Who Needs Cruise Intervals?

While some friends are off galavanting around the world and running cruise intervals, I hit the track for some fun. I set off with my normal plan – to run continuously for a number of miles at less than threshold pace. I’ve been adding a half mile to my primary workout each week, so as I had run 6.5 miles last Tuesday, I was due for 7 miles today. I felt much less awkward than last Thursday (ran a second track workout last week) and ran 7 seconds faster per mile than my primary workout last Monday, though my HRave was higher. I was steady as a rock for the first four miles, both HR and pace wise. After that my pace became more variable and generally slowed while my HR continually drifted up. Where I ran 165-168 bpm for the first hour miles, I was closer to 168-72 for the final three.

Today’s numbers:
8.14 miles, 50:54, 6:15 ave pace, 169 HRave.

For comparison, last Monday’s numbers:
6.54 miles, 41:42, 6:22 ave pace, 167 HRave.

More comparison, my sub-threshold rack run of April 25:
5.01 miles, 31:56, 6:22 ave pace, 165 HRave.

While my HRs have been higher the past two weeks, I think with the added distance and the quickened pace of this week’s workout, I am improving. While I don’t have the software to let me investigate this, I would be surprised if my HRave at 6.5 mile wasn’t close to 167 and my ave pace even faster than 6:15. Good stuff. Now, my lack of endurance training is still going to make this weekend’s Rocky Mountain Double Marathon (RMDM) one mean MoFo of a race. True dat.

Hopefully, someday I’ll post graphs of my HR during these workouts to show my HR degradation. It’s discernible, though not quite pronounced. I hope that in three or four months I can be running 10 miles at 165-68 bpm without any HR or pace degradation. It would be a bonus if the pace at that effort drifted down towards 6:10 or 6:05 per mile. That would make for a fun fall. :-D And, yes, if I also get in long runs, I do think these workouts will improve my ultrarunning a great deal. And to tell the truth, I like the track. While I’d love to be running the Park City, Leadville, or Elko trails 10 or 12 times a week, I’d still love to hit the track once or twice a week. The mindlessness of it. The precision. The speed. The feel of slightly leaning into a turn. Love it!

Just for the heck of it, here’s my HR, elevation, and pace data from last year’s RMDM in chat form: