Running MDRA Track Thursdays

You should do a track workout. Yes, you.

This idea of doing a coached group track workout is a little intimidating for some, maybe because it seems like something high school kids do. I didn’t run track in high school, or at all until I was 35. Public school PE had left me so self-conscious about doing anything at all athletic, I didn’t feel ready to attempt it until I was starting to get past the age of caring what other people think.

Luckily, in the town of Stage College where I lived as a beginner, a retired coach agreed to lead a beginners’ group in a series of non-threatening workouts. When I moved to Irvine, another coach led an early morning group in Laguna Beach. And here in the Twin Cities, the best place in the world to live and run, the Minnesota Distance Running Association offers a free workout for all abilities on Thursday nights. They’ve always found someone great to lead the group, and did I mention this is all free?

Here we are on July 10, my first workout of the season with them. Coach kindly takes the photo pre-workout so we look normal.

That’s me in the middle, in blue

This may be the largest group Track Thursdays has ever seen – 33 of us. Usually we get about half that many, but I guess nobody could resist this fun workout. We ran three sets of short intervals: 400 meters x 6 with 60 seconds rest, 300 meters with 45 seconds rest, 200 meters with 30 seconds rest, 3-4 minutes between sets. With so many runners and a wide range of abilities, you’d think it would be chaotic, but it went smoothly. I like having the option of either starting with a fast-ish group, or running slightly behind them on my own. Sometimes I end up running slightly behind no matter how I try, because I’m trying to keep up some very strong and consistent runners. It was at Track Thursdays I met several runners who have helped me a lot over the past few years.

Here’s a typical workout, with me tagging along behind Tom, Bobby and Bill like a kid sister trying to catch up. Sometimes I do catch up.
I like this aspect of track workouts; nobody really gets left behind.

Each workout begins with coach Laurie guiding us through a dynamic workout: Range of motion, hopping and skipping exercises that get us ready to go fast without strain. One of my track buddies gave me a golden nugget of advice: “It’s not about how fast you can run, it’s about how fast you can run without straining.” This principle will not only help you run a smarter race, it will help prevent injury. There’s no need to fear that a little fast running will increase your injury risk – you just need to be properly warmed up, listen to your body, and not try to do too much too soon.

I took this fun photo of me, fast track buddy Ed, and Coach for Facebook to caption “Coach tried to kill us!”
The workout was hard!
But there’s never any pressure to complete the whole workout or run faster than you’re prepared for.

I’m a fan of Coach Laurie’s workouts. They’re very challenging, but always adaptable. There have been times I’ve had to skip an interval or adjust my pace. Still, I usually leave confident that I’ll be stronger after recovering from the workout.

Here’s a good-looking group of runners from last year, making it look fun. It is fun.

At least a few of these track workouts will fit perfectly into my training plan this year. For the first one, I had no expectations but was happy to find that I could keep up with the big kids for most of the workout, and I ran all the intervals evenly at about the same pace I raced my last 5K or a little faster. I don’t think I could have done it without Bill keeping track of time and everyone shouting out encouragement.

In fact, it’s been proven that training with others is more effective for most people than training alone. If you’re like me, you have to do some of both, but your track buddies will keep you on pace, give you social support, and make the workout seem like more fun and less effort.

Thanks track buddies! I’m healthier because of you.


The No-Burnout 8-Week 10K Training Plan

After training for the Get In Gear 10K in April and the Brian Kraft 5K on Memorial Day, I took it easy in June. My hope was that this block of time with no speedwork, moderate mileage and fun hilly trail runs, I’d be more ready than in previous years to really put my heart into focused training for a goal race in the fall. Since I won’t be running the TC 10 mile, this year’s goal race will be the Victory 10K on Labor Day. At this point I’m so excited I want to share my plan, so I’m putting it here rather than annoy all my Facebook friends with training reports.

How do you write your own training plan? There are too many books to guide you on this. Hundreds of pages of conflicting advice. I’ll break it down for you into a few basic questions: Do you like long, steady runs? Do you like shorter bursts of speed? What has worked for you in the past? What’s your fitness level now?

