My week of workouts last week were a bit interesting. I’m discovering that I need to push myself harder to get my heart rate up, but my endurance isn’t quite there yet. I’m finding the most trouble on the treadmill. I used to be able to get my heart rate into the orange zone while power walking, but now it doesn’t want to get there unless I’m running. I know this is a good sign and I’m getting much stronger with my cardiovascular ability. But I need to work on the endurance to get there too and I’m not finding it as easy as it was when I started running to build endurance now.
I don’t think I’ve necessarily hit a wall, but I’ve hit a small barrier. It’s like weight loss. When you start losing weight, you tend to lose very quickly at first and then it slows down. When I started running I found I could push my time by huge jumps without too much effort. Now, I’m finding it tough to run longer than a minute at times. I’m not giving up or losing hope, but it’s made me realize that I have to focus on training a bit differently now and perhaps I was just staying in my comfort zone before and now I’m truly pushing myself.
On Monday, we had a power day that switched between blocks. All the blocks were pretty short so I was able to do some good treadmill work. I was able to run during all of the all-out segments which were either 30 seconds or 1 minute long. I’m pushing things a bit with my speed on those all-outs, so I’ve been doing more at 5.5 mph when I’m not too tired (when I’m tired I’m scared I’m running sloppily and don’t want to hurt myself).
With the power day, we also had rowing to do. The rows were timed sprints and they weren’t too horrible for me. We had 3 timed sprints (1 minute, 2 minutes, and 4 minutes) and while my wattage on the rower was pretty low for me, I was able to do all of the sprints without taking a break and I hit my goal for the distance each time. There was a rowing workshop this past weekend that I wished I could have gone to (I was out-of-town) but I really want to go to the next one. I know I could be doing better with my rowing and I’d like to work on improving that.
Wednesday was a power day again, but no switching between blocks. It felt more like an endurance day for me because of the long time on the treadmill, but we had several walking recoveries during the 23 minutes on the treadmill so that helped a lot. Some of the push paces were 2 or 2 1/2 minutes long, and for those I had to stick with power walking. I really wanted to run (or run/walk), but I knew I needed to save my strength a bit for the all-outs. I did run during the shorter 1 minute push paces including the time that we had a 1 minute push into a 1 minute all-out (so that was 2 minutes of running). While we had the shorter all-outs, I decided to really push myself (I had barely been in the orange zone at all with my heart rate) so I ran for 30 seconds at 6 mph. That is definitely fast for me and I don’t think I could have done it for more than 30 seconds at a time. But it made me happy and gave me a boost of confidence when I was losing a bit of confidence in my running.
After all that treadmill work, I was exhausted. But I was only half way done with my workout so I tried to catch my breath so I could do my best during the floor work. For the floor, we had 2 long blocks that had a couple of different things to do in each one. But we started each set in each floor block with a sprint row. One block was a decreasing row and the other block was a constant row. But they were always sprint rows. I was starting to feel a bit competitive with one of the people on the rower next to me so we decided to race each other for one of the 150 meter rows. The goal time for 150 meters is under 45 seconds. But in my race I was moving so hard that the rower was starting to move with me and I was able to do it in 29.8 seconds! I lost the race (the other person did it in 28.8 seconds), but I was still pretty happy with what I was able to do. And I did another race (but with myself this time) for one of the 200 meter rows at the end of the workout and was able to do it in 47.9 seconds (goal time is under a minute).
I didn’t work out on Friday (I was on the plane on Friday during my usual workout time) so I did a Thursday workout instead. Thursday was endurance, strength, and power all in one workout. And it was a run/row day so I was really able to work on those workout elements. Because there was endurance, strength, and power for the run/row; each of the segments of the run were different. Some were longer distances, some were at inclines, and some were super short. So I had to work on a plan on how to use running during them all. For the long distance one, I did 1 minute of running and 1 minute of walking. I did the walking distance for it (which is half of the running distance), but my coaches have all been ok with that. They know what I’m doing and they have all been really supportive.
For the strength running, since it was at an incline I had to plan carefully. But I did want to try the running with an incline because it’s a good way to push myself without having to run longer. I still did 1 minute of running and 1 minute of walking for it and I was splitting the difference between the running distance and walking distance. I ran at the running incline and walked at my usual walking inclines for push paces. This was pretty tough (especially running at 5% incline), but I was able to stick with my 1 minute/1 minute plan so I was feeling pretty awesome about that.
The power running were all short bursts of .15 miles. I really planned on just running the entire thing because I know I can do that and have done it plenty before. But this was at the end of the workout and I was pretty exhausted (I was rowing sprints between all of the running segments so that was a lot). I really tried my best to run as long as I could, but I was feeling like walking after 45 seconds. I stuck it out for the minute and then started to walk.
I felt a bit disappointed in myself but as soon as we were switching to the floor my coach told me how impressed she was with my running improvement. While I’ve been so focused on times and distance, I haven’t really thought too much about form. But I guess I no longer look like I’m struggling for each step and things are starting to look really smooth and fluid. That gave me a huge boost of confidence and made my floor work on Thursday a lot happier.
After my Thursday workout, I started asking my running friends about help on building endurance. A couple of them are going to be sending me some notes and advice that they’ve seen online or have heard in running groups. I need to start thinking more seriously about my running training if I want to keep improving. I never realized how hard I could push myself and train like this, but I’m so glad I’m doing it. Since the beginning at Orangetheory I’ve felt like an athlete (not just someone at a gym). But now I feel like not just an athlete, but an athlete in training and I need to take that mindset outside of just my workouts and start researching running and planning things out.
I’ve got a few more months until my next 5K race. I feel pretty good that I can PR on the race (unless I get hurt I will be doing a run/walk race for the first time). But I don’t just want to PR on the race. I want to set a goal for myself that is tough but achievable. Hopefully I can reach that goal and prove to myself that even if my running progress is stuck now that in the long haul I made huge progress.