Monday, February 22, 2010

Training update

This past weekend, I didn't do a long run, partly because I was recovering from several strains/sorenesses/injuries, and partly because the schedule said not to - it was a "step-back week", and the prescribed weekend run was a 5k race.  Conveniently, there was a NYRR race scheduled on Saturday - a 4-mile run in Central Park to raise money for Haiti.  I was anxious about it, because while I've run longer distances several times in the last couple of months, I haven't run outside at all, and I wasn't sure I'd be able to handle the cold, or the hills (not that Central Park is known for its mountain ranges, but even a gentle incline can derail a tired runner), or the peer pressure (there are some very very fast runners in NYRR, and I am a fairly slow runner, and I was worried there would be nobody as slow as me, and I would either be way behind everyone else or force myself to keep up and collapse in the middle of the race).  The night before, I had anxiety dreams about being late and missing the race, which ensured I had no trouble waking up in time.  Anyway, I needn't have worried; it was a good first race of the training season.  The whole event was kind of a madhouse: they threw it together in eighteen days, and set the race cap higher than usual and then, apparently, removed it altogether.  It wasn't very cold.  There were plenty of people as slow as me; the other people who started with me all had paces on their bib that were similar to mine.  I didn't run anything like my best time - I walked over both the start and finish lines (not because I was too tired to run but because there were too many people around me and they weren't moving fast enough), and finished in just over 44 minutes.  I could certainly have finished a minute or two faster, perhaps even as fast as 40 minutes, if there hadn't been so many people - but in a way, it was nice.  It was like a gentle Saturday jog with the whole city along.  Because there were so many people, and because I wasn't exactly running with the front-runners, I got to listen to people's conversations (apparently slow people like me tend to run in groups).  And since I'd been so worried about the race and so fearful I wouldn't be able to finish, I didn't mind not running my best time.  It was nice.

So that was Saturday.  Sunday I lifted.  I don't really like to do cardio in the gym on weekends because it's very crowded and all the good machines are always taken.  Today I did intervals.  I've found a nice interval workout, where I start with 1 mile at a 1 0-minute pace and then run 2 intervals of 0.6 miles, 3 intervals of 0.4 miles, and 2 intervals of 0.3 miles (all separated by walking for a minute or two) at paces that accelerate to just about a 9-minute mile.  (This doesn't sound very fast, and in fact I have run a mile in less than nine minutes in the last six months, but at the end of this workout it's really as fast as I can go.)  I like this workout because it's four miles of running, and because it encompasses both longer and shorter intervals.  My hope is that it will get easier over time and I will be able to make the intervals faster, although today (the second time I've done this workout) that didn't seem to be on its way to happening... still, I've definitely become faster since I started running again, and it doesn't seem like I've hurt myself today.  

I did a little bit of lifting after the run; I can now do two sets of leg presses at 210 pounds, although I think the machine at my regular gym is unusually forgiving.  This is a factor of about 2.5 greater than the next-highest weight I can do anything at (80 pounds, sometimes 85, on the lat pulldown).

Tomorrow, I'm going to spin.  Spin classes are notorious for aggressive instructors, and this one is worse than many.  I like the Wednesday morning class a lot better, but it's at 6:30 a.m. and I'm trying to shake off a cold that is trying to infect me.  So I will just have to do my best not to get drawn into working harder than is good for me.  Wednesday I will do a light run, or cross-train on the elliptical, depending on my energy and soreness level.  Thursday is rest day.  Friday is my long run - 7 miles this week.  I've started doing my long runs on Friday in part because of the weekend crowds at the gym and in part because it means I can recover on the weekend (this is also part of why I did intervals today rather than Wednesday).  Saturday is yoga, and Sunday is another 4-mile race, this one in Prospect Park.  I also have races the next two weekends after that - 5k and 5 miles.  Excitement!

However... it is now nearly two hours since I finished my run, and I'm starting to feel kind of crappy.  I've noticed I've been feeling tired, not just in the legs but all over, and just kind of bad for several hours after strenuous runs.  This is something I haven't experienced since training for the marathon.  I know it is probably good and means I'm pushing myself, but it's not much fun.

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