Showing posts with label intervals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label intervals. Show all posts

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Back to the track, two years later

Run fast, repeat
Today's run (track): 1 mile warm-up, 1 mile intervals, 1 mile cool down (total 3.1 miles)

Unlike most weekend mornings, I woke up knowing exactly what my workout would be. I knew it had been some time since I did speed work, but it wasn't until I looked at Garmin Connect that I realized I hadn't run a full set of intervals since June 15, 2014. I've been noticeably improving my performance over the past few weeks and I figured doing repeats would be a good way to end a great week of running.

It was cool but humid when I started this morning. I did a mile warm-up at 9:53 and followed that with 10 x 110 and 4 x 125 meter sprints, separated by 30 second rest periods. I'd read that rest time for short intervals should be three times the run duration, but I was impatient. Surprisingly, my speed remained pretty consistent from start to finish, and even improved a little by the end. The other surprise was that my heart rate stayed at around 77% max while running. I would have expected it to spike a lot higher.

After I finished my speed work, I thought my cool down would feel easy. That was not the case, although it started feeling easier by lap two. I ran the last mile at 10:27 which was faster than it felt. I'd averaged 6:32 for the interval mile.

I was fortunate to be home for three days last week and got in six total workouts. I always perform better when I run with greater frequency. I'm concerned that I'll fall back to three to four workouts a week. In any case, I'm hoping I'll be able to hold the gains I've made this week.

Monday, July 4, 2016

At the track with Frank and the usual suspects

Frank (in red), stair climber guy (background)
Today's run (track): 4 miles - 3.25 @ pace + 8 x 300m

Happy 4th of July. It's sunny and a little warm for my taste, but the mid-afternoon humidity was surprisingly low. That wasn't the case this morning when I went to the track. I'd hoped to avoid sun, heat and people by getting there before 7:00 AM (fail, fail, fail & fail), but I stalled so long I didn't start running until almost 8:30. Conditions seemed ideal at first but I soon noticed the moisture in the air. It didn't hold me back. In fact I ran my fastest during my fourth mile.

I wanted to run four miles in honor of Independence Day and did my first three the usual way, switching direction from counter-clockwise to clockwise after the second mile. There weren't too many others at the track this morning. It was the usual walkers and run-walkers, along with a guy who was running up and down the stands and another who was running 200's with long breaks in between sprints.

Periodic sprinter guy in yellow behind run walker
After I'd covered 13 laps, I decided to run intervals for the last 3/4 mile. I haven't downloaded the Garmin to see how I did performance-wise, but it wasn't a bad effort. I always notice some speed improvement during periods when I can string together four or more consecutive runs. I've also revisited the idea of reducing sugar and simple carbs due to a book I'm reading that clearly explains why it makes sense to do that (versus just counting calories or reducing fat). The author did warn that performance sometimes gets worse before it gets better. I'm not worried because my current performance couldn't get much worse.

When I finished my run, I noticed a guy in a walker going back and forth along the bottom row of the stands. I asked him if he was getting in his workout and he said he was, although he wished there wasn't so much sun. I told him that he should go over to Bethpage, because the bike trail is generally shaded until mid morning. He told me that his name was Frank and he was a former professional soccer player. His team was the German-Hungarian Soccer Club and he played in the Cosmopolitan Soccer League in the '60's.

Frank is 76 and he's had lots of knee surgeries due to all the stress he put on himself when he was playing. It was really nice to talk to him and I wished I had more time to chat. Frank mentioned that he had a great orthopedic surgeon who said he can get him off the walker. He's considering doing that, but concerned about the risk. Either way, he doesn't seem like the type of person who'd let this problem keep him from getting his workouts done.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Making strides on the track

Part one of today's workout
Today's run (track): 4 miles plus 4 x 200s

My legs exploded off the line, firing my fast twitch muscles and propelling me 200 meters at breakneck speed. That was the experience I was hoping for, but not quite my reality. My plan this morning was to do some speed work so I headed over to the high school to run measured intervals. I did get in some repeats, but most of my workout was track mileage.

When I arrived at the school I was excited to see that I had the place to myself. I decided to take advantage of the clear lanes and do a two mile warm-up before switching to strides. The flat track helped my performance and provided me a half minute per mile improvement over yesterday's pace. I wore my new buff around my neck and pulled it over my head when I encountered strong winds.

