Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Working on speed at the track and trails

This month, I have really been honing in on speed, both on the track and in my tempo runs.  Next month, I have 3 races:
3/10: Four Courts 4 Miler
3/17: National Half Marathon
3/25: Scope It Out 5k

The goal race for the month is not actually the half, but the 5k the week after.  The half might serve more as a workout than a race.  It is my goal this year to crack into the 19s for the 5k, and I am hoping to get to that point very soon.

I have had 2 tempo runs lately that went really well.  2 Saturdays ago, I did a 10 mile run with 6 miles averaging 7:12 pace (finishing around 7:00 for the final mile), and it felt great.  Doing these tempo runs on the trail with marked miles and no road interruptions has been terrific.  I feel like I finally understand how to do them now.  I'm not perfect (and sometimes I blow up with them...read on) at them yet, but much better than I was at them a year or two ago.  This Saturday, it was a 10 mile run with 5 miles of tempoing.  I started at 7:10, then 7:00, 6:52, 6:36, and then errrrrk (you have to hear a car screeching), 7:01 for the last mile.  I definitely went out way too fast in that fourth mile, but at least I am learning how to really stretch myself in these runs.  The thing that was funny was that between last Saturday and this Saturday, a huge tree fell and blocked part of the trail.  So when I got to that part, I stopped my watch, and had to swing over it (practically like getting over the saddle of a horse), and then keep running.  An unexpected obstacle!  But seriously, I keep learning a lot about how to do good tempo runs.  I've heard that it takes 2 years of consistent running to really hone in.  So, if the tempo runs are just starting to come together now, that means a few good years ahead of me as I continue to learn how to do them.

And then my true love of the week - Tenacious Tuesdays on the Track!  Every Monday night, I go to bed so excited about the track workout that awaits me the following morning.  The time I spend on the track is one of the highlights of my week.  I tend to have the track all to myself, which is definitely helpful.  It is my private time, and generally tends to be a little victory for me that gives me a boost for the entire day.  And this is one of those moments when I am really grateful for the flexible schedule that comes with academia.  Each Tuesday morning, I get up, work for an hour at home, then go to the track, and then continue on with my day.  I don't have to get up super early, but because I teach later in the day, I have the time in the morning to do the workout.  Anyways, cycle 2 of spring training is coming to a close this week, so this is just a quick summary of a few of those workouts.

2.5 mile warm-up; 4x1 mile; 2.5 mile cool-down (2 days after a 5k race).  Start the  miles at 7:05  and cut-down 5-7 seconds per interval; 500 meter jog between intervals; 2.5 mile cool-down.  7:00, 6:57, 6:47, 6:39.  Total: 10 miles

2.5 mile warm-up; 2 x 1.5 mile workout, 2 x 800; First 1.5 mile is composed of 3 continuously run 800s.  It is easy, hard, easy.  2 lap jog; The second 1.5 is hard, easy, hard.  1 lap jog between intervals. 2.5 mile cool-down.  The goal is to keep the 1.5 rolling along evenly (even though there are pace changes), so on the first one, make sure to ease up enough the last two laps so that is about the same time as the first two laps.  Total: 10 miles

 This was my best go at this workout ever (I've done this one probably about half a dozen times): 
2 x 1.5 mile: 3:25, 3:13, 3:25
 3:13, 3:25, 3:13
 (so, a little fast, but was able to be fairly consistent with the switches - certainly much more than I have in the past with this workout)
2 x 800: 3:13, 3:10

2.5 mile warm-up; 2 x 2 mile, 2 x 800; The 2 miles should be run evenly.  Aim to run 13:50 for the first, jog 2 laps, and 13:40 for the second; jog 2 laps.  On the 800s, aim for 3:20, 3:17.  1 lap jog between each.  2.5 mile cool-down.  Total: 11 miles  
This was today's workout, and I was really proud of it.  I did the 2 sets of 2 miles in 13:41 and 13:31 and man, felt tired.  I regrouped and recouped, and then did the 2 x 800 in 3:21 and 3:14.

Now, this made for a great month of speed that I hope I can apply in next month's races.  I feel like I'm really learning to apply myself/stretch myself/push myself with these workouts.  They are going faster than I could have anticipated, and by the time the next workout rolls around, I am rested and ready to go!  Seriously, those runs are some of my favorite hours of the week.  It's like a little victory for me.  And so even if a class doesn't go perfect, or research is a bit slow, I have that win to remind me to keep at it!

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