Tag Archives: interval training

Checking In 10/1/2021

Yesterday’s treadmill workout ended up being a total success. Who knew.

I had briefly considered running outside at the park after work, as it was somewhat cool for Vegas outside, but when I got off work the sun turned out a bit too hot for that, so I went with Plan A and headed to the gym.

Plan A turned out just fine, even though the workout ended up taking after 7pm to finish, around 90 minutes of total time at the gym.

On the treadmill I ran a kilometer (I set the machine to show me kilometers instead of miles) at a pace defined according to my projected 10K effort by charts in Klaas Lok’s Easy interval Method (between 5.9 and 6.3 mph), then stopped for water and then jogged an easy kilometer at a much slower recovery pace. I repeated this process four times for 8K total, then finished with a “run-out” where I ran above the top pace (6.4mph) until I got to 60 total minutes of running. It turned out the run-out was a 5th kilometer interval, as I got to 9K right before the hour was up.

The workout while tiring felt good and none of the intervals were any sort of agony, never felt like I wanted them to be over. I got great practice at faster paces but not so fast that I couldn’t be sure if I could finish the workout. I guess this workout is a keeper!

On my recovery intervals I experimented with what I project to be my marathon pace, holding it for about 200-300 meters before fading back to recovery pace, as it wasn’t too much faster than the recovery pace (it’s certainly below the interval paces). This wasn’t at all difficult, so that’s a good sign.

The next treadmill workout will probably be extended marathon pace intervals, to simulate the rhythm of race day at Indy next month. I plan to run station to station, and then slow to a walk for fluid and fuel at each aid station. This will require about 10-20 minutes of running between the stations, then about 30 seconds of walking.

So for marathon intervals I run 20 minute intervals (simulating only the longest distances between stations will make the shorter ones feel easier) with 30 second walk breaks to take in water and fuel.

This can be an easier, more aerobic workout, while the easy intervals are more of a strength-endurance workout. These can be alternated during midweek. If I need to bring a long workout indoors, at this point it makes the most sense to do the marathon intervals in multiple hour-long chunks and try to at least get to 17 miles.

Today is a full rest day, and tomorrow I’d like to attempt an early morning outdoor long run. But if anything goes awry or it gets too late to start the workout, I could move it indoor and give the multi-hour intervals a shot then.

Overall, it feels great to be doing some serious run training once again, and Indy feels within reach as of now. Even though the long workouts will tell me how close I am to ready, I’m liking my chances.

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Checking In 9/28/2021

Yesterday the wildfire smoke blowing into Vegas got real hazy, and so I scuttled yesterday’s running plans (though I had already run a couple miles outside on work breaks). I also had left some gear at home so I couldn’t directly go to the gym after work. Once I got there I only did 20 minutes on the rowing machine and strength training to avoid running late. Which is fine, even though that now means three fairly easy days in a row (though I burned over 1000 calories in exercise yesterday).

The smoke is still here, and despite my misgivings about using the treadmill (I suspect both of my hamstring problems are related to its use), I want to try and incorporate some walk-to-run intervals on them tonight. If it works, I have an easy way to get 5-7 miles a day.

The plan is to warm up over 20 minutes with buildup intervals similar to Bill Phillips’ old Body For Life plan: Start at a walk and each minute step up the pace until by the 5th minute I’m running fast… then take it back down to a walk and repeat the sequence until done.

Then, after some dynamic stretching and some water, I’ll get on and run a kilometer at easy-interval pace, which is somewhere a tad faster than what people would consider “marathon pace”. It’s a moderate, steady effort. From trialing this out in past runs this is actually somewhat easy to maintain.

After a kilometer, I slow the machine to a walk to catch breath, then go to an easy jog until about 11.5 minutes in, where I’ll slow to a walk again, check in, then speed back up to mod pace at 12 minutes and repeat the process.

I’d do this 5 times for a total of one hour, then cool down as desired. This hour should net a total of about 5-5.5 miles, while the warmup will be about 1.5-1.7 miles.

Presuming I feel good tonight after work, I intend to give this a shot and see how it goes. If it works, it’ll be a safer use of the treadmill than I had done in the past, as I’ll have built in rest periods as well as faster running. (Obviously if not feeling right for any reason I won’t do it tonight and will just ride the elliptical as I’ve been doing)

I had booked travel for this weekend, but if the workout goes well, I may cancel it and try to do a long workout with a similar format on the treadmill this Saturday. We’ll see.

This is all worth a shot with the smoke continuing to be an issue in Vegas.