The track doesn't provide a lot of visual stimulation, but I liked watching the bright sun coming up over the horizon while I made my way around. I decided to keep running after I'd covered my first two miles and ended up doing a full four before moving over to speed work.

I only ended up doing 4 x 200s with 30 second recoveries, averaging 59 seconds per repeat. Not exactly explosive speed, but I haven't done anaerobic training in a long time. Still, it worked out to 8:00 per mile, a pace I haven't seen for months. If I could sustain that speed for more than 200 meters, I'd be pretty happy. The answer is clearly more intervals, more often,

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Beefs and intervals on the track

Making great strides
Today's run (track): 3 mile run, plus 8 X 200

Although my pace throughout last Sunday's Bethpage run was s-l-o-w, I was encouraged to see my speed improve once I started running with SIOR. Unfortunately, my speed dropped again once she who was out running brought her pace back to target. Left to pace myself, I'd defaulted to a lower performance level.

My orthopedist told me that my ruptured disc won't return to its prior state on its own and he warned me of pushing my speed too hard. I've been very careful to avoid circumstances that would aggravate my lower back and my recovery has been excellent. The near trip I experienced during a trail run last weekend didn't cause a relapse, so I decided it was safe to push the envelope a bit this weekend.

My morning schedule was tight so I needed to get out for an early, fast workout. When I arrived at the track there was the usual mix of people -- mostly walkers and others who were alternating between running and walking. I had no plan, other than to run intervals that I would start after some warm up laps. I ran clockwise, on the inside (right) lane, to help counter-balance my usual running position on the left side of the road.

GPS inaccuracy: I swear I stayed on the track the entire time
After I'd completed my second lap, I noticed a guy wearing a singlet on the track about 100 meters in front of me. He looked like he was about to start his run, but pulled up short behind a man who had been walking laps. Once I reached them, I heard the runner arguing about the walker's rudeness. In the seconds that I passed them, inferred that the walker had bumped into the other guy and failed to apologize.

I continued on my way but noticed that they were still in a heated conversation when I circled back toward where they were standing. I was prepared to give them the, "C'mon guys, let it go" speech but they stopped on their own before I reached them. I continued rounding the track until I'd completed twelve laps and saw that the singlet guy had started running 200's. Instead of taking a short rest or running a slow jog before resuming, he slowly walked 200 meters to the next starting spot and rested a few minutes before resuming. I ended up doing two 200's for every one that he did.

My feeling of superiority was quickly dashed. A young woman, who was also running strides, overtook and passed me like I was walking. At that moment, I was running a 7:15 pace. No matter how fast you run, there's always someone faster. In my case, that's usually everyone else.

I'm pleased that I got in some speed work today. I haven't checked Garmin Connect, but I think that was my first interval session in 2015. It was a pleasure to see the histogram on Connect that showed my cadence firmly in the green zone throughout most of the workout and my average stride length ten percent longer than usual. Mostly, it was great to see a mile split in the low 8 minute range for a change.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Boston is back and back to the track

Tracking Marathon friends on
Today's run (track intervals): 
6 x 400's plus 1 mile warm up/cool down

Yesterday was a big day for running, with the 118th Boston Marathon taking place (thankfully) without incident. Both SIOR and TPP's sister ran great races, and it was fun to watch their progress using the tracker on the BAA website. How perfect that Meb Keflezighi won the men's race. I'll never look at Skechers the same way again. I was disappointed when Shalane Flanagan dropped back after leading for so long, but she scored an American course record while finishing seventh overall.

The marathon would have been great inspiration for a Monday run, but I held to my rest day to ensure I'd recover from Sunday's long distance. Speed work was on the calendar today, and since the schools are closed until tomorrow, I went over to the track to run intervals. I've done weekly speed workouts all throughout my half marathon training cycle, but I hadn't done a single set on the track until today.

The temperature was 55° when I arrived at the high school. Although I was wearing shorts, I was concerned that having two top layers would cause me to overheat. With the 6 MPH wind, it felt chilly enough to keep them both on the entire time. The high school cross country team was assembled at the southern end of the track infield and I wondered if my workout would happen alongside a crowd of much faster runners.

