Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Semi-speedwork Wednesday

And so it begins—the fall/winter running season. Dark when I leave in the morning (and soon to be dark when I return as well). Possibly raining. And COLD.

Today it was dark and cold, but happily not raining. (It rained all day yesterday, though.) Because of yesterday's rain, I didn't really want to go to the track for speedwork. It's muddy enough under normal circumstances, I didn't want to deal with extra mud! So I decided to do 4 x 1-mile intervals on the road for today's speedwork. It went okay, but I don't think I'm really effective doing speedwork except on a track. (More on that in a moment.)

As for COLD, that it was. Well, it was in the mid-40's, which is a lot colder than I've been accustomed to over the summer and even in recent weeks. I over-compensated for the cold, though, by wearing a pretty thick long-sleeved shirt under a running jacket, plus gloves. I always feel like I'm going to be colder running than I actually am (there is a warm-up factor, you know). I could have done well wearing a lighter long-sleeved shirt or possibly even a short-sleeved shirt under the jacket. The gloves were a good idea, though. I think my hands would have been pretty cold without them, at least for the first few miles till my quickly circulating blood warmed me up. Irritatingly, despite the many pairs of gloves I own, last night I could only find one pair suitable for running. They happened to be hot pink, and my jacket was coral-colored. Oh well. It was dark out.

I started out by doing two miles of warm-up (jogging at a 10+ pace). Since it was so dark, I couldn't see the Garmin (and haven't yet figured out how to lock the light on), so I had to rely on the beeps to know when I finished a mile. After the two mile beep, I kicked my pace up to do my first "speed" mile.

I will say right now that my speedwork this morning was more on the caliber of a tempo/pace run than a speed workout. Each of my "fast" miles was in what seems to be my current half-marathon pace range, between 8:30 and 8:50, which is not a bad pace by any means. But it is far slower than what I have done on the track, even for a distance as long as a mile (under 8 minutes, even under 7:30 once).

I think it must be primarily a psychological thing. When I'm out there doing intervals on the track, whether it's quarter mile, half mile, or even a full mile, I put it all out there for the duration of each lap. After I finish a lap I rest a little, then I go again. When I'm on the road, in the middle of a distance run, it's harder to mentally separate the "fast" miles from the rest. Yes, I can pick up my pace, but it's just more difficult to put it all out there knowing that the road goes on even after I finish my interval. Plus, of course, the conditions are more pure at the track. On the road I face inclines and declines, corners, lights, traffic, pedestrians, and potential hazards like tree roots or sidewalk signs.

My general plan was to follow the warm-up with four 1-mile intervals, with about a half mile recovery jog in between each. My first recovery jog was intentionally short, only .35 miles, because that got me to Grand Avenue Park, which is a little more than a quarter mile in length. I wanted to start speed mile 2 there, so I could go up and down the park twice and finish a mile that way. Accordingly, my next recovery jog was a little long, .65 miles, so I could get my laps back on track to "even" miles and half miles. (By this time, it was light enough that I could see the Garmin pretty well.)

Another speed mile, another half mile recovery (with an emergency bathroom stop in the middle of the recovery lap), then my final speed mile was followed by a bonus speed mile back down to Starbucks.

Final stats:

Warm-up Mile 1 - 10:30
Warm-up Mile 2 - 10:07
Speed Mile 1 - 8:38
Recovery - .35 mile at 9:16 pace
Speed Mile 2 - 8:31
Recovery - .65 mile at 9:32 pace
Speed Mile 3 - 8:50
Recovery - .14 mile at 10:40 pace plus .36 mile at 10:36 pace
Speed Mile 4 - 8:48
Speed Mile 5 - 8:37
Recovery - .14 mile at 9:44 pace
Walk home - .5 mile (not included in total mileage)

TOTAL - 8.64 miles, average pace 9:17

The moral of this story is: If you really want to do speedwork, go to the track.

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