January 26, 2008

I am a weak-minded Stormtrooper

This was a hard run. Seven miles. Seven miles of feeling unable to go another hundred yards and seven miles of coughing, walk breaks, and sometimes shin splints.

Actually, I believe the true distance was less. I did the route from my house to Prospect Park, around the park, and back to my house, a distance I've always counted as 6.7 miles. But I'm not going to quibble over the less than 5% difference right now.

I felt like I had no energy for this run, despite a good meal last night and sleeping well. Perhaps I shouldn't have done weights yesterday.

The graph tells the story pretty well. Notice the significant number of walk breaks in the first three miles. I had a hard time going more than a quarter-mile before breaking down. But there was a good stretch just after getting to the park (I did stop to stretch for a few minutes there - about 1.7 miles). Of course, the good stretch was the big downhill! You can see a real dip just afer mile 3. It was at this point that shin pain started to come on and I was feeling tight, so I stopped to stretch again. The bulk of the heartrate graph between the third and fourth mile marks represents the big uphill in Prospect Park. I did a lot better here than I predicted. I had to walk a short portion of it, but I actually did jog 90% of it. It was at this point that I started convincing myself I was strong, that I'm a runner, that this hill means nothing, that I don't want to walk, that I will go to the next lamppost/rock/tree/whatever before walking, etc. It was very much like Obi Wan Kenobi convincing the Stormtrooper patrol to let him and Luke pass.

"You don't need so see our credentials."

"We don't need to see their credentials."
"These are not the droids you're looking for."
"These aren't the droids we're looking for."

So in a similar vein...

"You're running well."
"I'm running well."
"You'll make it to that marker stone."
"I'll make it to that marker stone."
"You don't need to walk."
"I don't need to walk."

The upshot is that the last three miles were much better than the first three. I readily admit most of that was downhill or flat, but I didn't get as exhausted as easily. But from Pritchard Square (which is a circle, by the way) on, there was no walking. Dips in the pace are due to having to wait for traffic and those were mere pauses. This is the first time I've done even that downhill 1.7 miles continuously in a long, long time.

I got home and my watch said I had another tenth of a mile to go. I had no heart to finish this, but I nevertheless passed my house, ran to Third Ave, and came back, which rounded out my seven miles.

Look at the heart rate graph carefully. What I see there is that it's clear that when my heart rate goes over a certain rate (about 156), that I become unable to sustain my pace. Cutting back in pace to a slow jog doesn't seem to help, so I end up walking. I think what will help is if I can train myself to to go down to a slow jog and then give myself a minimum of 45 seconds or so to see if I've recovered enough to keep going without walking. If I can get my heart rate back to 150, then continuing on is no problem.

The catch is: it's related to how much oxygen I'm getting. If I can't slow down enough to catch my breath, my heart rate isn't going to slow down into the top of zone 3. And breath is, after all, my unique struggle. Headed up the Prospect Park hill, I caught myself thinking how much I'd like to trade somebody for their lungs. If I had my sister's lungs, I could be more consistent and faster. *sigh* I can't think like that; it's self-defeating. As my dad used to say, "Wish in one hand, shit in the other; see which gets full faster."

The good things about this training cycle are that my determination is back on track, like it hasn't been since I first trained for the Cincinnati Torture-Fest...um, I mean Flying Pig Marathon. Four four solid weeks, I've managed to get every single run done - and most of them on the scheduled day. Others got made up. I've been extremely attentive to my stretching, my foam rolling, and now my core exercises. And that brings me to silver lining #2: I am getting stronger; a lot stronger. I'm not, perhaps, getting strong at the rate the core exercise program thinks I should (I still can't side-plank for more than 75 seconds), but I am getting more fit all over the place. My legs - for most of today's run at least - felt sturdy, solid, and strong. They feel less like sticks and more like trunks - though I know they haven't grown any, it feels like it.

Next week, my core routine is supposed to change to dumbbell walkouts, turkish getups, erect lateral bends, body curls, and double leg hops. I'll go ahead and follow my core training schedule, even though I haven't achieved my goals on the core I currently do. But I'll be coming back to those soon enough.

No comments: