Sunday, May 31, 2009

Longer than last week

Miles: 6.7 (warm-up included)
Pace: 9:55???
So last week I ran farther than I ever had before, and today I pushed that distance a little more. I was intent on definitely hitting 6 miles, and I decided to go for an extra .2 to make it a 10K distance. I looked up the route ahead of time on Gmaps Pedometer and found that the 3.1 mile mark is a very easily recognizable spot, so I knew exactly where to turn around.
It was a beautiful day for a run, and I started out a little faster than last week. The first mile seemed to go by very quickly, and I felt pretty good. It was a little warmer than I would have preferred, but I can't really complain. By mile 3, I was feeling tired, and my feet started to hurt. My trail shoes are too narrow for my toes and cause some pretty nasty blisters, and today was no exception. I kept going because I really want to condition myself to run longer. I've been reading Runner's World and so many running blogs about marathon training and hearing about my friend's half-marathon training, that my mindset about not being physically able to run long distances is changing. When I had run 5 and a half miles 2 years ago, I was in pretty good shape (it was shortly after the 5K PR that I still haven't broken yet), but my knees ached by the time I was done, and I thought that running that distance or further would be too taxing on my body. Today and last week I ran more and my knees felt fine. With time and a lot of training (and shoes that don't destroy my skin), I really could run much further. And that all starts now with my everyday runs. So I tried my best to ignore the blisters and just run. Chic Runner, whose blog I started following last month, ran her first marathon today, so when I felt particularly tired, I thought about how she was running 20 more miles than I was. The first post of hers that I had ever read was actually of her first 20-mile run, so I told myself that I could definitely do 6.2.
At about 5.2 miles, my stopwatch said it was somewhere above 51 minutes. At about half a mile later, it was above 56 minutes. I assume that my ending time was about 61 minutes, but I can't be sure, because for some reason, the watch decided to reset itself 2 minutes before I ended. Yep. I didn't look at it until I stopped it, and it said 2:00. I don't know what happened, but I do know that I was faster by about 15 or 20 seconds per mile than I was in my long run last week, which is a really nice improvement.

On a different topic, I went for a bike ride on the trail on Friday that was really nice. It was really dirty, but really nice. At one point, I caught sight of this heron sitting on a rock in the river, and I climbed down a path from the trail and stood on a rock to get this picture. I say that the ride was really dirty because it had rained a lot in the preceding days and I rode through a lot of deep puddles that spanned the width of the trail. I had mud splatters everywhere, even on the top of my helmet! It's funny, though: the mud didn't make me look any more sporty or outdoorsy. I just looked like I had little polka dots all over me. I don't think that I can shake the librarian look, even while wearing spandex.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Hill repeats

My neighbor's kids must think I'm nuts now, because yesterday evening as they were racing their bikes down their driveway, I was running up and down the steep hill on the road in front of their house - over and over again. I decided to add hill workouts back into my training, and yesterday was my first plunge back into it.
I warmed up with a slow half-mile on the treadmill, stretched, and then did a steady mile on the treadmill at about 6-6.5 mph before going outside to do the hill repeats. My goal was 5 minutes of up-hill running and to jog down instead of walking. It went pretty well, considering I was tired (don't know why, since I had a full day of rest on Wednesday). I thought about quitting after 2 and a half minutes, but I told myself that this was a hard workout and it was supposed to feel hard, so I should just do it. (I guess I'm becoming a Nike spokesman now?) It took roughly 45 seconds to run up the hill each time, and I had enough breath to jog down again, all except one time, which is a big improvement over my past hill workouts. When I got inside, I finished up with a half-mile cool-down on the treadmill and have been feeling good ever since. Today is supposed to be full rest, but I might take the Trek out to the trail for a bit.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Seeing improvement

