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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

running low on inspiration

(Warning:  this post is likely to be incredibly boring to anyone who isn't interested in running. )

Training for a marathon in the winter seemed like a good idea in the fall.

Now it just seems like a pain in the ass.

I don't really want to be forced to complain about the winter but at this point my arm is securely pinned behind my back.  Every time I even think about running outside a new storm, arctic cold front or fine sheath of ice finds its way all over the roads.  Last week I begrudgingly ran my 14 mile long run on the treadmill (my longest treadmill run to date).  The scary part is, I'm not even sure I mind it anymore.  I have a bag right next to me with Gu, non-frozen Gatorade (because every long run this winter has left me with a Camelbak full of frozen Gatorade), bananas, my blood glucose meter and my cell phone with which to receive inspiring texts from my friends.  It is getting ridiculously cushy in there!  People cheer me on, ask me if I need anything.  Soon I will deck the machine out with flags and posters scribbled with mantras.

 I fear I'm going to become such an artificial runner that when my feet hit the pavement at the start of the Sugarloaf Marathon I might utter something absurd like, "Oh, the sun is too bright!" or "I might break a nail out here!" 

I've also come to have a love/hate relationship with my long runs such that when the week rolls over I want to do it as soon as possible.  It looms like a thesis paper deadline in my head.  My 15 mile monkey on my back.  And then I ride this amazing high when I complete it, only to turn my attention to the next upcoming insanity the following week. 

I feel like without this training plan I could just curl up on the couch with tea and book and beckon the winter to show me all its got.  Instead, with 30 miles to cover a week on foot, I feel like winter and I are at war.  And we know who is going to lose this fight, don't we?

One thing I can say about the treadmill: I am learning how to incorporate new workouts and stave off boredom.  I dare say I might even be getting a teensy bit faster too, but who knows how that translates out on the road.

Here are some of my favorite new workouts:

(a note about my pace:  my fastest long runs outside have been in the 10:20 min/mile category and my shorter runs I can usually run somewhere in the 9 min/mile range.  As an added incentive not to see my average pace on the treadmill read anywhere other than in the 9 min/mile range, I no longer let myself run slower than 6.1 since that equals a 9:50 min/mile.  As a result, even my 14 miler on the treadmill averaged a 9:42 pace which, although in artificial conditions, is a pretty significant improvement even on a treadmill for me.  I also keep the grade at 1.0% to mimic some wind resistance. I know, I know.  Big whoop.)

Speed Intervals: 
this is work-out is based on the 1:2 ratio a trainer told me to try for speed workouts (1 for speed, 2 for recovery
1/2- 1 mile warm-up (depending on your needs), then cycles of 1 minute fast/ 2 minutes recovery
repeat as often as wanted to complete run with 1/2 mile cool down

This is a for instance of how I used this today for my 4 mile run: 
1 mile warm-up at 6.1 mph
1 minute at 6.5
2 min at 6.1
1 min at 6.6
2 min at 6.1
1 min at 6.8
2 min at 6.1
1 min at 7.0
2 min at 6.1
1 min at 7.2
then was at 3.25 miles so I decided to cool down for remainder and then remembered something I had read about sprinting at the end of runs to work tired legs.  So I sprinted at 8.0 for the last .35 miles.

The workout flew by.  Which, in addition to building some speed, is totally part of my plan. (And my ipod was dead for the whole thing so I proved some serious grittiness to myself to run fast without the aid of a bass beat.)

Tempo Run: 
(I have never really understood this run because you are, essentially, supposed to run at your desired race speed. I always run as fast as I can go.  Sometimes that is speedy for me, sometimes it's embarrassingly slow.  Setting a speed seemed more like a "sure that would be nice" kind of thing.  But I gave it a try for my 7 miler and I liked it.)

Warm-up: 1 mile at 6.1
Tempo run: 5 miles at 6.3
Cool down: 3/4  mile at 6.1
last 1/4 mile sprint

This does not seem like the difference between 6.1 and 6.3 would make a big difference.  But let me tell you, I've never kept that pace for more than 3 or 4 miles (except in 1 race) so it ended up being a great work-out and good push through mental challenge of wanting to ease up but forcing myself to hold steady. Plus, it was a great breakdown of a mid-week, mid-distance run.

Step-Up speed intervals:
( I don't know what this is actually called.  Emilie told me about it last year and I love it. It is a challenging and engaging run that leaves you spent.)

This workout should be tailored to whatever paces work to challenge you.  I have included a sample of what I run each interval at just to give you an idea.)

warm-up: 1/2 mile (6.1 mph)
1 mile at an increased speed (6.3)
1/4 mile recovery jog or walk (6.1)
3/4 mile faster than the 1 mile (6.5)
1/4 mile recovery (6.1)
1/2 mile faster than than the 3/4 mile (6.8)
1/4 mile recovery (6.1)
1/4 mile faster (7.2)
1/4 mile recovery (6.1)
1/4 mile even faster (7.5-8.0)
1/2 mile recovery

Even ratio speed intervals:
A friend told me about this run which alternates 2 min speedwalk with 2 minutes sprint but I found I couldn't speedwalk while running.  It hurts my anterior tibialis muscle alongside my shin.  So I am tweaking this one to suit me.  It is harder than the 1:2 ratio of speed to recovery for obvious reasons.  The suggestion was to power walk at a 4.5 or 5.0 then sprint at 8.0.  I would like to think that I could maintain an 8.0 pace for 2 minutes several times in one work-out but when I did this I had to start in the 7.0 range and work up to one 8.0 sprint with a 6.1 jog in place of the speedwalk.

So now you are either bored to tears or you want to go hop on a treadmill!

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