Slowing Down to Speed Up – Outside

From this morning’s trail review, you can tell that I managed to run outside this weekend. (Sunday ended up being a rest day due to lack of motivation.)

Normally running outside is easier than running on a treadmill for me. I am not sure if it’s the more interesting surroundings, or the ability to vary my pace subtly based on how I feel, or the fact that I am propelling myself forward with each stride instead of staying in the same place. With my newly imposed heart rate restrictions, I’m now slower outside than I am inside.

I’m not actually surprised by this, especially since I picked a hilly course. My plan on Sunday was maybe to give the Lakewalk another try since it’s got more flat portions, but when it was only 2 above at 11:00 I decided to scrap it. The wind off the lake could have been nasty. I will give that a shot next weekend when it’s in the 20s or possibly above freezing again.

I layered up nicely in order to avoid getting chilled: tank top under hoodie with other hoodie on top, gloves, thin running tights under lightweight sweatpants, socks over the bottoms of the running tights (they are too long so I just didn’t pull them over my feet), headband over ears, hood from inner hoodie pulled over head and tied securely, gloves that aren’t very warm, balm on my face to protect it from the wind. Forgot the sunscreen, oops. I ended up not getting cold at all. I was worried about my feet since I really didn’t have proper socks, but they didn’t. Since I had the shoe chains on my feet, the soles of my shoes didn’t have as much contact with the ground, so the cold didn’t come through.

Running on snow feels like it requires more effort than running on pavement. I think my intuition is backed up by science: some of the energy that’s supposed to be used to turn over my legs ends up getting absorbed into the snow as my foot sinks in, so it requires more energy per stride than it would on pavement or other more solid surfaces. I should probably use my knowledge of physics to educate myself about the kinetics and kinematics of running. When I was running on flat ground, I was able to keep my heart rate where it needed to be without slowing down too much. Once I got on any kind of incline lasting more than a few steps, my heart rate skyrocketed and I had to walk. From what I’ve read of others who have started this type of training, that’s fairly standard. On the large hill on the west loop, even going at a snail’s pace of about 44 min/mile, I wasn’t able to keep my heart rate below 142. I ended up having to relax my standards and tried to keep it around 150 for the ascent on the second time around. I am not very efficient at getting up hills. I am working to change that and need patience. I don’t really like chugging my way up hills like The Little Engine That Could so I’m not missing that at all, but I would like to be able to walk up them at a decent clip.

I like training like this, not just because I can walk up hills, but also because at no time was I sucking wind, gasping for air, cramping, feeling nauseated, or otherwise physically hating the run. I felt great during and afterward. This is good news, because school starts next week, I’ll still be working, and I’ll have a ton more crap to do. A run that not only eats into my study and work time, but wears me out so I don’t have the energy to do homework/work afterward, is not a good situation. Of course, if this training method isn’t really working and I don’t improve, that’s also not a good situation.

I still got chills after the run even though I didn’t overexert myself, and even though I had a huge latte and a hot shower afterward. Of course, going to a hockey game 45 minutes after my run and sitting in a cold rink holding a cold pop in my hand was a poor idea.

I do wonder if I will see results from this training faster than an speedy runner would. Since I am already slow, will slowing down help me faster? Does that even make sense? Or am I just hoping that will be the case when really I’m just being impatient? I guess I’ll find out as I’ll end up getting faster or blowing a gasket.

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