Genius, I tell you.
Secondly -- hoo boy, did the speed work spank me on Tuesday.
Generally, track workouts have always been my favorite of the week. Yes, sometimes it takes a little more functional brain power to gather everything up & drive to the track vs just putting on running clothes & heading out the door, but for the most part I find speed work more interesting and more rewarding than just putting in easy miles.
Tuesday was different, though. I won't say I was dreading my track workout all day Tuesday, but, unusually for me, I was most certainly looking forward to it being over. Partly I think it was because of the distance; my last track workout had 1.5 miles worth of intervals while this one had 3.5. Plus most of my runs lately feel significantly harder than I'm used to. Also I pretty much constantly worry about my calves. (It was during a track workout in December when the stress fracture in my left leg went from "Well this is pretty uncomfortable" to "HOLY JEEBUS someone get me some crutches.")
Usually my favorite place...
My assignment was a 2 mile warm up, one mile in 7:10 / 1:30 jog, two 800m's in 3:26 / 2:00 jog, another mile in 7:10, & a 1.5 mile cool down. As with my previous two speed sessions, I had to break the warm-up into half-mile chunks because long run + karate + 48 hours of no running apparently causes my Achilles/lower calf area to tighten up like shrink wrap. A couple minutes of aggressive stretching & shaking them out seems to do the trick, but as a result my warm-up ends up taking nearly twice as long, which is annoying.
It was a less-than-promising start in other ways as well. It was hot & I was sweating & chafing everywhere like a mofo (even in my nose), and on top of this some running group was doing their circle-of-bffs-and-stretching thing on the track while there were about a billion people running on it (ok like 30).
Seriously. They were taking up four lanes. And they always do this. I nearly got kicked twice by the same dude getting his dynamic stretch on in the middle of lane four. Some shrieking & wild slapping may have occurred. In my defense that is what you get if you stand in the middle of the a track & nearly kick people who are trying to run. There are like infinity other places in that stadium where people can stretch; there's just no excuse for doing it on the track while other people are trying to use it.
Things did not get better once I started running. Since I've been running pretty much all my runs at faster paces than my schedule says completely comfortably, I figured I should probably bump these up a little too. In the past I've interpreted the paces on this workout as 10K pace & 5K pace respectively, so I figured I'd just go by feel & shoot for those levels of effort & try not to kill myself.
And it hurt. God it hurt. Which was weird, because the part of my brain that stores these things in muscle memory was going, "Yep, this is totally how that pace should feel" while the conscious part was going "Really? But it feels sooooo slooooowww" and the emotional part was throwing a little tantrum & going "It huuuuuuuurts, is it oooooover yet??" For a while I wasn't even going to look at my watch during the intervals so that afterward I would have an unbiased idea of what pace those levels of effort correlated with. At least that was the idea; eventually I couldn't resist looking and to my dismay my pace was all over the place. During the first mile alone I think I saw every possible number between 6:20 & 7:20 at one point or another.
I had a hard time jogging the recovery intervals too (though it ended up not mattering because I had to stop in between anyway to stretch out my stupid Achilles & remind myself that no, I wasn't getting a stress fracture again) which made me wonder if I was running the intervals too fast. By the last 1600m I felt like my right glute/hamstring wasn't firing quite right, and I could tell my muscles were getting tired because it was getting harder and harder to stay out of my calves. My rule of thumb is to always finish my last interval feeling as if I could run just one more with no problem, and that was definitely not the case after that last mile. It was all I could do to brow beat myself into doing the cool down (again, stopping for a stretch break every half mile).
If I'd been running these intervals in a vacuum, I'd say those paces were maybe fine, but it was hot, and there was a crazy headwind down the backstretch so realistically they were probably a bit too fast. I mean they didn't kill me, but still. By the time this workout was over I was BEAT.
One of the perks of recording all my track splits is the ability to go back in time & compare what I can do now to what I was doing at a certain point in the past when I have an idea what my fitness was like. It turns out the last time I ran this workout was March 5, 2013, about halfway through my training cycle for Mountains 2 Beach Marathon. At that point I was in pretty good but not amazing shape, & whipped out the following:
I was hoping I'd written something useful about this workout in that week's training journal to put it in context ("Woo, super easy!" "Ugh shoot me.") but apparently all I did was lambast myself for not writing the workout down & gypping myself on a minute of recovery time. Which probably means it was more or less fine & not awful.
Since these numbers aren't drastically lower & it was probably not 75° that day, I'm probably not *that* far off of my fitness at that point. But I am clearly waaaaaay out of practice at running the right paces with some amount of consistency. Though, this being my 3rd track workout of the cycle, I can forgive myself for that.
Still, I'm used to leaving the track feeling relaxed and satisfied and confident, not dragging myself to the car feeling physically like ass and also generally confused and insecure about what just happened (oh and also kind of still wanting to strangle people with no track manners). It's a good thing I have good friends who had a cold glass of white wine waiting for me when I finally got to dinner.