My HRM now takes 5 minutes to sync
It turned out that I didn't need to share the track at all. The coach was having the team run laps barefoot on the grass, first slowly, then at speed. While that was happening, I started my workout with two laps around the track at around 8:50/mile followed by 6 x 400's at 8:00/mile. I finished with a half mile cool-down that I ran at a mid-9 pace.

It was good tactical workout. I probably could have added another two quarters, but I wanted to keep it light today. I'll try to cover much more distance tomorrow. With the race on Sunday, I'm not sure what to do about my weekend long run.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Treadmill repeats, a little faster and a little better

Check this box  if you are tired of seeing my HR charts 
Today's run (treadmill repeats): 2.5 miles - 6 x 400 plus 1 mile warm up / cool down

My Runsketeer buddy TPP has been focusing on cutting back on her sugar and carbs. Reducing your sugar intake is a good idea (provided there are no underlying issues related to hypoglycemia). Moderating simple carbs is always smart. Most of the time we don't need that sugar, but our cave-person genetics force us to crave it. The one exception is when you are 40 minutes into a 10K and you need energy right now.

I used to use GU gels frequently on my runs, even when I ran relatively short distances. Now I rarely use energy boosters, or anything like it. I've now reached the point in my half marathon training program where I'm approaching double digit base runs. That means I'm running for 80 minutes or more at a time, long enough to (supposedly) deplete my glycogen stores. So far I've avoided using supplements during this training. I took a GU gel along on Sunday, but never felt like I needed it. Then again, despite all the hills, I really didn't push myself that hard.

I'm not Brooklyn race ready yet, but I've definitely moved the needle in terms of endurance. Running seven easy miles, as I did over the weekend, would have been a struggle four weeks ago. But I felt great on Sunday. This morning I ran another set of 6 x 400 repeats, this time on the treadmill. I prefer to do this workout on the track or at least on pavement, but it was raining fairly hard outside this morning.

Considering the challenge I had running 220's a couple of weeks ago on the treadmill (at a slightly slower pace), I can see progress. Today's quarters were run at 7.2 MPH, book-ended with half mile warm up and and cool down runs. I was very pleased to see my HR reaching 85% of max by the final seconds of each interval. I plan to take the speed up to 7.3 MPH next time I do treadmill repeats.

Tomorrow is my mid-week base run, which by my formula (80% of Sunday's long run) should total 5.6 miles. I'll try to run at least two of those miles at Half Marathon target pace, per the advice of SIOR. This will be the first "bridge" workout where I partially combine a speed and distance run. I'll be interested to see if I've restored my fitness well enough by now to manage through it.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Fast times on the asphalt track

Cadence drops throughout the run 
Today's run (intervals): 1.6 miles - 6 x 420m

I was extremely unmotivated this morning and decided that this whole running thing has finally played out. I've decided to quit and take up golf instead. April Fools! Fear not, I have no plans to stop, but if racing as we know it turns into this, I will reconsider it. Running through tree pollen is tough, but it's something we deal with. Running through clouds of rainbow colored corn starch is another thing altogether.

Happily, there was no rainbow dust in sight this morning when I went outside for my Tuesday speed session. Due to the weather, I have been doing repeats on the treadmill. Today's weather was so perfect I wanted to go outside. I'd picked out a stretch of somewhat straight road and adopted it as my track. Due to a lack of USATF measurement resources, I had to rely on Gmaps to define my start and finish points. This lack of precision resulted in a little extra distance per run, but really, what's a tenth of mile across six repeats?

My "track" has one property that is different from our local high school track: elevation change. It's not a big height difference overall, but I calculated the second half to be a 3.8% grade. Not exactly what one wants at the end of an all-out run. That's why tracks are supposed to be flat. On the other hand, the grade worked in my favor when going in the other direction.

I didn't know what to expect in terms of the speed I would maintain on these intervals. Hal Higdon instructs you to run at 5K or 10K pace for this series, but I ended up running a little faster, averaging 7:56 for the set. I found that sustaining a fast pace felt easier as I moved through the repeats, although a look at the numbers showed that I slowed down a little on the last two. Cadence was highest in the first third of each repeat.

