Back At It

I ran yesterday, so that was nice. I stopped the streak of days off at 4.

I ran pickups. On the treadmill. That was less nice, although in some ways it was good. I ran on the treadmill because it was drizzly and cooler, but so humid I could see my own breath, and since I have my first and most difficult final tomorrow, I didn’t want to wear myself out or get so chilled I couldn’t function.

In order to keep from dying of boredom, I had the Montreal-Tampa Bay Stanley Cup playoff game on, but muted, and then I had a “butt rock” (aka 80s hair metal) station playing on Pandora. I did similar intervals to last week, except I did the correct 8×0.25 instead of miscounting and doing 9. I did the first 4 at a 5.5 mph pace and the last 4 and a 5 mph pace, and then I slowly jogged/walked (3.5 mph pace) in between to recover.

Running the pickups on the treadmill was beneficial for a few reasons. First, it kept my speed under control. When I did the pickups last week on the road, my pace was all over the place and it always died off at the end because I went out too fast (or because I hit a hill AND went out too fast.) My paces were more conservative (10:55 and 12:00) and I was more in control. Second, I was able to keep the pace consistent, not just because I was running a more achievable pace, but because the treadmill was making me. I am not very good at keeping a consistent pace, and I need to train my legs to do it.

I did core exercises too, and I need to be more consistent about doing them. I need a strong core and strong arms to keep me going, but for some reason I’m either too lazy to do them when I’m done running, or I’ve got a zillion other things to do once I’m done running and don’t take the time. Now that I’m not running all these crazy long runs, I have no excuse to skip the push-ups and sit-ups. Washboard abs, here I come. Or at least reduced batwings.


Ah, I love this song. I wish Axl wasn’t old and fat with a ruined voice. I saw him perform Welcome to the Jungle a few months ago on some show and he was out of breath and horrible.

Out of breath and horrible? Sounds like me.

I took both Monday and Tuesday as rest days this week. It was unplanned, but probably for the best. I hadn’t taken a rest day since the Friday I fell down the stairs, in an effort to turn Mondays into my scheduled rest day for the rest of the semester. I don’t plan on taking 9 days between rest days in the future. Tuesday I had too much homework to take an hour or so to work out. That was unfortunate because I like to work out the day after a rest day.

I like to work out the day after the rest day because I have more energy and I always expect to be about a minute faster than the dragging workout I suffer through right before the rest day. I don’t know why I expect it because it’s never true, but hope springs eternal.

Until recently, when I ran, I expected to get better every time I ran. I expected to “PR” each route every time I ran it. My logic was: I’m so slow and out of shape, every workout should come with fitness gains because my body isn’t used to it. This was obviously based on nothing. It also led to an ineffective way of training. My “easy” days were shorter distances and flatter routes. My “hard” days were longer distances and hillier routes. The effort level was the same: try to be faster than the last time out on the course. This doesn’t mean I was giving 100% effort on every run. I don’t think I’ve ever given 100% effort ever during an athletic activity, except when I was on a swim team. I gave 100% effort at meets, or at least 90%. That was long ago and far away.

Since I’m training based on my heart rate, I’m giving a similar effort (from a cardiovascular perspective) each run, so that hasn’t changed. However, the pace I can maintain at that heart rate varies from day to day, so some days are faster than others, but all days are slower than what I am capable of achieving.

At first, I made peace with this. Now I’m creeping back into that same old mindset again. I expect to be faster at the same heart rate. I expect that I should be starting to see some 15:xx times at the same heart rate. I did, finally, on Thursday (15:44 average pace for 45 minutes on the treadmill), but I was expecting it on Wednesday (which is stupid because I had a 16:02 average pace for an hour, so that’s still an improvement) and was bummed when I couldn’t get it.

I did have a mini-mental breakthrough when I reminded myself that on the treadmill, I can only adjust my pace in discrete intervals. When I bump up the pace one increment, from say 3.7 mph to 3.8 mph, that is an increase in pace of 26 seconds. A bump from 5 mph to 5.1 mph is only 14 seconds, and from 6 mph to 6.1 is only 10 seconds. A 26-second increase in pace is significant. Maybe I’m capable of maintaining 142 bpm at 3.85 mph; I can’t do that on the treadmill. What I can do is run a longer period at 3.9 before bumping it down to 3.8, but every time I hit the decrease pace button, it feels like a defeat.

That was a lot of feelings and frustration for one post, but translating those feelings and frustrations into words makes things more clear and more logical to me, and can help me move beyond them. I should probably bookmark this post for myself and revisit it from time to time when I’m getting impatient with my training plans. Alternatively, I can revisit GNR when I’m getting impatient and get the same message as this post. Woman, take it slow and it’ll work itself out fine.

Be Still, My Heart

Here is a partial list of things that increase my heart rate while running:

  • Caffeine (even hours later) (duh)
  • How full my stomach is (Because running on an empty-but-not-hungry stomach isn’t always possible)
  • Needing to use the restroom
  • Taking a drink of water
  • Blowing my nose
  • Coughing once
  • A bad turnover in the Wild’s defensive zone
  • Talking to my cat
  • Thinking about something annoying for a second
  • Fixing my hair
  • Shouting at the television
  • A very slight change in incline (I usually run at a 2, knocked it down to a 1 in order to get a little speed back during this training period)
  • The Wild scoring a goal (fortunately doesn’t happen very often)
  • Changing the channel

In these first few weeks of training I’m being hyper-vigilant about checking my heart rate, since I really don’t have a good sense of how I feel when I am running at 142 bpm vs 150 bpm, or at least I don’t until I’ve been running for a little bit too long at that higher heart rate. I am trying to be a little more patient with the 146-147s that flash across my watch display, since they do tend to settle down after a few seconds. I know from day to day I will feel differently and some days it will be harder to run the same pace than other days; I know that patience is key to success with this kind of training. I’m trying to cut down the caffeine (only one cup of coffee today instead of two! Let’s see if that works!), and most of the other things on the list are blips on the radar that can’t be helped. Not watching hockey during a run would also help, as would avoiding emotional investment in a sporting competition meant for entertainment purposes only, but I assure you that ship has sailed.

The good news is running slowly on the treadmill has made me hate it less, so I am able to run on it longer. I spent an hour and a half on the treadmill last night, the longest I have ever spent working out on a piece of equipment. Of course, I also covered a bit over 5 miles, a distance I used to be able to cover in an hour, so there’s still that trade-off.