Thursday, January 29, 2009

Week 2 update

I've been smoked with work the last five days or so as I prepare to travel and I've not posted an update recently. (Thanks for the poke, Jen!) Week 2 went pretty well, though work forced me to move my schedule around a bit and the flu bug that hit me forced me to miss one run, my speed intervals, outright. I managed to get my cross-training sessions in on the rowing machine, but I must cop to not getting my weightlifting sessions done. They're sooooo bbbbooooorrrrrriiiinggggg!

The weather this winter has been, like most of the country it seems, devilish. I can't remember running more on treadmills than I have in the past few weeks. Not ever. I think the city has cut back on street maintenance to such an extent now that there is almost nothing being spent on sidewalk clearing, and when they are cleared, nothing on salting/sanding. In any case, I managed two runs in Week 2 outside - my 8 km tempo run Tuesday (at 5:23 ave, 159 bpm ave HR) and my long run (15 km at 5:33, 153 ave HR) on the treadmill.

I have no idea why my heart rates were so similar from one run to the next - it's so weird I'm almost willing to blame the Garmin, but I don't think that's it. The tempo run was after work, on my 10 K loop home, and my long run was Saturday morning, so maybe the time of day played into it. Or maybe, since it was Sunday night that the flu bug hit, my heart rate was elevated Saturday as the illness set in. That sounds reasonable, probably something that I would have noticed if I monitored my resting heart rate from day to day. That seems like something only "real" athletes do, not wannabe's like me, so I have never done it.

Do regular people do that?

Also, it might be that my training speeds for the long runs are just too high and I'm running north of my purely aerobic zone. I'll play this out through to the Bluenose to give it a fair shake, but I reserve the right to run slower after than on the long runs.

I managed to get my speed work in for week 3 last night on the treadmill - 1000, 2000, 1000, 1000, with 400m rest periods in between. I didn't have the Garmin for that run so I don't have heart rate numbers, but I do know that I was right on my training paces 4:32 for the 1000's and 9:24 for the 2000. Treadmills are good for holding pace.

Hopefully I'll be able to keep my training up over the next couple of weeks while I'm away. There is a nice gym in Inuvik that I really hope has a treadmill. I didn't go in last year when I was down, but I intend to sniff it out next week. Next week's updates will be from north of the Arctic Circle.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Long runs on treadmills and the first week done...

I finished the first week of training with my 13 km long run, on a treadmill because the weather outside is frightful. (Cue music...) A shade over 13 km in 1:12:24 (5:34 min/km) with an average heartrate of 157, according to my Garmin, which is reduced to a heart rate monitor during treadmill runs. This is quite a lot lower than last week's 163, which I think I can attribute to issues you have to fight running outdoors - wind and topography, as well as the slightly slower pace. I ran today with the 'mill on a steady 1° incline, however the hills around here are appreciably greater than 1°.

Weekly totals: 33:2 km running and 15.9 km rowing. A good week.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Speed run Friday

Speed repeats completed on a treadmill at the Sportsplex - 12 x 400m with 90 sec easy running between each and a mile warmup and warmdown. My average heart rates by interval were:

1 - 163
2 - 162
3 - 160
4 - 158
5 - 162
6 - 161
7 - 164
8 - 165
9 - 166
10 - 168
11 - 168
12 - 167

I didn't really feel tired during the repeats, though it's obvious that after finding my groove I did start to labour toward the end. Fun stuff.

I'm tired and it's time for a beer and the Battlestar Galacitica season opener.

Rowing, rowing, rowing...

Did my cross-training row last night, and for the first time used my Garmin strictly as a heart rate monitor:

5 min easy (ave HR 105),
10 min med-hard (ave HR 131),
5 min easy (ave HR 123),
10 min med-hard (ave HR 142)
5 min easy (ave HR 123). Total

Total distance: 7.98 km.

It's the first time I've ever measured my heart rate during rowing, so the numbers are interesting. I have read that the maximum heart rate varies from exercise to exercise, but this is the first time I've seen it on myself. There is no way that I was rowing at maximum exertion, however just from perceived exertion, the 10-minute sprints (at ~ 25 SPM) felt as hard as a 5:30 min/km run to me, which would have put my running HR somewhere in the high 160's.

(I watched George Bush's final address during the first half of this exercise. Mayhaps I was feeling spriritually lighter?)

Oh, and for what it's worth, the Garmin said that I traveled 24 m during the 35 minute workout.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

First tempo run...

Just a quick update - ran my first tempo run of the new training regime last night, on the treadmill at the Sportsplex because the roads are still pretty icy and it's jeezely cold. 10 km, (3.5 @ 6:00 min/km, 5 @ 5 min/km, 1.5 easy), finishing in 54:01. Felt good, but tiring. I didn't wear my HR monitor, but I did some spot checks on the machines grip one and I was in the mid 140's throughout the first section, and climbed from the low 150's quickly to mid 160's in the second, until the final half-km when it began to climb again, to around 170 by the end.

Tiring, but fun. Well, as fun as a treadmill usually gets.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Running update and my "friend"

My running this past week completely fell apart owing to a visit from an old friend and an old "friend".

First, Wednesday's scheduled speed intervals didn't happen as the weather came down on us hard - icing the roads, glazing the outdoor track I intended to use and then, argh, forcing my gym to close early so I couldn't even try things out on the dreadmill. In retrospect I should have just called it a cross-training day and hit the rowing machine, it's in my basement after all, but I figured I'd get up early and hit the treadmill at the gym. That's when my "friend" showed up.


