Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Peeking into the Pain Cave

From June 24th:

Oh, it is a dark and forbidding place. Smells a little like bear. Not a place you want to stay very long. But if you want to rock a 5K PR, you kind of need to spend 10 minutes in the cave. So to get used to it, you need to do some speed work that lets you go in and look around a little.

Sunday's plan was 3x1 mile intervals at 5K goal pace. The previous two weeks I did 800s and 400s on the track. While those do bring a certain amount of pain and suffering, they are over pretty quick, so I don't have to work on the mental stamina to hold on for minutes at a time after you want to quit. Mile intervals are good for that.

So my 400s were at 6:00 pace, the 800s averaged 6:36 pace. My goal for my next 5K is sub 6:45 so my mile interval goal would be the same, sub 6:45. Pretty darn close to those 800s...Last time I did mile repeats was February and I averaged just under 7...

I headed down to the beach to do these on the flat straight bike path. Felt like crap during a 1.3 mile warmup. Even stopped to walk 1/2 way through. Start bargaining with myself..."Well, just start out about 7:00 and see how you feel...Meh, how am I going to run 6:45 when 8:45 feels this hard? I want to get this over with..." But the starting line arrived and off I went.

Tried for relaxed speed. Felt OK. Checked the watch after 20 seconds. 6:38 pace! Well! I guess when you run 400s at 6:00 pace you get a different feel for what "fast" is. Tried to relax, but I was comfortable. Pace slipped slowly to 6:45, so then I stepped on the gas a little more. Working hard, but in control, and having fun! It was amazing that 6:45 didn't really seem THAT much harder than 8:45. Of course by the 2nd half I was huffing and puffing, but it was no problem. Finished with a 6:42!

Well! OK! I guess I can do this. Usually my first mile is the slowest too, so now the pressure was on to run the next two faster. I took plenty of time to recover. 0.7 miles, some walking, a water stop.

#2 started on a slight uphill grade. Pace was closer to 7 at first, but I knew I would make it back up on the downhill grade. Sure enough, by half way I was under 6:40 pace and flying! But the pain started to come. I could feel the lactic acid starting to pile up in my legs, and arms! The feeling of wanting to stop got stronger and stronger. My form started to falter, my face would grimace. The last 1/4 was tough, but I could see the end so I kept pushing and finished with a 6:36!

Oh, damn, give me some oxygen! Recovery took longer. More walking. Heart rate is higher. Another 0.7 miles very easy, and it was time to do one more.

The third one was pain cave training. After a minute or so I was near 7:00 so I had to push more, but the pace drop did not come as easy. After 1/4 mile I was already feeling the lactic acid coming back, the chest pain of pure exhaustion, the grimace was back. By 1/2 mile, pace was only down to 6:50. I pushed on the gas and got nothing. I would pick it up for a little bit, and my body would force me to ease off for a bit. It reminded me of 5K racing, when you are right on the line of oxygen debt, where pushing harder would be suicidal, but you know you have to try. And still so far to go. By 3/4 I could only get down to 6:48. I just kept at it and refused to check my pace the rest of the way. Just go all out baby!

Legs stiffening, form going to hell, can't get enough air in my lungs, and finally Garmin buzzes that I can stop and I ease to a walk in relief. 6:46 Phew! Well, at least I found my limit, so I know I left it all out there. A few minutes in the pain cave kind of made me fear the 5K even more, knowing what was in store for me. But at the same time, familiarity breeds confidence too. I can go back there and stay longer next time.

Here are my pace and heart rate charts.


I like the pace chart with it's little flat plateaus at interval pace and recovery pace.

The HR chart shows I was working harder each time. The first averaged 178 with 182 max, the 2nd averaged 179 with 185 max, and the 3rd averaged 182 with 187 max. Each got higher as the mile went along. Also my recovery jogs at 9:30-10 pace still got my HR up over 165. Not much of a break.

So I was pleased with that workout. Now I have an easy week. Only running once on Wednesday before heading up to Northern Cali for the Double Dipsea on Saturday with some Loop all-stars.

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