Saturday, July 21, 2007

Simulation Saturday

It always amazes me that running is much more easily done than anticipated. Even though I ran a super easy please-let's-just-rest 60 minutes yesterday, I was still worried about this morning, this morning. I wasn't sore or anything, I just thought that these 90 minutes (w/70 @ 150 HR) days come in quick succession and I wondered at how I was going to get it done.

I felt the same way last Saturday but I had an excuse. I had ridden the motorcycle up into the wilds of Aroostook County and then awoke at 4am in order to get my run in. Rolling out of the bed that morning, I was operating on very little sleep and a some time pressure. This morning, even though I had a full night's rest in my own bed and a full hour of leisurely coffee and toast prior to the run, I still had the how-can-I-make-this-easier? attitude about the upcoming run.

Normally, I run my 70 minutes up-tempo on the airport because it is flat and I won't stress the legs. I can get into a rhythm at 150 HR and see how it goes from there. Occasionally, I will switch out to the highway but this really works only for the 2 hour run since there's not enough time to do the whole 70 minute faster portion on flat road necessitating some up-tempo running on rough road. But I'm tired of that. At least today. So I decided to try the hamburger mill again and run the entire run on my normal 5 mile loop - which is an amazing simulation of MDI's first 16 miles: rolling hills that are short, abrupt, with twists and turns, and has the happy knack of taking out the rhythm and leaving just the blues.

How I came to think this was a good idea is rather the result of my dissatisfaction with every alternative I could think of in my morning cloud. So in an attempt to avoid duplicating how I felt last time, I decided to do two things differently:

1. Run 20 minutes (instead of 10) easily prior to the 70 minute up-tempo segment
2. Run according to "comfort" without looking at the heart rate monitor

Running an additional 10 minutes prior to increasing the pace helps me warm up more and stops what feels like "cold start" symptoms - tight legs, heavy breathing, tense form...

Running according to comfort solves the problem of the hills but adds the issue of running at a heart rate above the designated level and not adjusting for drift. So in some respects, it turned out to be a 'test' of what comfortable feels like on hilly terrain and what effect it has on my heart rate and pace. The goal was to run naturally with pace reduction on the up's and striding out on the down's - and not worry about where the heart rate went to just as long as I was running comfortably.

This plan was worked out in it's final details during the 20 minute warmup. The first mile (all uphill) in 8:47 gives one an idea that I was a little tired this morning. But I smoothed out for mile 2 (7:27 -downhill), and picked up the pace at the 20 minute mark.

And would you know? I felt so much better once I picked up the pace. While the warmup pace seemed to drag, once I let the legs turn over I felt much better. And once I hit the first hill after increasing the pace, I knew that 150 wasn't happening - I would be over it for sure. But oh well. This was a slight test of the equipment to see how things were going.

The first full mile split since the 20 minute mark was 6:55. This told me that I wasn't "pressing"the pace and thus making this workout into a performance session. That's the danger running without the guide. You can start wanting and then purposely start trying to hit a particular time and thus change the purpose (and effect) of the workout. But I was running very comfortably and very pleased with how I felt - both up the hills and down.

I can't say I was overly pleased with the splits, but they're just numbers and I can't doing anything about them except continue with the consistent training:

6:42 (pace - 5:06 for .76 mile)

Except for the long uphill at mile 1 (and the down at mile 2) and the subsequent repeating of this every 5th mile, the course rolls up and down in quick succession each mile.

In the end, the up-tempo portion averaged a 6:49 pace with an average HR of 157-158. The total run was 12.76 miles, 152 HR, 7:03 pace.

At least I felt good.


Blogger Love2Run said...

Isn't it strange how you can talk yourself into an out of different workouts while on the run and still manage to get it done? So much of this running thing is mental. Good work with the continued slow build.

7/22/2007 12:55 PM  
Blogger Thomas said...

The heart rate drift is the main reason why I don't like running at a predefined HR. After your warm-up you start out at a certain pace, but in order to get your HR under that threshold you have to slow down as the run progresses. In other words, you're deliberately running positive splits. It just seems wrong to me.

7/23/2007 8:58 AM  

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