The one thing all the books agree on is that you have to do all types of workouts in order to reach your potential: Long runs, tempo runs, and interval speedwork. There isn’t a real consensus about exactly how long the long run should be or how the speedwork should be done. In general, a workout has to keep your heart rate in a certain zone for a certain length of time to boost your fitness, but there’s not an exact point of agreement on that either. The most important thing about your training plan is that you actually do the workouts. This may seem obvious, but most runners seem to have a special way of obsessively following a training plan when they feel like it and talking themselves out of a workout when they don’t feel like it. I’m too old experienced to kid myself anymore.

I love the challenge of speedwork and like long runs in moderation. My sticking point is the in-between training at the lactate threshold: steady-state, tempo runs and cruise intervals. When I was training for the spring 5K, my tempo run was a simple 20 minutes at about 7:15 pace (25-30 seconds slower than I raced the 5k). In the summer, it’s a little trickier, since heat will send my heart rate up to 85% max even at a 7:45 pace. Probably most weeks, my tempo run will be a little slower and a little longer. I don’t like these workouts as much, so I’m not going to worry about doing them perfectly as long as I can keep my heart rate in the threshold zone (160’s for me) for a good amount of time sometime most weeks. Some weeks I’ll kind of sneak it in, like a mom sneaks a vegetable into a meal. More on that later.

The intervals are my favorite part. Short, fast repeats can sharpen your speed; intervals of 3-5 minutes with shorter recoveries improve your VO2 max; and mile repeats at 10K pace can get you in shape for any distance – if you can do them without risking overtraining. However, this year as I ask myself the important question of what has worked in the past, I have to admit that mile repeats at 10K pace haven’t been working for me. VO2 max workouts will boost my performance for a few weeks in a row, then I may plateau or even decline. So in the no-burnout 8-week program, the speed workouts start with short intervals for the first half of the plan and longer intervals in the second half, with the last workout being 10-11 days before my goal 10K.

I don’t want to miss the upcoming Grand Prix or team circuit races, so those are included – a 5-mile race in week 2 and a 15K in week 5. I probably won’t do them at more than 90% effort (It’s too hot anyway). The 15K will serve as a long run with a couple miles each of warm-up and cool-down. If I get talked into any more races, I’ve found that it doesn’t hurt to do the long run the day after a race, as long as the overall stress of that week wasn’t too much.

Six days after the Victory 10K is the City of Lakes Half Marathon. Last year, I started City of Lakes still strained from Victory, and ran my first and only DNF. In the years 2014-2016 I ran both without too much strain, but that has become increasingly difficult and I’m now convinced that it’s not possible to really race them both. However, I want to make up for last year’s bad experience and I want to stay in the running for the MDRA Grand Prix, so I’d like to run COL at a moderate effort with the goal of being cheerful and positive at the finish line rather than weepy and frustrated.

Thus, I’m including a long run of 10-14 miles. Not only will this enable me to comfortably finish the half marathon, I think it will help my 10K training. Based on previous years, it looks like a weekly (or almost weekly) long run of 90-120 minutes is helpful for my 10K. More than 120 minutes does not help, but if I don’t get my body used to at least 90 minutes of easy running, it seems to want to give up too soon. I did several runs of 90 minutes in June to make sure I’m comfortable progressing from there. Maybe this is a mental block; if I’m used to running for over 90 minutes, I can tell myself in the painful last couple miles of a 10K that I can suck it up because I’m used to running twice as long. Whatever it is, I’ll keep it in the plan, and if I have to cut some long runs short, no big deal because the half marathon is not my goal race.

I could write a plan with an exact number of miles for each day, but since I’m my own coach, I don’t have to. Instead, I’m setting a goal for the amount of hard training to shoot for. On the other 4-5 days of the week, I’ll aim to do some kind of workout: cross training or very easy running, preferably trail running.

Here’s my starting point: I can comfortably run 10 miles at a 9-minute-mile average pace, and I can run 400 meters in 100 seconds without straining.

