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?
wow I just found your blog and I love it!! I am a crazy runner as you can see on my blog, it’s simply what I’m passionate about.
I love how you give amazing details on the things that you post! I tried Insanity in the past but hurt myself doing it 🙂 overzealous I suppose, so I have been afraid to incorporate it in to marathon training.
Do you think starting with P90X made it more doable to put in in your program?
Insanity has been crazy! I can only really fit it in 3x/week and it’s still hard…I’ve done some research recently on high intensity workouts and although they do burn more fat, they also tend to wear you out more quickly and can lead to injury and illness. My boyfriend got sick 2x while we tried to do Insanity so he has stopped doing it. I think mixing P90X was easier because there were days on P90X where we just did upper body so I could easily run the same day. Doing Insanity AM and running intervals at night is HARD!
Glad that you like my blog! Sometimes I think I write in too much detail but I can’t help it! Glad to hear you like it 🙂