Thursday, September 15, 2016

Peak Speed Work

On Tuesday morning I got up early to do this monster of a track workout before heading to the airport:

  • 2 miles warm up
  • Drills/dynamic stretches
  • 3 x 800m @ 5K pace / 200m jog
  • 40:00 @ marathon pace
  • 3 x 800m @ 5K pace / 200m jog
  • 2 miles cool down

At 12.5 miles, this is the longest speed session on my training plan, & I'll do it once more in November about a month out from CIM (though there are many more only a mile or so shorter). I wasn't worried about it, per se, but after my long run on Sunday it was always there in the back of my mind, sort of looming and monolithic. Like. That is a lot of miles to run at not-easy pace.

As with an 18-20 mile long run, it's easy for me to get overwhelmed with these big workouts if I think about it too much in its entirety. Literally, I think the only way I manage to psyche myself up to drive to the track and even *start* is by eating the elephant one bite at a time. Like, none of the individual pieces are that bad--"Two easy miles? That's barely a run!" "3 x 800m? Merely a rigorous warm-up!" "5 comfortably fast miles? Just my usual eastern GG Park loop plus a bit."--so I kind of just start the next thing (with love, as an old yoga teacher used to say) & lie to myself that that one piece is all there is to do. (No yoga teacher to blame for the last part.)

And, honestly, it really wasn't that bad. Long, yes, but like, WAAAY easier than an "easy" run of the same distance. In particular, the 800m's felt kind of scary easy. A couple of weeks back, my no-speed-work-in-four-months ass was kind of shocked to find myself running 800m's in the 3:25-3:30 range; this time I just tried to stick to the same effort level (5Kish), and was pretty stunned when this happened:

After the first one I was like, "Wait, what?" & honestly thought for a second that I'd made some kind of stopwatch error. Then I thought, "Huh. Well, at least it's out of your system." But apparently it wasn't because I just kept whipping them out, not really feeling like I was making any special effort beyond what I had the last time. It's hard to believe I've gotten that much fitter that quickly, but I'm not sure what else to chock it up to.

The toughest part of this workout was definitely the 40:00 at marathon pace(-ish). Knowing the climes that some of your train in, I don't want to say it was "hot," exactly, but I'd thought that by getting out there in the morning I'd catch the cool part of the day & instead it was a good 15-20° hotter than I am used to running in and also full sun (and also I was wearing a black top).

In this shot from four years ago, it is hot & I am running at 5K pace & wearing the same black top mentioned above, so it's basically like you're RIGHT THERE AT THE TRACK WITH ME.

It was supposed to be 40:00 but I suck at using my watch so instead I just had to round it to 5 miles (which ended up being pretty close). The sun & heat definitely took their toll -- I think my body kind of locked into the usual "feel" & cadence of marathon pace, but instead of the target 167-182ish HR range, I averaged more like 190. D: (For comparison, on a cool day a few weeks ago I ran 30:00 between sets of 800m's at 8:04 pace & average HR 175.) In retrospect I should have been more disciplined & made myself slow down a little; alas, even though my HR was high I just kept thinking, "Oh, this feels okay, no big deal..." Oops. We'll just have to hope it's not 80° at CIM.

Which just adds to the reasons why, afterwards, I was sure those three-x-teen 800m's were history. But no; they just kept coming. Clearly just more evidence that I'm a middle distance runner at heart & not a marathoner. I'm probably the type of runner who at peak marathon fitness would run 3:10 Yasso 800m's & then run a 3:40 marathon. Because THAT makes sense.

(Alternative explanation: Just as some people have a completely separate stomach for dessert or beer or what have you, I have a separate set of legs specifically for doing intervals on the track, & nothing else I do with them in between seems to "count" towards fatiguing them.)

I don't have a lot of gifts in life, but this may be one. Who wants to convince me to train for the mile next year????

1 comment:

  1. My theory is a combo of your theory (that you're a freakishly fast middle distance runner) and another, which is the base training you've been doing has allowed you to very quickly see gains in speed. Also, one thing I've noticed this year is that a lot of running faster is mental. I won't do any speedwork for weeks, the first session will be terrible, but it only takes me like 2 weeks to get a lot faster. Also, I've heard 3-4 weeks is how it takes for your neuromuscular system to tune into running faster.