Q: "My question is, I used to run in the 7 minute range and now I'm in the 8.5 range, even worst I can't seem to train at a pace better than 9 to 10 per mile. I'm hoping its because I haven't been running or my location (Iraq) but its not hot any longer so why the higher heart rate and slower times. I'm 35, and trying to be a triathlete. I'm looking for a good speed workout, I guess. Thank You."
A: Coach Patrick: I have to say that the fact you are continuing your training while serving in Iraq is absolutely amazing. Anyone complaining about motivational issues should look no further!!! To get to your question, however, losing speed in the heat isn't surprising. While you didn't mention specific temperatures, I think it's safe to assume that the weather in Iraq isn't exactly conducive to outdoor training. When the temp goes up, our body has to work twice as hard - both to circulate blood to our muscles to move at the speed you are demanding and to keep your body cool. So the harder you work, the more your body needs to work to stay cool...hopefully you can see where this is going.
With the temps dropping now, there are a lot of other corresponding factors that could be hindering your performance: poor sleep, stress, diet, etc. It could also be that your body hasn't run 7-min pace in so long that the muscle memory for that speed isn't there. I would suggest two workouts. #1 is a steady run, say 8-9 min pace, with some strides at the end; total run should be 45-60 mins. Strides are 4-6 repeats of 20 seconds of running at all out pace with walk-back recoveries. This will be good to keep you sharp without stressing you too much. #2 is an interval workout of about 45 mins, where you warm up 20 mins and then do 15 reps of 30 seconds fast, 30 seconds jogging...then cool down 10 mins. This interval workout will stress your high-end aerobic capacity / VO2 max levels without pushing you over the edge. You can supplement these runs with 2-3 other runs at basic endurance pace and core strength as your schedule permits...after approx 6 weeks you should be seeing some results!
Keep us posted on your progress and good luck!
Posted: October 13, 2006