A.M. Ran a little later in the morning because Jeff and Kimia went to the temple on an early assignment. Ran with Jeff and Mary Ann. Benjamin and Jenny joined us on bikes for a part of it. Sarah was supposed to pick them up fairly early, but due to a miscommunication they ended up staying with us longer, and we also ended up running longer, total of 12.75.
We warmed up 2.62, then Jeff and I did The Interval. I think I'll call it that for lack of a better name. I am starting to think that perhaps doing several aerobically targed intervals is a waste of distance. I will argue that the aerobic system is not fully engaged for about the first 5 minutes of the interval if the rest is more than a 200 meter jog. Here is why. I will use an example for simplicity of illustration. Suppose I am to run a mile interval in 5:10 at a steady pace. At the start my HR is around 100. After the first quarter it is maybe 150. At half mile it will climb to 160. Then close to the end of the interval it may get up to 165. If I keep going it will stabilize around 168.
So my aerobic requirements to sustain 5:10 pace require an HR of 168. It means, in other words, that in order to run 5:10 I need at least as much energy as my heart can give at that rate. So if I run 5:10 pace at a lower heart rate, then I need to make up for the balance of energy that is not coming from the heart. By definition that is anaerobic energy. I could actually care less if it is aerobic or anaerobic after all. I should be using different terms. Sustainable and unsustainable. For the first five minutes of any interval I will be practicing using unsustainable energy.
So I need to keep it longer. And if I stop, then I will have to waste another 5 minutes of the next interval in the unsustainable energy development zone. That is 5 minutes of high intensity running that stresses out the nervous system without developing long race specific sustainable energy adaptations. So then just run all of it at once.
So we did The Interval. A little different today. I wanted to measure how fast Jeff could run half a mile off 5:20 pace. We did 1.25 in 6:40 evenly paced, no more than 1 second off at any point. Having a mark every 100 meters really helps. Benjamin rode along with us for that part. Then Jeff just floored it and I tried to hang on. I fell back a bit before the quarter and finished it in 66 seconds, 7:46 for 1.5. I was happy with that. Jeff finished the last half mile in 2:10. I was pleasantly surprised. Definitely some food for thought.
I jogged until Benjamin caught up to me, then I felt very good after 200 meters of jogging, so to reduce Jeff's wait I picked up in the next 200 and ran it in 41 seconds. We ran a long and adventurous cool down, ran into Adam in the process, borrowed his cell phone, eventually reached Sarah, and she picked up Benjamin and Jenny, then we ran home.
More thoughts on The Interval. The original purpose was to teach Jeff to run his dream 5 K pace starting immediately with a high HR. But I think it has a pleasant side effect. You are running 5:20 pace thinking all the time that it is going to get faster. So subconsciously you try to conserve. But the triangle marks on the trail force you to keep the pace regardless. So you have only one choice - learn to run it more economically. I wonder if that is what happened to us, now 5:20 pace is easy enough for Jeff to run a half mile in 2:10, and for me to run a quarter in 66 after 1.25. If so, this idea deserves quite a bit of attention. The number one reason to do tempo runs is to learn to run economically at race pace. We do not do those for aerobic development. They are too short. The focus is neurological adaptations.
So maybe something like this for a tempo run. A mile and a quarter half-marathon pace, then a quarter really fast, then a quarter at marathon pace to recover, then back to half marathon pace for a mile, another quarter hard, then a quarter at marathon pace to recover, then keep repeating the cycle until you cannot do the hard quarter more than 5 seconds faster than the half-marathon pace. This way you learn to be economical at long race paces, get some speed in the legs, learn to surge, and learn to kick. It needs to be continuous, though. Jogging in between is good for a top-end leg power workout, but not for building long race stamina.
A 200 meter jog in between long intervals in essence is a lip service to the gods of interval training, or another words an attempt to sit on two chairs at once. It will work for building 5 K and longer race stamina better than a longer jog, but the most effective is to do one long interval with strategically varying pace, the pace never being slower than marathon race pace.
P.M. 2 with Jenny in 18:46, Julia ran 1.5 with us in 14:14. 2 with Benjamin in 17:41.