Today was 50 degrees and rainy, but it was great for running. I did another hard, fast workout today, much like last week, and today the mile time was 7:43. Yes! More proof that I can run a mile in 8 minutes! The workout consisted of a half-mile jog on the treadmill, stretching, a mile in 8:52 on the treadmill, the 7:43 mile on the road, and an easy run back home in 9:46.
Something about the switch from treadmill to road makes running on the road feel so much easier. If I can trust the treadmill's calibration, I was running faster on the road, but it definitely seemed like it was with less effort. I feel so much freer outside than on the belt, like I'm propelling forward instead of trying to keep up with someone else's pace.
The combination of the treadmill and road running in one workout seems like it's great for my training. Both times that I've done it I've felt so good during and after the workout. I'll have to keep it up and decrease my times enough that I'll be able to break my PR even when the weather is warmer.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Long(er than usual) run

Miles: 5.78
Pace: 10:14
I decided it was time for a long run yesterday and headed out to the trail to do what I thought was 6 miles. I had run this stretch of the trail once before, and it was the farthest I had ever run. It was about 80 degrees, so I brought a water bottle and took it very easy. At mile 1, my time was 10:13, which shows that I really stayed on pace throughout the whole run. At the half-way (or what I thought was the half-way) point, I crossed the road there and went a little further. Just off of the trail there's a man-made waterfall and a steep little hill right by the water. I ran up this hill, which led me back down to the trail, where I turned around. I thought that the little extra would ensure that I did the entire 6 miles, and I really needed an elevation change to wake up the leg muscles that hadn't been used during the repetitive flat running on the trail. It felt so good to climb up and then head back down. My legs felt much fresher than they would have been for the way back.
I felt pretty good throughout the last half of the run, although I found out that I need to do some strength work on my arms - my left arm got tired just from holding the water bottle! In any case, I kept the pace, and the whole run took 59:24.
I was a little disappointed to find out that it wasn't a full 6 miles after all. When I logged onto the Gmaps Pedometer later, it came out to be 5.78 miles. Because of that little extra I ran by the waterfall, it was still the farthest I have ever run, so I'm pleased with that. And next week I'll do a full 6. :-)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

4 Minutes

About two weeks ago I came home from work and turned the TV on while I foraged for something to eat. I didn't feel like watching the news, so I channel surfed until I came across something with British people in old-fashioned-looking clothes. So I watched that, and it turned out to be a movie about running. It was 4 Minutes, the story of Roger Bannister, the first man to run the mile in under 4 minutes. I really liked it, and two weeks later it's still giving me a lot to think about. For me, my barrier has been the 8-minute mile. I've had that as my goal pace for the 5K for (what feels like) ages now, and I've been having so much trouble getting there. I haven't even done it during a timed mile, let alone as the pace for a longer distance. (I probably have done it, but I didn't get a new stopwatch until last fall, and since then I haven't timed any miles in under 8 minutes.) The closest timed mile that I remember was my freshman year of high school, when I ran it in gym class in 8:07. My method then was to sprint until I couldn't breathe, walk a little, and then sprint some more. When I began running for distance instead of sprinting, it was more jogging than running, and I can't remember another time when I neared 8 minutes.
Yesterday I decided that I needed to change that. I had run with my friend on Friday and, as I posted previously, had to walk for a few minutes because of cramps. Well, I must have seemed really out of shape to my friend, because her husband (who I work with) mentioned to me yesterday that she said I should be running with her sister-in-law rather than her. From what she's told me, her sister-in-law can only run about 2 miles at a time. That really motivated me to do better.
So I decided to run the mile in under 8 minutes. I checked out the movie 4 Minutes from the library and watched it while warming up on the treadmill and stretching . Then I set the treadmill to 6.5 mph (going up to 7mph after 7 minutes) and ran for 1 mile. It took 9:07. Then I went outside, set my stopwatch, and ran 1 mile down the road. I didn't look at my watch until I stopped it, and I was very pleased to see that it read 7:47. I walked for a minute or two and then jogged back to the house for the final mile in about 10 minutes. So now I know that I can do it. I can run a mile in under 8 minutes, and by the end of this summer, I intend to be able to run a 5K at that pace. For now, my goal is a pace of 8:20 for my next race on June 20th. Let's see what I can do.
Ever on.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Things keep getting in the way

