Ten runs down, eight more to go! Hard to believe I'm already closer to the end of Bridge-to-10K than to the start!
This was my third run during my current trip to Japan. I can't help but think back to my last visit, back in September. I had started Couch-to-5K Week 5 right after arriving... so the third run for that trip was the dreaded Week 5 Run 3 -- twenty minutes of straight running! I was so terrified!! In contrast, today's workout consisted of _three_ runs -- each nearly as long as the frightening w5r3, with only a minute of walking to separate them. Come to think of it, my w5r3 experience was four months ago yesterday! Comparing where I was then to where I am now really drives home how much progress has been made in the past four months!
Today's run was a decidedly mixed experience. I usually like to get the bad news out of the way first, but it seems best to go in chronological order. So first the good, then the bad (as that's how it happened).
Based on the excellent advice of MrsBirdsnest, I downloaded the RunKeeper app to my phone before embarking on today's run. I set it with intervals corresponding to Week 4 of B210k: the canonical 5 minute warm-up, an 18 minute run, a 1 minute walk, an 18 minute run, a 1 minute walk, an 18 minute run, and a 5 minute cool-down. I started the timer when Samantha said "Go!", so the app ran in the background with the podcast playing over it.
Turns out, this set-up worked pretty well for me! I synchronised the two well, as the computerised voice announced the intervals at very nearly the same time that Samantha did. I also _really_ appreciated the five minute check-ins -- that has been sorely missing since leaving Laura behind! Okay, the RunKeeper app doesn't offer the same words of support and encouragement. On the other hand, it does compensate by giving me a cumulative update on the distance I've covered and the pace I'm running at.
The production quality of Samantha's podcasts has improved from Week 1. However, the selection of music is starting to get to me. It was never my favourite, with only a couple of songs to my liking... but now she is starting to repeat tracks from earlier weeks. I lost count, but there were at least _five_ repeat tracks in the Week 4 podcast. Given that (a) all Samantha does is tell you when to run and when to walk (i.e., no encouragement or technique tips like Laura), and (b) the RunKeeper app can provide the same information while playing music in the foreground... well, I may not finish Bridge-to-10K with Samantha's podcasts after all. We shall see.
In any case, I like this app! Tis definitely a success, giving me the features that were tempting me to a Forerunner 10, without the £100 price-tag that I really couldn't justify.
That's all for the tech -- now on to the run itself:
I expanded my route significantly, as I was getting bored with running the same loop for each of the three 17 minute runs, as I did in Week 3. I more than doubled the size of the course, and I think I can expand it further still next time. I don't really know the roads around here, so there is inherently some guesswork involved, but it all seems to be working out okay thus far.
The Week 4 runs are only marginally longer than Week 3 in Bridge-to-10K -- instead of 17min x 3, you get 18min x 3. So, with the longer time, I expected to also set a new record distance for myself. This happened -- but just barely! My previous record was 9.06 km in 51 minutes of running during Week 3 Run 1. (I don't have distances for Runs 2 & 3 of that week.) Today, I covered 9.19 km in 54 minutes of running. That's slightly disappointing, as an extrapolation of my Week 3 Run 1 time would have given me 9.59 km. On the other hand, it is perfectly consistent with my best Week 2 time -- in Week 2 Run 2, I ran 7.66 km in 45 minutes; extending this pace to 54 minutes gives precisely the 9.19 km covered today.
Here is the breakdown by interval:
Interval 1: 3.15 km in 18 mins (ave speed 10.5 km/hour, or 5:43 per km)
Interval 2: 3.08 km in 18 mins (ave speed 10.3 km/hour, or 5:51 per km)
Interval 3: 2.96 km in 18 mins (ave speed 9.9 km/hour, or 6:05 per km)
Averaging them all together, that's 10.2 km/hour. I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss the "breakneck" 10.7 km/hour that I managed last week but it's still above my goal, which is to maintain 10 km/hour so that I am actually running 10K when I finish the Bridge-to-10K plan. And, of course, speed is secondary to endurance at this point, anyway. The real accomplishment is having just run for 54 minutes!
Okay, so that's a lot of good stuff... but I mentioned at the start that there was bad news, too.
During the Bridge-to-10K runs, I have really been missing the "one minute warnings" that Laura used to give in Weeks 7 - 9. You know the ones I mean: She lets you know when you have sixty seconds left and encourages you to sprint, "finishing on a high note". Samantha does nothing of the sort, and I've been missing that.
As chance would have it, today's final run ended 61 minutes into the workout (5 min warm-up + 18 minutes running + 1 minute walking + 18 minutes running + 1 minute walking + 18 minutes running = 61 minutes). As noted earlier, the RunKeeper app gives updates on your time and pace every five minutes. I was ready for this, knowing that when the 60 minute update came through, I would have only 60 seconds left of running. I treated the update the same as I would one of Laura's "one minute warnings", and prepared to break into a final sprint!
Except that it didn't go so well. The immediate reaction to my attempt to "finish of a high note" was a searing pain in my right leg. As soon as I launched into my sprint, I felt a small explosion in my calf. Last month, I wrote a blog entry about pushing myself to run too fast... and causing a muscle tear in the process. I took it easy for a couple of weeks after, running slowly and allowing it time to heal before starting on my Bridge-to-10K challenge. Apparently, it had not healed as completely as I may have hoped.
Unwilling to lose this run in the final minute, I hobbled along in some bizarre cross between a run and a limp for the remaining sixty seconds. This probably contributed to my final interval being under 3 km. Similarly, I limped my way through the five minute cool-down, at a tortoise pace of 3.67 km/hour (compared to my over walking intervals from today, which averaged 6.4 km/hour). I may not have finished the run well... but, dang it, I did finish!
Not quite sure what to do from here, as it will depend on how my leg recovers. Ideally, I can continue with the Bridge-to-10K programme as planned, doing Week 4 Run 2 on Thursday. If my leg is still hurting, however, I may add a second rest day before doing the next run. If it turns out to be really bad, I may take a week off from running (eeep!), and maybe re-do Week 3 before moving on. I hope that won't be necessary, though.
I guess the best that I can say right now, my friends, is stay tuned!
Meanwhile, happy running!!