Yesterday I decided to do my weekly Yasso 800 workout outdoors instead of on the treadmill. I didn’t realize what a mental battle it would be to do this workout outdoors! Typically I do this workout on the treadmill because I don’t have a lit running track nearby and that is the easiest way to perform this speed workout. On the treadmill, I set the incline to 1% and then do a warm-up (5-10 min) then kick up the speed for a 1/2 mile and then back it down. Although the intervals are difficult, mentally they are easy because I tend to zone out and just concentrate on keeping up with the moving belt below me.
Yasso 800s with the Garmin
I set out on tired legs yesterday for my 6 1/2 mile intervals. I finally decided to try the “interval” setting on my Garmin watch for the first time and was pleased to find that it worked perfectly. I just had to plug in the following data into the Garmin, hit start and go:
- Type: Distance (time is another option)
- Duration: 0.50 miles
- Rest Type: Distance (time is another option)
- Rest Duration: 0.25 miles
- Reps: 6
- Warm-up? Yes
- Cool-down? Yes
After a brief stretch, I headed south for my normal coastal run. Since I had programmed the watch for warm-up, I assumed that when I was finished with my warm-up, I’d hit the lap button. I was right. After 1 mile, I hit the bottom right button of my watch and it immediately beeped and told me to start Interval 1. My normal coastal route has a bit of a downhill incline on the way out and an incline on the way back. If I could chose, I’d reverse it, but it is what it is. It probably builds some mental strength to save the hills for last.
Honestly I wasn’t feeling this workout after having two long days over the weekend and a double workout day that ended with an intense round of Insanity the night before. I told myself to try the first interval and if I was feeling completely wasted, then I could skip it and change it to a easy jog. Little did I know, the wind was in my favor and combined with the net decline, the first interval didn’t feel so bad. My goal was a 3:50 split, which is a 7:40 min/mile pace. The only bad thing about the Garmin’s interval setting is that it doesn’t show you your average pace for the interval. I had to keep looking down to figure out what pace I was at. I ended up doing the first interval at a 7:30 average pace.
The Garmin beeped loudly, announcing that I deserved my 1/4 mile recovery jog. I gladly took it, averaging a 9:35 min/mile. It was over quickly and I was back on it for the 2nd interval, finishing it at a 7:18 min/mile. The next 1/4 recovery was a quick one – 8:43 pace – due to a nice hill that I ran down. The third Yasso was right on target – 7:39 pace. As soon as I finished this interval, it was time to turn around.
I turned around straight into some hardcore wind. Immediately my attitude shifted from positive to negative. I wasn’t feeling so great after the first 3 miles and now I had to do 3 more tough intervals uphill and into this wind!? I nearly gave up. I walked for a bit during the next rest period and then gave myself a compromise. Do the next interval hard, but don’t worry about pace. I figured this interval would most likely be slower than my 7:40 target, but I also figured it was better than nothing. This also happened to be the most hilly part of the route.
Intervals Outdoors = Physical AND Mental Workout
This is where I decided that running intervals outdoors is WAY harder than on the treadmill. Despite a stunning sunset over the Pacific Ocean to my left, all I could do was curse myself for deciding to leave behind my nice steady treadmill which leaves out the mental aspect of intervals. Instead, I played a game with myself where I kept looking at my watch, cursing the hill and the wind, trying to speed up, slowing down when I got distracted, and ultimately pulling out a 8:08 min/mile pace. I walked for a bit between this interval and the next, which ended up also being a 8:08 and finally got it together for the last interval, hitting a 7:49 min/mile average. It was fairly disheartening given that the previous week I had busted out my 6 Yassos on the treadmill with enough energy to sprint the final quarter mile of the last interval. I also kept my recovery jogs between 9 -9:30 min/miles.
All in all, my average pace on the intervals was 7:45 and my average for the full 6 miles, including warm-up and cool-down was 8:56. Compare this to last week where my average overall pace was 8:15 and each interval was exactly on pace (or faster). I know that I felt more fatigued this time, but I also think that my decrease in performance had a lot to do with being outdoors. It is mentally tough to maintain a pace that is uncomfortable and I think that doing my intervals outdoors is a good “mental workout.” Not to mention the wind and hills added some distractions and difficulty. During the marathon I won’t have a treadmill underneath me to make sure that I stick to my desired race pace. Rather, I’ll have to stay focused and monitor it myself.
Mental Slacking at Rock n Roll Marathon
My time goal at my first marathon, the San Diego Rock n Roll marathon, was to break 4 hours. This was actually my B goal, as my A goal was to finish the race. Well, I did finish and achieve my primary goal, coming across the finish line in 4 hours and 2 minutes. In retrospect, I think that some concentration on my pace earlier in the race could have made the difference between 3:59:59 and 4:02:00. By the time I realized that we were 2 minutes away from our goal, we were too tired and mentally exhausted to push through and increase our pace by 1 min/mile to reach it. However, I think if those 120 seconds had been spread out throughout the previous 23 miles, we probably wouldn’t have felt much different.
My A goal for the Surf City Marathon is to break 4 hours. My B goal is to hit 3:50:00, which is why I am performing my 800 meter intervals in 3 minute 50 seconds. My run yesterday provided me with a valuable lesson in pacing and mental toughness. Now if only I can convince myself to do my next set of Yassos outdoors….
Where do you do your speed-work? Do you workout with a group or on your own? Do you head to the treadmill, track or the street?