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Intuitive intervals: Using a heart rate monitor to pace your run/walk intervals

If you have a Garmin watch you can set it to alert you during workouts if your heart rate goes higher or lower than a given threshold… kind of like a built in speed limit monitor for your heart rate.

I tried this feature once and quickly disabled it. I wanted to just run at my own pace and found the alarms when I reached a moderate heart rate annoying.

After a long recent layoff, as I recently started ramping up training, I found basic runs to be a bit too difficult, and sure enough my heart rate would rocket into marathon pace and the lactate threshold. It’s one reason I started doing Galloway style intervals, run/walking the workouts in 2 minute run, 1 minute walk intervals.

Galloway Intervals kept my heart rate level on-average: Even if it spiked during the runs, the minute of walking would bring it back down, the overall average more closely resembling a typical easy run. And overall the effort on these runs didn’t feel terribly difficult.

I’ve since gone on actual full-length training runs of 30+ minutes, and this past weekend I ran a 10K (albeit at closer to regular training paces), so I’m now in condition to run at distance again.

But I want to improve the usage of my natural speed. Now that I track walks on my Garmin watch, I can track paces of not just my walks, but those moments when I run across streets and the pace of those brief, hurried sprints that have always been a part of Working Class Running.

I find those easy, brief sprints vary around a 5:00-7:30 pace without much difficulty. I have speed, but it’s hard to maintain that speed over anything beyond those random little sprints. Even in 400 meter repeats and other workouts I find it very tough.

Is there a way to develop my ability to use that speed at distance in a race?

I think there’s a way, and it goes back to that once-annoying Garmin alert feature.

Continue reading
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A Quick Cross Training Workout For The Spin Bike

Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels.com

The following cross training will really challenge your quads, hamstrings and glutes. Definitely don’t do this cross training workout if you’re sore and recovering from some other hard lower-body workout.

I would save a workout like this for base training, if you’re coming off an easy workout, or you’re not actively training for a goal race in general.

The Workout: Start the spin bike at the lowest intensity, level 1.

Every time the minute counter turns over (e.g. at 1:00, 5:00, etc), adjust the level to match the number in the minute column. So at 2:00 you’ll set the level to 2, and you’ll increase the level by 1 every minute thereafter.

If the lowest spin bike levels feel too light and easy for you (for example you normally do easy spin bike sessions at level 4), you don’t have to start at or go down to level 1. If you generally bike easy at level 4, then for any level 4 and below you can just go at level 4. In this example, you do the first 4:59 at level 4, then at 5:00 you switch to level 5.

Once you get to a level that’s too tough, take it back down to a low, comfortable level. Then once the timer reaches 10:00, repeat the process by adding the digits in the minute column to determine the level, e.g. 11 –> 1 + 1 = Level 2… or in the level 4 example above, that person can just stay at level 4 for now.

If you can get to level 10 or higher without needing to slow down, great! You don’t have to add the digits at 11:00 or higher just yet. Just keep climbing levels until you need a break, then add the digits of the next minute to see how far down you can take the spin bike’s level. For example, say you get tired after 16:00 at level 16. Then at 17:00 you take it down to level 8 (17 –> 1 + 7 = Level 8).

If you’re a super strong cyclist and plan to go longer than 25 minutes, you may be able to reach the bike’s maximum level 25 (most spin bikes only have 25 intensity levels). If you get to 26:00 in this case, just take the spin bike back down to level 8 (26 –> 2 + 6 = Level 8… you must be super strong if that’s too easy for you; if so you can set the level higher to whatever level you prefer to cruise at). Then from there build the levels back up each minute. Do note that this workout method after you max out the bike won’t get you higher again than level 14 once you do so, so if maxing out is your goal and you can max out the bike then you may want to stick to 30 minutes or less.

Regardless of your abilities, you can repeat this level-up process until your spin bike workout is finished, whether it takes 20 minutes, 40 minutes, 3 hours, etc.

You could also do this workout on an elliptical, rowing machine, or ARC Trainer. But it can be very demanding to do more than recovery-level training on these devices. To do a workout like this on a machine like those may defeat the purpose of cross training unless you’re in an offseason, or are a triathlete or similar and this sort of demanding training is in line with your key workout needs.

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A Good, Quick VO2Max Workout for a One Mile Loop

man running beside street

Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Pexels.com

Got a one mile loop near home that you can run uninterrupted? Training for a 10K or longer? Want to work on speed but do more than just 200-400 meter speed reps?

Run or jog to your loop and make sure you get about 10-15 minutes of easy warmup running in. Stop at a spot on the loop with a clear landmark and some space to move around.

