Last Friday, my mission was to run three miles at medium effort at a controlled pace. I would normally run 0.5 mile at 5 mph (warm-up) and then 2.5 miles at 6 mph. So the plan was to bump up the 6.0 mph to 6.2 mph. My coach off-handedly mentioned it should be around 29 mins.
Well, I started thinking. And here’s where things went ridiculous. I figured that I would never get under 29 minutes if I did the speeds as discussed with my coach. So I did a 0.25 mile walking warm-up before I started the official timed run. Then I only needed to do a 0.25 jog warm-up.
But I thought if I bumped the warm-up from 5 mph to 5.5 mph, it would surely help me reach my goal of sub-29 mins, which by the way was NOT the goal my coach discussed with me. But I was somehow fixated on this.
After the 0.25 at 5.5 mph I bumped it up to 6.2 mph. At around 2.25 miles, I was dying. I was breathing heavily and having bad thoughts about running. For example: “This is the dumbest hobby EVER!!!”
And because my unofficial motto is “If running isn’t fun, then what’s the point?”, I bumped it down to 6.0 mph for 0.5 mile. I had 0.25 miles left and felt good enough to bump it back up. But instead of 6.2 mph, I thought it would be a great idea to go at 6.6 mph. This way I would make up for the 0.5 mile at 6 mph. Brilliant, no?
That was not the funnest run ever.
And as fate would have it, a few days later I was reading Finding Ultra by Rich Roll and realized why my coach was stressing that it should be a CONTROLLED run. Not a sub-29 minute run.
Rich Roll was a successful high school swimmer turned alcoholic college swimmer turned rehab patient turned overweight middle-age father turned vegan. He was in his early 40’s and trying to turn his life around. But after a DNF (did not finish) at a triathlon and a marathon in which he had to walk the last 8 miles, he sought out a coach and then subsequently “failed” a lactate test.
His pre-coach training had been intense (anaerobic) instead of steady and efficient (aerobic). Apparently the anaerobic effort of the body’s system can only be sustained for about 90 minutes. After that, it starts to give out. But the aerobic effort can be sustained for much longer if you don’t push it too far.
In order to increase one’s aerobic capabilities you start by exercising within a certain heart rate range.
I talked with my coach about all this and confessed about my failed medium-intensity run. I feel really bad about not listening to him. I don’t think it’s that I don’t trust him or believe in him. I think it’s just really hard for me to grasp how complicated running can really be if you want to take it seriously.
So for my next run I’ll be using my heart rate monitor. It’s an easy 25 minutes and I’ll be shooting for 60-70% of effort. He sent me a scanned page of an older version of this book. I also ordered a copy for myself.
According to this chart my target heart rate should be 140-152. I have a feeling I’ll be slowing my pace for a few weeks.
Do you stick to your running schedule or wing it?
Do you feel like you obsess about the wrong things when it comes to running?
Have you ever run with a heart rate monitor?
Which running book or magazine are you currently reading?