Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tempos heating up as it heats up

Beyond mile repeats, beyond long slow distance (you know, the other kind of LSD), beyond any track workout, the run each week that both bolsters my confidence and speed is the tempo run. Also known as the progression run, it is part of a longer run where you pick up the pace as the run progresses. So, rather than going out too fast and burning out/hitting the wall, you pick things up when you are theoretically running on tired legs. For me, they tend to range between 3-7 miles, and they are always slower than goal race pace. I think it is the best way to simulate race conditions, and now that I've learned how to do them (mostly - I'm no master - I still start too fast sometimes), I absolutely swear by them.
These were fantastic to do in California on Saturday mornings. I wasn't in charge of the kids, it would be about 55-60 degrees, cloudy, and I could just go out and knock these out. Now that I'm back in DC, there are other things to do, and it's hotter. I've actually taken to now doing a lot of my runs in the evening when I get home (generally after 6), so things are cooling down, rather than heating up. Plus, I've found that my legs are lot looser from moving around throughout the day, rather than just from the few steps to the coffeepot and to go outside. All these benefits, plus, I can accomplish a lot during the day, and the run is an end of day treat.
Anyways, Saturday was an 11 mile run, with 6 miles of tempo. THe goal was to start at 7:30 pace and either hold it (depending on the weather), or try to cut down. I knew it was a hot day, and all I wanted to do was stay inside...but I was not going to can this run. It was my monster week of cycle 2 training (46 miles) and I was determined to get all of these runs in. The warm up wasn't too bad - I wasn't pouring buckets yet, which was a good sign. I lined up at my starting spot on the W&OD trail and hoped for the best. I was 3 weeks out from my rust-buster, and wanted this to be a strong workout. Bang! The invisible gun goes off, and I go through the first mile in 7:03. Whoa nelly, slow down. It is hot and you have 5 miles to go. But I was feeling good, and then another 7minute mile came. Then another. So, it was the turnaround point, and I told myself the goal was to not blow up. Last Saturday, I had sought to do a 40 minute tempo run, and only got through 20 minutes. Didn't want to bonk and scrap the workout again. But this time, I was feeling more confident. I was definitely more hydrated - I had drank lots of water throughout the day, filling up the tank, as it were, rather than just the morning cup of coffee after a night of sleep (which is when you get dehydrated). There were some hills on the way back, but I kept hunkering down. I was thinking of Deena Kastor and her recent 9th place finish at the World Championship in Moscow, running the marathon in 2:36 at age 40 when the heat was I'm the 90s. Surely I could maintain seven minute pace for just 6 mile. My finish line (a wooden post) was in sight, and I came through the last mile in 6:50. It was the best hot tempo run I had ever done. I walked around for a couple minutes, just catching my breath and calming down, then did my 2.5 mile cooldown.
The finish line of my high mileage week was in sight. All that remained was a half marathon long run and that would bring me up to 46 miles. Again, procrastination kicked in and window washing, vacuuming, church, and much more all happened before my long run. So again, I put off the run until the evening. I was excited because I just got an iPhone and was looking forward to trying one of the running apps. I downloaded run keeper and set off. I haven't been in our new apartment for that long and mainly had been keeping on the W&OD trail. This time, I was going to add some variation and visit some of the neighborhoods in the area. The only problem with running at dinnertime is that people are out grilling and it all smelled so good! I was pleased with my pace - just under 8 minutes, and was appreciating that there was low pressure. I didn't have anything to get back to, no school assignments or work meetings awaiting - this wasn't going to be crammed in. And I kept knocking off sub 8s without feeling I was expending too much. At the end of it all, it was a beautiful run and fast too 1:40:58 for 13.15 miles - probably the fastest 13 I had ever done in a training run. Stumbling back into the house, I made gluten-free spaghetti and sausage for dinner (you can carbo load after, right?) and put my legs up in sweet victory.
I'm in a recovery week now, and given that it is the first week of school (teaching 1 class and working on my dissertation), I could definitely use the free time! 

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