Tempo Tuesday – on my new plan

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Everything I’ve read said you really need to take a few days off after a race. The general rule of thumb, Hal Higdon tells me, is one day for every mile of the race. Really?? Do you mean to tell me that Hal took 26 days off after each of his 111 marathons? Maybe not complete days off, but no hard running for 26 days? I still don’t believe it.

So I ran my first half marathon on Sunday. I did take Monday off (from running), but I did do a fairly tough weightlifting set. And I probably should have taken today off too. I sort of did, meaning I didn’t run this morning. But since I’ve done so many Tempo Tuesdays in a row, I didn’t want to break my streak. And it’s Tuesday night… and my Training Peaks page is just staring at me with a big zero for miles run this week. So I did a quick run tonight.

I made a note to myself since I don’t know what the hell I’m doing when it comes to tempo runs, to figure it out and do them right. So I did a little more research and learned that basically, they start with a slow/medium run, work up to near lactate threshold pace in the middle for 20-40 minutes, and then back to slow/medium for a cool down.

Right now I’m approaching this as: run one mile at about 70%, run the next 2-4 miles at near LT (~88-90%) and finish with an easy mile back around the 70% level. Tonight’s run was on the treadmill. The following are my splits:

Mile, TM Speed, Time, Avg HR
1, 6.0, 9:52, 151 bpm
2, 8.0, 7:46, 170 bpm
3, 8.0, 7:28, 176 bpm
4, 6.0, 9:58, 160 bpm

Ideally, to make this a more productive workout, I’ll need to be able to run the middle 4+ miles at very close to my lactate threshold heart rate of 90% or 177 bpm. And from what I have been reading, as I increase the time/distance I can maintain this level of effort, my anaerobic threshold will increase as well as my stamina and overall fitness. I guess we’ll see.

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Navy/Air Force Half Marathon 2014 Race Report

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Today was the day. My first half marathon. In fact, it was my longest run to date, having only run over 12 miles once before. It was kind of a bummer how the day started. Hot Wife and I got up around 4:30 am, planning to leave the house as soon as the baby sitter got here at 5am. So 5am gets here and no baby sitter. After a text and phone call wakes her (she lives 45 minutes away), Lisa told me to just go without her. We had no backup and 5:15 is about the latest we could leave and make it to the Metro in time to get to the race before it started. And since Hot Wife has run dozens of these races, and this was my first one, she graciously said I could do it.

So I got to the Metro just before the first train at 6am. I made it to the Smithsonian stop about 6:30, used the porta-potty and dropped my bag at the tent and wandered over to the starting area. I had no real idea how the starting corrals worked so I just got into one with a bunch of people who looked like they were in the same shape as me. It was the 10:00-12:00 min/mile corral. Okay, I’m thinking. I can probably do this thing in a 10:00 min pace so I’m fine right here. This was kind of a mistake, as I think a lot of these folks probably ran slower than that (a fact I learned during the first mile).

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Tempo Tuesday – the last one before the Navy/Air Force Half Marathon

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I think I’ve been doing my tempo runs all wrong. Not surprising since I still hardly know what I’m doing when it comes to all this endurance/heart rate training. Anyway, for the last five weeks I’ve been doing “Tempo Tuesdays” where I simply run one mile at an easy pace, mile 2 slightly faster, mile 3 even faster, and then the last mile back at the starting pace. This roughly corresponds to a 10:00 pace, then 9:00 min, then 8:00, and then back to 10:00.

The good news is that my heart rates have gone down significantly since I started tracking these runs over a month ago. The bad news is that I don’t think these runs are difficult enough to give me a productive workout. So this morning’s run was probably my best Tempo Tuesday run yet. And by best, I mean “easiest” with the lowest cumulative and average heart rates.

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On another note, after next weekend’s Navy/Air Force Half Marathon, I plan to start my marathon training plan in earnest. I mean, coming up with a real plan and following it closely. I’ll have four months to get my marathon pace down to 9:00 minutes. Can I do it? I don’t know. It might be tough.

Day Hike – St. Mary’s State Park

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So this weekend’s fun family outing was a hiking trip out to St. Mary’s River State Park. Actually we had two events– a hike Saturday and the Maryland Renaissance Fair on Sunday. That day is worth an entry all in itself as that was quite a unique experience.

Anyway, we hadn’t done a hike in a few weeks so we thought Saturday would be a good day for one. It was, except it was pretty hot for September. I’m talking in the 90′s and sunny. We wanted to pick a trail we hadn’t been on before and I found St. Mary’s State Park, somewhere in Southern Maryland. There is a river (dammed up about 30 years ago) and a decent size lake with a 7.5 mile hiking trail around it.

So after stopping by Subway for our pre-hike lunch, we made the drive down to, I guess, St. Mary’s County (maybe 30 minutes from Hughesville). There’s a nice parking area at the lake, with a restroom and small playground. We took off with full water bottles and a full hydration pack which was a good thing as a good part of the first mile was not in the shade.

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We made it 1.6 miles around the 7.5 mile lake trail.

We decided there’s no way we would be able to hike the full 7.5 mile loop with the kids in this heat so we thought we’d just walk a couple miles out and back. After about a mile and a half, we stopped for snacks. After snacks, we decided it would be more fun to go to Target. We did see some nice wildlife (and plenty of bugs), and even some catfish fingerlings in a creek on the way back to the truck.

Google told us the nearest Target was about 10 minutes away in California, MD. Yep, a city in Maryland named after a state out west. The kids got a kick out of that. So we went to get Matthew some PE shorts and some stuff for the fish tacos we were making that night. They were great! Not the shorts, they were regular shorts. The tacos were great. And it wasn’t even Tuesday!