Here’s the plan! It probably won’t go exactly like this, but we’ll see.

Week 1 (July 6-12)
Long Run: 11 miles
Tempo: 20 minutes
Speed: 6 x 400 meters, 60 seconds rest, 6 x 300 m, 45 seconds rest, 6 x 200, 300 rest, jog a slow lap in between sets

Week 2 (July 13-19)
Long Run: 12 miles
Tempo: 5 mile race!
Speed (Two days before race): 10 x 2 minutes at 10K pace, 10 x 30 seconds at mile pace, with short jogging recoveries

Week 3 (July 20-26)
Long Run: 11-14 miles
Tempo: 25-30 minutes
Speed: 12 x 400 m with 90-second jogs

Week 4 (July 27-August 2)
Long Run: 90 minutes on hilly course, middle 30 minutes at tempo effort
Speed: Whatever Coach Laurie says. Or, if tired, repeat Week 2 speed workout.

Week 5 (August 3-9)
Long Run: 15k Race! Plus warm-up and cool-down to total 13 miles
Speed: 5 x 600 m 10K pace, 5 x 600 m 5K pace, with short recoveries

Week 6 (August 10-16)
Long Run: 10-12 miles
Tempo: 20-30 minutes at Week 4’s 15k pace or a little slower
Speed: 2 x 200 m at mile pace, 2 x 800 m at 10K pace, 6 x 800 m at 5K pace, with short recoveries

Week 7 (August 17-23)
Long Run: 10-13 miles, last 2 miles at tempo effort
Speed: 5 x 30 seconds at mile pace, then 4-5 sets of 4 minutes at 10K pace, 1-2 minute jog, 2 minutes at 5K pace, 1-minute jog (a variation of the Nickel-and-Dimer workout)

Week 8 (August 24-30: Taper Week)
Long Run: 8-9 miles
Tempo: 20 minutes
Speed: 5 x 2 minutes at 10k pace, 5 x 30 seconds at mile pace

Week 1 is already complete! I ran a perfect 11-miler on Sunday, a nice 5-mile run with 20 minutes at 7:45 pace on Monday, 7 miles on trail on Tuesday, 40 minutes cross-training on Wednesday, and on Thursday, my first MDRA Track Thursdays workout (a series of short intervals described above) and another easy cross-training day today. Week 2 begins tomorrow. I could either do my long run tomorrow (at a very slow pace since I probably won’t be fully recovered from the track workout) or Sunday.

I’m saving my best effort for the speed workouts in weeks 5-7. When I say “short recoveries,” I mean slowing to a very slow jog for probably less than 90 seconds, not nearly a full recovery. I need a long warmup, so the total mileage on these days will be over 10K, maybe up to 15K. These are hard workouts! For this reason, I’ll make plenty of room for them; ideally, two easy days beforehand.

Notice that in week 4, I’ve put the tempo portion in the middle of the long run. This is partly to prepare for the 15k, but also to allow extra recovery days. In week 7, I’ve put the tempo effort at the end of the long run. I’ll keep this as an option in other weeks also. The 20-30 minutes of tempo can be done in a number of different ways: in the middle of a long run as mentioned; a couple days after the long run as a steady buildup in the middle of a 7-8 mile run, followed by a gradual cool-down; or as a fartlek alternating tempo and easy pace with the fast portion totaling 20-30 minutes. In Matt Fitzgerald’s book 80/20 running, he designs some runs with 3/4 mile easy and 1/4 mile faster, repeated throughout the run, or “fast finish” with the last couple of miles at marathon pace or faster. I enjoy those long mixed-up workouts and they do wonders for my performance if I can complete them a few weeks before a race. But they don’t always come together, plus if I’m running with other people they sometimes hate it, so I’m leaving that as an option for if the stars align. Otherwise, my long runs can be nice and slow and the tempo training can wait for another day.

If this sounds tortuously complicated, well, it is, but we are complicated beings. Bottom line: Adapt to whatever conditions arise. An adaptable plan has a lot of benefits. If you want to run with someone slower or faster than yourself, you can. If conditions are unusually good or bad, you can aim higher or lower (within reason).

