Running Hard

Those first couple of days on the plan were weirdly light. There was one good swim, but it was the only workout that day, and the other day featured merely an easy hour on the bike. But I suppose if I had embarked on this plan after a winter of sloth, I would have appreciated the chance to ease into the routine. Anyway, today was comforting, with two challenging sessions.

In the morning, as dawn’s first light was appearing, I hoofed it over to Normandale Park and jogged until my stopwatch showed 15 minutes. My next assignment was to do 10 30-second all-out sprints, each separated by a minute of rest. The plan actually gives you the option of easing into these intervals over the course of the first four weeks and doing just 30 minutes of easy running in Week 1. I did the full session.

Running hard for 30 seconds is a bit of a strange concept. We tend to think of sprints in distance terms. I didn’t realize that a 30-second all-out sprint would translate to 150 yards. The first few were great, tons of fun. Normandale is perfect for this kind of thing, flat and with a soft, straight trail running alongside about two acres of grass. One length of the pitch was perfect, just enough space for me to do my 30 seconds with a little extra track to slow the big train down. I planned to do all the sprints on the trail, a beautiful mix of dirt and bark mulch that sops up moisture and creates a cushiony yet just-firm-enough surface. But some gals were doing loops around the park and I didn’t want to freak them out by sprinting madly toward them, so I scooted over and did several of the sprints on the grass. I wasn’t pleased at this prospect, but it was absolutely fine.

By the seventh sprint my quads and hamstrings were beginning to feel it about halfway through. By the eighth, the shakiness came a quarter of the way through. The ninth and tenth were agonizing pretty much from start to finish. Still, I pushed it all the way, and in the end was gulping and gasping for air. After a minute of rest, I jogged for another 20 minutes or so, arriving back home 50 minutes after I left.

The afternoon brought swim time. Pretty simple: 50x50, at a hard but sustainable pace, with 5 seconds between each 50. I started doing 50s on 1:00, and since I was touching in :53-:55, that was cool. But it was a little quick, and the goal was to work the arms more than the lungs, so I backed off a bit and did the rest of the 50s on the 1:05. That 2500-yard swim was a good 500 more yards than I’d swum since getting back in the pool after my five-month layoff. I’m still dragging an anchor compared to most triathletes, but for me to have a nice feel for the water and a decent rhythm at this point in the season? That was great. Plus, I was really tired at the end, and combined with my legs being whipped from the sprints, I felt like I’d done some good work.

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