Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Death By Speedwork

Monday Workout: 4 miles, 11:38 average, Connects
Tuesday Workout: 7.25 miles (12 x 400), Connects, pace unknown

Guys. We need to talk. About speedwork.

Speedwork MAY just be the worst thing that's ever happened to me. To anyone. T'hat's putting it mildly. What's wrong with you people, telling me speedwork's soooo awesome and the post-workout high soooo amazing and empowering, when really it's just torture?

I haven't done speedwork (or, really, run faster than 10:00 miles) in two years. Back in those glory days, I ran in regular shoes and a 7-mile, 8:00/mile tempo was NBD. Then came minimalism and marathon training. Word to the wise: if you start wearing less of a shoe (and transition in a slow/safe manner, obviously), you're going to run slower. Much slower. And training "just to finish" your first marathon (which I didn't actually run - don't make me rehash that story) doesn't exactly encourage speed. For the past two years, I have been totally content to stay in this tiny 9:30-11:30/mile bubble of mine.

Have I made the point that speed work is a foreign concept to me? Here I thought I was supposed to feel awesome, powerful, fast, strong, etc. WRONG. This run totally blind-sided me. If I had had the energy to think, I would have spent the entire time marveling at the fact that my heart hadn't yet stopped beating.

You guys know I'm cool with running on snow, but for speedwork I kind of need to run on regular surfaces that don't slow me down. Therefore, I ran my stupid intervals on the stupid treadmill. I think I need to find a treadmill with more accurate speeds. I'm convinced mine moves faster than the speed indicates. That's not wishful thinking; I honestly think it's true.

So let's stop dillydallying and get to the damn run.

The brothers Hanson suggest beginners warm up and cool down with 1-2 miles for speedwork. I was aiming high so went for the lower-bound, 1 mile. So far, so good. Then I started my twelve 400s. Each 400 was done at 8:30 pace (7 mph), and the first couple were manageable. Not, "This is the best thing ever!", but I was gettin' 'er done. This feeling left after about four repeats. Suddenly I was feeling incredibly pukey, and the realization that I had at least four miles left, two of which had to be done at the faster pace, almost did me in. Fuuuu! Not even the always-entertaining Life and Times of Tim could calm me down. Times were tough.

To the shock of all involved (me), I managed to stumble through all twelve 400s. Before I could even think about cooling down, however, I was sprinting up the stairs to the bathroom to puke. Whoops. At least I put it off until after the last one! Must put a bucket by the treadmill next time. You're welcome for the visual. Getting back on that treadmill for the cooldown was so. Incredibly. Difficult. I did it, though, and even managed to crawl through a half mile at a 12:22 pace (yep) before I declared myself finished.

Speed workout #1: complete!

Lest you think I'm depressed about this run, I'm not. Really. It still kind of blows my mind that I (mostly) did it, minus the last half cooldown mile. But I'm also already terrified of next week's workout, 8 x 600 at the same pace. My only consolation is that the entire workout will be a mile shorter since there's less rest (although now that I think about it, the fact that there's a mile less rest concerns me). Start the doomsday countdown.

I'm also aware that speedwork gets easier the more you do it. I know. I KNOW. Soon I'll be one of those assholes yelling about how great it feels (maybe?). Right now I'm just not there. Right now speedwork and I are not friends. Right now, I'd say speedwork is the popular mean girl who seems like a raging bitch but is really a nice girl once you get to know her. That makes sense, right?

So this was my sixth consecutive day of running, a new record! It also means tomorrow's a rest day, which I'm looking forward to. My body held up really well over the 30.25 miles. Besides some continuing soreness in my left hip, which appears to be lessening, everything feels fantastic. Let's celebrate!


In life news, I got a haircut! I'll maybe throw a picture up tomorrow. I love it, but I'm already fuming about how I can't put it up in a ponytail. Thankfully I've got a rest day to dedicate considerable brain power to the issue.

Also, I got my first grad school rejection. Meh. Wait, I mean, noooooooooo! Why?!?!?!?! The world's ending!!! But not really. I honestly only applied to this place (UC San Diego) because I felt like I needed to apply to more schools and San Diego's on the West Coast. I obviously put a lot of thought into that one. Turns out their economics program is a (surprisingly, to me, at least) prestigious one, and it wasn't until a few days ago that I found out their acceptance rate is around 4%. You read that right. Jeano! What were you thinking?! You're not the 4%! The rejection made things much easier for me, actually, because I worry I would have felt pressured to accept just because it's a high-ranked program and not because I have any interest in it. Also, Jeano + beaches (+ big city *cough cough New York never forget cough cough*)? Not a great idea.

To balance out my rejection, I got in somewhere else. Not a first choice, but they want to fly me out to see the campus. Fly somewhere for free? Sign me up! I'm not sure I'm going to do it, though, depending on how the other decisions pan out. Will check back in on that.


Here's some hiking pron to make up for the lack of photos. I really need to start taking Anchorage-y pics again.

Hiking up the Ramp, the peak that inspired my return to blogging. This time in summer!


  • What are your thoughts on speed work? Dumb, right? Tell me it gets easier.
  • If you've got short hair, what do you do to keep it out of your face? Did I ask this already? Now that the hair's actually gone I need some help. "Grow your hair out" isn't considered help, fyi.
  • Have you faced any rejection recently? 


