Monday, July 15, 2013

I just need a 12 mile warm up

I have been neglecting my blog lately, and I apologize to those of you who have been waiting to hear how my 5000m race on the track went two Sundays ago. Bottom line: it sucked in a major way. I tried to search for some little crumb of positive that came from driving 2 hours each way to run a 19:00 5k, but you know what? There isn't one and there doesn't have to be. I didn't feel good from the very beginning of the race, and it just didn't get any better. So there you go.

Coach Hadley may have summed it up best by saying that I must just need a 12 mile warm up given that I ran a workout within my long run the weekend before with the last 3 miles faster than I raced this 5k. So, basically I'm not dwelling on the race. Sometimes you have a bad race. The sun still came up the next morning and nobody took away my birthday.

Since that race, I've had some good workouts. I ran 5 x 1 mile repeats on the bike trail Wednesday morning. I averaged 6:01 for the set which is a 5-7 second improvement over the last time I did the workout. And, I think the last time I did the workout I spent a lot more time lollygagging between repeats (though I wasn't supposed to). The most brilliant thing about that workout was that I ran it with friends! This is something that I have needed for a while--a posse of runners to meet up with so I can get my hind quarters out the door for workouts. It also helps to push me during the workout and keeps me honest. I love that I have so many fast ladies in the area to run with and that they are willing to do some of my workouts! I'm looking forward to 12 x 400m with the group Wednesday.

Yesterday, I had my first 20 mile day of the cycle. I ran 5 miles in the morning with my puppies and then jumped on the treadmill for 15 in the evening. My disdain for the treadmill has oddly turned into excitement. I seem to run so well on the thing and it has some distinct advantages for me right now:

  1. It is helping me to learn to negative split and really push my effort at the end of workouts. For whatever reason, I have had trouble lately starting out too fast on the roads in my workouts and have been positively splitting or taking a longer rest period during the workout than prescribed.
  2. I can see how my heart rate is affected by increased/decreased pace and recovery. What else is there to focus on?
  3. Mentally, this is much tougher for me than running on a trail or road. It takes so much mental effort to stay on the treadmill for 15 miles. I always feel like I have accomplished something monumental when I'm done.
  4. It's cool inside the gym. It's not outside.
There are also some distinct disadvantages:
  1. I feel like I'm cheating. I never believe the paces I see on the treadmill. Even adjusting for lack of wind resistance by upping the incline, I still won't believe it is the same or even close to the same.
  2. I don't race on the treadmill. It is an ideal environment, so what I can do on the treadmill doesn't necessarily equate to paces I can run on the roads in a "real world" environment.
  3. It engages musculature differently. We use less of our hamstrings when running on a treadmill since the whirring belt helps finish our stride for us.
  4. It. Is. Boring.  
This treadmill workout had a 5 mile warm up, 5 mile tempo, and 5 mile cool down. I ran the first 5 at a steadily decreasing pace from 8:00 down to 6:45. I took the opportunity to listen to a book I am currently fascinated by, Top Dog, by Bronson and Merryman. This book is really helping me understand how our brains work especially related to competitive situations. I am developing curriculum for a runner-specific mind training program right now, and this book (along with all of the citations it's packed with) is really helping shape it. This stuff fascinates me to no end! I've been surprised numerous times in reading the book how out of date the common thinking is about how our minds work in training and competition.

At 5 miles in, I stopped the mill and switched to some power music for the next 5 mile tempo section. I started out conservatively with a 6:15-6:20* pace (*Take all paces with a grain of salt. I cite them only for comparative purposes) first mile. The last time I did this workout a month or so ago, I ran the 5 miles at 6:29 pace. I was pretty sure I would run faster than that! I was itching to increase the pace right off the bat, but I was patient. I'm sure that made a huge difference. I cranked down the next two miles until I was around 6:03. Mile 4 was 6:00 pace and I let myself crank the pace down for the last mile every minute until I was running 5:18 pace for the last minute. My heart rate got up to 90% of max which is right in the middle of the typical tempo range according to Daniels.

The last 5 miles were the hardest for me mentally. I was dreading them actually. I switched back to my audiobook and set my mind to focus on the task at hand. I started this section at 7:30 pace and ended it at 6:30 pace. I ran it faster and faster because I wanted to finish it! I was tired by the end, but I don't feel like I overdid it.

I have a race coming up. It's a half marathon. I am tapering for it. I have no idea what I will run there. I know now, after reading Top Dog, that just "thinking positively" about it will likely lead to a poor performance. Instead, I have realistic expectations that I could have a very good day if I feel good and everything lines up, including some planets. I've run the race a couple of times before, so I know what to expect. The weather may be warm but not miserable. So, the external factors appear to be lining up. Now, we'll just have to see how the physical and mental pieces fall in place. I have had some good workouts that tell me I am fairly fit, though not in top shape. I also just ran a 19:00 5k, so there you go.

I promise to write a race report right after the half marathon regardless of how it goes! I will likely be drunk since I'll be running from Napa to Sonoma and staying the night in Sonoma. It should be entertaining if nothing else.


  1. I can't wait to hear more about your mind-training curriculum for runners, that sounds SO interesting.
    Hope your half marathon goes well!

    1. Thanks, Meg. It's a lot of fun to put together!

  2. Hope the half goes well. Could be something to the 12 mile warm-up theory (or at least a good warm-up). A friend drove 3 hours & had a sucky race - 39:19 10k, a minute slower than normal. Then a couple of weeks back, ran that pace first half of a marathon, hit a headwind late & still ran 2:49. So yes, one bad race doesn't mean much.

    Interesting re your treadmill training. Agree re 'boring' - 45 mins was the most I ever did at hotels. Also re not trusting their pace. Do you have your own? Brand? I've been thinking about getting one.

    1. Replying in backwards order here, but you now know how the half went. So, with the two bad races on my back, I am planning to postpone to CIM.

      That's right, I don't trust the treadmill calibration. I use the ones at the gym and they all feel a bit different. I do not have my own. I have a small house and don't know where I would put it. A few years back I was looking around and it seems like I ran across some good websites with reviews of treadmills. You should Google check.

    2. CIM is a good choice. Yes, agree there re gym treadmills. I was researching home ones a couple of months ago. Generally they're dearer in Aus than the US. I'd love a slat belt treadmill, but they must be expenseive - A friend recommended but they're the price of a small car. I almost bought a folding Sole one, as they look pretty good -

    3. Thanks, Ewen. Expense is one of the reasons I have not gotten one. It would be convenient!