Thursday, March 08, 2007

Dante's In-tervals

For someone who was once a sprinter, I sure don't much like speedwork. I guess nobody really likes speedwork, just the results it produces. Based on the recent article making the rounds about intervals vs. tempo runs, I have switched my Thursday run to be interval based. I don't have access to a track at lunch and don't really like running in circles anyway so I do simple timed intervals. After about a 6-7 minute warm-up that brings me to the dirt and gravel path around the Coyote Creek, I set my countdown timer for 2:00 min. I run 2 minutes hard followed by a 2 minute recovery jog. After the fifth interval, I allow myself a 4 minute recovery jog before hitting the next 5 VERY painful intervals with 2 minute recoveries. I don't know exactly how far or what pace I am at, but I am definitely sucking wind badly at the end of those last couple. I'm pretty sure that I am running somewhere below my 5K race-pace of about 7 minute miles as I know I could never keep up the level of intensity for 3 miles (or maybe even 1 mile). At 6:45/mi or so, that makes these about 500m intervals. Maybe not as good as 800m intervals for distance training, but with I am getting in at least 3 miles at intensity and I definitely feel worked. I finish with a 6-7 minute cool-down jog back to work for a total of around 7.3 miles of running.

Today was interval day. I was going to bail completely due to feeling pretty worked already this week. Normally, Wednesdays are my mid-long days which should be reaching close to 12 miles or so at this point. However, scheduling conflicts made me decide that I would try out a double day instead this week. Further scheduling conflicts meant that my easy 7+ on Tuesday was done at 4:20pm. Then, I did around 6 miles early Wednesday morning and finished off with another 7+ miler at lunch on Wednesday. During that last one I had a "near bonk experience" as I hadn't really handled my nutrition correctly given that I was now running 20+ miles in a less than a 20 hour time period. I probably should have treated it a little more like the end of a long run. I survived, but was definitely feeling worked. So, when I felt OK with the decision to skip my speedwork.

However, one thing I like about doing my speedwork in the same area as a my "normal" runs is the mental games I play with myself to keep myself going. I was feeling OK at lunch. I had already gone from deciding to do a tempo run to convincing myself to do a minimal interval workout. Maybe just 6-8 with a longer recovery at 3 or 4. After the warm-up, I hit the timer and was prepared for 8 intervals with a long recover after 4. At interval 4, I was feeling OK so I thought I'll do 5 and then take the long recovery before doing just 3 more. At 7 I though, maybe I'll finish 8 and take a second long interval and complete my 9 or 10. However, each time that alarm went off, I found the motivation somewhere to kick it in, like some sort of Pavlovian response. Finishing the 9th and 10th intervals I was sucking wind so hard I felt like I was hyperventilating. I had gone from deciding to skip my interval workout altogether to running the intervals from HELL!!

In the end, there is really nothing more satisfying than completing a hard workout. Especially one that forces you to dig deep and push past the pain and your perception of your own limits. I'm thinking I may try to increase the length of the intervals if I can ever get to the point of finish number 10 feeling like I could actually do another. We'll see. It was actually pretty warm today and it definitely took some time to cool down. However, I still felt good enough to hit the gym tonight and do some weights, abs and some very light spinning on the bike. I am definitely looking forward to the rest day tomorrow. Then its the weekend and the plans are already stirring in my head...

4 comments:

Charlie Nickell said...

Nice piece. I'm going to put your link on my blog. You're a good writer.

Speed work sucks sometimes but it feels good when finished and pays of huge come race day. Good for you for doing it. Most blow it off.

miki said...

nice. sounds beautifully painful. good job on getting youself out there to do it. it's always worth it in the end, but sometimes getting that first foot out the door can be so HARD. ack, I miss it a lot.

Eudemus said...

Charlie, thanks for the kind words. I have been enjoying your blog recently as well.

Eudemus said...

Miki, yes it is worth it in the end. However, I am beginning to think that the intervals are actually turning into better mental training than physical.