On Friday I ran with the friend who is training for a half marathon. She had done a 7-mile run the day before and was up for an easy 4.5-mile run with me. Her easy pace is faster than my race pace, so it was a good training workout for me. We did a loop by my house that I'm pretty familiar with. In fact, I had just biked it last week. We started out fast, going down hill. I felt pretty good, but after about 1.5 miles, I started to feel some cramps coming on. I tried to ignore them, but when we got to a hill, I had to stop and walk. After about 5 minutes of walking, the cramps miraculously disappeared, and we were able to pick up running again. I guess I'll have this to deal with for about a week or so now. It's a good thing I didn't pre-register for a race today, which I had been contemplating.
It's a little frustrating that things like this keep getting in the way of my training. If we had kept running all the way on Friday we may have averaged 8-minute miles. If I can't set the right pace myself, running with her is a great way to get used to the speed, but I hate having to slow her down or stop and walk. In any case, our time for 4.5 miles was 43:51, which is 9:44 pace.
Yesterday I had to work and took the day off from running, so I'll probably go for another run today, although I might stay in and use the treadmill, or, depending on the weather, I might take the bike for a spin. We'll see.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

On the trail this week

The weather's been nice so I've done my workouts on the trail lately. Saturday I went with the intention of running 4 miles. It was hot out, and by the time I got to the half-way point, I was really tired, so I walked for a while. My time for the 2 miles was 17:57. I did some sprints here and there, and by the time I got to about the 3-mile mark I started jogging again. On Monday I went to the trail again for a bike ride with my favorite biking partner. We rode about 4.5-5 miles, with a brief detour onto the road to stop off at the library and say hello. It was a beautiful day -- much cooler than the weekend had been -- and the ride was really enjoyable. I headed out to the trail again yesterday morning for another run. I decided to time the 2 miles and walk/jog the rest of the way like I did on Saturday. It was cooler and more comfortable out, and my time was 17:16. That's about 5K pace for me, but it felt difficult. I hope to make that my easy pace over the course of the summer. The entire 4 miles (1 mile of walking included) took 45 minutes and 28 seconds.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

5-mile fartlek run

Miles: 5
Pace 9:16

I just got back from such a satisfying run. It was the first time since March that I've run more than 3.5 miles, and it was 45 seconds per mile faster than my last 5-mile run. I went out thinking that I'd try to do a fartlek, almost changed my mind a few minutes in, and am so glad that I went with the original plan. After the first mile (which was somewhere over 9 minutes), I chose a spot up the road at the top of an incline and picked up the pace to get to it. Then I let the intensity down and coasted down the hill. I don't remember how many times I did this, but it was fairly frequently throughout the last 4 miles, and each time it was on a hill or slight incline. On flats I just kept a steady, easy pace. I feel great afterwards. If I run it on the trail, I can probably put more speed into the pickups, but I think that this, on the road, is a good training run for me.

Friday, May 1, 2009

April showers...wait, it's May

The rain kept me inside today for my run. I really enjoy running in the rain (that is, when it's warm out), but I didn't want to upset my dog (who has a totally irrational fear of the sound of rain) by leaving her home alone, so I went downstairs with the intention of walking on the treadmill and maybe doing a little resistance-band and weight training. I walked and ran on the treadmill for half a mile and stretched a bit. I started thinking about how I haven't done any speed work lately and thought back to my pace intervals on the track. The fact is, I was going too fast. My goal pace was 8 minutes per mile, but I was training as if that was my usual 5k pace. And I could never get used to running the 8-minute-mile pace on the track because I had such a difficult time estimating my pace and holding it. So I thought to myself, "wouldn't it be great if I could train my leg muscles to get used to that pace, so it would eventually come more easily?" Yes, I'm sure that sounds like a stupid question, because a moment later, I realized that I could just set the pace on the treadmill. If my simple mathematics skills are correct, I just have to set the treadmill to 7.5 miles per hour and go. So I did. I did 2 2-minute intervals and 1 1-minute interval at 7.5 mph and jogged at varying speeds in between. I hope to make the intervals longer and longer, so I'll get used to running for long periods at that speed. I don't know how often I'll be doing that, since I really prefer to run outside, but the next week is supposed to be rainy, so I should have lots of opportunities!