Sunday, April 18, 2010
I was reading in Runner's World magazine about the virtues of hill workouts. The magazine says to find a hill that is 40 to 50 paces long. The magazine tells the reader to run up the hill. Walk down the hill to recover. Then run back up the hill. The magazine cautions to do this hill workout only once a week.
My driveway is a 50 pace hill! I do a hill workout to get to where I run hills. I actually don't run hills. I run mountains.
(FYI - I live at 8,500 feet in the Colorado Rockies. Any run I do is uphill both ways.)
My normal training runs are nasty. Strangely, I cannot get my heart rate over 110 BPM no matter how hard I run. A low heart rate is normal while running at high altitude. At high altitude, blood oxygen saturation is so low that the heart decides there is no reason beat faster since it does no good anyway!
I think I will start a SparkTeam called "High Altitude Runners". I am pretty sure I would be the only member. That would be OK. I find what I have to say to be fascinating. I could post long answers to questions that I have. Of course, it wouldn't take long before I start arguing with myself. I am sure the exchange would get very acrimonious. I would have to report me. I would likely get kicked off SparkPeople just because I can't get along with myself!
Yesterday I decided I was sick and tired of running where there is no air. I drove down to Highlands Ranch, Colorado, which is at 6,000 feet. There is a labyrinth of running trails in Highlands Ranch. These trails are located on rolling hills. There is no way to escape hills in Colorado. At least there is more air at 6,000 feet.
I decided to run 10 miles or so. I warmed up and started running. I could breathe. I found myself running fast. I wanted to run the first 5K really quickly. I figured if I could keep my pace under 10 min/mile going uphill, and blaze downhill, I could maybe hit a new high-altitude hill-running PR.
Here are the specifics:
Total Ascent: 2,379ft
Total Descent: 1,338ft
Vertical climb in 5K: 2,379ft - 1,338ft = 1,041ft
5K time = 25:59
25:59 is a new high-altitude/hilly-terrain PR! I did not expect to be this fast while climbing 1,041 feet! My old high-altitude PR was a miserable 26:42! I set the old PR on relatively flat terrain. 25:59 is huge for me!
Ok, time to brag. (As if I haven't been bragging already!) The average sedan is about 4 feet from ground to roof. 1,041 feet is equal to 260 sedans stacked on top of each other! That is a big tower of cars to climb. (Kids, do not try this at home!)
After my 5K blast, I should have turned around and ran back to the car. Unfortunately, I just decided to keep running up the trail.
Then I got lost! The jumble of trails in Highlands Ranch is confusing. I suppose getting lost was inevitable. I only wanted to run 10 miles. By the time I found my way back to the car, I had put in 14.5 miles.
I suppose running a lot of miles is good for me. But I may have overdone it just a tad!
Here is my timer display. I am under 26 minutes for my hilly 5K by the smallest of margins. My Garmin keeps track of lots of stuff including altitude, grade, time, distance and pace. My fastest pace was 4.04 min/mile (downhill). My slowest pace was 9.58 (uphill).
Sunday, April 11, 2010
My SparkFriend, ELYMWX, and I have a 6 month running challenge. We have yet to work out the details. I personally want this challenge to be base entirely on speed. I think the winner should be determined by official 5K race times.
Since my Canadian friend is significantly younger and lighter than me, I think I need at least a 2 minute head start! I also race at a much higher altitude so I may need another 1 minute head start! Vancouver (not Toronto) is at 7 feet. The lowest elevation I can find around here is about 6,000 feet.
In the interest of fair play, I decided to post my normal weekly workout.
Day 1: 3 to 5 mile easy run (9:30 to 10:00 min/mile)
Day 2: 40 to 60 minutes on elliptical
Day 3: Full body strength training
Day 4: 3 to 5 mile easy run + four 100M sprints and two 200M sprints , or AT run (12 to 15 mins)
Day 5: 30 minutes on elliptical + full body strength training
Day 6: 8 to 10 mile long run
Day 7: Rest
AT means “Anaerobic-Threshold”. For my AT workout I run flat-out for 12 to 15 minutes. On some days, I will do walk/run intervals if I am feeling tired. The time I spend on the elliptical helps me recover. My strength training includes three sets of 15 to 25 reps with relatively light weights.
