Friday, June 3, 2011

Ladder Intervals

Mizuno Elixir 3 Lightweight Trainer
This morning I ran my first interval workout on the track since my stress fracture injury this spring. The last time I had done "land" intervals was mile repeats back in early January. I wanted to wait until my shins were 100% pain free and "awareness" free. It was also my first time wearing my Mizuno lightweight trainers since the injury. I had been training and racing in my Brooks Adrenalines, which are heavier than what I usually race in, just to be on the safe side.

The weather was such a relief. 53 degrees and low humidity. We haven't had weather this nice in nearly a month!

Injury & Intervals
Throughout February, March and April, I did pool intervals once a week. They were hard. Even harder than land intervals on a track because I pushed myself to the absolute max, really wanting to make sure I maintained my fitness. I had even received comments from the lifeguards and other swimmers to the affect of "don't have a hard attack" because my breathing and grunting noises were so loud. My friend Dash calls this the "primal scream" and I pretty much screamed while pool running. As evidenced by my PRs and training paces post-injury, I maintained my fitness, if not actually improved it by doing pool intervals.

This morning, I harnessed the mental "game" I used to stay strong during the pool intervals to give it my all. I kept thinking to myself that I worked so hard in the water, I needed to work just as hard on the track to maintain what I had built.

My husband and I ran to the track for our warmup, did the intervals and then ran back.

The Workout
I chose an interval set that looks somewhat easy on paper, but yet always surprises me at how difficult it is when I actually do it: ladder intervals. I took this workout from Hudson's Run Faster book and I've done  it a handful of times over the past two years. The workout is 1 min, 2 mins, 3 mins, 2 mins, 1 min, 2 min, 3 mins with equal duration recovery jogs. I forget how fast the book says to do them, but I do each one as fast as possible, keeping in mind that I don't want to burn out before the intervals are complete.

I usually use my HR monitor and aim for 187-189 starting at the second interval, but my HR monitor was acting all wacky this morning, telling me I was at 200 during the warmup. The HR data is all over the place, but based on effort, I know I was on target, if not above!

 Interval   Duration  Distance (miles) Pace
 1  1:00 0.16  6:10
 2  2:00 0.32 6:11
 3 3:00 0.46 6:29
 4  2:00 0.32 6:18
 5   1:00 0.16 6:17
 6  2:00  0.31 6:24 
 7  3:00 0.45 6:36

Total Distance (including warm up and cool down): 6.5 miles

I could tell I was accustomed to pool intervals because as soon as my watch beeped I just stopped and stood still for about 10 seconds before starting to walk/jog again. (In the pool I just go completely limp.) I don't care about what the recovery paces are. I go as slow as I need to go, and walk the first bit, just to make sure I recover and am prepared for the next one. My former coach said that I should do whatever it takes to recover in between intervals so I could make sure I hit the heart rate targets I needed in subsequent intervals.

As for my intervals. . . I was amazed at my paces! I've never done intervals this fast!

The most recent workout I could find in my log was from June 2010 (I could have sworn I have done this workout since then), so I used it for comparison. The weather for last year's workout was 65 degrees, so about 10 degrees warmer, but still with low humidity. The weather alone account for some of the difference, but certainly not all of it.

Here are my paces from June 2010 for the exact same workout:
7:03, 6:45, 6:50, 6:49, 6:47, 6:43, 6:52

Back then, I think I was pretty excited to be sub-7:00. So I think that a course PR in the 10K next weekend should be attainable. It will be my 7th consecutive Lawyers Have Heart 10K, and I hope to beat last year's time by at least a full minute.

My shins were 100% fine and the lightweight trainers didn't cause any problems. I couldn't be happier with how my return to interval running went!


  1. Sweet Workout with super sweet times! I used to do timed workouts, they're kind of fun.

    Ha, I totally do the primal scream in the pool, it took the lifeguard a little while to get used to it and not look for a drowner. ;)

    I have a feeling you are going to rock LHH10k! Good luck!

  2. Great job! You're back and better than before, very exciting!

  3. Great times! I think I'd faint from shock if I ever got below 8:00/mile. :P

  4. Blazing paces out there! So glad that you seem to have recovered fully from the injury. I love the term "awareness free." Ha- totally know what you meant.