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Friday, December 3, 2010

Loopy Tuesday: Compound Sets

Winter is here, even though it isn't winter. I am declaring it.

This week's loopy adventure found be back at the Appalachian St. track, in the early darkness of the evening. While the tough guys of the ASU football team played patty cakes in their heated practice facility, I was making loops on a 20 degree, windblown and ice covered oval. Half of lane one was solid ice and in two spots at 120 and 180 meters the ice extended into lane four, this let me take about 15 crunchy steps each lap, but did not seem to cause too much disruption in the pacing.

Speaking of pacing here was the workout for the day. On the menu was 2x compound sets where I would run 800m at 5k pace, a mile at 10k pace and then 2 miles at marathon pace before taking a full recovery and going back into the same breakdown for set two. To be clear, these are run with no break between effort/distances allowing some turnover work, some hard pace and then practicing finding the marathon goal pace while tired.

The first set was precarious as I was still unsure of the footing in places and how it would affect splits. I settled in on effort in lieu of the safety considerations and soon found the groove in the track and in my effort. The wind slapped me on the backstretch (always... why?) each lap and focusing on power and arm drive was helpful in maintaining pacing through these "rough patches". The first set went according to plan as I finished in 800m: 2:50, Mile: 5:50 and 2 mile: 12:40.

The 5 minute rest was happily taken inside to warm the core temperature a little (and drop a little weight). For the second set I decided to reverse direction since I was mainly doing pace work out there and I thought the wind might cut me a break the other way around. The mysterious forces of wind were actually worse that way. The backstretch conditions were more obstructive and now- I had the homestretch wind also... good decisions...
BUT- switching now would instill weakness so stubbornly I worked the loops "backwards" crunching in places, blown backward in others and every so often finding areas where I could just run... which is nice.

The second set went much the same though I was a little surprised to be tiring in the last mile of the workout at marathon pace. But I held together and came in a second or two faster in all cases on the second set. The major battle was against myself to find the willingness and enthusiasm to run fast in these conditions. I had a list of excuses mounting in my head:

  • You could die out here...
  • This cold air in unhealthy...
  • You could get injured...
  • That ice is slippery, just go home where it is warm...
I am grateful that the voice in my head reminded me what the point of being out there is, to get better as runner and as a person. To work through the tough spots and become stronger.


  1. Nice! 20* is better then 100* in my mind!

    And I like the new look to the blog!

  2. Running within!!! Although, I'm not sure that I would be brave enough to do any loops on a ice covered oval. Way to go.

    Wussy football players.


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