Wednesday, July 15, 2009

This treadmill goes to 11!

I am not a fan of treadmill running.  Never have been.  In fact, I will go to extremes to avoid hopping on one.  My Tuesday night workout made me seriously question this aversion and realize that I may actually be in love.

I had double runs scheduled for Monday and Tuesday requiring me to run at least one of them each day in the 90-100 degree heat.  As hard as I tried to be smart and do the long, hard run during the cooler morning hours, a late Sunday night run and Power Core Circuit left me in no shape to roll out of bed and run 10 miles Monday morning.  So, I was stuck both days doing my longer, harder runs in the evening.

On the books for Tuesday, I had 19 total miles with 5 moderate (including 5 minutes at half marathon effort) in the morning and a 14-mile hill workout in the evening.  The hill workout included:

  • 10 minutes at lactate threshold (tempo) effort;
  • 5 minutes of recovery;
  • 1,2,3,4,4,3,2,1 minute hills at 5k effort with easy jog down rests between reps;
  • 10 minutes recovery;
  • 3 x 200m cutdowns.

I think it’s obvious why I opted for an indoor treadmill workout for this one, but I felt a wee bit guilty knowing that others were out there in the heat of the evening running their hill repeats on Pennsylvania Hill.  This guilt passed quickly.

I found an underutilized Polar chest strap in my gym bag and threw that on thinking that watching my heart rate change might provide a fun distraction.  The first few miles were easy and my heart rate confirmed this hovering around 130 bpm for an 8:00 pace.  After 2 miles, I launched into the 10 minutes at LT effort and used the HR monitor to help gauge that effort.  I immediately became smitten with this treadmill device.  I set the grade to 1% (to match road pace due to the lack of resistance from air flow you experience on the treadmill) and worked my way from 6:15 pace down to 6:00 and my heart rate never quite reached the LT zone.  This indicated to me that I am getting fitter!

The hill repeats gave me another indication that my fitness is improving.  In past blogs, I indicated that my main goal with this marathon training cycle is to achieve at least the same level of fitness I had going in to Belgrade.  I think I was in close to 2:46 marathon shape then based on workouts and races during that cycle.  So, I am constantly comparing my workout and race performance with what I achieved during that training cycle. 

In January and February, I did two similar treadmill hill repeat workouts and ran the repeats at 5-5.5% grade at speeds between 8-8.8 mph for 5-10k effort.  Tuesday night, I did this workout at 5% grade ranging between 8.8-9.5 mph.  Also, I noted my heart rate during one of the past treadmill workouts and it got up to 178.  It never got above 171 for Tuesday night’s workout, even during the 4-minute repeats.  My heart rate recovered very quickly following each hill repeat, dropping back to below 130 within 30-45 seconds during my rest jog. 

After the hills, I did my 200 meter cut downs finishing as fast as I dared to go on this machine (up to 11mph).  As I jogged part of my cool down on the treadmill before going outside to finish, I noted that my heart rate was actually lower than when I started this run but I was running 30 seconds per mile faster (7:30 pace).  This last observation still boggles my mind.

So, I loved the workout so much that I asked the treadmill to marry me.  You’re all invited to the wedding.

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