Tomorrow I'm scheduled for my 5.x miles that I will do easy. I'm pleased with today's faster workout and I'm growing optimistic that the combination of performance running and base runs will prepare me well for Brooklyn.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Daft repeats: longer faster better stronger

Today's workout (treadmill repeats): 2 miles 
6 x 400m plus .5 mile warm/cool

Week 3 of half marathon training started better than week 2 finished off. After my second consecutive Sunday long run fail (only in the sense of performance, personally I had a great time) the evidence is pointing to cold induced breathing issues. Every run that I've done, either at temperatures above 40° or indoors, since my Brooklyn half training kickoff, has resulted in a decent performance. The two times I ran in high 20's/low 30's weather, I struggled mightily. Cold weather, J'accuse!

Or it could be the hills. Either way, the fact that I'm running decently more often than not is keeping me hopeful. Spring is here so chances are that one of these upcoming Sundays will provide better weather. That may help me turn the corner on my weekend base runs.

Today was speed day. It was 22° outside this morning, so I opted to do my workout indoors. Hal Higdon's program prescribed a 3.5 mile run, but I decided that I know a little more about this stuff than he does. But seriously, I've modified the Higdon training program to start my week with speed on Tuesdays and a base run on Wednesdays. Hal puts speed work into the Wednesday slot and allocates only Sundays to long runs. I felt I needed a little more base than that, an opinion echoed by some knowledgeable runners.

Hal's speed workout is 6 x 400's at 5K pace (8:24) and that's what I did this morning. In between repeats, I did 240 meter recovery jogs (.15 miles), which I may cut down to .12 miles next time. I also did a half mile warm up and cool down. I normally would have run another mile at my usual training pace to make a full three, but today I decided that 1.5 miles of speed stood on its own.

Tomorrow should be a 4.8 mile base/recovery run. The "feels like" temperature is predicted to be 19° when I plan to go out in the morning, so I'll have to decide whether to endure this cold and its effects, or suffer the tedium of a longish treadmill run. We're getting snow overnight, so that may help the decision.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Again with the treadmill repeats

Today's run (treadmill repeats): 3.1 miles 
(10 x 340m plus 1 mile warm up/cool down)

I'd like to thank everyone who commented on my post and sent me emails regarding my Brooklyn Half training plan. The consensus is that my weekly long run schedule is fairly solid and that speed work should integrated throughout the training cycle. I'm anxious to return to Bethpage and excited to be able to begin this training, with the additional six miles of paved bike trail that was completed last year. If I chose to do it, I could run an entire half marathon distance from my house to the Massapequa Preserve along that trail. But somebody would need to pick me up at the end! 13 miles is one thing, 26 is quite another.

My friends FS and SIOR both pointed out the Hal Higdon training plan and I found it realistic, accessible and very close to mine in terms of weekly long run schedule. Following months of complacency, I'm getting excited about performance again. After Monday's speed session, I opted for a moderate elliptical session on Tuesday. This morning it was back to speed work with another set of repeats done with a little less intensity.

Like Monday, I started with a half mile warm up before moving to intervals. I wanted to go a little longer on each repeat, so I bumped up the distance from 220 to 340 meters and set the speed about 3% lower than on Monday. I also capped  it at 10 repeats, although it worked out to almost the same distance. I finished again with a half mile cool down.

I'm not sure if this late stage speed work is going to translate into better performance on Saturday, but I hoping for the best. It's supposed to be very cold on Thursday, so I may have to do tomorrow's run on the treadmill. I would prefer to run outdoors, ideally on trail, so I could simulate trail race conditions.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Treadmill 220's, surprisingly fun

220m intervals with 70 second recovery jog
Today's run (treadmill intervals): 3.2 miles (16 x 220m, 1 mile warm up/cool down)

Although you wouldn't know it by looking at my Garmin data from my weekend runs, I have turned my attention back to performance running. It isn't without irony that, despite my now-clear neighborhood streets, I did my first speed workout this year on the treadmill. My preference would have been to do this on the track, but I was reluctant to risk being hauled off by security for trespassing at the high school.

