Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Starting Speed Work

My all time best 10k time is 45:20. I ran this time in a small local race in February 2003. This was only 5 months after I had started running seriously, but 10 pounds lighter than I am now. I haven’t come close since. Since 2003, I’ve consistently run 10ks in the high 47s to low 48s, always staying below that 50 minute mark, but certainly not improving.

Besides the weight, the other is significant difference between then and now is my training. The problem is that I don’t really train anymore. Sure, I put in the miles (no snickering … I still can’t believe I run 20 to 30 miles a week) and vary the distance from 3 to 9 miles, but everything is at the same pace. I’m totally lacking any speed work.

Back in 2003 I used a running program I found at http://www.time-to-run.com/. This program is a simple 21 day program leading up to a 5k or 10k every 3 weeks. It includes long runs, easy days, interval training and rest days.

Day Program
01 60 to 70min easy distance
02 30min easy run
03 start with 4x2k R90-2min 8min 50 (4.25 per k) T
04 Rest
05 longest run - 'time on feet' up to 1Hr 30min
06 easy day of 30min running
07 easy day of 30min running
08 start with 6x1k R60 - 90 4min 10 to 4min20 L
09 easy day of 30min running
10 easy day of 1Hr running
11 Rest
12 5K paced run - aim sub 22:30 5k
13 1Hr easy run
14 easy day of 30min running
15 start with 3 x 5min @ 10k pace with 1min easy F
16 easy day of 40min running
17 easy day of 30min running
18 Rest
19 Race day up to 15K
20 Easy recovery after race. 20 - 30min
21 2nd easy day after race - 30min


Letter codes: T = 10K pace development; L = 5K pace development; R = Rest; F = Fartlek.

I started this program as soon as I managed to complete my first sub 50 min 10k in December 2003. I got thinking about this program again yesterday while I was in Tucson enjoying my leisurely jog around the U of A campus. This regimented program forced me to do speed work; something I’ve clearly been unable to do on my own over the past several years.

With this in mind, I jumped directly to day 8

Run 6 x 1k with 90 second rest between intervals. Set 1k pace between 4:10/km and 4:20/km

Not wanting to blow out my knees or set my heart racing to 200 bpm, I modified this plan a bit:

1k warm up; Run 3 x 1k with 90 second rest between intervals. Set 1k pace at 4:30/km (7:15/m) ; 1k cool down.

I figured that 3 attempts to run 1km at at 7:15/m pace was about all I could handle my first time out.

I set out on my standard 3.1 mile (5k) course at an easy jog for the first km just to get warmed up. The air temperature this morning was in the high 60s, so warming up wasn’t a problem. After 90 seconds of waiting around at the 1km mark, my watch finally timed out and I took off like there was no tomorrow. Jim Ryan would have been proud. Looking down at my watch I realized that I had started a bit fast, running at a sub 6:30/m pace. This didn’t last long. My lungs gave out after a few hundred yards and I was forced to slow down a bit. I backed off until I got down to a 7:35/m pace and tried to hold this pace for the rest of the 1km distance. My watch signaled the end of the first 1k and reported an average pace of 7:22/m. Not exactly the 7:15 I had hoped for, but much better than the 8:30 to 9:00/m pace I’ve been doing for the past few years. I also kept my heart rate under control, finishing somewhere around 130 bpm.

After 90 seconds, it was time to take off on the second leg. Having abandoned any hope of holding 7:15, I took off at a more comfortable pace of 7:22/m. I wasn’t able to hold this as pace and slowed down over the 1k distance. I finished the second 1k at average pace of 7:37/m. Heart rate was a bit elevate up to 140 bpm.

The 3rd attempt felt a lot like the second, although I had that hill to contend with for the last 200 meters. I ran most of the 3rd km at a 8:00/m pace and powered up the hill to ensure I beat the traffic light half way up the hill. In the end, I averaged a 7:44/m pace on the 3rd leg.

Summary:

Distance Pace Heart Rate
1k 9:07
1k 7:22 130
1k 7:37 140
1k 7:44 144
1k 9:22

It felt good to finally get some speed work in, even if it was only 30 minutes and only covered 3 km.

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