Monday, February 21, 2011

Testing the Ego

As I have been rather sore and a bit tired from the last three weeks of training I've been thinking a lot about my approach to training and what I really want to get out of it. My last post summarized my musings, and the long run was the test to see if I was actually willing to put my intentions into action.

The goal was to run a good distance and spend at least two hours on my feet while minimizing the stress on my legs. Therefore, I decided to try something that I haven't done since my return from calf surgery back in the Fall of 2009: Run/Walk. Yes, walk. Although I didn't know how this would manifest itself when I started my run I quickly decided that I would take a one minute walk break after each 2km segment. I also chose not to include the walking breaks in my total mileage and stopped my Garmin each time. In retrospect I realize that this was dumb and completely driven by my pathetic ego and the metrics that it so craves. My overall average pace would probably not have suffered all that much and I would have been happy with the extra kilometre that I likely walked in the 11 walking breaks that I took.

Nevertheless, I did at least change the display on my Garmin to show only three things: elapsed time, distance, and heart rate. I wanted to not care about pace and only pay attention to my heart rate. Although my Garmin gives me some pretty wonky stats, especially at the beginning of each run, I think it works well enough to keep me honest.

I ended up running 24km and it certainly was not as much of a mental battle as other long runs. That carrot in the form of a walking break really helped to break up the monotony. And the overall pace ended up being decent even if it was a full 20 seconds per kilometre slower than my previous long run. (5:13/km average, which works out to 8:25/mile). Only my last split was under 5:00/km (8:00/mile). And my weekly mileage was the most since last summer at 70.9km (44 miles), which is nice.

Now that I am done my three weeks of higher mileage and intensity for the month I am ready for a bit of a break, active though it may be. Today, for example, I went to the gym and did a much lighter leg weights session than I would normally do. Perhaps this ego will not beat me into the ground after all?

Bring on recovery week!



Blogger Nelly said...

wow, I'm impressed that you were able to do your run/walk experiment! Generally on my long runs I take a break every 4.5-5 miles to fill up on water and to have a gu/salt tablet. I totally understand that you stopped your watch when you walked, I do the same thing usually! Your pace of 8:25 seems to be a little bit slower than your usual training runs, but maybe this is part of your plan to reduce the intensity of your long runs. I bet you could have got almost the same pace without the walk breaks, but I might be guessing here, haha

February 21, 2011 at 4:33 PM  
Blogger Vava said...

Nelly: No, I really did try to go slower and, in fact, was a bit surprised that my overall pace wasn't slower! That being said, I've been pretty sore and tired and likely would not have been able to push my regular pace without a great deal of effort. Ultimately, what I am going to try and do is treat the long runs as "time on your feet" and not "time trials".

February 21, 2011 at 6:20 PM  
Blogger Ace said...

I love me some run/walk action, and thus can definitely relate to the "do I include walking time/distance in my pace and mileage totals?". I've finally settled on including it, mostly because I'm too lazy to take it out. Enjoy recovery week!

February 23, 2011 at 11:40 AM  
Blogger Nitmos said...

My "carrot" is the promise I make to myself that I'll slow up by 20-30 seconds per mile so my long run is nice and relaxed. Of course, after 2 miles, I'm back at regular pace but that mental carrot serves as the motivation I need to get out the door and ease into it.

February 24, 2011 at 1:09 PM  

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