Monthly Archives: September 2012

A big part of running faster is learning to suck it up

A couple days back a couple friends of mine gave me the sage advice that to run faster you have to run faster.  This was a combination of a “ha-ha” joke, folksy wisdom, and a true statement.

After my tempo run yesterday I found myself thinking about it again.  I’ve been working out regularly for the last three months.  But nothing strenuous.  No max effort workouts.  When I did my two-mile run test last weekend my pace was about 8:14/mile and at the time I thought I was going as fast as I possibly could.  The effort felt extremely uncomfortable. 

But on Saturday, I did a four-mile tempo run and the pace was 8:25/mile.  Double the distance with only a 10-second drop in pace.  And I wasn’t pushing nearly as hard on the four-mile run as I was on the two-mile run, in terms of perceived effort and physical disomfort.  In fact, thinking about it now I might have been able to push the pace on that tempo run enough to match the pace from my two-mile run.

Did my run fitness improve so much in one week that I can run twice the distance at the same “max” pace as a week ago?  Probably not.  What happened is that over the past week I’ve been pushing hard instead of cruising comfortable through cardio workouts.  As a result, my body is learning what it feels like to run faster and just how long and fast it can do it.  I’ve gotten more used to the discomfort that come from higher intensity training and running.  I can endure the unpleasant sensations of running at a harder pace longer just by doing it more and knowing what it feels like and how that translates in terms of pace and performance limits.

In other words, during my two-mile run test last week it wasn’t my heart or lungs or legs that were the limiting factor; it was my physical awareness and tolerance for suffering (discomfort) that dictated my max effort.  I think the next time I do a two-mile time trial I’ll see a big improvement.  11:54 here I come (eventually).

Friday: Push-up and sit-up improvement

Round 3 tonight of the same PU and SU cycle I did on Monday and Tuesday.  Total volume was 102 and 112 respectively.  Nothing exciting in the workout itself.  I am thinking ahead to next week though and trying to figure out how fast and hard to push.

COA 1 is to do three more days (1 full week) of the same 30-sec, five round PU/SU workout and then ramp up the following week.  This seems safe and reasonable and incredibly boring and hard to look forward to or get excited about.

COA 2 is to do … something … else … yeah.  Still working on that one.

Also, if anyone can tell me the approved solution for how to write “push up” and “sit up” (spaces, no spaces, hyphens, no hyphens) I would appreciate it.  Citations would be nice but not required if you sound trustworthy.

Oh, and I deferred tonight’s run until tomorrow.  Still planning a 4-mile tempo run.  I’m really excited for next week because that’s when I kick off my official, high-speed, low-drag run training program.

Planning and scheduling

I found a good 5K program online that includes some strong speed work and spent some time tweaking it for my needs and building a run and workout plan for October. I looked for a 3K program but they were pretty scarce. Nonetheless I’m happy with what I’ve got. Now to see how it works.

I’m also going to try and keep up with some of my other training as well (weightlifting, swimming and biking) but the CPFT prep will have priority. Because I’ll be increasing my run frequency and mileage I am going to stick strictly to the schedule with no additions or swaps for the first week or two while I see how I react.

After that I can figure out where and how to incorporate other training activities into it.

Wednesday: Push-up and sit-up improvement

Same PU/SU routine as on Monday (spoiler alert: it’s going to be the same on Friday as well).  Felt a little bit better this time.  My body and brain are getting used to this particular form of physical discomfort again.  The body has a long memory for things if you’ve greased the groove enough.

I recorded my total volume for my PU/SU workout tonight (100/105).  I’m not sure if that’s going to be a useful metric or not since I plan on mixing up my workouts quite a bit but I figured better safe than sorry and as they say: “if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”  I think that works in this context.

I didn’t have time for a run (or swim) tonight which is disappointing but okay.  My legs are feeling a little dead from the past week’s workouts and I would much rather start at a moderate pace especially since I’m going to be ramping up my mileage over the next month.  On the bright side as well, I finished up my recurring scheduled evening commitments tonight so I will have a lot more time and scheduling freedom for my workouts.  And sleep.  Mmmmm … glorious sleep.

The plan for tomorrow’s workout is a 3-5 mile easy run (distance to be determined by a subjective measurement of leg “deadness” at the beginning of the run).

Diagnostic Analysis

I mentioned in my post about Sunday’s run that my wind was the limiting factor there. And I casually mentioned that I thought I did okay on my sit ups. That wasn’t too surprising since I’ve been doing an abnormal amount of ab work (for me anyway) during my normal training the past few months.

The pushups were obviously a different matter. I felt completely obliterated there. My shoulders were so smoked that I actually quit before time. It shouldn’t have been a surprise since I may have done 10 pushups total in the last two years.

That is obviously where I need to put some focus here at the beginning of the journey.

Tuesday: Interval Run

Today’s workout was an interval run.  8 x 400m intervals with 2-minute recovery intervals and a half-mile warm up and cool down on either end.  My target pace for the speed intervals was 7:15 – 7:45 and I was able to hit that target pretty easily.  Next time this workout comes up in the rotation I’ll drop the target pace down to 7:00 – 7:30.

Tomorrow is another PU/SU improvement and I’ll try to squeeze in a nice, easy 3-5 mile run as well.

Monday: Push-up and sit-up improvement

So today I went old school. So old school that I actually couldn’t remember what part of the workout was and had to improvise.

So the best (meaning crappiest) PU/SU workout I remember from school was a 2 min/1 min/1 min/30 sec/30 sec ladder that I used to do alternating with my roommate.

Considering my performance on Saturday I decided to go a little more modest tonight and did 30-sec each of elevated, wide grip, regular, close grip, and granny pushups. Since this is the first time I’ve trained PU in … years … I decided to use a one minute interval instead of the normal 30-sec interval.

For situps, since I did okay on my diagnostic there, I did 30-sec intervals with 30-sec rest intervals. Feet elevated Rockys, feet elevated, regular Roclys, and then regular twice to make five sets. I couldn’t remember if there was another type we used to work in there. I think there was.

So not a bad workout for my first time in ages. I’m looking forward to improving and being able to ramp up the intensity.

300, here I come.

Belated Sunday Workout Update

During the two mile run on my diagnostic on Saturday my legs felt pretty good. The limiting factor definitely seemed to be my lungs.

This makes sense I guess since I’ve been doing a lot of casual and comfortable cardio and basic strength training but not a lot of interval or threshold work.

Based on that observation, on Sunday I went for a four mile tempo run. I didn’t have a goal except that whenever I felt comfortable I pushed myself a little harder.

I finished at sub-9 minute pace and with a negative split. I think the key to my run improvement is going to be a steady diet of intervals and hard tempo running along with a general increase in run mileage.

Sunday workout: 4-mile run, 35:45.