I normally take Mondays as my rest days but I really needed to focus on my readiness. If the weather holds, I'll be racing on Saturday with the Runsketeers. I didn't intend to take as much time as I ended up needing for today's workout, but it was good that I did. My plan was to start with a half mile warm up at about 9:30 a mile and then run 12 x 100m before finishing with a mile cool down. I discovered that running intervals on a treadmill can be difficult. This is because the machine lacks the hard start/stop precision of the track. I had to account for the time it took the treadmill to get up to full speed each time.

As a result, I decided to run 220m repeats instead of 100's. I'm not confident of the accuracy of the speed displayed on the treadmill, but I set it 25% faster than what I usually run on the machine. I averaged 67 seconds for the 220's (about an 8:10 pace), after factoring in the starting lag.

I started and ended today's session with regular running. I bumped up the speed on the cool down to take advantage of the fact that 6.5 MPH feels a lot easier after pushing close to 8 MPH for twenty minutes. I was surprised that my heart rate averaged only 81% of max overall. Perhaps 67 seconds isn't enough time to go up from 64% (heart rate during recovery cycle). I'm sure that if I was doing 400's at that pace I'd be in the red zone by the end of each repeat.

Treadmill intervals were more fun than I expected and I hope this was a good way of reactivating my speed. I may do another speed session on Wednesday before my mini taper. Running fast is fun. I wish I could remember that more often.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Graupel and snow, the track and the treadmill

Waiting for the skies to clear
Today's run (track & treadmill): 1.5 miles - track, 2.5 miles progressive speed run

My goal was clear this morning. Go out before the rain and do speed work at the high school track. Before I did that, I decided to finish up a small business project so I wouldn't have to think about it over the weekend. While I was pleased with the progress I'd made, the time had slipped and I was scrambling to get out of the house.

I noticed a few scattered drops on my windshield during my short drive to the track. I'd left under sunny skies, but five minutes later conditions had changed to cloudy and gray. Even so, I felt that the slight drizzle would pass and I set out on my first warm-up lap. There were a few walkers on the track and a guy I recognized running in the opposite direction. He seemed to recognize me as well and we exchanged hellos the first time he came around. I felt really good and ready for the intervals I had planned for later in the workout.

During the New Year's Hangover run, Runsketeer teammate TPP had showed me a technique for lengthening my stride while keeping a proper center. She demonstrated that form with an impressive burst of speed and I've tried to duplicate it for short periods during every outdoor run since then. I used the technique today and marveled at the effect. It is a far more potent method for rapid acceleration than what I've previously relied upon. I looked forward to using that on my repeats.

I'd planned to run six laps at around a 9:00 pace and then run a series of 100's and 200's followed by some cool down laps.  Once I was into my fifth lap, I started hearing what sounded like BB's hitting the ground. Later I heard on News 12 that this is called graupel, or small hail. I figured that if this was happening, I didn't need to worry much about rain. Wrong.

By my sixth lap the graupel had given way to wetter stuff and, when I ended the lap, I headed to my car to wait out the rain. My late start had put some time pressure on me and I knew I couldn't wait too long. Once I could see that this rain was not letting up, I decided to cut my losses and head home.

I changed out of my wet shoes and put on short sleeves to continue my workout on the treadmill. My new speed plan was to start fast and go faster. Since the treadmill's idea of speed is different than mine, I focused on perceived effort (PE). I'd just run my track warm up at a low 9:00 pace, so I was familiar with how that felt. The initial setting of 6.5 MPH felt much more challenging than the 6.6 MPH that I'd just run at the track.

I incremented my speed every quarter mile until I was running an 8:20 pace that felt like sub-8:00. I really should calibrate my foot pod and measure my true speed on the treadmill. Once my heart rate went over 90% Max, I held that speed for a quarter mile. I then began incrementally backing down my speed until I completed my run.