Back to the drawing board if I’m seeing signs of burnout (soreness, fatigue, stomachaches, yelling at waiters if my food is taking too long).

Wish me luck!

No-Burnout Essentials: The Recovery Workouts

I run too slow most of the time. If wasn’t such a slacker, if I’d just push a little harder on more days instead of zoning out more than half the time, I’d be faster than I am. It must just be that I’ve given up, right?

Running on soft surfaces will also help your recovery, as you also already know

Seriously, I’ve mostly given up on getting anyone to slow down and have a nice gentle jog with me on days when I’m feeling chatty. I don’t blame you for that. More to the point, I don’t blame you if you don’t take my advice to make your easy days easier if Greg McMillan, Jack Daniels, Matt Fitzgerald, and just about every coach out there is telling you that your easy runs need to be considerably slower than your race paces, and you’re still plugging away doing every run at whatever pace you ran your last marathon. In general, I don’t have tons of advice for marathoners. I just wish them a wonderful experience, since they sure are investing a lot of time and money.

For marathoners who decide to take their running to the next level and train for a fast 5k, the recovery workouts become more important.

My workout today went like this:

10 minutes on the elliptical, heart rate going up to 68% max

Dynamic warmup with hip circles, pushups, squats, lunges, leg swings

10 minute jog

10 minutes on the lateral elliptical, heart rate going up to 78% max

10 minute jog with strides

This is to recover from a steady state run yesterday, made challenging by running with a young friend who wanted to blow off some steam. The last couple miles of that run were at tempo-run effort. If I’d run hard intervals, the next day might be just half the workout I did today. For short repeats, I can do a slow recovery run of up to 7 miles, but the key word is slow.

How slow? Slower than 9 minute miles. By the time I feel ready to race a 5k, I’m doing interval workouts at a 6:30-6:40 pace and recovery runs with the first mile taking more than 10 minutes and a few more miles at a 9:30 pace.

I know you already know this too, but your recovery workouts should be at least every other day.  I put two recovery days in between harder workouts, and some weeks go down to just one hard workout.

There are multiple benefits to taking it down all the way to first gear. The main one, which you already know, is that you won’t get stuck in third gear; you’ll find that fabulous fourth and fifth gear. Another is that you’ll meet more people in your running club. When I was in South Coast Road Runners, I’d run at anywhere from 7:30 miles down to 12-minute miles depending on the day, so I got to run with everyone. I was the only one who did run with everyone. They made me their runner of the year in 2011.

Also, if it’s a recovery day, you can not only go as slow as you want, you can do whatever you want. Biking, swimming, and dancing all count as recovery workouts.


No-Burnout Workout #5: OMG It’s May and I Gotta Get in Shape for a 5K

It might seem strange that, a week after running an okay 10K, I’m worried about being in good 5K shape. Welcome to my world.

We’re just two weeks out from Women Run the Cities, and the Brian Kraft 5k is 3 weeks and 2 days away. So realistically, there’s not a ton I can do to improve my fitness for either, but what I do need is practice at 5K pace or a little faster to shift gears from patiently-focused 10k racing to boldly-hyperfocused 5K pace.

Many intermediate to advanced 5K programs follow a progression of weekly speed-workouts of about 4K-5K total of speedwork broken down into intervals, starting with shorter intervals (maybe once around a 400-m track) and increasing to longer intervals of up to five minutes. The rest interval will take about half the amount of time it took to complete the interval, or up to 90% of that time. You might have heard this called a VO2 max workout. The effort for VO2 max workouts gets your heart rate over 90% of maximum. Not sprinting effort, but HARD effort, and progressively harder toward the end of each interval. If you’ve ever heard a couple training buddies merrily chatting away during a 5K, they were DOING IT WRONG.  Okay, theres no real right or wrong in running, but if you want a workout that’s going to improve your VO2 max, you should feel like you’re fighting for air.

