Friday, December 26, 2008

A good kind of pain

It had been a while since I last ran. I did a pair of games earlier this week but I hadn't done much actual running (intervals, distance, whatever) since a trip to the gym nearly two weeks ago.

I had the chance to go to a local high school track today and did just that, opting for that instead of the gym. I don't often have the chance (or frankly desire) to run on a track but I felt that I should take advantage of the opportunity. I figure I may have/need/want to incorporate running on a track in the next year so I might as well get a bit of a test run in on the all-weather track.

Anyway, I got the track and it was nearly deserted. I wanted to run but didn't know what kind of run to do. Should I do intervals? Go for a distance, maybe five miles? Maybe try out a tempo run?

In the end, I went for the intervals. Well, it wasn't my usual interval run but it was something my brother concocted over the summer. He suggested once to run a mile as a warm up, walk a cool-down lap, then run two miles... but not at the same pace. Actually, he suggested to run the straightaways and jog very lightly around the turns. Another cool-down lap and then you have a four-mile run that is challenging, burns loads of calories and helps you build up your stamina.

I decided on that run even though I wasn't totally looking forward to it. After all, it's a bit of a challenge... but screw it! I didn't go to the track to walk.

Here's how the run broke down: one mile run, one lap cool down, two miles of sprints (total of 16 springs - two per lap, one mile run, one lap cool down.

I ran a mile in a slow and easy pace. It took me about nine minutes to run it and I was just getting into a groove when I finished the run. I walked for a lap and then went into the sprints. It didn't go off without a hitch, though, because just as I was about to accelerate into my first of 16 sprints, my iPod froze. It's given me problems for about five months now, off and on. The iPod will freeze for no reason, fully charged and everything. It hadn't happened in a while but it did today.

But it was just another challenge. I ran the sprints nonetheless, with just the sound of my shoes hitting the track, my own breath heaving and doing its work to help me along, and the occasional whirr of passing cars. I tried not to get into a countdown - 15 more, 14 more, 13 more... That can get exhausting mentally. It can make things seem longer or more difficult than they need be. I prefer to count up - one down, two down, three down, 13 more...

It was tough physically because I hadn't run much lately. I felt my heart working hard and I had the stats to prove it. For most of my first mile my heart rate was at or around 160. At the end of my cool down lap it went way down to 118 or so but by the end of my first sprint it was back up to the high 160s. Eventually it settled into the mid-170s during my sprints. Interestingly my heart rate didn't dip down very far on the light jogs. During the first mile it stayed in the high 160s but near the end my heart rate did not go beneath 170 for anything.

I crossed the 16th sprint, jogged lightly and went into my mile instead of opting for sprint number 17. I went into the final mile jog feeling both exhausted but capable of completing the last mile. I made myself run harder once I got to the third lap - I felt like I could give more and I did. Eventually I finished the run and felt exhausted. Still, I felt like I could have gone on if I had to.

Before I go on, here are the heart rate stats: Time - 43:28; Avg hr - 167; Max hr - 184; Cal - 698.

Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of this run was the sense of accomplishment. It wasn't necessarily for having done the run but for having started on what promises to be a challenging year of running. Now, this wasn't the official first training run but it is the first run of what will be more and more runs in the days and weeks to come. This will lead into actual training for the half-marathon and other runs. And that's quite an feat.

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