Last Tuesday I finished my first ever track workout (with my fiancé, Adam), and I’m still riding that high – that sense of excitement and achievement. For the past year, I’ve focused on building my endurance by running various distances (generally between two and five miles) around my home and campus, but I never worked on my speed. For the longest time I avoided intervals because I didn’t think they’d benefit me – I thought I needed to be able to run well before doing intervals. It was as though intervals were for the serious, competitive runners. Well, I can already tell that thinking was backwards.
Perhaps part of my hesitation regarding intervals was that I just didn’t know what to do. How long? How many times? How much rest? It felt a very different from the simple “I’ll just go out and run xx miles”. If Adam wasn’t interested in helping me with this, I may never have started (I’m a lucky girl).
Well, Tuesday was amazing, but it absolutely killed my legs – specifically my hip flexors and hamstrings. I was excited that I felt the burn in my hamstrings, because I’ve heard for a while that mid-foot running works the hamstrings and calves more than running by heel-striking. I can also tell from the way I’m hurting that my stride was much longer than usual (aka longer than my 5k runs) which means I’m actually working the muscles I would be using during a race. I’m realizing more and more that my 5k runs just weren’t cutting it – they were too slow and weren’t helping me improve.
Since Tuesday’s workout left me hobbling instead of walking, I made sure to roll out my hamstrings (using a Nalgene bottle) that night. It felt great, but didn’t make them hurt any differently. Wednesday morning before my strength training I also did a slow mile run and stretched out my legs. Despite all this they were still killing me this morning. I decided to go out for my workout as planned, and I’m glad I did. Once I began running, the pain went away. It was colder than Tuesday (around 30° with a bit of wind) but still not too bad. Here’s what I did:
- warm up: 1200m jog (11:40 min/mile)
- three long intervals: 1000m, then rest between 1:30 and 1:40
- three short intervals: 200m, then rest between 1:30 and 1:40
- cool down: 400m barefoot jog
The rest times varied because I was matching my interval’s with Adam’s – he was running 1600m’s and 400m’s. I’m glad we mixed it up, too – the total interval distance is the same as my workout on Tuesday, but I was able to work on endurance with the 1000m’s and really stretch my legs on the 200m’s. Here are my splits:
- 1000m: 5:32 (8:51 min/mile)
- 1000m: 5:36 (8:58 min/mile)
- 1000m: 5:40 (9:04 min/mile)
- 200m: 0:49 (6:32 min/mile)
- 200m: 0:50 (6:40 min/mile)
- 200m: 0:49 (6:32 min/mile)
It’s amazing to me that some people can keep up my 200m pace over the length of a marathon. It was cool/fun to get a feel for that speed. Overall, I consider today’s workout to be a success – another step in the right direction. I’m mixing things up and pushing the boundaries. My legs feel better now that they did last night, so hopefully they’ll be ready for what awaits them this Saturday… maybe a brick (bike + run). We’ll see!