Thursday, July 26, 2007

9 by mile

It's three weeks until the race I've been training for all summer, so today I did my longest run: 20 miles. For various reasons, I decided that instead of going out and doing a normal 20-mile run, a big loop or something, I would do it as a track workout instead. This is partly because it would be hard to find a 20-mile loop that didn't involve running on four-lane highways, and partly because I am always trying to be more like Khalid Khannouchi.*

So, my run was as follows:

Run 3.25 miles to track
9 x 1 mile with 2 laps jog in lane 8 between
Run 3.25 miles home.

Those who are good at addition will notice that 3.25 + 9 + (8 x 0.5) + 3.25 = 19.5, which is not 20. However, running in lane 8 adds 2 x 3.14 x 7 meters per lap, which is about 50 meters per lap, times 16 laps, gives me the extra half-mile.

My mile times were as follows:

7:55
7:47
7:42
7:28
7:23
7:07
6:56
6:49
6:41.

Obviously, the idea was to run the 9 miles under 8-minute pace and get faster each time. I did this. I did not get quite as fast as I would have ideally hoped for, but I was tired at the end so 6:41 was what I ran. So it goes.

It was not that hot, and it was very cloudy, but it was extremely humid. When I do a longish run, I enjoy weighing myself before and after the run to see how much water weight I lose. On previous runs I have lost 2.5 - 3.5 pounds during a 10-12 mile run. Today I knew I should drink something, so I carried a 12-oz bottle of Gatorade and a 12-oz bottle of water out to the track. (I always look down on people who carry water bottles while running, but today I thought it was justified.) So, over the course of the workout I drank 24 ounces of water, and then after the run I filled one up with water and drank that. So I ingested 36 ounces (2 pounds) of water during the run. The difference between my weight before and after the run was 3.6 pounds. So, I sweated 5.6 pounds of water, or over two quarts, over the course of the run. Yuck.

I hope that today's workout will be "money in the bank" and will help me to be faster later.

*Former men's world-record holder in the marathon, before Paul Tergat; runs the last 5k of his long runs on the track and closes with a sub-4:30 mile.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

It's fun to run; it makes me smile; I think I'll run another mile. And another.

This summer, I am training for an endurance event. One might call it an ultra-endurance event, since it's longer than a marathon, except that the running is broken up into chunks. In mid-August, I will be running 33 miles in six roughly equal chunks, with about double the running time for recovery. This is a three-person 100-mile relay. To this end, I am training to increase my endurance, my ability to run multiple times in a day, and my ability to run in the heat. Mainly the former.

My mileage the first week I was here was 24. In order to be able to run 33 miles in one day, I need to have practiced running as close to that as possible in the least amount of time possible. Of course, this will be considerably more than a day in practice. In my training, I have the following goals, in order of precedence:

1. To arrive at the starting line uninjured;
2. To complete the race;
3. To run the race well.

In order to achieve my goal of racing well, I need to increase the volume and intensity of my running. However, I need to do this without getting injured. Down here, most of the running surfaces are paved, which considerably increases my likelihood of getting a stress fracture, especially since I will be increasing my mileage relatively quickly. Thus, I have been structuring my running to be the easiest possible on my body. This means:

(a) run more miles per day, fewer days per week;
(b) run more times per day, fewer miles each time.

I have been running four days a week for the past four weeks. On the alternate days, I lift (upper body only). Sometimes I have skipped lifting. This is bad. However, now when I move my arms, I can see muscles moving that I did not see before. Also, I now have six-pack abs, thanks to my morning abs and ab lifting. However, this six pack is only detectable with fingers; it is still covered by a thick enough layer of fat that it is obscured to the eye.

In the past few weeks I have run the following mileages:

24 (week I got here), 30, 35, 40, 45 (planned for this week).

I mostly did just miles, because it was so hot and humid that it was all I could do to shuffle through 10-minute miles with a racing heart when I got here, and it has only gradually gotten better. Once a week I do a group long run, which is nice; I have also run to a track and done some moderately fast miles (6:30 - 8:00 -- fast during a 10-mile run). I plan to make it more varied in the near future.

This morning I did a hill workout. I ran to a gradual 45-second hill, and did 15 repeats. It was plenty challenging. Then I ran to a steeper, 30-second hill and did 13 repeats. It was a 10-mile run. I weighed myself before and after the run, and had lost 3.4 pounds of water in the interim. That's a lot, especially considering that the run ended before 7:30 AM.

When I do hill repeats, I run fast up the hill, then slow to a jog, turn around and go down the hill to begin again. As I reached the top of the hill for the sixth time, a man passed by going the other way, and said:
Got all the way to the top, eh?
What does one say to that? When I am doing 15 repetitions, and he thinks that the reason that I am breathing hard is because it's so difficult to run to the top of a hill?

I have a hard time thinking when I am running. I usually say reasonably incoherent things. For instance, one time I tried to say "running skirt" while running. I said "running shirt" and "running shorts" and just could not cough out "running skirt," much as I could see the laughable item in my head. I also have trouble parsing the sounds that other people make into comprehensible words -- this morning a woman said, "I wish I had your energy!" as I ran yet another hill repeat, and by the time I figured out what she had said, I had almost passed by and it was all I could do to say "yeah" -- and my distance vision is significantly worse than usual. So, I am not at my most biting and clever when people say dumb things to me while running.

So I could not think of a snappy thing to say to this man who assumed that, because I was breathing hard at the top of a hill, it must be hard for me to run up hills. All I said to him was,
This is number six, got a few more still.
Are other people familiar with intervals? That "number six" doesn't just mean "this is the sixth hill I've encountered over the course of this morning's run," but "this is the sixth time I have sprinted up this hill, and it is not the last"?

So far here, I have not been passed while running. One day a guy did pass me, but he was doing the sprint-and-jog routine where every time I came up behind him, he sprinted ahead, and then slowed down again, so I caught up again... I eventually passed him on a downhill right before his run ended, so that was the end of that. Last week I went to a track to do a few timed miles, and there was a family there running around the track. There was a young boy, about 10 years old, who ran faster than his younger siblings, and tried to race me every time we ended up running near each other. Somehow, even though it was during my rest interval, I did not want to be passed. So I ended up surging every time he tried to pass me. I do not like to be passed by anyone against whom I am not racing, especially not by 10-year-old boys.