January 16, 2012

Tough run on the treadmill

I generally like to run on the treadmill, which I have used for runs of up to three hours. I believe it had been two years since I last ran on one before yesterday. On a day with icy roads and a session that included a tempo run at marathon race pace, the treadmill was the way to go.

I went to the gym at 8am, the time they open on Sundays. I brought water, a couple of gels, a charged iPod and a towel. Anticipating that the machine might be set to miles instead of kilometres, I had checked on the conversion of my goal pace.

There are plenty of benefits to running on the treadmill.

Norway's Ingrid Kristiansen ran a 2:21:06 marathon world record in 1985 after a winter with mostly treadmill running, according to The Competitive Runner's Handbook, while Alberto Salazar is also a fan, doing an incredible 35 miles on a treadmill in preparation for his victory at the Comrades Marathon.

Interval workouts on the treadmill are just as beneficial, Salazar says in Alberto Salazar's Guide to Road Racing. However, "[t]he main difference is that on a treadmill any given speed is slightly easier than on a track because you're not fighting your own self-generated headwind," he writes.

In a test with three mile repeats, Salazar found that his speed was 17 seconds per mile slower on the track than on the treadmill. According to Bob Glover and Shelly-lynn Florence Glover in The Competitive Runner's Handbook, "about 7 percent less energy is required, equivalent to running a slight downhill, to run on a flat treadmill rather than on a flat road."

My session called for 27K in total, including 13K at marathon goal race pace in the second half. I eased into the session, warming up until I hit cruising speed of 7.5 miles per hour (8 minute miles or 4:58 kilometres), though that felt a touch fast, and I eased back to 7.3 miles per hour.

I had the sense that I didn't feel as comfortable as I have in the past couple of weeks; perhaps it was the heat of running indoors, perhaps the treadmill wasn't calibrated accurately, or perhaps it was a result of the muscle release treatment on Friday, followed by a rest day on Saturday.

After 8 miles in 67:47, including the warm-up, for an average of 5:15 kilometres or 8:28 miles,  I had a quick break, refilling my bottle of water and taking a gel. It was time for the tough part of the workout.

I started off at 8 miles an hour, or 7:30 miles / 4:39 kilometres, moving gradually to 8.5 miles an hour over the next 15 minutes. While I wasn't panting or otherwise physically distressed, I also didn't quite feel up to it and the result was that after 3 miles I pressed the stop button.

I took a walk break of about 5 minutes, not too pleased with myself. Then I sped up to either 8.3 or 8.5, only to hit the stop button again after a mile, and taking another walk break. I didn't quite understand what was going on. Particularly on the treadmill, 8.5 should be doable.

I did another mile at 8.3 or 8.5, took another walk break, then ran a mile at 6.5, wondering if this was one of those days when it was better to pack it in all together. But I didn't want to; as much as I didn't feel like running the remaining 3 miles of the 8-mile tempo run that I clearly wasn't doing the way it was meant to be done - and I really didn't feel like running the remainder - the thought of cutting my long run short was even less appealing.

So I compromised, and coaxed myself into running the final 3 miles at 8, which took enough effort already. It was a tough, tough run, and I don't quite understand what happened. But sometimes that's the way it is. While it's a shame that I felt so bad, I cannot dwell on it. I'm glad I finished the 27K, bringing my total for last week to 102K (rather than the 109K on the schedule).

Using the McMillan Running Calculator, I triple-checked my target paces - they're correct.

It's a new day, a new week with 114K of training ahead. I'm looking forward to it. Today's a recovery 10K, followed by a lactate threshold session on Tuesday.

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