Sunday, June 10, 2007

Breakthrough

I've read on other blogs and training sites about the value of doing a "run-walk"at planned and consistent intervals. I wanted to try a 6 mile run (my longest previously had been 5 miles, and the last time I did it I felt horrible and could barely limp home!) so I decided to do it in 4-minute run, 1-minute walk intervals for the entire time. Even though my ego wants to run as far as I can til I run out of gas, which is what I usually do, I'd read that the intervals help prolong your energy and strength, and the regular periods of recovery have all kinds of other benefits.

I immediately discovered this to be true - by resting even when I didn't really need to, I was able to focus on form during the run periods, keeping up my speed, and enjoying myself (imagine that!!) always knowing I'd be able to walk soon. I never descended into a shambling shuffle, I never got discouraged or overtired, even on steep hills, and interestingly, I covered the first five miles in my best time ever, 60 minutes, even with all the walk breaks. (A few times I let myself run as much as 5 minutes, when I was cruising downhill, but mostly stuck with 4.) The last mile was a steep uphill (see profile below) so I shortened the run part to 3 minutes, then 1, and stuck with 1/1 for a few rounds til I got to the top, then immediately went back to 4 for the last bit (mile 5.5 and beyond), feeling just fine. This was the best I'd felt, physically and mentally, in a workout in weeks! (Also contributing: cool cloudy weather, a good night's sleep, and a great breakfast.)

I did discover some other interesting facts: Gilbert and Sullivan makes good running music. I had the practice tape for the alto part of Iolanthe (Labor Day Weekend! Don't miss it!) on my mp3 player, and the bouncy rhythms are just perfect! After that was over and I got back to the regular playlist, even slow songs like "Bird Alone" by Abbey Lincoln worked well because I could always find an internal rhythm to run to. But I was pleased that some of my favorite fast songs by Lyle Lovett and the Indigo Girls came on at the end when I really appreciated the boost. I want to do my first 10k race on September 4 (if I am still standing after 3 performances of Iolanthe!) and now I know I can do it - I just have to work on speed.

So - question to all with more experience at the interval thing. Should I stick with 4/1 at this distance for a while, focusing on increasing speed during the run portion, or try to stretch to 5/1, then 6/1, etc, with each subsequent outing?

5 comments:

RUTH said...

Not that I'm any expert but I think you should stick to the 4/1 ratio; maybe try a few terrains; make sure you're really happy that you can manage any road/hill thrown at you and then move on to 5/1.
Rx

LBTEPA said...

All the stuff I've read is stick with 4/1 for a week or two, then extend to 5/1, 6/1 etc. A really helpful book is marathoning for mortals (John Bingham) - or any of his books actually.
Glad you had a good workout :)

RUTH said...

Just popped by to let you know I've nominated you for a Thinking Blogger Award.

Lisa - Slow & Steady said...

I didn't start run/walk until i could already run 6miles straight. so I run a mile, walk a minute, run to the next mile, etc to go farther. I had my husband try this and he ran 6miles no problem after only being able to go about 4miles previously. My point - I can't tell you about 4/1 and how to go from there, but I can verify from my own experience that this run/walk thing is GOOD.

GeekGirl said...

I used the "Galloway method" on my first (and only, so far) marathon back in january. I ran for 10 minutes, and then walked for 5. During the 5, I would do my nutrition stuff. Good luck!