If the loop provides a landmark about 3/4 of the way around, great. But if there’s no clear way to tell where 3/4 mile is, that’s okay.

Do some dynamic stretching, relax a bit, then run 4-5 strides… little 10-15 second fast runs to get the feel for running fast.

From your landmark spot, begin to run fast… about one tick below how hard you’d run a mile time trial. Focus more on moving your feet and arms quickly and steady, than on trying to go hard.

  • If you know where the 3/4 mile mark is on this loop, you’ll run this fast until you reach the 3/4 mile mark, and then slow to an easy recovery jog.
  • If you don’t know where the 3/4 mile is, but you know how fast you can run your fastest mile… subtract one minute from that fastest mile time, and round down. That is how long you will run fast before you slow to an easy recovery jog.
  • If you have no idea about either of those items, run fast for 5 minutes before you slow to an easy recovery jog.

No matter which way you choose to do it, jog easy until you get back to your starting point. Then, repeat the fast run as you did before.

Do this fast-slow run process three whole times, and you’re good. If you did this right, you’ll definitely want the workout to be done after the 3rd time.

Jog home. Eat something with protein.

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The 2-1-1 speed interval workout

Here is the speed interval workout I was developing before my left hamstring quickly developed an unrelated strain:

As always, you want to avoid running routes where you’ve got to cross streets and navigate pedestrian traffic in tight quarters. While you may do this on a treadmill, I generally recommend avoiding speed interval workouts on a treadmill.

As always, warm up with some easy running, dynamic stretching, drills and such.

Start running at a moderate but easily sustainable effort. This can be a particular pace, or just by feel.

After 2 minutes, increase the pace to 5K or 10K pace, depending on your race goals. Maybe one of those races is your goal, or maybe you’re running something longer and this is for running economy. Use 10K pace for longer race goals and the 5K pace for shorter ones.

Hold the faster pace for one minute. After 1:00, slow to a comfortable walk.

Walk for one minute. After one minute, resume your moderate but easily sustainable effort, and repeat the cycle.

You may repeat this cycle up to 20 times. The less mileage you’re putting in every week, the fewer reps you’ll want to do. I would keep the total distance of this limited to the distance of your typical regular run.

The 2-1-1 Speed Workout

  • Warm-up
  • 2min at moderately easy run pace
  • 1min at 5K-10K pace
  • 1min walk
  • Repeat the above 2-1-1 steps until finished.
  • 80 minutes max.
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Thoughts on the Thompson New Intervals approach to speedwork

I have all sorts of thoughts on the New Intervals approach, which basically says to do your recovery intervals/jogs in speed workouts at a harder intensity. The link is Matt Fitzgerald’s write-up on the method.

I hated this 24 hours ago when I first read this. I saw a recipe for injury and burnout. Given more time to read it over and think about it… not only do I think it’s a good approach to speedwork, but I realize this is a speedwork version of what I’m doing with my 55-5 Long Runs. Given the parameters, it’s actually quite hard to overrun the workout, and in fact it prevents a lot of the overrunning of conventional speedwork.

This is basically sets of mixed-tempo cruise intervals. It’s written as sets of 4-6 reps of 400m intervals, but since each 100m “roll-off” cooldown is done fast, those roll-offs are basically part of the reps… making each set one long rep.

The key to this approach, as Fitzgerald mentions, is that your fast “reps” need to be dialed back so you can maintain the pace for each one in the set.

The volume of the speed reps you do in this workout needs to be less than a typical speed workout with such reps. Observing Daniels’ caps on rep/interval level speed workouts… you now need to observe the effect of the roll-off portion, which would previously be ignored since they were recovery intervals. Here, those “recovery” portions are more intense and basically part of the set, and thus should be considered part of the volume.

Conversely, most runners’ problems with speed workouts is that they slow to a stop or walk between reps in the first place… which happens mostly because they’re doing the reps too fast and too hard so they’re forced to stop. This sort of workout at least will prevent that. To stop or walk with New Intervals is to effectively cut the set short. It makes cheating the workout difficult.

90% of 90% of people’s problems with speed-rep workouts is that they’re going all out trying to beat a clock that no one’s keeping score of, instead of giving a controlled-fast effort where they work on running economy. This would pretty much eliminate that, though now you need to be careful of booking too hard of a workout since these are basically 1-2 mile reps broken into mixed tempo sections.

If interested in the New Intervals workout, it may be best to start with an easy workout with just 1-2 of them, to see how you handle it and to get used to the mechanics. Also, sampling the workout like this is an easy chance to see if you just hate it without completely tanking your workout plan.

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