Sunday, July 10, 2011

Workout in the swamp

Last year coach Budic posted about taking dew point into consideration when deciding on pace ranges for workouts rather than simply the temperature itself. In essence running in 90 degree heat but with low humidity may be 'easier' (and more sensible!) to handle than running in 70 degree heat with high humidity.

Once the dew point hits 70 and above, serious consideration should be given to delaying your workout until more comfortable conditions are in place. Unfortunately during a Southern summer you are very rarely going to get those conditions so this is an impractical solution unless you never want to work out! The solution is to temper your pace expectations and get the most you can out of your body without killing it.

Bearing all this in mind, to set yesterday's workout in context, workout partner Meagan discovered after our run that the temperature was 78 with a dew point of 73....

Coach had prescribed a workout of 3 mile, 2 mile, 1 mile with half mile recoveries with the paces cutting down from 5:30 to 5:20 to 5:10. This looked a pretty daunting workout to me but Tim has an uncanny knack of suggesting the correct paces that will challenge and improve me. I assumed that this workout was originally planned to be run on the track. I was going to be doing it at Mcalpine on the trails so I popped a note to Tim and he replied that I should adjust the paces by 5-8 seconds per mile. What I neglected to ask was how I should adjust the paces for the anticipated humidity. I've been whining all summer about the humidity and didn't want to sound like I was looking for an easy way out with this workout! As you will see, this proved to have a significant impact on my run!

Earlier in the week I had sent out an email requesting company for the workout and fortunately I was able to attract the interest of three of my partners from last week's tempo, Meagan, Jordan and Spada. We met at the relatively earthly hour of 7am and headed out to the three mile mark of the trail. We were already drenched by the time we were doing our strides in preparation for the first three miles!

It was a great foursome for the workout. Steve and Meagan were going to have each other for company throughout while I was hoping to be able to take advantage of Jordan's relative lack of fitness and have him to hang on to for once. We got down to work and settled into a nice early rhythm. Jordan and I ran side by side back to Old Bell in paces of 5:35, 5:35 and 5:34 for a three mile time of 16:44. The effort felt hard but sustainable at this point, unfortunately I was now supposed to run the next section at a faster pace!

We grabbed some fluids and jogged back out to the half mile mark for the 2 mile portion. My body was already very hot and the four minute reprieve and copious amounts of water did little if nothing to cool it down. I hit the next mile in 5:30 but was definitely struggling now. Jordan was pulling away making it all look so effortless whereas I was seriously considering pulling the plug on the workout already! Instead I decided to run hard to the 1.5 mile mark and then get some extra recovery in before attempting the last mile.

I rejoined Jordan who had done the two miles no problem and we discussed what my approach should be for the last mile. We decided that I should start it but as soon as the pace started slipping I should ease off. Luckily I was able to get through the last mile okay in 5:30 (while Jordan pranced off into the distance- this will probably be the closest I will get to Jordan in a workout in a long while- he's clearly coming back nicely!).

So I had not completed the workout as prescribed but still felt that I had at least got 5 good miles of running in. Clearly I had run the first three miles too hard. Spada and Meagan on the otherhand had run a more sensible pace for this section and Jordan and I were able to cheer them in as they successfully completed their efforts. We were all absolutely drenched with our shoes sloshing in sweat, desperate to get back to Old Bell and the fluids that awaited! It was great to be able to work out with these guys and share our stories afterwards. Thanks all!!


  1. better to run a workout too hard than not hard enough...nothing like feet sloshing in your shoes due to sweat