Running commentary 011: Building up confidence

Sunday, March 02, 2014

interval training

It's high time I checked in again with my running progress this year. As you may know, I've been spending time with the treadmill in an attempt to get my training back on track after a frankly LAZY winter. Ideally I've been on 'mill 3 times a week but in fact it's been more sporadic so sometimes just once, or none. My main focus has been on interval training in order to build up my cardio abilities and my breathing, with a gentle warm-up in order to get my body in gear for a bit of a beasting. To be honest the maths of pace and speed are beyond me but the treadmill is currently set on imperial measurements. I try to do between a 14 and 25 minute workout with at least 5 minutes of gentle jogging included to start off, the last thing I want is to go and injure myself at this stage! I then whack the speed up to somewhere between 9-11 mph for a minute (or as long as I can possibly manage) before reducing it to about 3 mph (walking pace) to recover. The machine can measure heart rate so I'm tending to take that as an indicator for when to speed back up again. For example; my heart rate once I have been sprinting for as long as I can manage is around 181 bpm, so I wait until it falls down to under 130 bpm (which is a couple of minutes of walking and breathing) then go fast again. At the moment I tend to do between 3 and 6 sprints depending on the length of workout and by the end I expect to be sweaty and disgusting. For the time being I have been running at 0% incline but I'm going to start the intervals at an incline but slower pace in order to get some hill training in.

on a treadmill
Anyway, earlier this week I aimed to run 5k and set the speed at higher than I was used to running at. I made it to 2.75miles in 22minutes (after a 0.5 mile steady warm up) and really felt pretty shattered after that. The workout kind of left me feeling a bit daunted at just how much faster I'd have to run to reach my goal of 5k (that's 3.1miles in old money) in sub 22 minutes. Clearly, I have a LOT of work to do.
Yesterday I decided to make the most of the mild conditions and afternoon sunshine to hit the road for the first time in what feels like an eternity, although in reality probably only a couple of months. The main objective was just to make it to 10k all running as it felt like all confidence had drained out of me and I really didn't even know if I could still make the distance at all. For the first time in at least a year – if in fact ever- I discovered what it is like to go for a casual run and how to enjoy just running in the great outdoors, feeling the sun on my bones and feeling to a certain extent 'carefree'. Sure, I DID keep an eye on my Garmin Forerunner watch to see how I was going but not in a competitive way, just to make sure I wasn't pushing forewords too fast with the risk of premature expiry. To my total surprise the first 5k were at such a leisurely pace that despite a raised heart rate, I wasn't really out of breath and felt mighty fine. I should point out that I planned to do two laps of a 5k circuit just in case I felt like I wasn't going to make it. So the second lap started really well and naturally I didn't feel quite as fresh but it did make me happy to just relax about slowing right down on the incline and just not look at the watch, panic and have to press on harder. It's not in my nature to be so laid back about this but I had promised myself I wouldn't be fazed by however long it took me to make the distance and I resisted running hard at all points other than on the last half kilometre on a proper good downhill so I thought I'd just stretch out and do a short stretch as fast as I could which was satisfying. Just the fact that I made the whole distance still running has boosted my confidence no end and was just what I needed to make me feel like I CAN do it and I CAN make progress. All is not lost.


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