Training: Timed Miles and Negative Splits

San Francisco, off in the distance.

This week was a “rest” week on the calendar, which I would have known if I’d looked at the training calendar. (Oops.)

I came out of last Saturday’s long, slow distance (LSD) run feeling really good after harnessing the power of intervals, and missed my Monday bonus rest day when I went to the gym to focus on abs, arms and stretching. Abs and arms are more of a necessity; stretching, while important, feels like the most amazing thing in the world when you’ve been working hard, particularly when you hit that delayed onset muscle soreness about 48 hours in.

Tuesday night was our timed mile at the track. We did a slow, 1 mile warmup followed by an all-out mile that was timed for speed. I finished at 9:13, which was pretty exciting for me. No, it wasn’t the 8:38 that I ran at the same time last season, but it was 1:45 faster than my 1-mile pace at the start of the season, and the fastest mile that I’ve run since I broke my foot┬álast September. The progress is slow, but I’m happy with how things are going.

A satellite view of our bayside run.

Saturday’s long run started at the Alameda ferry terminal, which is on the bay, just north of the end of the Oakland International Airport runway. If you ever get the chance, it’s a nice course along the water, at least for the 6-mile out-and-back that I ran.

Like last week, I ran with a 3/1 interval runner at a nice, slow pace for the first four miles. By the time we got to the water stop, she wanted to switch to a 2/1 pace, but I was ready to keep going at more or less the same 3/1 interval, so we went our separate ways.

I say “more or less” not because I couldn’t keep up with the 3 minutes of running/1 minute of walking pattern, but because it’s surprisingly hard to follow a consistent interval without staring at your watch. And really, there’s nothing more annoying than clock-watching.

Negative splits. Really negative splits!

So I headed out on my own, at my own pace. I could tell that I was going faster than before because I was actually passing people, but it wasn’t until I got back and checked out my info on Runkeeper that I realized just how much faster I was going: mile 5 was almost 2 minutes/mile faster than my first four miles had been, and mile 6 was 30 seconds faster than that! (Ignore mile 7; that’s influenced by the time spent standing there at the finish, trying to wrestle my iPhone from my race belt.)

What does that mean to non-runners? Rather than running hard at the start and trailing off at the end, I still had enough gas in the tank to run considerably faster in the final third of the run.

This. Is. Cool.

I’m on my own for most of the week. A family outing to the A’s game this Tuesday night will cause me to miss a butt-kicking hill workout that I really need in the lead-up to the Angel Island 12k, but I’m going to have to rely on solo workouts and kickboxing to build my strength. With less than two weeks to go until race day, let’s hope that’s enough!

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