Learning by doing is a lot more effective than learning by guessing. That's how I'd sum up my nearly two-hour run workout this morning. My assignment was to run the last five to eight miles at the goal pace I'd like to run a Vineman 70.3, with a goal heart-rate in mind as well. I chose to target eight-minute miles at a 158-160 goal heart rate.
This may have been a tad aggressive. I was working off less than six hours sleep, courtesy of a stellar engagement party last night for Stephanie and me. About 50 of our closest friends and family gathered to help us celebrate something that was five-plus years in the making. (Here's a photo of Steph and me with my future in-laws!) But I didn't let it stop me from getting up early to swim with the LA Tri Clubbers in Marina del Rey. Even though I'm generally total crap with fewer than six hours sleep.
For the first 45 minutes of my solo run, my legs felt awful. I couldn't even elevate my heart rate to zone 2! It was truly one of those days where quitting seemed the best option after my mile swim. But, I knew this is probably how I'd feel during the Ironman, or perhaps even Vineman. Tired, defeated, sore, and alone. I know that if I don't train to overcome these hurdles, I won't be mentally strong when it counts.
So I dug deep.
I realized that an eight-minute mile pace wasn't going to be feasible when my first mile clocked in at 8:05. I felt like I was running much faster, but the clock indicated otherwise. So, I changed my goal to reflect being as close as possible to 8:00. That went out the window with an 8:10 at mile two, but I lowered back to an 8:09 for mile three. The wheels started to come a little loose after that. I went to 8:18 in mile four, 8:23 in mile five, and I essentially screeched to a halt with an 8:34 at mile six. I stopped shortly after that because I was really trying to pace myself for a sub-50 minute 10k to emulate the Breath of Life Olympic triathlon coming up in a few weeks. The good news is that I did break 50 minutes on less than optimal sleep and eating/drinking conditions. The less-than-good news is that I can't hold an 8:00 pace. I maintained my 160 bpm heart rate for the most part though, which was a success. In fact, I dropped my heart-rate by a few percentage points compared to my last big tempo run of this type, which occurred about two weeks ago. Progress.
Overall, I reinforced once again that I can tough out a good run when necessary. I learned I'm not as fast as I'd like, but running faster than I used to be. And my stamina is slowly improving. I wouldn't have learned any of this had I not dragged myself out of bed, or chosen to push myself by ignoring my body's protests.
I'd say that's the makings of a great workout.
157 days and counting.