Thursday, April 7, 2011

Intervals!

I went into this workout worried. My Martian Half went really well, but I worry that I may have left too much out on the course. A (projected) two minute PR is about four minutes faster than I thought I would do, and about three minutes faster than I thought may have really been healthy for me.

Tuesday I did a leg workout which is still kicking my ass. at least, that's where about half the pain is. The rest is in my quads. And yesterday I felt like I was running just a bit too fast, sabotaging today's run.

I get worried when factors pile up like that. It's a thing.

So I got to Indian Springs, and the day is just perfect, for me. Mid 40s, overcast, and just a bit breezy. Two mile warm up. I thought of the intervals my coach assigned me: six 800s with a 400 rest between, paces as follows: 7:30, 7:15, 7:00. 6:45, 6:30, 6:30.

First interval (goal: 7:30) was hard: I guess my legs were set on half marathon pace from this weekend. Started to fast, slowed myself down too much, played yo-yo to catch up. Wash, rinse, repeat. 3:46 (7:32).

Second interval (goal: 7:15) went much better.I felt relaxed, checked every 30 seconds or so to make sure I was on target, and didn't do much tweaking. 3:37 (7:14).

Third interval (goal 7:00) also went really well. I just pictured myself running a 10K, tried to find my rhythm, and started thinking a little more about breathing. 3:28 (6:56).

Fourth interval (goal 6:45) didn't go quite so well. Got a little lazy, didn't check my watch to make sure I was on track, so when I hit about 600 meters, my average pace was 6:53. So I ran hard and hit the 800 meters completely winded... but ahead of schedule. Oops. 3:19 (6:38).

It was during this rest interval I really started to play with the idea of changing my breathing. Counting breaths is my mantra when I'm running; I've been doing it for years, and it really helps me focus. When I'm running easy, I use my breaths to time my foot falls; usually to the tune of one breath every six steps, three in, three out.

If I'm holding a 180 step cadence, and count every inspiration and expiration, I should be doing half a breath (and count) every second. And I've counted literally thousands of my breaths.

Harder running usually calls for two steps per inspiration and expiration, meaning I hit about a 90 count during a minute. This is what I shoot for during a half, 10K or 5K. I've only toyed with the idea of taking breaths faster, never played with it.

I started playing with the new breathing pattern after doing the stupid interval. Two steps to breath in, one step to breath out. Easy to maintain during rest; foot falls are slow, and I have time to think about it.

Fifth interval (goal 6:30) came, and it went out the window. I was averaging a 6:39 pace for the most part until I hit a lucky down hill; this helped enough to let me hit my interval goal. But towards the end I was gasping like a landed fish. And wheezing, which wasn't much fun at all. 3:14 (6:28).

Rest interval. I tried to practice the two steps (breath in) one step (breath out) pattern a bit more. Maybe a little better handle on it.

Sixth (and final) interval (goal: 6:30). I started with the new pattern right off. It felt... pretty good. Like running a waltz. Every time I exhaled, I imagined my breath hanging just a meter before me, and every time I inhaled, I caught up to it. It kind of gave new meaning to "catching my breath." The interval went smoothly. No yo-yoing after falling off pace. No concentration lapses. And best of all, no Wheezing! 3:15 (6:30).

So, gentle reader, if you've made it this far, color me impressed. I hope it was diverting if not entertaining. I renamed my blog appropriately, I think. Perhaps if you've spent time thinking on these things, you could drop me a line to tell me what you've learned...


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1 comment:

David said...

Outstanding! Nice job hitting your marks!