Hard Track Intervals

My brother and I went to the track to run 6 x the mile this morning. I wanted to target five minute miles with equal recovery between intervals. I knew the pace would be hard, especially since I have not done any running specific workouts in over a month.

Justin was there to pace the effort. He hits the track at least once a week and has had a good summer season of running. He ran a personal record in a 10k a few weeks ago with a time of 31:18. It isn’t much of a stretch to call him the best runner in New Hampshire.

It was pouring rain with occasional wind gusts when we started our warm-up. Fortunately it was almost 70 degrees out so we were never cold. After about a half hour of easy jogging we dove into the first mile. The pace felt fast but easy enough for the first 1200 meters but then I started working pretty hard. We finished the mile in 4:59 but I already knew that I may have bitten off more than I could chew.

Five minutes later we started the second mile. I started hurting half way through. With 200 meters to go I had to get on my toes to sprint in order to make pace. I ran 4:59 again but it had taken more effort than was sustainable for four more miles. As I jogged around the track I saw that I had hit a heart rate of 179 beats per minute. That was the highest heart rate I have seen all year. My previous high was 176 which I hit the week before during a roller-ski time trial with the Canadian National Team at Soldier Hollow. The fact that my heart rate was elevating easily is a good sign for my overall fitness. When I am tired or out of shape I cannot get my heart rate much over 170, However the fact that it was so high early in the workout did not bode well for the remaining four mile repeats.

I faded slightly on the third mile and crossed the finish in 5:01. Lactate was accumulating in my legs and I knew the arbitrary goal of running five minute pace for all six miles was probably out the window. Justin was annoyingly unaffected and chipper. He was clearly working pretty hard but as he happily pointed out, not as hard a me.

Justin accidentally took the first lap of the fourth mile out a few seconds ahead of pace. If I were a runner this would not have hurt me that bad, but because I don’t do speed with regularity my efficiency gets exponentially worse the faster I go. My legs were loaded. At the half mile mark I was falling apart and Justin gapped me. I ended up limping across the line in 5:08.

I had only completed four out of six miles and I had blown up. I asked Justin what I should do. He asked how bad I was willing to hurt. I responded that I was up for a lot of pain. He suggested that he pace me for another 5:08 mile. I agreed and away we went. It was amazing how much more efficient my running became simply by slowing down 2 seconds per lap. I was comfortable for the first 1200 meters and then had to enter the pain cave once again to hold pace to the finish. I ran 5:08.

For the last mile Justin agreed to pace me for the first half mile and then we would go as fast as we could to finish the workout. At 800 meters Justin took off and dropped me hard. I held on to finish the last mile in 5:09 though.

Despite falling short of my pacing goal, I had a good interval session. I blew up at the hallway point of the workout and was able to adjust pace to keep the workload high. Whenever Justin breaks me running I like to point out to him that I was the faster runner when we were both ski racers. Maybe I’ll focus on running someday but not today.

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