Insomnia and I have a long history, and in the last year it's kind of come back. Usually it's stress-induced, but sometimes, like this time I think, it just happens. In any case, I didn't sleep a wink Wednesday night and got up the next morning and, preparing for the worst, went to work and had one of the most productive days I've had in months. Weird.

Productivity at work, where I'm sitting on my ass in front of a computer is one thing, I wasn't going to attempt speed intervals. Then, that night a friend, who was in town on business, called and he and I and another old friend went out for beers. At 2:00 AM I dragged my butt in the door and had a great sleep - sleeping in a bit and going to work a bit late. Working as a scientist with a computer instead of a lab, I can do that some days.

Friday night I managed a 7 km easy run, untimed, just to get out and get some air and Saturday I hit the gym for a good weight and ab session.

This morning (Sunday), I ran my last pre-FIRST training run, as the 18-week program for the Bluenose Half starts next week. I figured I'd reprise last Sunday's 13 km run, and managed to meet the target pace (5:33). I set the Garmin to lap count every kilometre and got this:

5:32 (ave HR 151 bpm)
5:34 (ave HR 160 bpm)
5:31 (ave HR 154 bpm)
5:36 (ave HR 161 bpm)
5:32 (ave HR 169 bpm)
5:34 (ave HR 167 bpm)
5:25 (ave HR 164 bpm)
5:28 (ave HR 163 bpm)
5:29 (ave HR 163 bpm)
5:34 (ave HR 165 bpm)
5:44 (ave HR 166 bpm)
5:34 (ave HR 167 bpm)
5:13 (ave HR 171 bpm) - the big finish!

I finished in 1:11:47, at an average pace of 5:31 (owing to the big finishing spurt, I guess) at an average heart rate of 163.

Just looking at this, I see that my heart rate increased a fair bit over the past few kms, even aside from the "big finish" final km. Like all routes around Dartmouth, it was hilly, which shows up in both the km paces as well as the exertion, particularly in the first and last few kms, but I can tell that I was tiring in the final few kms, both from the numbers and from the feeling I had on the road.

Hopefully this bodes well for the training program that truly begins this week. With any luck, visits from my "friend" will be few between now and May.

Happy running!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A ripping row

Just completed a hard row - 30 minutes broken down thusly:
  • 5 min easy (~ 21 strokes per minute)
  • 1 min hard (25 - 26 spm)
  • 1 min easy
  • 2 min hard
  • 1 min easy
  • 3 min hard
  • 1 min easy
  • 4 min hard
  • 1 min easy (thank gawd!)
  • 3 min hard
  • 1 min easy
  • 2 min hard
  • 1 min easy
  • 1 min hard
  • 3 min easy/cool down

Total 6.79 kms.

Phew. Tomorrow is my first set of intervals, 12 x 400m. This should be interesting.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Yesterday's long run

Ran 13 km in 1:12:49 in relatively nice weather, but crappy road conditions. The snow from the New Year's Eve/Day blizzard was still around on the sidewalks, though they had been "cleared" by the city maintenance people. I think the problem is that the sidewalks in many places are so badly frost-heaved and broken that they set the blades on the blowers pretty high, resulting in about three or five cenitimetres of loosely-packed snow in many places, which makes for a tremendous workout for the muscles in the lower legs. My calves are still sore 24 hours later.

That said, the weather was lovely - cloudy, -8° C with a light wind - great winter running weather. Perfect, I think.

My time was a little slower than the target, 5:37 min/km vs. 5:33. But since it was my first attempt at a long run at that kind of speed, and with sub-perfect road conditions to boot, I think it was a great run. A very nice way to start the running year.

The Bluenose Half it is

After a bit of soul-searching (sole-?) over the holidays, specifically after a couple of longish runs and some staring at training schedules, I've decided to target the Halifax Bluenose Half-Marathon as my next race rather than the Full. There are a couple of reasons for the decision.

The first is that about a year ago I picked up the FIRST running book and the training runs look challenging and I'd like to give it a try. Having read through it again and pored over the training programs I've determined that there is no way I'm ready for the first week of the marathon training program with my current level of fitness, but the half- seems doable. Hard, but doable. I would be in fine shape a few months from now, but not just yet.

Second, I could probably work myself into reasonable marathon shape using a five-day per week program such as the Running Room one I used to run in 2007, but I've been having a really hard time fitting in more than three or four runs a week recently and I don't know if that is going to change in the near future. The FIRST program has a couple of cross-training days in the schedule which are easy for me to fit in as I have my lovely WaterRower sitting in my basement and can easily point it toward the television for a half an hour in the evening after the kids are in bed. Five workouts a week is much simpler this way than trying to work around my wife's crazy work/class/symphony schedule and arranging for someone to be home with the kids while I run.

Finally, I've tested each of the major key runs in the FIRST program over the past couple of weeks, and while the training paces are challenging, they are fun. All I've ever really used in the past are the Running Room programs and while they have gotten me pretty far, I'd like to try something new just to shake things up. Besides, a new program gives me something else to geek about.

In any case, there is plenty of time later for marathons. After I've established a new half-marathon PB!

Update: It's done - I've just registered for the half. Now I'm officially committed.