For better or for worse this blog has had more readers in the past week than in any week since I started it. I guess people prefer a good old fashioned debate/controversy to my usual boring rambling.
Me? I think I've decided I prefer the boring rambling and what could be more boring to talk about than interval running? (at least to the 99% of the population who have never and will never run intervals).
My back and leg problem that forced me to take a couple days off from training (and from work) last week has improved substantially. At this point I would consider it at least 95% healed and improving enough each day that I more or less expect to be 100% by tomorrow. I was able to run about 10 miles on both Saturday and Sunday with almost no pain in my back or legs so I decided to head to the track this morning to begin what will be a once weekly interval workout for the next 4 or 5 weeks. Being that this would be my first interval workout in about 8 months I didn't really expect to feel that great. All summer I used "training races" as my speed work which is the way I prefer to do it, but right now I really want to focus on my speed in preparation for my next race. I'm hoping to get in at least 4 good interval workouts and 4 good tempo runs between now and the end of November.
The plan for today was to run 5 x 1 mile intervals with a 1 mile recovery between each one. I didn't really have times in mind that I was trying to hit, mostly I just hoped to feel comfortable running fast and see how fast I could make that be without over doing it. I always run intervals with my peak effort in the middle. In this case my first and last mile would be the least effort, the third one would be the most effort, and the second and fourth somewhere in the middle. I suspected my times might be somewhere in the 5:30 to 6:00 range.
After a 5 mile warmup I began my first interval and felt surprisingly loose and quick. I finished that one in 5:43 without even feeling like I'd pushed myself much at all. The second one I busted out in 5:27 and the third one a 5:13! The fourth and fifth were an exact mirror: 5:27 and 5:43 respectively. I was pretty stoked about these times but I was more excited by how comfortable they felt. Even on the 5:13 mile I felt like I was running a fairly sustainable pace and my heart rate seemed to peak and then remain steady with about 600 meters to go.
When it was all said and done I had put in a 15 mile day that was very encouraging on two fronts: First that my recent injuries seem to be behind me, and second that I have a lot more speed and am in a lot better shape right now than I thought.