Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Measuring My Sleep (and Crushing Speedwork)

Tuesday Workout: 7 miles with 8 x 600 (on 8:30 with 400 rest - Holly tried to teach me proper notation and I may or may have not figured it out), Connects
Wednesday Workout: Rest!

I'm going to start this post by saying I totally crushed my speedwork yesterday. Sorry, no surprise endings here. I killed it. A+. You guys were totally right: speedwork was meant to be done outside and not on that torture device in a windowless basement.

This workout felt much more in line with what I believe myself to be capable of. Last week I was appalled by my seeming inability to hold an 8:30 pace for two minutes, and by the pukiness that resulted. As someone who has stomach-problem-phobia (that's a disease I just made up that means you're terrified of having a bathroom emergency while on a run even though that rarely happens), it had me terrified of the next one. What if it happened again? What if I was doomed to become "that girl who pukes," a la that dude on the Biggest Loser this season (did he ever stop throwing up?)? Fortunately, normal Jeano won the day.

Totally won.

I even figured out how to do interval workouts on my garmin!

I ran at my newfound flat pavement oasis. There was a fair amount of wind on one stretch of the road, but I took it all in stride (so punny).


Of COURSE it was beautiful outside again. I'm going to have gross leather skin soon if this continues (please continue).

During my first interval, I assumed I was going to have to run all out to hit 8:30 so really put the pedal to the metal. Then I looked down at my watch after a minute or so and saw I was running 7:30, a full minute faster than what I was aiming for. Whoops. I didn't even realize I could run that fast (FAST FOR ME, OKAY?). All of my intervals went like this, and I actually had to hold back a lot. After my eighth interval, I felt like I had at least four more in me. I was kind of wondering if that meant I should be running faster/training for a faster marathon, but I think I'm fine where I am. I don't want to overdo it!

Speed session #2: great succes.


Has anyone heard of the app "Sleep Cycle?" I heard about it from a friend and my initial reaction was to mock it, but it's actually the best-selling paid app (99 cents) in a billion different countries and has received 5-star review after 5-star review. Because I'm an advertiser's dream, I had to buy it.

Basically, the app uses the motion sensor in your phone to attempt to measure your sleep (you put the phone on the bed next to you, under the sheet so it doesn't fall off). Apparently certain sleep stages are associated with different kinds/levels of movement, so it uses that to determine how long you're in each stage. I've used it for five nights and am still trying to decide how accurate it really is. On the one hand, their little graphs warm my data-loving heart. On the other hand, a few nights I've tossed and turned late into the night, checking my watch periodically, and some of that time has been recorded as sleeping (light sleep, but sleep nonetheless). But although it may not be 100% accurate, I think it's done a good job of grading each night's sleep quality relative to other nights. I think it might also be learning from me and getting better over time. Creepy.

Last night was not a great night for me, but here's my graph. I actually started it at 11:00 pm but had to restart it when I changed my alarm to go off fifteen minutes later (every minute counts!).

I love that it gives you a percentage for "how good" your sleep is. Soon I'm going to need a machine to tell me whether I'm happy or sad at any given moment. Also, 1.7 days in bed?!?! That's so long!

Oh, I forgot one other thing, arguably the app's main feature. Because it can allegedly "sense" what sleep stage you're in, it attempts to wake you up while you're in the lightest stage of sleep. Basically, you tell it the latest time you can wake up, and it wakes you up sometime in the half hour prior to your wakeup time (according to the Internet, where everything you read is true, the average person goes through an entire sleep cycle every 45 minutes or so, so I think this app assumes it's got a good chance of catching you light-sleeping during that half-hour period). This morning, that particular feature was NOT helpful because it woke me up a full half-hour early. I was still damn tired so did not appreciate it one bit. I also hate the alarm song I've chosen.

This is where I tell you they paid me to say this. But not really. No one will ever pay me to pimp their free shit. I just thought it was a fun app that appeals to my sleep-obsessed self.

Now it's your turn!
  • Have you ever used that app? What are your thoughts on it? Bogus? The best thing ever?
  • Do you think I should speed up my speedwork a bit, or should I stick to the plan? So far the plan's been spot on, so I'll probably stick with that, but I'd be curious to hear anyone else's thoughts.


  1. I should've been more clear. There are 2 ways to write the pace for a speed workout: either the pace, or the total time the interval should take. For you, this would look like:

    8 x 600 at 8:30 pace with 400 m Rest


    8 x 600 at (on? now I'm getting confused with swimming notation) 3:10 with 400 m Rest

    Glad that going outside helped...definitely a confidence boost! Should you go faster...tough question. My questions for you: Are your current paces determined by your goal finishing time, or using some metric based on finishing times of other races you've run? In this phase of training, it looks like you're doing 1 interval workout a week. Does that stay the same throughout? Do you ever do more than one "speedy" (interval or tempo) workout a week? the Hansons say anything about speeding up if the intervals feel easy? You answer, then I'll weigh in with a not-necessarily-Hanson-based-opinion. :)

    SleepApp? Sounds...questionable. And I'd be too afraid that my phone would end up crashing to the floor. I already replaced that sucker once. Once = one time TOO MANY. And what about people who sleep together? "Sorry, hon, you take the couch tonight. I don't want you confusing my sleep app!" ?

    1. I'm glad you're confused too, because I was staring at "(on xxx)" for, like, five minutes trying to figure out the grammar of that one. I'll get it next time!

