Week 2: 800s. T-26
Workout: 6x800m with 3 minute rest
This week, I had the correct display on my watch. Yay me!
I haven't run 800s on a track (usually referred to as 'surges' when mixed into an off-track run) or surges since....2010 maybe? It's been awhile! I am running paces I haven't seen in years, and I'm living that whole principle of 'your muscles recover faster than anything else does."
There were a lot of things that weren't optimal going into this run: kids don't have school, I had to run errands all over town (literally Stapleton to Parker to Centennial and back) and hadn't eaten anything by the time I arrived at Wash Park at 11:30. I had also received 2 emails and a phone call after parking my car but before getting out to start Silly Toes that shot my heart rate to 150. I had to meditate for a few minutes just to bring it back down, and nearly fell asleep because I was HUNGRY. #firstworldproblems
To be honest, a huge part of it was sheer nerves. I haven't done anything faster or longer than a Billat interval in a long time. I had no trouble getting to 5:20, but could I hold onto 6:45 for a whole half mile? How about 6 times? I see the light blink on my Blackberry and jump out of the car without looking back.
My heart rate was higher than I'd like on my warm-up. I focused as hard as I could on my effort levels and breathing, then looked at my watch. 6:20 for .2 miles. YES! I backed off a bit but felt strong and controlled until my watch beeped to let me know I could slow down and recover. Since this is my first interval workout in awhile I knew I would have to walk a bit to bring my heart rate down; what shocked me was how little walking I had to do.
I ticked off the next 3 intervals easy peasy and marveled at how winded I was and how little my muscles hurt, even while maintaining a steady effort going uphill. I've spent a lot of time recently writing articles about how muscles have memory but tendons, ligaments and the cardiovascular system do not; it's one thing to say it but another thing entirely to feel it in action. My muscles felt fine, like I could've kept on going at this pace for maybe a mile. My lungs however were a different story- I could feel my throat and lungs telling me to back off; my legs were all, "what's your problem?"
Into the fifth interval my lungs were like, "we are DONE" and I stopped halfway in. I walked for a minute, wondered if I was being soft, and picked it up again. That's when I felt the familiar ache in my quads, the oxygen deprivation warning. "stop, or I will MAKE you stop and no amount of foam rolling will get me to do this again anytime soon". You see the power of interval training is that it teaches your muscles to utilize oxygen more efficiently. The tricky part is knowing when to stop. Just because the training plan says 6reps doesn't mean you have to do all 6 if you're no longer getting what you need from the workout past rep #4. I was getting that signal loud and clear from my heart rate, my lungs, and now my quads. I swallowed my pride and started my cool-down jog. 4 of 6 intervals isn't bad, I kept saying to myself. Sub-7 paces for 2 miles is pretty badass. When I got out of bed this morning I wasn't sure I could do this workout at all and came armed with a backup plan, a plan I thankfully did not need.
Did I fail? Absolutely not. My ego is a bit bruised that I could only do 5, but a HUGE part of me is elated that I survived not 1 but 4!!! and that my muscles feel fine. We can't wait for a recovery jog tomorrow then more work on Wednesday.
Key Takeaway: Know what you need to get from each workout. It is rarely, "thou shalt do EXACTLY as it is written." The workouts are targets to aim for, not excuses to beat yourself up early in a training cycle. I have SO MUCH TIME, 26 weeks, until Chicago (if I get in). It's not time to worry about hitting my paces just yet. Unless I've told you otherwise, you need to make this same assumption each time you head out for a harder-than-easy-effort workout. If you feel fine at the end of the 4th rep, aim for the 5th but don't push through just cuz.
It's just one day, my eye is on a bigger prize. One day at a time, one workout at a time, one foot in front of the other, just like the marathon itself. It all adds up, training is never wasted. UNLESS you let your ego overrule your body, focus on the wrong thing, push through the wrong pain and blow months of careful work on a workout that didn't matter to begin with.
Workouts only count when you are consistent, and we only worry about missed mileage and missed workout when you're missing them so often that it's becoming a habit, when what you've done won't add up to enough to reach your goal. One workout won't make you, but it can indeed break you.
You are coached, you are loved, YOU ARE WELCOME.