I love it when a training plan comes together. My plan to do a hard workout every other day has been working out well over the past week. After feeling completely dead on Wednesday I came back on Thursday with a strong uphill trail running workout at Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve.
My original plan was to run intervals from Deer Hollow Farm (400') all the way up to the Black Mountain Trail (2300') but due to trail maintenance activities the "toilet paper trail" was closed. The impromptu plan change actually worked out better allowing me to run two sets of intervals; one steep and another up a shallower grade. Set #1 started in Wildcat Canyon at 600'. I ran 10x 1 minute hard up the PGE power-line trail (pictured above) with 1 minute active rest between each interval. The 10th and final interval was 90 seconds and took me right to the 1600' high point on the trail (pictured below). Total interval distance: 2 miles. Total interval climbing: 1000' (steep!!).
It's here that the toilet paper trail was closed so I headed down Upper High Meadow trail to find a start point for a second set. Steep uphills are great for building strength and aerobic power but I also wanted to run some faster intervals - still uphill but shallow enough to allow a longer stride length. Set #2 started on the Rogue Valley Trail at 450'. I used the same format as set #1 - 1 minute intervals with 1 minute rest. Rogue to Upper Rogue is a great profile for intervals because it starts out very gradual and gets progressively steeper until it meets the High Meadow Trail.
When I reached the High Meadow Trail (pictured above) I'd only done 9 intervals. Total distance was 2.2 miles. Total climb only 550'. Definitely faster, half the steepness and less aerobic loading. Here's a side-by-side summary of the two sets:
Set #1 - 10x 1min - 2.0 miles - 1000' - 155 to 167 HR
Set #2 - 9x 1min - 2.2 miles - 550' - 142 to 162 HR
Total distance for the workout including warm-up and warm-down was 11.7 miles - 1hr 40 min - 2050' of total climb. Strava summary is here. That would be the only workout of the day - afternoon rest.
Friday I got back to a double workout running an easy 9 miles with Google+ acquaintance and fellow runner Andrew Houlne in the morning. We ran on the Guadalupe River Trail in San Jose - a place I'd not run since we moved to Mountain View last August.
Friday afternoon I set out for a medium-hard 25 mile road bike ride in an attempt to keep my cycling fitness up. While my primary racing goals are running in 2012, I'd like to be in decent shape for the few cycling races on my calendar. In bike races so far this year I've found my aerobic fitness to be good but my legs haven't been able to generate sustained power. It stands to reason if I only do two to three 20 to 40 mile rides a week. For this Friday afternoon ride I averaged a decent 18 mph over 26 miles with 1300' of climb and descent.
Saturday (yesterday) it was back to another proper hard workout - a negative split long run. I started at an easy 7:30 to 8 minute pace and slowly ramped up the pace to low 6's by miles 12 & 13. Total time: 1:30:49. Distance: 13.2. Only 25% of the run was zone 3 (141-155 bpm) which is much lower than when I did this workout 6 weeks ago when I spent 66% of the time in Z3 or higher. Here's a side-by-side comparison:
5/5 - 13.2 miles - 1:30:49 - 6:53 pace - Z2 72% - Z3+ 24%
3/21 - 13.5 miles - 1:30:45 - 6:42 pace - Z2 32% - Z3+ 66%
Ok, so the 3/21 run was a little faster but that's a huge difference in aerobic efficiency. Conclusion? Training works! So why not train some more? I capped off Saturday with an easy 17 mile road bike ride on the Torpado. (Below is the Strava data from my 13.2 mile run).