If you race frequently like I do, you can skip some of the workouts and start where you’re at.  Using recent workouts to gauge about how long I can consistently maintain the kind of speed I want, I decided to start with 2 minutes at 5k effort, 1 minute slow jog, repeat x 10.

This is a good starting point for anyone doing 5k speedwork, IF, AND THIS IS IMPORTANT, IF your speed during this 2 minutes is consistent, rather than a 30-second sprint followed by a 30-second decline and another minute significantly slower. The same is true no matter the length of the interval. If your interval is a kilometer, and you run the first half-kilometer at a 6-minute-mile pace and the second half-K at a 7-minute mile pace, your lap pace looks pretty good but you’re going to race at least the last half of your 5K at a 7-minute mile pace. Be realistic, and start where you’re at.

I did this on the same section of greenway where I did my 10k workouts. It went like this:

2-mile warmup, 9:26 mile pace (no sense burning out early).

2-minute intervals x 10, with 1-minute slogs (very slow jogs).  Paces on these: 6:26 per mile, 6:42, 6:35, 6:33, 6:47, 6:21, 6:25, 6:29, 6:26, 6:31, 6:29.

Sloggy half-mile cool-down.

Total: 6.4 miles. Followed immediately by a bottle of fresh juice, followed by tacos.

TACO TIME. (At Midtown Global Market)

If you know me, you know this workout went a little faster than I’m probably going to race my spring 5K, and that’s okay.  VO2 max workout speed is usually a little faster than 5K speed.

Even if you never race a 5K, you need this workout. Even if you don’t run, try this effort/heart rate level in a spin class. It’s exhilarating and transformative. I woke a little groggy this morning, but now I have a spring in my step.

Happy Spring!


Special No-Burnout Workout: 10k Prediction

I did not race the Fred Kurz 10 mile. This year’s April blizzard, while not as bad as last year’s blizzard which led to a historic cancellation of the FK 10 mile, had left me tired and the trails sloppy. It made more sense to catch up on sleep, have a good breakfast and save my energy for a quality workout on clear paths after temps had warmed up to 37 degrees. I perked up nicely after a writing Meetup, coffee and good conversation.

Today’s workout :

2.2 mile warmup

2 miles at last year’s best 10k pace (7:01/mi)

2-minute jog

2 miles at 10k pace again (managed 6:54, because of a tailwind)

4-minute jog

1/2 mile at 7:02, 1 minute jog, 1/2 mile at 6:58

Long cool down with strides. Total 9.4 miles.

My late-season best-effort 10k workout is basically an abbreviation of McMillan Running’s best-10k workout. McMillan’s plan has you work up from six mile repeats at your goal 10k pace with 3-minute recovery jogs and work up to 3 x 2 miles at your goal pace with 5-minute recovery jogs. If you have a base of over 40 miles per week and are seriously ready to PR, this plan is good. If your mileage or ambition is somewhat less than this, you don’t have to do a full 10k worth of speedwork every week.

Personally, even in my PR days, I never made it past a workout of 2 x 1.75 miles plus 2 x 1 mile, but I found that this final work could predict my 10k pace if I could perform it without my legs feeling too heavy at the end. Today my legs did get a bit heavy, as evidenced by the fact that I didn’t run the half-mile efforts any faster than the 2-mile efforts despite pushing a bit harder. Still, I didn’t feel I needed a full 5-minute recovery jog at the end of the first 2-mile and felt exhilarated at the end of the second, so I don’t think my 10k will be much slower than today’s workout pace.

Unless there’s a blizzard, or a heat wave. You never know.

See you at Get in Gear, which I won’t skip because I’m preregistered.

At Mile 2 of the 2015 Get in Gear 10K

Fun fact about Fred Kurz: My dad knew him (not well, but he seems to never forget a name), from Murray High. Dad retold an incredible story about how he was also in a bike vs. car accident when he was about 20. He flew into the air, landed on his feet like a true gymnast, and greeted the horrified motorist who hadn’t seen what happened but had stopped, gotten out and was then looking at the crumpled bike in front of his car. I cannot comment except to say, well, 56 years later, here we are.