Second workout: view from the treadmill
The second workout of the day was pretty intense and I was pleased that I could maintain a high PE over a couple of miles. That was my goal today, as I prepare for February's trail relay. My wife had walked into the room during my treadmill run and opened up the shade to reveal heavy snowfall. I guess I made the right decision to come home. Tomorrow might be a good day to try some speed on the trails, though with this rain and snow it could get muddy. It was nice to be outside today but, surprisingly, my best running happened indoors.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Speed in the morning, lost in the afternoon

Quiet at the track this morning
Today's run (track workout): 3.3 miles - 1 mile warm-up, 8 x 200m repeats, 1.3 mile cool down 

With its forgiving and flat surface, I should love the track. But, believe me, I don't. Running around a big oval is boring. It's not as tedious as the treadmill, but the repetitive scenery undercuts a sense progress in a similar way. My difficulty with the track also relates to the type of workouts I do there. If I'm at the track, I know I'll be feeling some pain.

If I do have to run at the track, I prefer to do it with as few other people around as possible. I try to get there early, before the crowds, but it's rare that I get the place to myself. This morning was very quiet, with a lone woman walking around the outside lane and a couple walking together. A little while later another man joined us, walking at an impressively fast pace. Even with that, it seemed peaceful, with the low sun illuminating the track and field like a scene from Field of Dreams.

I started with a mile warm-up at an easy, mid-9:00 pace before shifting to my speed workout of 8 x 200m intervals. I usually go for 10-12 repeats at 100m, but I thought it would be useful to stretch out the distance this time. I averaged 54 seconds for each repeat and covered that mile in 7:18. Not exactly burning up the track, but good performance for me over a series of 200m segments. The two workouts this weekend represent the last real race training I'll do prior to the 5K.

One of Muttontown Preserve's descending trails
Later in the afternoon my son and I paid a visit to the Muttontown Preserve to see if we could find the ruins of the old mansions from the 1930's. We didn't locate them, but we managed to get very lost, something I do every time I go there. It took us about 20 minutes longer to get through our hike than planned, because we got turned around a few times. No matter, hiking places like the MP are fun, even when you're not exactly sure where you are.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Tracking well through the taper

4 minutes of intensity
Today's run (track): 3.1 miles - 1 mile warm up, 10 x 100m, 1.6 mile recovery

Nothing like 52° weather to make speed work bearable. I went to the track early this morning to run intervals, but I didn't decide on my workout until I got there. I started with a mile warm up and followed that with 10 x 100 meter repeats. I finished with six more laps around the track, three at an easy pace and the last three somewhat faster.

Overall, it was a decent workout and I managed to run my 100 meter splits at 6:50 while maintaining a heart rate around 80% of max. I would have like to see better paces after the repeats, since my leg muscles were theoretically "activated." Residual fatigue was the likely culprit and my overall pace for the full distance run was 8:58.

Tomorrow will be a busy day in the city for me and I'll forgo my workout, since Mondays are my usual rest day. I'm thinking I'll do one more easy base run, one more short fast run and then rest. I had two good race-oriented workouts this weekend with acceptable results. I'm not sure I pushed as hard as I could either day but I didn't want to invite injury less than a week before the race.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Fast track to performance gains

Flow of the workout
Today's workout (track): 1 mile tempo, 12 x 100M, 1.25 mile cool-down = 3.1 miles

This morning I headed out early to the local track to run intervals and tempos. I took the Virratas out for their first run, and thought they responded well to fast pacing. My plan was to run one mile at 5K race pace, which I'd follow with intervals and a cool-down run.

The track had a few walkers and a couple of runners when I arrived. I got started quickly on my tempo warm up and found a pace that felt hard, but sustainable. I locked into that pace for four laps, guided by perceived effort. Along the way, I passed everyone including the other two runners on track. After last Sunday's low point of the race, when I was being passed left and right around mile five, it felt good to be the one who was doing the passing. I averaged 8:18 for the mile.

Next, I ran a set of 100 meter repeats, averaging 6:40 per mile. I was surprised when I later looked at heart rate data and saw that I'd averaged between 74-80% of MAX. Knowing that, I can probably get my pace down to 6:25, while still staying under 90% MAX. However, I'll probably keep it to 8 x 100's for that session.

