Who Needs Cruise Intervals?

While some friends are off galavanting around the world and running cruise intervals, I hit the track for some fun. […]

By on May 22, 2007 | Comments

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:

Bryon Powell

Bryon Powell is the Founding Editor of iRunFar. He’s been writing about trail running, ultrarunning, and running gear for more than 15 years. Aside from iRunFar, he’s authored the books Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running, been a contributing editor at Trail Runner magazine, written for publications including Outside, Sierra, and Running Times, and coached ultrarunners of all abilities. Based in Silverton, Colorado, Bryon is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner who competes in events from the Hardrock 100 Mile just out his front door to races long and short around the world, that is, when he’s not fly fishing or tending to his garden.