No-Burnout Workout #3: The Nickel & Dimer

What it is: 4-6 x (4 minutes @10k pace, 1 minute jog, 2 minutes @5k pace, 1 minute jog)

Purpose: When you’re training for a 10k, and mile repeats are on your plan but you have no appetite for them; when you want to race a 5K within a month of your goal 10k.

Spring training is coming along. I generally have trouble getting motivated for tempo and steady-state runs, but I’m using races for those workouts, with great results. I have no race planned for this weekend, so I put together an interval workout. Having done No-Burnout Workout #1 on Wednesday (12 x 200 at goal mile speed, all spot-on at 45 seconds) I didn’t plan on doing another hard workout until Saturday, but it looks like rain, I have weekend plans for which I want to look good, and boss let me go early, so off I went.

I designed this workout based on Workout #2 (the double 5-4-3-2-1 fartlek) after examining the results, which showed that I could comfortably maintain last year’s 10k speed without strain for 4 minutes but not for 5, and that I gained no speed on the 3-minute intervals but was significantly faster at 2 minutes, coming down to last year’s 5k pace.

The 5k and 10k have always been my best distances. I have a pretty typical constitution for a nickel-and-dimer, and the typical impatience. Maybe this is just a throwback to high school days, but sometimes a mile seems SO LONG and mile repeats seem so blah. Shortening it a bit and chopping it up, having twice as many breaks to look forward to, helps the workout seem easier, though physically it’s a good training stimulus.

Though this run came at the end of a hard week, it went fine. I did all six 4+2’s, and the total mileage with warm-up and cool-down was a little over nine miles. I did hit last year’s race paces: 7-minute miles for the 4-minutes, and 6:40’s on the 2-minutes. It did feel hard, though, and I don’t think I’ll actually race 7-minute miles for Get in Gear, because I do want to save something for the Mudball the next day.

Like all no-burnout workouts, this can and should be customized. The times and distances don’t have to be exact as long as they add up to your prescribed amount of speedwork, so if you can maintain your paces for longer, go for it. You could run by distance, going 1 kilometer and 1/2 kilometer, or go by time on a bike or elliptical.

I like the 5k and 10k. They don’t require much recovery time, they’re good for all ages and abilities, and they’re great for your health. You could train for a 5k on the minimum amount of aerobic activity the Department of Health and Human Services recommends (150 minutes a week), which would leave plenty of free time for whatever else you’ve got going on this weekend.

I can’t wait for tomorrow!

No-Burnout Workouts

I’ll say this repeatedly: Goal Number One is to keep doing what you love. One of my Goal #1 heroes, Andriette, said, “The main thing is to keep showing up. At lot of people just quit showing up.” She said that to me as I was venting some frustrations about slowing down despite working painfully hard. Her guidance, along with that of other friends and teammates, has brought me to this year’s other goals: Simply to run the races and, Goal #2, keep it fun.

The tricky part is that injury can sneak up on you even when you think you’re not overdoing it. Six years ago, I suffered a second metacarpal stress fracture and was sidelined for two months – grueling months of physical therapy, swimming, crying, and gathering my resolve to avoid future injuries. After healing, I ran some more PR’s, but when my performance started to decline, I was wary of pushing myself too hard. Even Grete Waitz said “I can’t go on forever” with regards to winning year after year. And bottom line, being injured is no fun.

Still, fast is fun, so I’m keeping some of my favorite workouts in the mix for weeks when I’m not racing. I call them “No-Burnout Workouts.” In my experiment of one, these can substitute for crazy-hard workouts that carry an increased risk of injury, while still keeping me in the running, so to speak. These are the two I did this week.

Workout #1: The Fast-Is-Fun 10 x 200

Warm up, do some dynamic stretches, then run 200 meters at about mile-race effort alternating with jogging 100 meters slow. Repeat ten times.

