Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday Interval

Finally the weather cooperated a little on Sunday morning and I had a window for a very productive workout. I went with a simple formula with kilometer intervals. I did my usual route which is unfortunately a bit hilly on the second half. I have yet to find a flatter route that gives me an almost perfect loop without tracking back.
I still managed decent intervals even if the second half was not quite as fast as I would have wished. I always like to see the color difference on the heatmap:
I am almost at my goal of 4:20m/km for the fast intervals but I'll have to work on my 5:00m/km on the recovery intervals.
  • Recovery intervals: 5:04, 5:22, 5:25, 5:22, 5:19, 5:09 (average: 5:17)
  • Fast intervals: 4:13, 4:18, 4:28, 4:29, 4:31 (average: 4:24)
The satisfaction rating for this workout is very high :)

Custom file in the mix.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Satisfaction equation

While running, I came up with a formula to calculate how satisfied I will be with my training session once I am done. There are a few variables in there. Difficulty is the technical difficulty of the workout. The more difficult the workout, the higher this value will be. Am I trying to break new grounds for speed or distance for example? Environment is related to the weather conditions, is it hot, cold, windy, raining, etc? The more challenging environmental conditions are, the higher this number will be. Success is how successful I am in meeting the goals of the workout. A complete success would be a 1 where a partial success would be a 0.8 and a failure a 0.5 and cutting the run short 0.2. Motivation is whether I feel like doing the workout or if I am forcing myself to do it because I am having one of those days. If I want to do the workout, this number will be 1. If I procrastinate around a bit before getting out, this would be 0.8. If I have to bribe myself with all kinds of rewards this would be 0.5. The equation goes a bit like this:

Difficulty * Environment * Success / Motivation = Satisfaction

So a workout last week where I was trying to break new ground speedwise (1.5) in hot weather (2) and failed at my interval (0.8) still yielded a high satisfaction rating (4.8) since my motivation had been really low (0.5) and I had to really work at getting out of the door.

How do you keep satisfied when not everything is going your way?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I want to run Boston

I've been fairly quiet recently. The early heatwave over Ontario and the now regular hot temperatures are putting a break on the amount of training I would like to do. Last week I ran to work in what has been the most difficult long run for me in quite a while. The temperature at 6am was already around 25 degrees celsius (feels like 30 with humidex). By the time I could see my work building in the distance, my pace had crawled to 7minutes per km. I even ran out of sportsdrink from my 2L camelpack and had to stop at a convenience store to get some more. Once I got in the AC, I didn't want to step out in the oven-like weather again!

This week I have been on vacation and trying to keep my running schedule has been tough. We have AC at the house so often a usually dreaded weights session in the home gym will look better than stepping out for a few kms. I was still able to get in some mileage but not quite as many as I would have liked. An interval session on Monday saw me break the 4 minute mark for the first interval km, I think it might be a first for me, yay!
The remainder of the workout suffered a bit for this extravagance but the confidence boost it gave me is priceless. Here are the numbers:
  • Slow: 4:49, 5:23, 5:05, 5:12, 4:59 and 5:29
  • Fast: 3:55, 4:37, 4:35, 4:29 and 4:21

I think I can get my fast intervals down to 4:20-4:15 if I am having a good day and keep at it. I'd like to hover more around the 5:00 mark for the slower intervals but I'll take what I can get ;)

This morning, as I woke up early to try and beat the heat for my tempo run, I kept asking myself what kind of person would wake up at 6am on their vacation to go and inflict their body physical pain?
I had a pretty good run even if the heat did slow me down a bit towards the middle portion. I'd like to see a lot more green on this chart. The plus side is that while I was running, I came up with an answer for my question. What kind of person wakes up at 6am on a vacation? The kind of person who wants to run Boston that is. And I DO want to run Boston so I'll have to keep to find ways to beat the heat and get my workouts in to shave those 17 minutes I need.

What about you, how do you beat the heat and stay on course?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Q&A & Running to work

Out of all my training, it seems that the running to work is the one that elicits the most questions and surprise. I would have thought the gruelling 35km in the snow would have been more noteworthy but then, these happen outside of "regular" life so people don't really think about these. I'll take the opportunity here to answer some questions that I've been asked by fellow runners, colleagues, friends and family about my running to work. Feel free to add questions in the comments (about running to work or anything else) and I will address them in later posts.

Most people worry about my schedule. They figure that 24km is a long distance and that to run that far would take forever. In my case it takes about two hours. The bus commute is about an hour on average so really the run is only "costing" me an extra hour plus the prep time. Not so bad. So I usually end up adjusting my start time a bit so I only have to wake up one hour early.

The route is also an object of curiosity. Everyone has their own idea about what route I should take. I often get suggestions to use the pathway by the river. While it is a very scenic and somewhat quiet route, it would add over 2km to my commute. Waking up at 4:30am already, every minute I can save counts. I use the shortest route going straight on Hazeldean, Robertson, Richmond and switching at Scott street until I reach downtown:
It has the advantage of being mostly flat, having sidewalks for about 80% of the way and wide shoulders for the remainder. Being always on a bus route should something disastrous happen is also a plus. I also like that the route is lined with cornerstores, gas stations and malls where I could stop if I needed a break or if I run out of sportsdrink.

Nutrition always seems to fascinate non-runners. What does one need to eat to fuel up for a 2 hour run? I usually try to carbload the night before with a big serving of pasta, rice, potatoes or another source of easy to break down carbs. Morning of, I have my usual bowl of cereal and add a toast or waffle with a thick layer of peanut butter & honey or Nutella. During the run, I hydrate with a heavily mix sportsdrink (I usually add 30 to 50% more crystals than instructed). I do not use gels, salt tabs or other supplements but that is something I am looking into experimenting with this year. Once I get to the office, I shower and head for the coffee shop where I grab a 500ml of cocolate milk. That usually ties me over until lunch where I have a regular size lunch...

Stretching is also very important for me. Ever since I started a rigorous stretching regiment, both before and after training, I have been virtually injury free. I stretch my calves, my achilles heels, my glutes and do some squats to relieve my knees.

I've heard lots of comments from non-runners that if they had to run for 2 hours, their day would be over after the run. They don't seem to think that it would be possible for me to have a productive workday after this type of workout. For me, it's quite the opposite. I do not have hard stats to prove it, but I feel much more efficient when I run into the office. The rush of running sets the tone for a day of hitting and pounding that usually end up damaging my task list more than on a regular day. Plus the 2 hours I spend on the road prior to work has me thinking about all the issues currently facing me and has me devising strategies and plans to address the harder to solve problems. I feel that by the time I get to work, I got most of my day figured out already and the remainder is just following through.

The sweat generated by 2 hours of cardio exercise is also a focus of many inquiries. I am fortunate that my office offers showers, lockers and even an iron and ironing board for those of us that cycle or run into work. I bring my clothes to the office at least a day ahead and changed into the fresh set after showering. I stow my sweaty clothes away and bring them back with me at night to throw them in the washer, sight unseen (and un-smelled!).

Now that I will be moving downtown, everyone is telling me that I won't be able to run 25km before work anymore. I don't quite get it, I can still run for 2 hours, shower at home and walk the 10 minutes to work if I wanted to. And being downtown will give me the flexibility to do the other distances as well in the morning to take advantage of the cooler temperatures.

This reminds me that I've been forgetful about the cans for comments last month. Let's make this post a triple hitter, for every comment, I'll donate 3 cans to the local food bank. I have to move in September anyways so those cupboard won't be emptying themselves!