Friday, February 4, 2011
Running Intervals in the Wind
For many people training for a race, intervals become one of several key workouts they tackle each week. I'm a routine kinda person, and I like to do my interval workouts at a certain point in my week. So when I realized that interval day was on a day when we were experiencing 25+ mph winds, I knew it was going to be interesting. Sure, I could have ventured inside for the warm, controlled confines of a gym and a treadmill, but I love the track. It takes me back to the good old days of my life as a sprinter in high school, so I try to run on it whenever a workout calls for it. Plus, it is easier for me to dial in my pace on a track, since you can be sure of the exact distance and time and use the distance markers along the way to gauge progress to adjust pacing.
On this particular day, it seemed as though there was pretty close to a 50/50 split of headwind vs tailwind combination, so I knew at least that I'd even out in my pacing in the end. However, it was figuring out exactly how that would play out that was the fun part. For this workout, which was 6 x 800m, my goal was to average right about 6:00/mile pace splits.
The winning combination of pacing that seemed to work out was something along the lines of 5:45 with the wind and 6:25 against the wind. Unscientifically, this just goes to show that the impact of a headwind is significantly more hurtful, than the benefits of a tailwind. Oddly enough, last night I was just perusing the topic of weather conditions in Daniel's Running Formula, where he found that you lose about 15-20% in a stiff headwind, but only gain 7-9% in a similar tailwind. Pretty darn close to what I found in my unscientific study! (cue bad news music)
Ultimately, I still managed to finish each interval within 4 seconds of each other, which I think it pretty impressive. Not only was I able to keep them close in that weather, but all successful interval workouts should be run such that your 1st interval is no faster (give or take a few seconds) than your last. In this case, my 1st and my last happened to be my fastest, with the others falling within that 4s range. Pretty sweet!