Overall, a nice, albeit mostly uneventful family outing. We’re planning to do this hike again (the full loop) sometime in the fall when it’s cooler and we can prepare for a 4+ hour day out. I’ll write about Sunday’s Renaissance Festival later. And oh yeah, will catch up on my running posts soon. I’m still pushing ahead with my running- just have been lazy in logging my runs.

4 Miles at 80 Percent – Tuesday 2nd Run

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I tried something new for tonight’s run. I read today that my half-marathon heart rate should be between 85-88%. For me right now, that’s between 170-174 bpm. There is absolutely no way I could run 13 miles at a heart rate of 170. So instead of doing an entirely easy run, I decided to just see how far I could run at a heart rate of roughly 165. This is just over 80% effort.

Well, I worked up slowly for the first mile and by the second mile I had settled into a nice 7:48 pace on the treadmill which was about 165 (+/-2 bpm).

The good news is that my HR was very flat for miles 2-4. Meaning, no cardiac creep, at least for three miles. The bad news is that I don’t think I could keep this level of effort for 10+ miles. I think I could have done it for about 6 miles or so, and maybe about 8 if I was fresh and running in the morning.

I’ve got to figure out how far I can run at a 165, and if it’s not 13 miles, see what I have to do to increase my distance at this effort. Maybe I can try this weekend’s long run at 165.

Note: I just looked it up and I did my first 10 miler at about a 166 average back on July 13th, on the Indian Head Rail Trail, but my splits for this run started about 9:30 for the first couple of miles, gradually slowed to 10:00+, and were over 11:00 by the last couple of miles. So yes, I can run a fairly long time at this effort, but it’s not very fast.

Week 11 – Tempo Tuesday – TM 4 Miles

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This morning’s run was the easiest Tempo Tuesday yet. I did the same run as last week– on the treadmill with each mile at speeds 6, 7, 8 and then back to 6. For some reason I had an oddly high heart rate for the first couple of minutes,  but the first mile settled down around 140, then 150 for mile 2, then 163 for the fastest mile and then back to 148.

Aside from the first four minutes (an anomaly, I’m calling it), this was a pretty good result. I was fairly well rested having done only 5 easy miles the day before.

 

Week 10 – Sunday Long Run – 10.0 Miles

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This morning’s run was a little more difficult than the last couple of Sunday long runs. Instead of cruising at a mellow 150 bpm (70%), I decided to run it somewhere between 155-160. I was able to maintain this level of effort for the whole run, but I was getting a little more tired toward the end than usual.  And my paces were roughly between 10:15 and 10:32. Overall, average HR was 157, and average pace was 10:28.

My pace fluctuated a little but I don’t think it was from fatigue, but more from the hills I was running on. What I still need to figure out:

1) What my heart rate is for a 9:00 pace.

2) What my pace is for a 165 heart rate.

3) How far I can run at this level of effort.

4) and if the answer to 3) is “not very far,” then figure out what I need to do to increase it.

Week 10 – Friday Speedwork

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After Tuesday morning’s tempo run, I did another easy 5 miles Tuesday night, 4.5 easy miles on Wednesday afternoon (at work) and an easy 3.0 miles Thursday morning.

Then Friday afternoon, I did a fairly long bike ride (about 19 miles) before doing my Friday speedwork in the early evening. Not surprisingly, this was a tough run. I did this on the treadmill (it was still pretty hot outside) and basically I ran an easy warm-up mile, then cycled between 2 minutes at speed 10 (the treadmill’s fastest pace) and speed 6 (10:00 min/mile).

I repeated this four times. I would have liked to do it six or more times, but four pretty much wore me out. You can definitely see the intervals on the HR plot above, but the splits were a little disappointing. My average HR on the fast two minutes was in the mid-170s, but on the slow two minutes, it only dropped to an average close to 170. Ideally, the fast pace would be about 170 bpm (right now), but the slow pace would be lower.

The good news is that the last cool-down mile (done at the first mile pace) was a pretty low heart rate. And… I left the Garmin on for two minutes after finishing to see how fast it dropped when slowing to a walk. It dropped over 30 bpm the first minute which is pretty good. It dropped a little more the second minute of walking but for the most part had settled in the low 120′s by about 80-90 seconds after slowing. I’m considering this positive progress.

Week 10 – Thursday 5.0 Miles at 6.6

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Tonight was a pretty decent run- much better than I expected. Having already run this morning (albeit only 3 miles), then working all day, eating a big supper, then going for a walk with the family… I finally got on the treadmill about 9pm.

I figured I’d do 2-3 miles at the 9-minute pace (about 6.6 on the treadmill) and see how I felt. Surprisingly, I still felt fine and my heart rate was quite low. So I finished up doing 5 miles with my heart rate average at 155.

This is the third time this week I’ve done 4+ miles at 6.6. I did it Monday, Tuesday and now Thursday (all in the evening). Monday my HR was high– about 165. Tuesday was back to 156 and tonight’s was 155. The only difference I can think of was that I lifted weights Monday morning and might have been more fatigued then than either Tuesday or tonight. Not sure, but I’ll try to monitor that going forward.

Week 10 – Tempo Tuesday

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A decent run today. I’m going to try and repeat this Tempo Tuesday on the treadmill for the next few weeks. It’s pretty simple: one mile at speed 6, one at 7, one at 8 and the last mile back to 6. This is actually a pretty easy four miles but I want to repeat it and track my heart rates over the next few weeks and see if the faster parts of the run start getting easier. I guess we’ll see.

Heart rates for today’s run: 145, 158, 171 and 155. Ideally, the last mile will be close to the first mile. And miles 2 and 3 will get to where I’m barely having to exert myself.

One encouraging note… on the third and fastest mile my heart rate was very flat. Of course, I can’t run at a 170 heart rate for hours, but this was a pretty fast pace and my HR wasn’t crazy high.