Saturday, October 03, 2009

Sea of Pain

When the alarm went off at 6:20 on Friday morning my first thought was “Oh no, speedwork”. That’s exactly the same thought as the last time speed work was on the cards, and it will probably be the same next time. I think it’s fair to say that I don’t like intervals. I can deal with the pain that comes from running for hours, no problem. The pain that comes from speeding for minutes is a different matter.

Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet, and off I went. Things didn’t look too great during the warm-up, and I seriously questioned the wisdom of playing football the evening before a fast workout. A few strides managed to get the worst of the stiffness out of the legs and off I went, up and down the Caragh Lake road. The road is slightly tilted, according to the chart there is a drop of 7 feet one way, and obviously a climb of the same on the way back. The wind was quite strong (they called it gale force on the forecast), and interestingly the uphill repeats (with the wind) were consistently faster than the downhill ones (against the wind) by a few seconds. Rest between was 2 minutes; the shortest 2 minutes you can imagine.

The first few went ok even though I felt like giving up early on. That always happens. By the time I finished the fourth I was tired, and the fifth was a sea of pain. When I checked the chart afterwards I found that this had been the repeat with both the highest average (177) and max (184) heart rate of the entire workout, even though it wasn’t particularly fast. After that I was just hanging on, and maybe it would have been prudent to call it a day after six, but hindsight is a great thing. I finished the planned 8 repeats with an average time between 3:04 and 3:05.

I was tired afterwards, and during the day I could feel myself stiffen up more and more. By evening time I was feeling quite sore, more so than immediately after the run, and on Saturday morning I felt as stiff as a board. Luckily I only had a recovery day on the program, otherwise I would have had to chicken out. Six slow miles are always manageable, but the set of strides during the second half were much tougher than expected. Not only did I feel like wading through molasses, striding out actually hurt. How I managed to get through 7 of them I don’t know, they just seemed to blur into one, and I didn’t even manage to count them correctly (I had only intended to do 6). Interestingly, the first 3 miles had been done at 8:31 pace; the return leg must have been a lot faster to get the overall pace under 8:00, but with that set of strides in there the average pace has little meaning. The heart rate on that run was definitely much higher than anticipated, even though my resting heart rate continues to drop. It was down to 40 this morning, 2 beats lower than last week. At least that is heading the right direction.

In the afternoon I went for a bike ride with Shea. He clearly feels left out when he sees me cycling off to school with his twin sister on weekday mornings, and I had promised to go for a bike ride just with him during the weekend. Hopefully that will balance things out a little.

2 Oct
9 miles, 1:09:11, 7:41 pace, HR 161
8x800: 3:03, 2:57, 3:06, 3:00, 3:05, 3:05, 3:09, 3:04 (avg 3:04)
3 Oct
6 miles, 47:45, 7:57 pace, HR 146


  1. Interestingly my alarm went off 70 minutes earlier and I had the same "oh no, speedwork" negative thought - although I was heading out for a tempo run which I dread even more than intervals.

    All in all your recovery appears to be going well and all that pain you are feeling now will convert to stamina by the time you hit the streets of Dublin on 26th.

  2. Guys I feel the same way, and I've been doing it for more years than I can count!
    I always have a dread of doing a speed or tempo run as I set out, but strangly 95% of the time its never quite as bad as I imagend, I guess its just nerves!!!

  3. Well done for biting the bullet. Good pace on those too. The Yasso theory would have you at about 3:04 marathon shape, although your recoveries were shorter, so maybe faster.

    I'm the same as Rick. I think it's the anticipation of the pain that puts one off. Once started, it's 'fun' in a strange masochistic way.

  4. I think it's a question of concentration
    when you do speedwork. I actually
    like running at speed and I particularly
    like 800s. It's only really the last 200-300m
    that are difficult and need extra attention.

    Maybe I think it's easier because
    (like Rick I think) I started as a
    cyclist. A cycle race on a circuit
    consists of several stints of pure
    lungbursting, lactic acid burning pain
    repeated every lap usually up the "climb".
    Every lapthere is the chance to stop, get
    in your car and go home but....

    Actually cross country league races
    are a bit like cycle races - a lap
    of some muddy field with a big
    hill somewhere en route. You hang
    in every lap up the lungbuster hill.