I did this midweek over a lunch break. The fast 200’s and the slow 100’s took about the same length of time. If you were looking for pure speed, you’d want to lengthen the recoveries and run the 200’s faster; If you were working on your 5K, you could shorten the recoveries to 30 seconds and run up to 20 x 200. The 10 x 200 is just to provide a little speed to sharpen up for the weekend’s race or second hard workout. I find that if I don’t do anything at one-mile speed, all my race paces up to 10k slow down, but that if I do a lot of work at mile speed, I can run a fast mile but not a fast 10k (in 2015, my one and only PR was in the one mile).

For me, the other benefit of this little workout is that I can get it done in under an hour, which is all the time I get for lunch. I return to work refreshed and can do as I please after work – usually an easy 20-30 minutes on the elliptical and a snack at happy hour.

Workout #2: Favorite (5-4-3-2-1)2 Fartlek

Warm up, then run intervals of 5 minutes, 4, 3, 2, and 1 minute, with recoveries of up to as long as the interval. Then, YAY, you get to do it all over again, for a total of 30 minutes of speed. Run by feel: The longer intervals should feel comfortably hard; the shorter ones can push you out of your comfort zone if you’re feeling it.

I did this today in the glorious springtime sunshine! My warmup running to the river road was almost 2 miles. From there, I’d go out and back on the river path. It looked clear. By now it was 10:30, when most runners were already done and fed. I felt good. My recent race pace has been 7:20, so I figured I could use that as a starting point, staying mindful not to use up all my energy on the first set. I planned to run the recoveries by feel also. My heart rate recovers quickly, but at least a one-minute jog is important to prepare for the next interval, so I made myself do that even when I was raring to go again.

It went like this:

5 minutes at a 7:19 pace
(1:02 jog)
4 minutes @ 7:06
(1:04 jog)
3 minutes @ 7:05
(1:44 jog)
2 minutes @ 6:46
(1:12 jog)
1 minute @ 6:29
(1:58 jog, turn around, jump for joy a few times)
5 minutes @7:11
(1:15 jog)
4 minutes @ 6:57
(2:29 jog; going uphill, getting a bit tired)
3 minutes @ 6:57
(1:21 jog)
2 minutes @ 6:44
(1:16 jog)
1 minute @ 6:34

The jogs were mostly around 9-9:30 pace. With the warm-up and cool-down, it came to ten miles, so it also counts as my long run, and I can take it easy for the next few days. Yes, if I did this workout every week, I would in fact burn out, but it works well for where I’m at right now – pretty fit, but not quite ready for 6 x 1 mile repeats. I felt great for most of it. No strain, and after some stretching and rolling, my slight case of runner’s butt is none the worse and maybe a little better. I had a slightly harder time wrapping my mind around the 4- and 3-minute intervals; interesting that the 3-minute efforts weren’t faster than the 4-minute efforts, and by the second 3-minute I was channeling my inner tiger to stay on pace. Though I promised myself I’d run by feel, I probably pushed myself to go sub-7 just because of that obsessive numbers thing so many runners do.

How fast should you run them? That depends on your goals, the conditions, and how much fun you want to have. If you’re a beginner, stick with the traditional ONE set of 5-4-3-2-1; it’s plenty. If you’re a marathoner, you might like the idea of alternating 5 minutes at marathon pace, 5 minutes at half-marathon pace, and so on. There’s a lot of room for flexibility in this workout. The purpose is to learn to run completely by feel rather than reaching for a goal pace. Running by feel becomes more important as time goes on, but is also useful if you’re coming back after time off or if you’re under stress. Fartleks are good for weeks when you feel physically fine to do a workout but mentally sapped at the idea of sustaining your training pace for very long.

Afterward, I made sure to take care of nutrion and general health. Enjoying lunch with Alan, fellow Unitarian and Capital City’s 2018 Runner of the Year, Still running strong in his 70’s.

Based on all this, I figure I can safely begin 10k training at about a 7:00-7:10 pace. On the weeks when mile repeats sound cryingly boring, I’ll go back to a No-Burnout Workout. I’ll throw in some pure speed when that sounds good, and keep running races to motivate myself for a sustained effort. See you at the Get in Gear 10K!