Saturday, November 29, 2008

"Comfort" Workout

After scarfing down a few good sized helpings of comfort food on Thursday, I was not feeling up to running my 5 x 1000m workout Friday morning.  This didn't present a problem as I had allowed for this possibility ahead of time - I ran my easy run on Friday afternoon and put off the workout until Saturday morning.  

On tap was a threshold workout, 5 x 1000m w/ 60-second rests.  I call this a "comfort" workout because I've done so many threshold workouts over the past several months, and this one is the easiest one on the block - the entry level T-workout if you will.  Compared to 3 or 4 x 1-mile w/ just 60-second rests, or 3k/2k repeats w/ 2-3 minute rests, or worse still, the dreaded 2-mile repeats w/ 2-minute rests . . . the 1000m repeats w/ 1-minute breaks is, shall I say it . . . . downright enjoyable!  And being that it's just at threshold pace (as opposed to say interval or rep pace), it's also a fairly comfortable ride almost the whole way through - the perfect post-Thanksgiving workout!!

Weather was ideal this morning - 55 degrees with a very slight breeze.  A wicked looking fog had rolled in, and as I ran my warmup I could see each layer roll across the track at about ankle height.  Serene, quiet and peaceful; and with the limited visibility, it felt as though you could just as easily be kayaking out on a lake all alone.  Simply fantastic conditions to run a workout.

After opening with a 3:33 (about the target pace for the day), each repeat improved:  3:29, 3:26, 3:25, 3:23.  Here's a look back exactly 3-months ago (August 29th) where I ran the same workout:

Rep #29-AugAve HR29-NovAve HR

I should throw in the caveat that it was probably 8-10 degrees warmer that August morning, and as you can see the HR is up a few ticks here in November.  Still, the delta in pace/mile is almost 26-seconds.  I'll certainly take that in just 3-months regardless of temp or a slight HR difference.  (Incidentally, I believe the slightly higher HR here is due to the fact that I do my threshold runs almost entirely off of feel.  With the hill repeats and all the T-work between August and now, I believe I'm just more comfortable at a slightly higher HR, as running w/ a little lactic acid in the legs is less of an issue.  So although, I'm probably working a little harder here, the feel is about the same)

Very happy w/ the result - those 60-second breaks are short, but just long enough to keep a workout like this in the "comfortably hard" zone.  Tuesday or Wednesday brings my 2nd speed session, although I think I'm going mid-long intervals this time as opposed to the short 200m repeats.  Looking forward to it already.


Wed, 11/26:  6-miles easy

Fri, 11/28:  5-miles easy

Sat, 11/29:  5-miles, including 5 x 1000m (1-min rests) 3:33, 3:29, 3:26, 3:25, 3:23 



Impressive improvement, I always think its harder to run fast efforts in cold weather, so yah doing really well!

Mike said...

Thanks Rick. Like chopping wood I suppose - keep at it, keep at it, and after a while you can look back and see some progress.

Unlike a sport like golf, where somehow the more you practice the worse you get!

Ewen said...

That is a good improvement Mike. That does make sense about being more comfortable at a higher HR now.

60 sec rests is fairly short - is threshold pace around 5k race-pace for you? I'm just wondering what I could do for 1k repeats with 60sec rests.

Mike said...

Ewen - Threshold pace is a weird animal for me. According to Daniels, it's supposed to be the pace at which you could run for about 50-minutes under race conditions. And it should be the same whether you're doing 1k repeats, 1-mile repeats or a 3-mile tempo run.

However, it's also supposed to be what gets you to 90-92% of max HR. Well, if I run a constant pace for all repeats then my HR will be well below 90% for 1k repeats, moderately low for 1-mile repeats, and about right for 2-mile repeats or a tempo run.

So something has to give. I run them to where the last 10-15% of the effort hits 90-92% of max HR - meaning the shorter my repeats, the faster I have to go. (otherwise my HR never gets there w/ the shorter repeats)

In the case of 1k repeats for me, they're considerably faster than the pace I could maintain for 50-minutes. Yeah - about 5k race pace is about right for me. Mile repeats might be closer to 10k race pace, and 2-mile repeats are more a true threshold pace.

My HR never gets above 92% in any case and the efforts aren't above "comfortably hard". I feel if I run the mile or 1k repeats at the same pace as a tempo run or 2-mile repeats the HR never gets there and the workout is too easy. I don't believe that this is necessarily the "correct" way to do them, but it's what I've been doing.

BTW - I found a good article discussing Seb Coe's use of 5k pace in cruise intervals. If you're interested I'll dig up the link. It seems he was a big fan of using 5k pace in many of his workouts!

Ewen said...

Thanks Mike. Yes, if you can find that link I'd be interested.

That might be a good winter session for me where I don't want to cool down too much between efforts (or run at 8/15 speed).

My tendency in the past has been to run 1k reps fast (1500/3k pace) with long rests. The Coe method might be worth trying.