I finished the workout with a 1.25 mile cool down, run at a moderate (9:21) pace. In total, it wasn't a lot of distance, but the intensity made up for that. I'm planning a long run tomorrow, either on the Bethpage path, or another route that will facilitate a 6+ mile distance better than my neighborhood roads. My performance has improved greatly for runs between 3-3.5 miles. It will be interesting to see how my pacing holds up, when I double that length tomorrow.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Speed work, if you can call it that

Running in circles makes me lose my tempo
Today's run (track): 3.1 mile tempo, plus 5 x 100m - total: 3.4 miles

This morning I headed to the local track to run intervals. I was not looking forward to the workout, but if I wanted to improve my speed, I needed to do my homework. Conditions were good, 66° with indirect sun, so I had little excuse to take it easy. I decided to start with a few warm up laps before taking on intervals. I ended up doing a three mile tempo run, followed by 5 x 100 meter strides, run two minutes/mile faster than 10K race pace.

I was concerned that I'd be dealing with some leg fatigue after yesterday's run. Once I got going, I became confident that I'd be okay, although I was frustrated with my limited ability to hit my targeted pace. By the second mile, I was running faster. There were others on the track during the time I was there, but it never got crowded. I appreciated having the first lane to myself, with no need to shift around any walkers or slower runners.


1. I'm still running pretty slow these days. My goal was to break 27 minutes, but I didn't succeed. However, I did run negative splits, with a 9% improvement between miles 1 and 3.

2. I was able to meet my speed target on the intervals. While these runs felt faster than the 6:54 average I recorded, the last time that I did speed work, I averaged under 6:30. Like I said, I'm still slow.

Overall, I'm pleased with this weekend's training. With a couple of tough workouts coming up this week, I feel like I'm setting up well for the competition on the 18th.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Machine made speed run

Today's run (treadmill speed run): 3.2 miles

The weather report this morning confirmed my decision to keep my workout indoors. The wind chill would bring temperatures down to the low 20's and the local track has plenty of wind. While I got ready to run I debated the level of intensity that I'd put to the task. I had looked up treadmill intervals online and considered doing that, but I settled on a more moderate speed session.

The online workout specified a brief warmup followed by five minutes at 7.1 MPH, the next five at 7.3 and then a .2 MPH step up every three minutes until you reached the 20 minute mark. Though short in duration, it was a bit more than I was willing to take on today. I decided to start at 6.1 and blip up my speed every few minutes until I was running in the low 7's. If the treadmill's display was accurate, I ended up averaging under a nine minute pace, despite starting out at 9:50.

I find treadmill running harder than street running, yet I tend to push myself harder on the treadmill. I suspect it has to do with the shorter stride that probably increases my cadence. A treadmill speed workout is a good start towards re-honing my performance edge, but I really do need to get back to the track. Still, with temperatures heading toward zero, you won't see me there this week.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Ready to fight the slowdown

Command performance tomorrow?
Today's run (street). 5.3 miles

Today's workout was typical for a Sunday run, although I did follow an untypical route. In an effort to break out of the neighborhood, I crossed Rt. 25 and did my run along Jericho Turnpike. I turned north up Jackson Ave. and then headed east, past the train station. Once I reached a natural endpoint, I retraced my route with an additional segment going west on Jericho. This allowed me to reach my targeted distance.

It was a perfectly pleasant run and the weather seemed milder than yesterday. The route provided some hill challenges but the wind was less intense. Despite the nice weather and what felt like an efficient stride, I was shocked to see that I'd clocked a pace over ten minutes a mile. Usually I can blame the terrain, the weather, or simply fatigue for a slow run. Yes, there were some hills, but my net elevation gain was only 250 feet over five miles.

Sometimes I worry that I'm slowing down. Four years ago, I could count on at least a couple of runs in the 8:00 range every week. Nowadays, except for races, I rarely break 9:20. I know that some of this is due to a lapse in competition since October. I can't remember the last time I did speed work, although I often run the last five minutes of my treadmill runs in the eight-minute range.

I'm thinking about returning to the track to run some intervals. It will be a nice change from the local roads. While I don't love the work, I usually feel great after a hard workout. It's supposed to be extremely cold on Monday so I may rethink this decision in the morning. Our treadmill can go 12 MPH so I could always do my intervals in the comfort of my own home.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Wackos and backward walkers at the track

Round and round (and round) we go
Today's run (track): 1 mile warm up, 8 x 220 M, 2 mile run = 4.15 miles

I finished my training for this week's 5K with some speed work on the local high school track. I'm always ambivalent about track running because I find the experience excruciatingly boring. At the same time, with its precise measurement and flat surface, the track is a great place to run intervals. Plus, there's always an interesting cast of characters to help distract me from the tedium.