My high altitude 5K PR is 26:45 (8,043ft). My low altitude PR is 23:12 set in Phoenix, Arizona (1,250ft). My pace drops precipitously at any distance over 5K. At 10K I am crawling and gasping for air. A ˝ Marathon would likely kill me.
I don't think the challenge should be based on improvement. I don't expect to get much faster. Heck, I might even get slower.
I know I don’t stand a chance. I just wanted my good friend ELYMWX to know what he is up against.
I have to run up and down hills. I have no choice. I think this is good for me. This is a photo of a normal hill along my route. Sometimes I go the the high school track so I can run on something flat.
Here is a good look at a steep hill. I really slow down on the really steep segments. I can only do a 13 to 14 min/mile pace on this hill.
This is a flatter segment. There really aren't any flat segments. The total vertical over my normal 5 mile run is about 1,000 feet.
I know ELYMWX is laughing right now because he knows he can take me. I will have to start training a lot harder. All I can say is good luck to my SparkFriend.
Monday, April 05, 2010
On my last several training runs I found myself plodding along at a 9:30 min/mile pace. I started to get worried. I used have speed. I had been working on running at a steady slower pace. My efforts were rewarded – I was slow. Where did my speed go?
I am pretty sure I lack the gene that would make me a good long distance runner.
Even though I am a lousy long distance runner, I used to be pretty quick over short distances. Yesterday, Saturday, April 3rd, I decided to run at the high school track. I got tired of running up hills. In the mountains of Colorado everything is hilly. I guess that’s why mountains are called mountains!
After a bit of a warm-up, I started jogging along at a 9:25 min/mile pace. I ran a mile at this pace. The track is at 8, 047 feet elevation. I decided to walk and catch my breath. I walked a bit at a brisk 15 min/mile pace and took off running again. I glanced at my Garmin timer. I was cruising at 7:09 min/mile pace. I ran when I could and walked when I had to. I found my run/walk strategy, besides being fun, averaged an 8:36 min/mile pace!
After running about 2.5 miles I decided to blast out a few sprints. I ran three 100m sprints, and two 200m sprints. I hit a 4.04 min/mile pace in the 100s, and a 6:08 in the 200’s. I walked quite a bit between the sprints.
It felt kind of nice to run fast, even though it was over really short distances. Just call me Speedy!
Monday, March 29, 2010
The temperature got up to 41 °F today, which is 9°F above freezing. Any temperature above freezing is a veritable heat wave. The ice and snow had melted off the roads. The roads were muddy but not slippery. With all this blazing heat, I could go running just wearing shorts.
I wanted to do some serious hill running! I had been slacking lately and the good weather had me jazzed! I had a healthy lunch including a greasy hot dog from the Loaf & Jug; some Salt & Pepper Potato chips; a can of Sprite; and Hostess Snowballs for dessert! In other words, I was ready run.
There is a monster hill nearby. The hill starts at 8,260 feet and tops out at 10,394 feet. The road up the hill is 5 miles long. Average grade is 16.2%. The steepest part of the hill has a 50% grade. A 50% grade translates into 27° slope angle. By comparison, stairs typically have a 36° slope angle.
I think I should have picked a flatter hill. I ran around a lake at the bottom of the hill and started the ascent. I would love to tell you I blazed up this nasty piece of real estate. I actually had to walk some. I ended up doing a 3:1 ratio of running to walking.
I find chanting in my head helps. I just kept thinking, “Up! Up! Up!” I don’t wear an IPod when I run. I find my hallucinations to be much better company than music. If you haven’t run at high-altitude you are missing-out on pain and misery of epic proportions! You can try to breath but it does no good. The air is so dry that dehydration is instantaneous. Your eye-balls dry out! Every breath hurts.
At least it is good exercise. According to my Garmin timer I burned 834 calories during my run, which means I ran off the hot dog and one Snowball.
My time? I ran, walked and crawled the 5.01 miles in 57:52, which translates into an abysmal 11:32 min/mile pace. I felt I was barely moving. I will keep assaulting this hill until I can run the whole way. This hill is not going to beat me!
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