      My current paces are determined by my goal finish time, which is itself a little bit faster than my best half times would suggest I'm capable of. I'm aiming for a 4:15 and all my half times have been right around 2:03 (I never really figured out the whole "getting faster" thing). I just started "speedy" workouts last week, but from hereon out I'll do two a week: one interval workout (although the intervals get longer and longer until they're 2-3 miles long, from what I remember) and one tempo, done right at marathon goal pace and ranging from 5-10 miles. I don't think the Hansons say anything about speeding up if it feels easy, but they do caution against doing any run faster than their suggested speeds, at least until you've been following it for a while, since "cumulative fatigue" could make sustaining those paces very difficult down the line. I dunno, I'll probably end up sticking to 8:30 because finishing them without feeling tired makes me feel strong, but I do wonder if I should be aiming higher.

      Literally the first thing that came to my mind when I bought the app was, "But what do couples do?!" Also, what do you do if you have one of those NASA foam mattresses that apparently don't move unless you're directly on it? I completely agree that the app's accuracy is questionable, but it has been interesting to see what it's recorded for me. I put it under my (fitted) sheet so I don't have to worry about it falling to the floor. If you want to snooze, you just sort of knock on the phone and it stops ringing. So weird.

    2. Background: Swimmers use "on" to mean "every". So if you six repeats of a distance "on 2 minutes", that means you start one interval every 2 minutes. If 1 intervals takes 1:30, then you get 30 seconds rest. If you swim slower, you get less recovery. Interesting psychology going on there, too. :) Runners almost never do workouts like that (also interesting), so I'm not sure if "on" is used I'm all second-guessing myself. Thanks, Jean.

      Anyway - the predictive charts I use would say that a 2:03 corresponds almost exactly to a 4:15 full, given an equivalent level of training, etc etc. To be honest, I'd suggest staying right where you are. It's your first time through the program, and the Hanson theory is, as you say, "cumulative fatigue". You just upped your mileage immensely, and are going to start adding 2 intense workouts/week. Distance + speed + too much intensity can = injury, if you aren't careful. So don't overdo it. And as the weeks go on, 8:30 pace may actually start to feel harder, as your legs become more tired. If you like the program, you can always use it again with a faster goal time.

    3. Well when you put it that way, that makes perfect sense! I'm glad you agree my goal time is reasonable; I was afraid I was being too ambitious when I was working it all out. Considering that the intervals get longer and longer, I'm sure an 8:30 will become much harder to sustain (and, as you mentioned, I'll have a lot more miles on my legs), so I'll stick to this for now. As always, thanks for the advice!

  2. Fascinating. I think I am a horrible sleeper in general. I am a light sleeper and I toss and turn all night usually. One time I tried to wear my heart rate monitor and left my garmin on all night to track it, but since I don't really know how to relate heart rate back to sleep stages/quality, that was kind of a bust.

    Congrats on rocking out your speed work!! A bajillion times easier outside, right?!?! I will never again subject myself to that indoor torture machine.

    I struggle with the speed work question a lot. I think in the book they talk about adjusting goals and they recommend doing like a 5k or something to see what your time for that is and then readjust your time goals based on that? I've been thinking about that too, though because my easy run has somehow merged with closer to what my tempo runs used to be and I still keep thinking it's a fluke. I don't have another time-goal race for a while, though, so I guess I have some time to figure it out.

    1. Yeah, I have to say, I don't think I would survive with your wake-up times. No way. And now with a puppy?! I tip my hat to you.

      I was kinda sorta thinking about attempting to do my own 5k to test out my speed before I started marathon training (not a lot of organized races this time of year), but 5ks sound like the worst. I don't think I ever want to subject myself to that. I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing, and if by some miracle it's still not tiring me out a couple of months from now, I may push it a bit. But for now, I guess 8:30 is my speedy pace.

    2. You could just run your own not in a race, but just turn one of your runs into a 5k race for yourself...maybe on your flat snow-free path? Then just kind of run balls-to-the-walls for 3 miles? I'm sure Google has some more accurate ways of describing that.

      Getting up early isn't so bad once you get used to it (it took me about 3 weeks), but with the midnight puppy breaks, it's been awful, ha. Mostly I get up early so that I can fit my runs in - I have 0% motivation to do runs after work (based on your most recent post, you are the opposite and I envy you, ha).

  3. AWESOME speed work!!! So glad it was a better experience outside. I would think just continue with the paces that you're doing, not that I know anything, but I'd worry that if you pushed too hard an injury could pop up? I've never heard of that app, but I'm sure it would tell me that my sleep sucks! Lately my daughter wakes me up 2-3 times a night to pee, and if I'm really lucky my dog will start barking at raccoons right after I drift off to sleep again!

    1. Yep, you're totally right. Sticking to it! Dogs barking are SO annoying. I'm fortunate that my dog DOES NOT bark, although when I was growing up our dogs were huge barkers. We've got some neighbors, though, who let their dogs out at all hours of the day (and night), and it is not uncommon to get woken up at 5:30 a.m. to those guys. So annoying. I imagine a raccoon would really drive them crazy!

  4. Way to kill it! Yeah for going outside and yay for figuring out intervals on your Garmin :) I have been researching Garmins a lot lately and have seen how it can be done and am excited to try it one day if I ever make the leap to the Garmin world :)

    1. It still kind of blows my mind that you've trained for multiple marathons without one! Of course, five years ago that's what everyone was doing, but since I was so late to the game, I can't really imagine running without it. I'm so spoiled. I would suggest making the leap, but you're obviously doing fine without one!