  1. Speedwork is designed to ALWAYS challenge you (ie, if it's easy, then it's not really doing its job). Hopefully not always to puking, though. And you *will* get more comfortable with it.

    Incidentally, a few years back, I was training for a half marathon. I did most of my speedwork on the track, but several times was 'forced' indoors to the treadmill. Granted, I wasn't a frequent treadmill runner, but those workouts always felt faster/harder than they did on the track. [But I happen to really LOVE running on a track, so maybe I'm just a freak.]

    400 meters is pretty short - if you don't have access to a cleared track, you might be able to find a long, relatively empty stretch of plowed/cleared/FLAT road to try them on next time? Although it'll be harder for 600 meters. You your warm up and Garmin to mark out exactly the distance you need, then go for it. See if that is any easier.

    NOW I have short hair. But it's, like, REALLY short. So one bobby pin is working for me.

    Rejection. Yes. Let's talk about applying for post-doctoral science jobs after 1 year away from the bench, in a country where your (potential) future employer will need to pay/prepare visa paperwork for you as well. Or let's not. On the plus side, I get to focus on coaching all day. Not toooo bad a consolation prize. :)

    1. Thanks for the encouragement! I'm holding you to you're "it'll get easier," by the way ;). I think it would be WAY more comfortable at a track, but unfortunately I'm a few months away from being able to access one. The best place to do it would be this indoor hockey rink I run around sometimes, only a mile is 9 1/2 laps and none of it's marked, so keeping track of 2.35-lap 400s would be next to impossible. I am definitely going to wrack my brain for a flat stretch of paved road somewhere...

      My ex-bf went through the same thing when we were in New York. Employers really aren't willing to dish out extra money to sponsor someone for an entry-level job! You're obviously more qualified than that but I imagine it's a huge obstacle! And it IS great that it's allowed you to make yourself available to the rest of us runners who don't know what we're doing ;).

  2. I give you mad props for actually attempting to do a cool down after you puked.

    My first session with the Hansons went slightly better (it's on my blog somewhere), but I remember the 600's and 800's being harder...and then I randomly decided to take my 1200's outside and it was WONDERFUL. If you can find a clear/not so hilly place to run outside, I would recommend doing all your speed work out there. You can program your garmin to keep track of the workout for you so that you still stay on track. What pace are you doing your "recovery" laps at? I never thought that the book was very clear on that...

    I definitely do think it gets easier, though. Not like "easy"...but definitely less "I'm going to puke my guts out" ha.

    No short hair tips from me, sorry. That's always my #1 request when I get it cut - it HAS to fit in a ponytail ha.

    No big rejections for me, but my boyfriend is going to PT school in the fall and while he already got into the one we think he's going to go to, he has gotten a few rejection letters and the sting still hurts even though he knows he probably wasn't going to go to them.

    1. You're right, I was also confused by what my recovery pace was supposed to be. I remember seeing a "12:22" in a pace chart somewhere that I initially took to be my easy run pace, but I'm pretty sure the word "recovery" was somewhere in the vicinity. That's what I did it at (a whopping 4.8 mph).

      "It has to fit in a ponytail" is actually my #1 request every OTHER haircut.

      Yeah, I was surprised I was mildly upset about the rejection. I had no desire to go to that school AT ALL, but part of me was like, "What? I'm not GOOD ENOUGH for you? Do explain!" But it really is for the best.

  3. Speed work is an ugly bitch. And unfortunately I find that it's best to use her even uglier sister, the treadmill. It's an ugly, terrifying combination. However, I definitely do notice a change in my speed and endurance on longer runs. I ALWAYS feel pukey afterwards and usually have stop often because I suck. Kudos to you though, first one is done!

    1. You don't suck, speedwork sucks! That was the extremely valuable lesson I learned this week. One down, only... many more to go!

  4. I have that Love/Hate relationship with speed work. I always question my sanity during the final stretch of each repeat or tempo mile, but afterwards I do feel pretty darn good! Pretty positive I'd hate doing it on the treadmill, though. I run speed workouts at the track, and usually with friends. We meet a mile away from the track and run to it, get the work done and then cruise back to our cars. That cool down mile feels like dessert, but, again, I think I'd freaking hate the speed work if I had to do it on a treadmill, warm up and cool down included. So, hmmm... I guess all I can say is that SUCKS! But I think it will get better :) Hang in there!

    For short hair, I always used bobbi (y?) pins to hold the hair off my forehead. Not super cute but got the job done.

    1. Speedwork at a track with people sounds SO much better. Fun, even! Unfortunately, I'm still at a point where I'm "too slow" for running with groups, plus I like to stick to plans exactly so I feel like my workouts would never match up with anyone else's... I think just taking it outside will make a huge difference, though.

      Bobby pins confuse me SO much. Like, just one bobby pin falls out, right? So you put another one across it? I've sort of tried using them before and I feel like they fell out immediately. I'll have to work on my girl skills though and see if I can get it to work.

  5. Speed work is always terrible while doing it. I hate it because it goes against almost everything that I love. But I do love how I feel afterwords. I have yet to puke from speedwork or running in general (though I do feel like puking an awful lot). I think I am missing a rite-of-passage or something. Must up the intensity or something.

    1. Ah, don't do that! It sucks so much already! If you can hit the speeds you're going for WITHOUT feeling like death, I'd say that's a huge win!