Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Speedwork and I are NOT friends.

I just finished my first speedwork session of this training plan.  I was supposed to do sets of 4 min hard with 3 min recovery jogs, to total 2.7 miles (sandwiched between warmup/cooldown).

As you all know, I just don't like speedwork.  It takes all of the joy out of running and makes it into work that I dread.  I've complained about this before.  If I'm running really hard I kind of disintegrate into a big blubbering wuss... I'm sure I was quite a sight today, making this terribly twisted-up tense face wracked with pain, wheezing really loud, making whiny noises, tears streaming down my face from the cold air and sun.  Words cannot describe how much mental energy it takes for me to complete a speed workout.

It is hereby resolved:  All days scheduled for speedwork must happen first thing in the morning.  That means I have a) less time to talk myself out of doing it, b) less time to dread doing it, and c) less likelihood of having any kind of heavy food in my stomach from earlier in the day.

Things I did wrong:

  • After the first 4min hard, my 3min recovery was more like "stop and die for 1 minute, walk for another 2, think about how terrible I feel and wonder why I'm even doing this for another 3, then finally start the next set."  So I may have rendered the entire first set useless by letting my heartrate drop too low and taking too long of a recovery.
  • After the second 4 min hard, I walked for 1 min before I started jogging the rest of the remaining recovery period
  • Instead of finishing out with 3min recovery jog and then a more extended cooldown, I just quit and walked home.
  • Instead of totaling 2.7 miles, it totaled 2.3 miles.
  • Ate soy earlier in the day before this hard run (learned long ago that tofu is a terrible choice on a hard run day... it just sits like a brick in my stomach and makes me feel sick on the run)
  • Had booze last night.  Not enough for a hangover, but still.  I need to clean up my diet... I've been eating like crap (post on that later).
  • Realized that for the last 4 weeks I was supposed to do strides at the end of a couple runs per week, and I forgot completely (oops).  I wonder if that explains why I'm this out of shape.
Anyway, yeah, that didn't go well.  By way of ending on a more positive note, things I did right:
  • The break after my second 4min hard was almost going to be a terribly long one like the first break was, but when the watch showed 3 mins I made myself start sprinting again.
  • I almost quit after 2 sets, but I made myself do a 3rd set.


  1. Just think, with all these lessons learned, the next time you do speed work, it should be so much easier, right?

  2. I HATE speedwork too! but good job on the 3 sets!

  3. I think the fact that you dragged your ass through this despite hating it so much -- and having eaten tofu earlier in the day (totally agree on that!) -- is a sign of real toughness. You can add to positives: you did it at all; you ran *hard*; you didn't break down and cry afterwards, instead, you figured out how you can make it better next time. I think doing it in the early morning is probably a good start!

    Other thing: have you thought about slowing the pace a little for the hard efforts? I read somewhere that for marathon training, you want to be running them somewhere around 10k pace. I know I certainly have a tendency to go out too fast.

    And thanks for your comment yesterday! Man, sometimes I feel like such a bitcher and a whiner, but it's just indescribable what trying to finish up a PhD can do to you. I mean, I haven't even thought about jobs yet. And then there's money (or none, as the case is). No real social life, because I always feel guilty that I'm not working, even at night (s'just a constant state of mind, the guilt). Bah. Anyway, I hope things settle down for you. I guess these things come in cycles. You'll pick back up at some point. And in the meantime, you can keep busting your ass with speedwork, haha!

  4. ps -- love the Homer picture!

  5. NIce to see you back on DM, Annette! I am curious about what "hard" pace is supposed to be for you. Just concerned because you used the term "sprinting" near the end of the post to describe your effort. I hope you weren't sprinting, because I can almost assure you that probably wasn't what "hard" was supposed to be! I look at intervals as segments of a little faster than comfortable, then a little slower than easy, repeat.

    The strides you didn't do won't get you in or out of shape. They are leg turnover and form drills. You do them at the end of a run when you are fatigued to get your legs turning over faster. Lots of slow mileage is important (more miles = better endurance; important for marathons!), but slow miles tend to encourage bad form. Strides counter this effect.

    Good job for making yourself get through it! I dread any kind of intense workout before I do it, but then feel awesome after and glad I did it. They build confidence.

  6. The Daniels book, as I've understood it, has the "hard" pace as the like... off-the-charts pace, higher than his other 4 paces (the other 4 are easy, marathon, tempo, and interval. So this is supposed to be one step harder than interval pace, which he deems unquantifiable--your hardest effort). I was running really hard (for me about a 7:50 pace), but probably not full-out sprinting. I'm going to get the book back out later today and take a look at it to see if I'm doing things right or what's going on....

    Thanks for advice on the strides!

  7. I've read Daniels. The workout your did, per Daniels, was a VO2 max interval. The "hard" part should be your interval pace: near 100% of your max heart rate. For most people, this is about 5K pace. For me, 5K pace is about an 8MM. If you were doing 7:50s, you were probably going way too fast. The effort was cutting into your recovery, which was why you felt like death during the recovery jogs. If you are not careful, too hard of an effort can cut into your other runs, which is something you don't want.

    I'd suggest, until you get the hang of these intervals, that maybe you do the sets as a progression. Do the first interval at half marathon pace, then do the second at 10K pace, then finish with one at 5K pace. Next time, start out with 10K pace, and the other two at 5K pace. Then the next time, all 5K.

    If at ANY time, this workout is just too much for you, I'd suggest scrapping it. Get your miles in. If a 4:40 marathon is your goal, you have the speed already, you just need the endurance to make that speed last for 26 miles. The best way to do that is to run more. You also want to consider what your hip can handle too. You won't fail at your race if you don't follow Daniels to a T. Build your miles first(see a theme here? LOL), and insert quality workouts if and when you can.

    See ya at the run tonight! :D

  8. were doing repetitions (R pace), weren't you? I was thrown off because you called them intervals on DM. Yes, intervals are indeed faster than 5K pace. BUT they, like strides, are form drills. They don't do anything to increase VO2 max or lactate threshold; it's just really fast running for short periods to get your form in check. That is why you get a long recovery period. You were pretty much doing ~ 800m repeats, given the time of the hard run. True intervals would not allow you so much recovery time. So, yeah, run them fast, but don't kill yourself either. The focus is form here, so concentrate on that.

    I heart Daniels, btw. He's all scientific-y and I love that.

  9. I meant to say repetitions are faster than intervals. My bad.