Pittsburgh Half Training: Week 5

Hello from frigid Pittsburgh! This morning when I woke up it was -5 degrees with a "feels like" temp of -23. We've had wind chill advisories (with some schools closed) since Friday, about three inches of snow yesterday, and even a rumble of thunder during a crazy afternoon snow squall. This week isn't supposed to be much better, with temps in the single digits early and late in the week.

So do I still love winter running? You betcha. (I just watched the FX series of Fargo and loved it!) Honestly, in the right gear it's not bad. Of course, my ideal weather would never get above 65-70, so I'm a little biased to colder temps. It has sucked taking my dog for walks, though, so I'll be happy when I get to take him on walks lasting longer than five minutes without having to bundle him up in two coats and booties.

This was another great week. I feel like I'm firing on all points and at the top of my game. I don't think I've ever enjoyed training or felt better, fitter, and stronger than in this training cycle. I'm not sore, mentally fatigued, or unmotivated. I haven't had any aches or pains at all. I've been reflecting on why this training has been going so well for me. Who knows really, but these are the things that may be contributing.

Before I get to the recap, I wanted to share my exciting news for the week: I got a new Garmin! I had the Forerunner 305, which was five years old and a gift from my sister before I ever started running (it was originally for mountain biking). I just got the Forerunner 220. I am in love! I've been playing with it all week and enjoying it. It does pretty much everything my 305 did (except it can only show three fields of data instead of 4). And it must feels so nice not to wear a heavy, bulky watch.

Week 4 Grade: B

30 minutes total body strength training
40 minutes yin yoga, hip series

Easy run: 4 miles, 50:55 minutes, 12:43 pace
It's interesting that my easy run pace going by feel was around 11:30-12:00, and my easy run pace going by heart rate is actually 12:30-13:30! No pictures because I pretty much dress the same for these frigid mornings, so I always look the same.

Half-Mile Repeats: 4.5 miles, 52:24 minutes
It was 20 degrees when I went out, but there was no snow or ice on the ground, so it was great! This was my first run with my new Garmin. I set up the workout on Garmin Connect and then synched it to my watch. It was so awesome! I love that my new Garmin both vibrates and beeps at interval changes, because it's hard to hear beeps when I have a hat on. This run called for 2.5 miles of half-mile repeats at 10:06 or faster with .25-mile recovery. I did three intervals that took me to 2.25 miles, so I did a final .25-interval at 5K pace (9:30). This was a great workout. I had no problem hitting any of the paces, including the fast one at the end. Splits were 9:52, 9:44, 9:49, and then the .25-mile was 8:49. I wondered why the half-mile repeats were feeling so doable and worried that I wasn't running them fast enough. But Mike told me the goal is to progress to where you can run 10 of them (this is the Yasso 800 workout), so they won't feel too hard at first. I tacked on two easy miles as warm-up and cool-down.

Easy run: 4 miles, 53:15, 13:18 pace
It was 28, but there was a dusting of snow and everything was icing up as I was out, so I took it really slow. What's funny about this run is that in the first mile, my heart rate was almost near max but the run was feeling really super easy. I had to really work to bring my heart rate down, and once it was down it stayed down for the rest of the run. But this was a really good lesson to me in how easy it is to start off too fast in races, even when you think you're not.

In the evening I did 40 minutes of strength training.

Rest day! I did the Essential Yoga for Runners video from Runner's World.

Long run: 8 miles, 1:44:57, 13:07 pace
With the very low temps predicted for Sunday, Amanda and I (and pretty much all Pittsburgh runners) moved our long run to Saturday. It was fine temp-wise (about 26) but snowed the entire time. I wore my rain gear and felt fine. We went to North Park and did the JASR 8-mile route--one loop around the lake and McKinney Hill. Again, I have to say how nice it is to have a running buddy. The miles really fly by. After this run, my tummy was audibly rumbling, which is odd for me. I didn't immediately feel hungry, but when I got home I was absolutely starving, and my husband gave me some candy he bought me for Valentine's Day. It was a delicious post-run treat.
Photo courtesy of Amanda
Saturday I was supposed to do strength training, but after my long run and eating a ton for lunch, I was not feeling it. I managed to do 15 minutes, but I was feeling tired and just didn't have much left for the workout.

After I took my shower, I was feeling really wiped out. I only ran 8 miles, and it wasn't even that cold, but I was tired. Maybe it was from running in the snow, having a big lunch because I was so hungry, and then trying to do strength training? Whatever the reason, I enjoyed a nice afternoon nap!

That night was our friends' annual Bad Sweater Party. My sweater was pretty good this year, with little pompoms and enormous shoulder pads.

Pace run: 5 miles, 57:27
I waited until it had "warmed up" to 1 degrees (with a "feels like" -17 temp) to run my four pace miles. I was dressed in all my windproof layers and my face mask. With my sunglasses on, I had no skin exposed. I wasn't cold, but as I started my warm-up mile I realized I had to dodge icy spots and deal with crazy wind gusts that felt like running into a wall. As I started my first pace mile (11:00 target pace), it was tough, and I could feel I was working much harder than usual. I had to slow down a lot because of the wind and ice. I've been reading all these articles about how your performance declines as it gets colder. This Runner's World article says, "Studies report that at a temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit, there is an 8 to 9 percent decline in performance." So I started to think that I should give myself a break and run only three instead of four pace miles. But then I started to imagine it was race day. Today's conditions--with it feeling much tougher than usual--were actually a pretty good simulation of the last miles of the race. I know I'll need to push hard in those last miles, so I was determined to do that today. I knew I couldn't quit at three miles and had to do all four. I might not hit my pace, but I had to try. My stomach got upset at the end, like it usually does when I push hard. Afterwards I looked at my heart rate stats from my Garmin and saw that my heart rate was really high the whole run and I was running pretty close to max for the last 15 minutes. My splits weren't too bad: 11:07, 10:55, 10: 48, and 11:16. But I'm proud of myself that I didn't quit and kept pushing. This run was great practice for the race!

It will be another tough-weather week, but I'll just keep trying my best. Happy running and working out this week!

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