Since my local environment is still Hoth, I’m running on the treadmill for the foreseeable future. My last run outside was my snowshoe experiment on Wednesday. That run took a lot out of me and by Friday morning I was still feeling the effort in my legs. So I did my shorter recovery run in the morning and moved the speedwork to the afternoon.
A few more hours of recovery helped, but I climbed onto the treadmill feeling that I wasn’t really ready for mile repeats at 6:45. But rather than bailing on the workout altogether, I figured I’d just do it a little slower than originally planned. I ended up with three repeats in the 6:55 range, so my compromise was not that great. I got that number be adjusting the speed from 6:50 to 7:00 during the repeats (it breaks things up a bit).
Anyway. Long preamble to my point, which is: I probably could have run 6:45 had I had a better understanding of how our treadmill works. The machine has a toggled display for Pace and MPH. In both cases, you get three digits:
MPH: ##.# (example: 10.5 MPH — ha ha, as if!)
Pace: ##:# (example 06:4 — or what would appear to be 6:40 pace)
When is “06:4″ not 6:40 pace? When you’ve only hit the “increase the pace” button (or “+”) once. Apparently, at high speeds, our treadmill offers five second pace variations. You just can’t see it. So if you’re running at “06:5″ and you hit “+” then you’ll go down to 6:45 pace (with an “06:4″ readout). Hit “+” again and you’re at 6:40. Who knew? (Jonathan did.)
All this time I just thought I was being wimpy when I pressed “+” and the treadmill display wasn’t responding. Since I knew I wasn’t in any shape to run 6:40 repeats yesterday, I shied away from plugging in that pace. Had I realized that the treadmill will give me 6:45, I would have at least made an attempt to run the original workout. The difference between 6:40 and 6:45 (or 6:45 and 6:55, if you like) was probably minimal enough that I wouldn’t experience enough physical distress for it to have mattered. The issue was a mental one (“I can’t run 6:40 today.”).
Since I don’t like doing faster workouts indoors if I can avoid it, I rarely run below 8:00 on the treadmill. The fastest I’ve ever managed is 6:00 pace. Once you’re getting close to your maximum effort, 10 seconds per mile is a huge difference. Plus I don’t like being forced by a moving belt to move my legs that fast; it always feels a little scary.
I had no idea that I had less than a 10 second spread available to me for some paces. Knowing this, I’ll be a little more enthusiastic about (and willing to try) doing my speed workouts indoors. Hooray!