PP5M Training: Week 2

I find it somewhat ironic that I mentioned what a big baby I am about not running places I am not expressly permitted access to, and the very next day got escorted off a golf course for running on it. It was kind of embarrassing. I figured since the golf course went through the backyard of the resort where we were staying, it might be ok. It was not. I should have known.

So, here’s what I did.
Monday: 4 miles (road)
Tuesday: 4.6 miles (trail, Superior Hiking Trail off Martin Rd)

It was nice.
Wednesday: 4.4 miles, 400 repeats (road)
Thursday: 4.5 miles, road
Friday: rest
Saturday: 4.6 miles (paved trail)
Sunday: 5.8 miles (trail, 3 loops around Bagley)
Total: 28 miles (includes warmup and cooldown for most runs)

I used my cross-training day (Saturday) for running yet again (well, last weekend it was more hike than run), as I don’t have any cross-training activity I like. If I had been less lazy, we were only about 10 miles from Mille Lacs Kathio State Park, and I could have done a nice trail run/hike, but I got up late on Saturday and didn’t want to inconvenience anyone while they waited for me to slog through a training run. I ran the 5.8 miles on Sunday after a 2 hour car ride, so I’ll just applaud myself for getting off my butt even though riding in a car for more than half an hour makes me sluggish.

I was a little concerned I was overdoing it this week. Since last week’s rest day was Wednesday, I ran 8 days in a row instead of 6. I wanted to get back on track with the plan, and I knew I wouldn’t have much time on Friday for a run since I had to work, pack for our weekend trip, and clean the kitchen (I had a baking disaster the night before and only cleaned up the bare minimum) before we left. There wasn’t going to be time for running. Sunday and Monday I was still sore from my Saturday hike and was a bit worried I was overdoing it, but come Tuesday I felt fine, and Wednesday my legs felt great and ready for speed.

I ate a lot of sugar this weekend and I don’t think I did a very good job hydrating, but nothing so horrible it will throw me off for this week. I have a tempo run, a 6 mile long run, and I plan on getting out to the trails again for my cross-training on Saturday and for one of my weekday runs. My sore legs early last week are a sign I need more time on trails.

Two A Days

Hahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahhaahahahahahahah!

Yes, even thinking of doing actual two-a-day runs is hilarious. I didn’t. What I did do is meet up with a friend during my break between classes and take her dog for a walk. I wore my watch but not my heart rate monitor, as that would have been both ridiculous and obsessive. We went for a loop and a half walk around Bagley Nature Area, which was about 2.5 miles. Loki found some squirrels in a tree and almost lost his mind over them.

I ended up getting my pants soaked with snow and my friend drove me back home so I could change before I went back to class. I also ended up getting insanely sweaty because I wore my winter coat, which was a dumb idea. I’m fairly certain I exceeded my heart rate targets going up that stupid hill, but I’m also confident I stayed well below the target most of the rest of the walk.

After I got home for good, I made a poor but tasty choice for a late lunch (I eat at weird times): a bagel and cream cheese (not the poor choice) and the rest of the pulled beef I’d had for dinner a few nights ago. It was glorious and delicious and I felt gross the whole half hour I spent on the treadmill an hour or so later. Yet another slow and demoralizing session on the treadmill. I need to make better food choices, I guess.

While I think two-a-days for someone like me are ridiculous, I did like making use of my break to do something outside. It’s something I can consider in the future: stop by my car, drop off my backpack, and run for an hour between classes. So I’m sweaty in class later, no big deal. It’s an opportunity to get a run in before it gets dark, and avoid the treadmill for another day. I have to find a way to avoid kicking up snow behind me and soaking my pant legs.

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.

Trail Review: Bagley Nature Area (Winter)

Saturday I couldn’t stand another day on the treadmill, so even though it was -2 when I got up, I told myself if it was in the high single digits by noon, I would get outside for my run. It was, so I did.

I headed out to Bagley Nature Area, on UMD’s campus. A small portion of the trail is on the Superior Hiking Trail as it winds its way through the city. The trail is not paved, but is not particularly technical; there are no large rocks or tree roots or other obstacles. In the winter, its two main loops are groomed and there are classic x-c skiing tracks. There is a small hill where kids can go sliding/tubing that might cause some traffic jams or collisions on the way on or off the loops. Since school is closed, there’s parking right near the trail. When school is open, the parking lot is for campus residents, so I don’t know what non-students do. Street parking is impossible during the weekdays when school is in session.

I wore my shoes chains, which gave me plenty of traction on the groomed and slightly packed trails. At times there was ice directly under the snow, so I was glad to have the extra traction and stability. There weren’t that many people out since it was cold: a couple other runners and a couple cross country skiers, plus the kids on the sliding hill.

Click here for a map of the groomed trails. The east loop is definitely the easier loop: it has a few very small hills, but nothing too challenging. In autumn I love the east loop because the trees are simply gorgeous and the trail is carpeted in leaves.

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A little serenity on #umd campus at #bagley between games.

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The west loop, while shorter in distance, is more challenging. The walking trail diverges from the ski trail for a bit, so it’s a little longer than 1.2k as shown on the map. Two cute wooden bridges cross over a little creek and back again. Once the loop rejoins the ski trail the path comes to a large hill. I mean, not large by Rocky Mountain standards or anything, but it’s a more difficult hill than might normally be found on a tiny, semi-urban loop. The scenery at the top of the hill is lovely, in the winter there’s even a glimpse of the lake, but for some reason every time I’m up there, a dog at one of the nearby houses is out and barks and ruins the serenity!

The loop comes back down along Junction Ave/St. Marie St., following the pond. The descent is more gentle than the ascent (note that I run the paths the same direction as the skiers), but along the pond I found the path was at its iciest and had to be cautious. Since the two loops come together on the north side of the pond, it’s easy to make a few figure 8 loops of the trail and turn a short trail into a good place for a medium-length run.

Bottom line: Bagley Nature Area has groomed trails, few flat stretches, and lots of trees. It’s a great place to go on days when I’m not sure how I feel, because the loop is so short it’s easy to tap out after a few miles if it’s not my day. It is not a great place for speedwork or aerobic training, due to the large hill on the west loop.