Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Winter Is Strange

Early morning ice
 This year, winter is an enigma.  One week, its 25F and another its 55F.  You just never know what is coming.  Take this week (well the end of last week and into this week) for example.  We got sleet/freezing rain/snow Friday night and into Saturday, which left a hazardous coating of ice along the trail.  While Saturday was ok to run due to the initial layer of snow under the ice, by Sunday, everything was just a sheet which made walking, much less running next to impossible in my area.  That forced me onto the treadmill for Sunday's 8 mile run, which I completed while watching the end of the Pats/Ravens game and into the beginning of the Giants/49ers game.  Obviously, the excitement of both games kept me mentally busy while the miles ticked away.

As an aside, I'd like to note that sporting events are a great way to spend some time on the treadmill.  I created a game that would keep me active for the entire time.  The rules were the following:

During play:
  • For each completion or positive rushing play, decline the elevation setting
  • For each incomplete pass, sack, or negative rushing play, incline the elevation setting
  • During the time between a score and the next possession, increase the pace for the entire duration until the next play and go back to the regular speed and adjust elevation based on the outcome of the play
On commercials:
  • Each commercial alternates between speeding up and slowing down
I'd imagine you could customize this for virtually anything, but with football, it certainly makes it easy to follow along.  Plus, if you are feeling tired, you can cheer for the team possessing the ball to keep making forward progress, so the downhill continues.  And as an FYI, this was done on a treadmill that can go to a 3% DECLINE, so you do get the sensation of the recovery that comes from running downhill, rather than the reward of just a flat terrain.  If you are considering a treadmill and have the option of one with a decline, I'd strongly recommend it.  It really makes a difference - so instead of always running flat or uphill, you get more natural run feel to each run.  Perhaps some more details on the treadmill in a future post.

Now contrast that with only two days later when I was out running in shorts and a tshirt in 55 degrees and sunny weather!  Now don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining...well except when it turns cold again, because it always feels so much colder after you've had a chance to run in some warmer weather for a change.  But I will say that one of the positives of running in what I consider ideal running weather (45-55F) is that the workouts tend to feel much easier than they otherwise would.  Yesterday's workout was a doozy on paper, because I am really starting to dial in my marathon pacing efforts, so while the intensity isn't as high, the distances covered goes up.  Da plan:
  • 2 mile warm up, 2 x 4 miles at marathon pace minus 10-15s, with a 5 minute regular jog between sets, 2 mile cool down
While I knew I'd be able to do the workout (hopefully 8 miles at marathon pace doesn't tire you out too much otherwise I'd begin to think about adjusting your expectations!), its always the act of knowing that I'm going to run about 13 miles in the middle of the week, 8 of which will be working relatively harder.  At least today, with the weather so nice, I had no excuse not to run, so run I did.  And what I ended up with is:
  • 1st set of 4 miles: 7:15/mile avg (155 bpm avg)
  • 2nd set of 4 miles: 7:06/mile avg (160 bpm avg)
  • 13+ miles total in about 1:38 - not bad for a weekday!
Now I don't know if it was the magical weather or what, but running those paces at those heart rates (while I'm in the midst of peak mileage training), is very encouraging.  I'm always hesitant to base any conclusions on one workout or one metric, so I use a combination of pace/HR while also considering total cumulative fatigue over the past couple of weeks.  Now typically, your HR is bound to be a bit high when there is excessive fatigue, since your body is working harder than it is used to, so to see these numbers now is very encouraging to say the least.

Let's just hope for similar weather on race day! 


Sean in NY said...

What/when is the next marathon?

it's all about pace said...

nice splits... your focus is impressive as well

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