Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Pacing speed workouts

I consider myself to be a newbie to speedwork. I've tried a few different types of workouts:

Fartlek ("speed play"): Random bursts of speed of varying time or distance scattered throughout the run.

Tempo runs (Hal Higdon style): 10-15 min easy running, followed by a continuous buildup to half marathon race pace. Peak speed comes about 2/3 into the run, and is only held for a few minutes. Cool down of 5-10 min easy running.

Tempo runs (as others describe it): 10-15 min easy, up to 40 min of 1/2 marathon race pace, 5-10 min cool down.

Intervals or repeats (I get the two mixed up, but I understand them to be the same): 10-15 min easy followed by 400m or 800m of a certain speed, with about 1.5-2.5 min rests (jog or walk) in between. For 400m intervals, I would run at 5k race pace; for 800m intervals, I would run 10k race pace. Usually I start with 4 intervals at the beginning of my training cycle and add on each week until I get to 10.

I have done 90% of my speed workouts on the treadmill. It is just much easier to keep myself on pace, and I don't have to deal with any terrain changes. I've gone to a track for interval workouts once or twice. If I try to incorporate speedwork into an outdoor run, I find that I have trouble pacing myself.

Take today, for example. I headed out with the intention of doing a fartlek. After about 10 min of easy jogging, I ran some 2-3 min intervals at a faster pace, with 1.5-2 min rest(jog or walk) in between. This is what happened (time, pace):

interval 1 - 2:06, 5:50/km
interval 2 - 2:39, 5:35/km
interval 3 - 2:27, 5:15/km
interval 4 - 2:28, 5:01/km

By the end of the last interval, I was gasping and it kind of screwed up the rest of my run. I could not have done another interval. Obviously, I have some trouble with pacing. It's like I was trying to compete with myself by making each interval faster, rather than keep a steady pace. I think that I should have tried to stay in the 5:15-5:30/km range. My Garmin does not really help me stay on pace, as it seems to lag a bit when I speed up, and I always see that I am running slower than reality (probably another reason why I kept running faster). Perhaps I should pay more attention to my perceived exertion!

Next week, I will attempt to do my tempo run outdoors. We will see what happens with my pace!


Marlene said...

I have my first interval run this week... 400m intervals at 5K pace. I will be doing it outside so I have no idea how I am going to control the pace. And there is virtually no flat terrain around here!

Good to read about your experience... always learning, right?

Cliff said...

Try using your HR as an indicator of how hard you are going.

I keep a loosely data between my pace (time) + my HR.

I think a mix of data (time, pace, HR etc.) can give you a lot clearer as to how 'hard' u are working or are u training in the same effort/intensity.

anners said...

Right...I should try to find my HR strap. I've been avoiding it for too long. Thanks Cliff.