Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tuesday Nights At the Track

"I haven't felt that bad in a long time"
-Lucas after tonight's 4 x 1200 m repeats

Intervals have started again at the track. Actually, a few of the brave started meeting as much as a month ago, but last week was my first time to drop some (lactic) acid this year.

While last week it was 800m repeats, this week it was 1200m intervals. That's three loops around the donut. Please forgive me if I sound condescending; when I first showed up at the track a couple years ago, I didn't know that 400m was the standard distance for a single loop. In fact, it took me most of that first practice to get it into my thick head that four loops was a mile.

Well tonight, seven of us showed up for 75 minutes of camaraderie, warm temps, steady 20mph winds with 40mph gust and some good old fashioned ass-kicking running pain. It was grande.

How to Survive an Interval Workout
Let's be honest. No one likes doing this. If you do, then you probably take sadistic pleasure in rubbing your knees with 60 grit sandpaper and kneeling in rubbing alcohol. For the rest of us, this is about survival. Here are some tips from my journal on intervals:

1) Preparation. It begins long before showing up. Perhaps even the night before. Get your gear, water bottle and Gatorade packed in advance. This does a lot on getting you in the right frame of mind. Mentally focus on what your workout goal is. It could be running certain splits, it could be focusing on your form, or finishing strong. What ever it is, commit.

2) Dump the Trash. Whether you're a novice runner, a world class sprinter, or a Corellian-class Star Destroyer preparing to jump to hyperspace, it's always a good idea to dump the trash before throttling up. Some get by with only #1. I recommend the #2 combo, or the Big John as they call it at Jimmy John's (no kidding).

3) Warm up. Don't skip this. Two miles or about twenty minutes at easy pace. Resist the mental anguish of fretting of what's to come. Just enjoy this time, talk with your friends, smile a lot and act like you're having fun. If you need a good laugh, think of Fred's golf game.

4) Manage Pace. Not everyone's speed demon. That's okay. Intervals are ideally about you and the clock. I think that a good goal should be to do your best to hang in there solely to recruit fast twitch muscles. Those fast twitchers will help make you a more efficient runner in the end. So who cares what pace Dr. Bannister is running next to you. Just dial it in and persist against the stop watch.

Interestingly, today's Pez Cycling News Toolbox had a great write-up on Time Trial pacing for cycling that can also apply to running. In it, the author points to a study that suggests that the best strategy for conducting a time trial is to take the first half of the race at an elevated pace of roughly 5% greater than your average power. During the second half, the cyclist should continue to increase their output gradually until peaking at maximal output near the finish. In my humble opinion, the same applies to running. Even during intervals, this strategy employed over multiple intervals can be quite effectively at producing a balanced workout with a strong finish.

5) Cool down. 10 to 15 minutes of a very very easy pace with light stretching is compulsory. You've just killed yourself, now it's time to let your mind catch up to where your body is/was/will be. Part of the stupor you're in is a result of the hard-earned beta-endorphins that are coursing through your veins. Good job. Pat yourself on the back. You deserve it.

6) Recharge. I've read that withing the first 60 minutes after a strenuous workout, your body is like a sponge. Give it some good stuff to replenish what you've just spent. I like this recovery blender shake:
* 6-8 milk,
* 1-2 cups of frozen strawberries,
* a frozen over-ripe banana,
* a tablespoon of honey,
* 2 Tbsp of non-fat banana pudding mix
* A couple scoops of whey protein
After a hard workout, the muscles need this mix of carbs and proteins to repair the microscopic tears you've just induced.

Well, that 's all I've got.

Six days to get ready for another Tuesday night at the track. Hope to see you there.

1 comment:

  1. I got nauseous from the description of that workout. It must have gone well.