The temperature was in the 70's and the humidity was moderate when I started my workout, with a warm up mile that I completed in 8:19. I wore my Hattori's that I've kept in the closet over the last few months while I ran with the Spira's, Kinvara 3's and my Brooks test shoes. The Hattori's felt fantastic and I'm tempted to go back to them as my regular trainers.

My track-mates included a guy who had about a decade on me, running shirtless. He was covered in sweat and moving at an impressive pace. I wondered how long he could keep that up. Pretty long, it turned out. I suspect he'd been at it for a while when I arrived, and he continued for the first 20 minutes of my workout.

Also on the track was an older Asian woman whom I'd seen before. She circles the track walking backwards. I'm not sure why, but that's her thing. There was a stocky guy with long hair and a beard walking the whole time I was there. I noticed that he'd switched to a trot around the time I was leaving. I also saw two or three other fitness walkers, some fast and some slow, whose orbits coincided with my laps at various points on the track.

One of the walkers was a guy in his 40's who I first noticed when he ran the steps in the grandstand. I expected to see him run when he got to the track, but he walked. He did a couple of sprints and, oddly, it was only when our paths crossed (I'd reversed direction on the track). Was he trying to prove he could run as well? He looked angry the whole time he was there and I noticed that he sped out of the parking lot in his big BMW, with gravel flying, after he'd finished his workout. What a wacko.

I felt good running the 220 splits and averaged 7:01 for that mile. I know I could have done better than that, but my goal was to generate some speed without injuring myself. It had been a while since I did any speed work. I did the last two miles closer to a 9:00 minute pace and I was satisfied with what will be my last training run before Wednesday.

While I'm ambivalent about the track, I can almost guarantee my runner's high after a workout like that. I count on that to help me through the less-than-stimulating experience of running in circles.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Track challenges, real and virtual

Today's run (track intervals): 1 mile warm up, 8x 200's, 1 mile cool down

Since it's a long weekend, I thought I'd forgo my usual Saturday distance run in favor of intervals. I'm running the New Hyde Park 8K next weekend and felt that I needed to put in some speed work before winding down my training. It's been months since I've been to the track, so I was looking forward to a change of scenery.

I started my workout at around 8:00 AM with a mile warm up that I completed in 8:53. The humidity was high and the sun was already hot by the time I'd started. I followed my warm up with 8 x 200's, averaging 6:26/mile and I finished with a mile cool down that I ran at around 8:50. About halfway through that last mile I realized my Garmin wasn't recording properly, so my time so the cool down is an estimate.

The toughest run on the web
As tough as that workout was, I found an even bigger challenge on a different track with QWOP - a video game that you can play online. In this game, the user is challenged to move a track runner 100 meters by controlling only his thighs and calves. It's deceptively difficult, so far the best I've done is 17.4 meters. Before you judge that as lacking, try it yourself!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Upping my game to reach an elusive PR

Today's workout (elliptical): 25 minutes

Tabata training and intervals have got me thinking about my current racing performance. The good news is that, since last June, I've been on a streak where I've set new PR's for 4 miles, 8K and 10K. In addition, I've achieved best ever times on five races that I do every year. The bad news is that I'm about to come around again to those races and the challenge of meeting or beating my best times will be much harder.

I believe that my improved performance is attributable to three things: more racing experience, smarter preparation methods and better weather conditions. I can't count on the weather and there's not much more I can do in terms of race day prep. The key for continued achievement in 2012 will be better training. I have a few ideas about that.

My next race is six weeks away. It's a 5K and I generally run those races as a controlled sprint. 5K is the only distance where I didn't PR in 2011, even though I ran three of them. My 5K PR is 25:50 (8:19 pace) from a race I ran in 2009. I came within 16 seconds of that time last December, but almost doesn't count.

The key to my training for the Marcie Mazzola 5K will be a much greater focus on intensity. This, coupled with increased core and strength workouts, may help me move the time needle from 25:50 towards 24:52 (8:00 pace). I have no expectation that I'll get there in April, but I may yet beat my 8:19 PR.

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