I’m halfway through the book Run Less, Run Faster. The premise of the book is to do very specific workouts at exact speeds in order to improve your race results. It’s already given me so much to think about, and after I complete the book, I plan to share all my thoughts.
Even though I’m not currently training for a race or done reading the book yet, I still wanted to attempt one of the training runs listed. I randomly picked an interval workout toward the beginning of the training plan for yesterday’s run.
Everything in Run Less, Run Faster is based off of a current 5k PR. My current personal record for a 5k is 24:21, but that was earned back in May when I was running a ton. I don’t think I could bust that out now. So I decided to go with 27:00 since I that is more in line with my current abilities. (The book does not advocate this random choosing! I figured it’d be no biggie since I was doing this interval run just to get a taste and not as a part of training for a race.)
The workout I decided to attempt is 4×800. Translation: run 800 meters (or half a mile) at the proscribed pace, follow it up with a two minute recovery jog, and repeat for a total of 4 times. 4 repeats? I think I can handle that!
I started my run with a 1.5 mile warm-up. Geronimo tagged along.
He thoroughly enjoyed the leaves and cold weather. He thoroughly abhorred the large truck that rumbled by us at the beginning of the run. He managed to get over it (which isn’t always the case!) and we both loved the leisurely mile and a half.
I dropped him off back at home, chugged some water, and double checked the book for my needed pace. Based off of a 27 minute 5k PR, I should run each 800 meters in 4:05, that’s an 8:10 mile pace. Gulp. I knew that I should be able to do it, but it sounded hard. No time like the present, so out the door I went!
I don’t have a track or treadmill nearby, so the plan was to just run and watch my Garmin the entire time. Knowing that I needed to run half a mile in 4:05 minutes, I decided to just run fast and see what that got me. I took off speeding! Apparently, way too fast, 7:20 mile pace. Whoops. So I slowed down. Turns out, I overcompensated and had to speed up again. You are supposed to run at the correct pace the entire 800 meters, but I wasn’t having much luck. It took me about 400 meters to find the right pace and hold it.
In a matter of minutes, the first 800 was over. I jogged out my legs for two minutes and then turned around to run 800 meters back towards my starting point. Again I found that I went too fast too soon, overcompensated, and then eventually settled into the right pace.
I considered stopping after 2 intervals. (Those two half miles kicked my butt!) But I was remembered that the book describes the Run Less, Run Faster workouts as “hard but doable.” I told myself that I could do it, so I did my two minute recovery job and then headed out for another 800.
This time it wasn’t as hard to hit my desired pace, but it was so much tougher mentally. I struggled to figure out how to make my body move fast. Logically, I know that faster turnover of my strides is the ideal, but it was hard to send that message to my legs. When my legs were moving fast, I felt like it was too fast. All of a sudden 800 meters seemed so far. And where was that darn tree to signal that I could do my recovery jog?!
Just like that, it was done. And I felt done, too. I walked for a bit, which I’m sure the book discourages. I considered calling it quits after 3 intervals, but I was half a mile from home. I could walk or slow jog back, but I didn’t want the run to beat me. “It’s doable,” I told myself. So I settled into a jog and then went after the last 800 meters.
This was the most difficult portion physically. I tried to hit my target pace, but parts of my brain kept saying, “It’s okay to go slow. Just do what you can and who cares about the pace?” There was some grunting and groaning. It was a battle the entire half mile. But I did it!
And man, did I feel amazing after finishing that last 800! It was so hard, but somehow I eeked out all 4 intervals at just about the right speed. Runner’s high hit me hard! I’ve never really been high, so I can’t compare this to the drug-induced kind, but I love a good runner’s high. I felt so accomplished, so tired, so proud.
- 1st 800 meters: 4:06
- 2nd 800 meters: 4:06
- 3rd 800 meters: 4:00 (ß oops – too fast.)
- 4th 800 meters: 4:05
I’m really glad I pushed through and did all 4 intervals. I was able to hit the target pace, so it was doable, just as the book promised. I am both scared and excited to attempt more of the runs in the book and at some point, the entire marathon training plan.
Do you ever run intervals? When was your last hard session? Brag about it!*