Monthly Archives: June 2013

Back in the Park

I took an unusual break from my running group last week — no workouts in the park. And I wasn’t out of town. I’ll admit that not growing up with athletics, nor serving in the military, the trash talking had gotten to me. Today reminded my why I love the group so much. It was a full cast of characters. We had our man from Ghana. Our man from West Hollywood. Our peeps from East L.A. The septuagenarians. Three little kids under 4. All told, 14 people, I think. And the Los Angeles “June gloom” is just perfect for training. Griffith Park was just there to be exploited.

Our group, four runners and a fifth to call the times, headed up what they call “Nature Trail” for some steep climbing — a typical heart pounding warm up. Then we ran our sets of 45 second sprints. I know sprints is not the right word, because they were not flat out running. But nor were they strides. Intervals? Repeats? I don’t know the right term. We did 4 sets of 3 x 45 sec repeats, with 45 second passive recoveries, and 90 seconds between sets.

  1. 46 sec @ 5:22 min/mile (that’s 3:19 min/km)
  2. 38 sec @ 5:26 min/mile
  3. 45 sec @ 5:19 min/mile
  4. 47 sec @ 5:08 min/mile
  5. 52 sec @ 5:12 min/mile
  6. 49 sec @ 5:21 min/mile
  7. 45 sec @ 5:10 min/mile
  8. 46 sec @ 5:14 min/mile
  9. 47 sec @ 5:14 min/mile
  10. 45 sec @ 5:06 min/mile
  11. 47 sec @ 5:55 min/mile (reached our mark, stopped)

That’s where we take our water break at, appropriately, the big water tank known simply as 113. Then there’s a winding downhill where we caught up with coach. He had us do a couple of steep uphill sprints at the place we call “Piney Slope.” At that point it was obvious I was having an “on” day, coach noting: “I was wrong Erika, he has some lead in his pencil!” After that we did some downhill sprints. Coach had some proprioceptive cues, had me imagine I was getting ready to ski downhill, actually used the word “manubrium” (I had to look it up — the upper part of the sternum) which cracked me up. I got some good speed there, too. Then we finished up with some shorter sprints. One of them felt really good.

  1. 19 seconds at 4:07 min/mile pace (that’s 2:33 min/km)
  2. 22 seconds at 4:52 min/mile pace

After some walking and full recovery there were a couple of 15 second sprints toward the end of the downhill. Coach was giving me grief about fiddling with my watch, so I didn’t get the last couple. (Truth is, coach is 70, and though very smart, just doesn’t get the Garmin at all. And the Kinvaras, it’s hard for him to even look at them.) I did well on the first one, and just crapped out on the last one, but it was a terrific workout overall. Really good stuff.

So glad I was able to do this, and move away from that crazy molasses-like 10:00 min/mile 10 miler the other day (which did have the benefit of hills). Variety! Consistency!




A Case of Apples to Apples

Cyclist: “Don’t you wanna walk on the other side? Safer.” (I was not walking.)

Me: “Yeah, but on the turns I can’t see what’s coming.”

Cyclist: “You right.”

Point of pride that I actually passed this group of cyclists, one of them was still cycling, even. The rest had stopped for a break. I had taken another day off from my usual weekend group runs, a little gun shy of overdoing it, the unpredictability of their outings. And frankly, felt like I needed a break from some of the personalities… I simply wanted to get a big hill in, some miles. Then given the stimulus of location, I fell into doing pretty much the run they would have done on that particular route.

Thirty second bursts (wary of calling them strides or sprints, neither seems quite right, but certainly something a bit faster than mile pace) followed by 30 second passive recovery. The group would run them four sets of 3. I lost count, so my sets were something like: 5, 4, 3. Not sure. Between sets a 90 second passive recovery.

The cyclists passed me again at a spot where the hill levels off. About two thirds up. It is a big hill, quite steep in places, winding asphalt. But once on the main part of the course, it’s strictly a service road, so no cars. Before I knew the route, I once came to within 100 meters or so of running the whole thing, but turned around, feeling that it might never end, or might go on for more miles than I was ready to face. My group calls it “Colossus.” The cyclist gave me a big grin when they passed.

I would have run this a bit faster with the group. The difference was today I had not really planned on running 30 30s, and when I did, was going to take it relatively easy. With the group, I ran it on May 4th. It sticks out in my mind because I felt distinctly not good afterwards, not what I wanted a week out from my half marathon.

Here are the two outings, apples to apples:

  1. 5/4/13     6:08     12 x 30s     1.14 miles     5:23 min/mile avg pace
  2. 6/9/13     6:26     12 x 30s     1.09 miles     5:53 min/mile avg pace

I have to give credit to my middle-distance comrades. I never would have run this workout before. I would have been sheepish about taking recoveries. I would have run the whole hill, around 9 minute pace, which is fine. Now the whole park is awash in the stimulus response of my experiences with the group. Here is the place to rest. Here is the place to run 15 second pushes. Here is the place to get some water, take a leak. It is good. Very good.


An Attempt at Plus Ones

Opted out of the running group this morning, and the manic middle-distance workouts they favor, wanting to take care of a tender right adductor.* Decided to try my hand at the “plus ones” workout, as written about by Mario Fraioli at As he states, it’s a bit of a hybrid — part descending ladders, part fartlek. Fraioli says this workout develops a couple of key racing abilities and I’d have to agree — at least on the strength of feeling pretty challenged. That’s an understatement, actually, as I aborted the workout.

Here are the hard working parts of the workout. Descending intervals at roughly 5k pace, followed by a recovery jog for half the time (not included here), then followed by a minute at 15-20 seconds faster per mile pace and 3 minutes recovery jog.

  1. 5:02 @ 6:21 min/mile
  2. 1:01 @ 5:54 min/mile
  3. 4:02 @ 6:23 min/mile
  4. 1:01 @ 6:03 min/mile
  5. 3:03 @ 6:19 min/mile
  6. 1:02 @ 6:15 min/mile
  7. 1:12 @ 6:40 min/mile

As you can see, by the last interval, which should have been 2 minutes, things had deteriorated substantially, and even before that the “faster” one minute segment was lagging — so I decided to cut the workout short. While that’s never encouraging, I’m just writing it off as a bad day and have a few theories about why it didn’t go so well.

  1. The pace was aggressive. My last 5k was run at 6:30 pace. I’m still undecided if this is my true current 5k pace, but today is obviously not the day to figure that out.
  2. I brought Gatorade with me. The powdered kind you mix yourself. I may have mixed it a little too thick, stomach felt a little off.
  3. I took some old salt tablets earlier. Can you see that I love to experiment with supplements? How old can salt get, anyway?
  4. I was running in the afternoon heat. I haven’t been running in the afternoon or the heat, lately.
  5. Breathing felt off. Not sure why.
  6. I was just bumping up against my laziness again.

I’d like to try this again on a morning run, use it as a benchmark workout. It was quite challenging and it would be fun to do when feeling more up to the challenge. Don’t think I’ll be up to facing an early morning jaunt with the running group tomorrow. Maybe just an easy 10 or something…

*One might rightly ask why I would choose this workout, if my adductor is sore. Well, it’s not that sore, and 5k pace is challenging, but not explosive. It’s explosive sprinting I wanted to avoid.