Friday, 11 January 2013

In which I am misled by technology, but finally run like a proper runner

Life during The Injury Years
According to my SmartCoach training programme, today's 5 mile run was supposed to focus on speed work:  2x1600m@9:27 alternated with 800m jogs.  I ran bits of the Aviemore Half Marathon at that pace (the downhill bits, to be fair) but I haven't tried to reach that in training since The Injury Years began.  Ever cautious, I decided to wait and see which version of my legs showed up for today's warm-up mile before I made a decision about any bursts of speed.

Imagine my surprise when yesterday's happy, skippy legs - which seem to have come out of nowhere to share my runs for at least the last week - were in evidence today as well.  The first mile felt fine at an easy pace of 11:15 so I figured that I might as well see what these alien legs were made of.  Now, I know perfectly well (and have had the torn calf muscles and achilles tendonitis to prove it) that one of the main causes of running injuries is increasing distance and/or speed too soon.  There's no issue with the distances that I'm doing but even I could tell that it was a bit of a jump from my usual pace to today's target.

Fortunately, because I am committed to becoming a less-injured runner (and because Adam sends me texts in SHOUTY SPEECH when I am IMPATIENT and DO TOO MUCH), I decided to at least partially listen to my Sensible Self (i.e. The Voice of Adam) and do a modified speed work session.  Rather than try to run the whole 1600m at one go, I divided it in half so that I was doing 2x800m, followed by a 400m jog (and repeat).  Same distance, just not as hard on my legs (or lungs).

Garmin says, 'Run faster!'
It worked, perhaps too well in the end, for which I blame my Garmin.  The first 800m was at 9:30 and felt like I was pushing myself, but not outrageously so.  I had no idea, though, what pace I was running during the other three 800m intervals. There's a bit of lag between the speed you're actually doing and the 'instant pace' shown on the watch which meant that when I speeded up from the slow recovery jog, the Garmin took FOREVER to catch up.  I was gasping for breath and the bloody watch was showing that I was running at a 10:30 pace.  I knew this couldn't be right (please, Running Gods, let it not be right!) and had no choice but to take my best guess at what I was doing.

The intervals, regardless of the Garmin issue, went great.  Really.  My legs continued to do their job in an uncomplaining manner, allowing me to focus on my form and my breathing.  For the first time in probably years, I felt like I was running rather than jogging.  The high that I was on when I got home has continued throughout the day - and my legs STILL feel fine.

I uploaded today's run to have a look at things in more detail.  I wasn't sure whether to feel thrilled or horrified to see that I ran the second interval at around an 8:30 pace and the other two somewhere around 9:00.  Yikes, no wonder I was breathing hard!  Although my legs seemed happy with this, I'll make sure to slow down next time.  These might be new and improved legs, but I have no desire to run them until they too break.

See, I'm learning!


  1. I'd be stoked with that, if I were you! Sounds like a great run!

  2. Thanks! It's the morning after and I'm still thrilled (and still not sore). If I hadn't learned from bitter experience that I can't run two days in a row anymore, I'd go out for a run today too. Maybe, though, these new & improved legs could do that too??? (Noooo! Back away from that thought and put the running shoes DOWN!)

  3. That's brilliant! Now, if this osmosis-running arrangement works well, I should feel just fantastic tomorrow morning! :-)

  4. I'm running tomorrow morning too - will send you happy skippy leg vibes (assuming that I still have any to send)! In return, you could send me some great-night-out-in-London vibes!