9:00! So, I was pretty happy with 8:19. The beginning of mile 8 was still part of the hill, although a pretty low grade at this point. It made recovering from the steeper part difficult. I think it took me about 1/2 a mile to recover from that darn thing. Mile 8 was 7:53 and mile 9 was 7:50 all the while my butt and hamstrings were definitely feeling it.

After all that I wasn't expecting much from my push. 7:10? That would be fine. So, off I went. I hit mile 9 right by the water fountain where I used to start my 2 mile tempo reps. It was like old times. Once I got going I felt great! I really wasn't trying hard and I hit mile 10 in 6:44. Mile 11 was the harder mile. The terrain starts to roll pretty intensely through this stretch. I definitely could feel that I hadn't done this in a while around the half mile point, but I still rolled in with a 6:36. I was so pleased with this. I would have been pleased with a 6:56, so this was extra nice. I happily jogged a mile back to my car in 7:42 to complete my 12 miles in 1:32:11. I am happy to know I'm not as bad off as I feared and I'll be alright to start timed workouts soon.

For those that like a nice neat summary:

Mon: Easy 7 miles (8:14)

Tue: Off

Wed: Fartlek #1: 6 x 2:00 @ 10k (1:00); 6 x 1:00 @ 5k (1:00); 4 x :20 @ 1 mile (:40) with 15:00 w/u and 12:00 c/d for 8 miles in 1 hour.

Thu: Easy 7.5 miles (7:53)

Fri: Fartlek #2: 20 x :35 @ 5k (1:25) with 10:00 w/u and 12:00 c/d for 8 miles in 1 hour.

Sat: Easy 7.75 miles (7:52)

Sun: 12 hilly miles (averaging 7:40)

Total: 50.25


GP said...

Wow, I'll say you're doing all right! And it looks like we'll have a few days in which things like the cold, sludge, snow, sleet, wind, bite or salt will get in the way. Enjoy!

kenyarunb said...

You are so awesome, Salty :) You are totally going to take down all of your PRs in 2008!


Jim said...

Congrats on a 50 mile week. And nicely run.

GP said...

OK, I lied. It's not making for runner-friendly conditions. I must have been reading weather for San Francisco or something.