So today I did my very first “official” speedwork. Pam at We Run Disney recommended the book Run Less, Run Faster to me when I was bemoaning my inability to get a pinecone trophy at my 5k last weekend. I dutifully went out and bought it (along with The New Rules of Lifting for Women and book 5 of Game of Thrones) and mapped out my training schedule for the year.
The book recommends a 3×2 approach which is three days of running, (repeats, tempo, long run) and two days of cross training (bike, swim or row). Monday was my cross train day and I did the stationary bike plus day one of my new strength training plan. I hate the stationary bike so very very much but I gave it a try and apparently, when you add Charmed on Netflix streaming to the stationary bike, it’s not so bad after all!
Today was 8×400 repeats. Hmmm 8×400 = 1,600 = 2 miles. I can do two miles easy! What I didn’t realize is that with repeats 2 miles actually equals 5 miles with warm up/cool down/repeats and recovery laps. I had heard of repeats but didn’t really know how they worked. So here’s what I did for my prescribed 8×400:
- I looked in the chart in the book to get my goal pace for the repeats (it’s based on your current 5k time).
- I went to a local track (at noon because it was rainy all morning).
- The track was a 1/4 mile track which conveniently equals 400meters, so one lap = one repeat.
- I set my Garmin to let me manually hit a button for a lap.
- The book also prescribed the proper warmup, recovery intervals (also 400m) and cooldown.
- I jogged one mile at a slow-ish speed. The last lap of that mile I did pickups (you just run faster then slower for short bits) and butt kicks and knee lifts.
- I started a new lap on my Garmin, then I ran my first repeat. It was a full lap, 400m, 1/4 mile. My goal pace was 8:40 which is insane. I don’t run that fast ever. Which is apparently why they call it “speed work”. I glanced at my watch and I was going a bit faster than my goal speed which was crazy. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to keep up the pace but I just kept pushing it. The first lap felt pretty good.
- Then I jogged my “recovery” lap.
- The second repeat was a little harder, but still felt good.
- I walked/ran my next recovery lap.
- The third repeat felt hard. Really hard. Especially the last 100m or so. I started thinking maybe I mis-remembered the # of repeats. It couldn’t have been 8. Probably 4.
- I walked/ran my next recovery lap, pulled out my phone and checked my workout schedule. Crap. It really did say 8. How am I going to 8 of these monsters? I’m probably going to die out here.
- I grabbed some water and then started repeat #4. Yep, still hard. Still painful. OK, I’m going to quit after this one. Four is respectable for a first go at speed work. I’m sure next time will be easier. I’ll just do my recovery lap and then I’ll go back to my car.
- I walked/ran the recovery lap and convinced myself to do just one more repeat.
- Repeat #5. Geez it’s hot. And sunny. And my breathing is all messed up. And my legs feel like lead. Crap, I’m only half way around this huge track. OK, just keep going. Almost there and then you can quit. Just do your recovery lap to cool down.
- Water, recovery lap walk/run. Well, maybe I can do just one more repeat.
- Repeat #6. Why did I do this? I’m not fast. I’m just going to pass out and die. Well, at least I have my roadID on so they can identify my body. Just keep moving. Just keep breathing. This can be your last repeat. Six is a lot. Just one more recovery lap to cool down.
- Water, recovery lap walk/run. Only two left. I’m not a quitter. I can run slower if I need to but I’m damn well going to do this.
- Repeat #7. Geez it’s hot. And my legs feel like lead. Push, push, push. Almost there. Done.
- Recovery lap walk/run. Only one more.
- Repeat #8. Finish strong. Last lap. If it was easy everyone would do it. If you want to get faster, you have to learn to deal with pain and discomfort. You are NOT going to die, just keep going.
- Yay! Last recovery lap. Walked the whole thing slow as molasses but done!
I actually ran all the repeats except #6 and #7 faster than my goal pace which is absolutely freaking shocking to me.
It wasn’t really fun (ok #1 was kind of fun) and it did hurt a lot and it was way too hot and sunny, but I’m so glad I got it done and I can see how this kind of structured work will really help my racing speed eventually.
I’m glad I only have to do this workout once a week. And next time I’m going in the morning because (1) it was crazy hot and sunny and (2) I ended up with my first sunburn of the year! I may find a quarter mile loop in the neighborhood because the track is a bit of a drive from work and with the added miles, this took longer than my usual workday runs.
Have you ever done “formal” speedwork? Does it get easier or do you always feel like you’re going to die?