Saturday, June 21, 2008

Off Track

For the past two weeks I didn't have access to a track.  During week one I was in Bangkok, Thailand.  From a previous trip there I knew that attempting any kind of serious running outside would be fruitless.  Each day I was in Bangkok I did the best I could to simulate my daily track workouts by running on a treadmill.  I warmed up at a leisurely pace for 0.8K.  Then I ran 2.42K at a pace that was meant to approximate what I would probably would have been running on the track at home.  Day one my pace was 13.7K/hour and each day I increased the pace by 0.1K/hour.  So, by day 6, my pace was 14.2K/hour.
There are numerous problems, I think, with running on a treadmill.  The biggest one though is that it really isn't running.  It is more like a simulation of running that gives some of the exercise benefits of running, but doesn't actually prepare one for actual running.  Let's see what others think about this:
Week 2 was in primarily in Tokyo with one overnight in Kyoto.  In Tokyo, I decided to use some of the same route that I normally run.  I thought I was choosing a flat stretch.  It turns out that most of the 0.75 miles in the out direction was uphill.  I just had never noticed before because I had never focused on running at a respectable pace on that route.  Between running uphill, and not having the benefit of being on a track where it is really easy to know what is going on in terms of pace, my Tokyo runs were much slower than I had been running in Charlottesville.  In Tokyo I was averaged about 8:00 minutes/mile.  I also think that a week of treadmill running had slowed me down.
In Kyoto, right behind my hotel I found a nice flat stretch that was about 0.17 miles long (thank you GPS wristwatch).  I was disappointed with my one mile run there, not running much faster than 8:00.  Factors that made for slowing running in Kyoto were:  (1) Being somewhat disoriented by running back and forth on the street as opposed to the familiarity of running laps around a track; (2) turns--it really costs a lot of time to have to turn around; and (3) forgetting how to run fast as being off track for two weeks.
My conclusion from this experience is that each time I go someplace where I don't have a track to run on it will be difficult to improve, and more likely, I will regress.  On the other hand, maybe the breaks will somehow help by providing a certain level of forced rest.  On the third hand, how much rest is needed when the entire workout is only 1.5 miles.

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