Thursday, February 26, 2009

Is It An Oxymoron?



I have been doing this.........Hmnn, I'm thinking, is it an oxymoron? Not Trailmonster so much as least on week days? I guess it makes sense as I have been working on tempo runs and speed workouts during the week and the icy outdoors just creates too much of a chance of injury when it comes to sprinting workouts.

I suppose the treadmill verses icy cold excuse seems pretty valid when talking about intervals, yet somehow I feel a bit sissy when I think about my week night running. There is surely a trade off when running indoors. I try to make up for it by keeping the grade at 5% minimum.

Sure I get to watch the news, I don't take the chance of falling and derailing my training and I am able to work on twitch muscles, but am I getting as much out of it as if I was running out on the trails? Is my core suffering on the flat even surface of the treadmill? Is my form and stride suffering indoors?

When I first started runing In 2002 and 2003, I ran most of my PRs, I didn't run track, I didn't have a treadmill, I didn't have any idea how to train......I just went outdoors, I ran each run hard and pushed as fast as I could at the end for a kick. In the process I usually only ran 2.5 - 3.5 miles three times a week and a long weekend run of 6-8 miles. I averaged only 15-20 miles a week and I ran my first half marathon at 7:26 pace with my longest training run preceding the race of 8 miles.

I ran my fastest 5k @6:32 pace(20:18), my fastest 10k @7:06 pace (44:06) and my fastest half marathon @7:26 pace (1:37:26). My only draw back was that I was sore a lot and had quite a few injuries such as PF, hip soreness, calf cramps, pulled hams......I didn't run SLOW miles. Even my long runs were as fast as I could muster averaging my 8 milers at 7:45-8:20 pace.

Now that I am much more informed about runing and training, one would think I would be popping PRs out like crazy......yet I struggle to run at a pace I would have considered near a walk in 2003...My average pace last year for 5k up to 10k was 7:45 on the road. I better, stronger, smarter?

I can tell you this, I have no pains or injuries right now, I am training for a 50K trail race, I have learned to run slower and I think smarter in gearing up for that race, so can I live without the excitement of speed right now?

My workout was a supposed to be a 5 mile tempo run with a solid speed up and kick in the middle three miles. Instead I ran a 6 mile tempo with a kick at 5 and then a small kick to finsh the 6th.

6 mile tempo run (1 easy, 4 tempo, 1 easy) 51:25 (8:26pace)
5% grade and 5-6 speed.
4 tempo miles @32:56 (8:14pace)
7:25 (kick@6:13)
8:55 (kick@7:34)

3/4 mile cooldown walk.
Tomorrow night.....sprint intervals


middle.professor said...

Maybe you could glue one of those foam rocks to the tread; then you'd be a true treadmonster!

That's an interesting race history. There are many studies that show the quickest way for a non-trained person to increase VO2 max is short interval work. Maybe your body responded in a similar way back in 2002-3 to the short, hard runs.

PRs are fun and motivating and I think a little competitve juice is good for the soul - as long as we keep it in check and don't let it dominate our outlook. One variable that could be creeping in for those of us over 40 is age. Check out this graph

The blogger makes an important point - individuals WR holders don't follow that graph but dip down to it for a short time before rising above again. But the graph is interesting because it shows how fast speed is lost after a certain point. It would be great to see people's individual PR graphs because it would have to rise more steeply.

RunninRob said...

Hey Kevin,
Ah, the age old question of the monster being the product of his environment. As a coach, I would say that you need not sweat the indoor miles on the treadmill and the speed work. In fact, I'd recommend it, especially in an ultra training plan. If you are able to raise the pace where that threshhold of debt occurs with speedwork it might seem a little futile at first, but it should translate to faster times on the longer run. The basic premise being that with the raising of that speed threshhold, it makes those longer runs at ultra pace seem more effortless. As long as you are giving yourself time to recover, and staying honest with your long runs, you'll see the results out on the trail for sure.

If your goal was a 50k or 50 miler in 20 degree temps then I think the acclimation to the conditions would be important, but staying indoors, staying injury free, and getting fast enough to outrun those damn black flies come this spring and summer seems fine to me. :-)


pathfinder said...


You make a lot of sense as the 50K is in the spring so temps are not an issue. I agree with you when I am thinking sensably ......but my brain tends to wander into less relative areas and I struggle to get back to the real world....I know the speed work will pay off, I know the tempos are important and I know I am still gainning cardio strength when using the treadmill.

Sometimes we just doubt ourselves and our training choices...