As I mentioned earlier in the week, my new 70.3 training plan calls for speed-work right of the box and today I had a one hour session on the schedule. Not being any kind of expert when it comes to speed-work, I reached out to someone who is - my main man to the south Chris K. He e-mailed me back 3 options:
In a later email, Chris went on to explain that since he thought that "Option 1" was the easiest and "Option 2" was the hardest, I should start with "Option 3", which he felt was in the middle. But since this would be my first ever structured speed-work session, I figured I'd play the easy card. However, this is where I miss-read the email. I programmed "Option 2" into my Garmin and set off to the beach path.Option 1 - Tempo20 minute warm up, 30 minutes 10 seconds faster than 1/2 marathon pace, 10 min cool down.
Option 2 - 7 minute repeats20 minute warm up, 4 x 7 minute intervals in HR Zone 4, 2 minute recovery after each 7 minute interval.
Option 3 - 1000M repeats20 minute warm up, 3 x 1000M at 20 sec faster than your 5k pace, 500M recovery between each interval.
When I got to the beach I realized that I had forgotten my heart rate monitor. Though this was a little bit of a crisis, it was not nearly as bad as forgetting the actual watch. I'd just have to use the rate of perceived exertion (or RPE) method to gauge my intervals. Using the RPE method, exertion somewhere between hard and really hard is roughly analogous to a Z4 heart rate. RPE charts vary, but the one I use references "hard to really hard" to an RPE of 7 or 8.
I started my 20 minute warm-up and kept my pace around 8:20. At the 20 minute mark, the Garmin alarm went off and I picked up the pace. It probably took a few minutes to get get to RPE 7, and that ended up putting my pace at about 7:20. The first interval wasn't all that bad, but then again I wasn't disappointed when the alarm for the 2 minute recovery sounded. I slowed back down to about an 8:30 pace and worked on recovery.
I started the next interval, using the 7:20 pace as the target. The first few minutes were fine, but I ran out of road and had to do a u-turn. Guess what? A headwind. But it didn't seem that bad and I just kept going. Again the alarm went off and again I slowed back down to about an 8:20 pace, but this time just a little bit happier I was getting a 2 minute respite.
2 minutes later it was time to go again. I sped up to a 7:20 pace. This is when time slowed down - the next 7 minutes felt like a lifetime. And a lifetime is plenty of time for my pace to slow, which it did to a 7:40 pace. This was getting rough. Finally, the alarm went off. I immediately slowed to 8:20 but I also realized that this was not going to be enough to recover. So I started walking.
But I was determined to finish and when the alarm went off again I started running. Another 7 minutes of agony, and the best I could hold was a 7:45 pace. The last 2 minutes where pure torture, but finally it was over. I immediately started to walk. I wanted to stop but I knew if I did I was done for the day - and I still had about a mile to go.
After 2 minutes, I started jogging again. I was actually a little shocked that I could still run. But (and I suppose this is both good news and the point of intervals) I had recovered enough and the last 3/4 of a mile was actually enjoyable.
Post workout thoughts? I probably haven't pushed it that hard on a run since the Surf City Half Marathon, and then I had the benefit of in-competition adrenaline. It was hard session, and I'll need to do better. But the workout didn't suck, either. In the end I was only slightly annoyed that my ADD got the best of me and I miss-read the email. It was actually really fun in that perverted pain-is-pleasure endurance sport junkie kind of way. There's another run interval day on the books for next Thursday, and I'll be there.