Never Summer training week five recap

Week five was my biggest of the season so far.

  • 9 hours, 14 minutes

  • 45 miles

  • 5968 feet D+

Twice the climbing, 3 more miles, and an hour more time on my feet than week 5 of last year. Five runs. A long bike ride and session of lifting weight at the gym. Heated flow yoga was extra spicy with sore quads. Back-to-back longish runs on the weekend.

Tuesday I trotted from my house to the gravel track at the site which was Fort Collins High School from 1925 to 1995, now the Colorado State University Center for the Arts, and did the workout I'd been dreading for a week. After strides on the track's infield and some stretching, I ran 4 5-minute intervals at 90% effort, with a minute of recovery between each interval, then trotted back home. I'll be working my way up to 8 faster intervals of the same length by June. The first set is the hardest.

How do I gauge my effort? Partly by feel and partly by measuring my heart rate and math. I use the Tanaka equation for my maximum heart rate.

max_hr_bpm = 208 - 0.7 * age_yrs

I'm 50 years old, and so the maximum heart rate of people like me is something like 173 beats per minute (bpm). 90% of this is 155 and the heart rate monitor in my Garmin watch said I was working at 155-165 bpm during the intervals. I'm curious about getting a more scientific measurement of my maximum heart rate, though I'd be surprised if I was far from the statistical norm. When I was 25, I used to run uphill intervals at what I thought was 95% effort and could sustain 180 bpm. That was right on the Tanaka line.

In 2016, I got an electrocardiogram in France, which is a fairly routine part of physical checkups that are required to participate in club sports and ultramarathons. The doctor said my heart was fine, but also wanted me to understand that he saw a risk of permanent heart damage for older athletes who push hard. I'm trying to be mindful of this and get the benefits of intense training without injuring my favorite muscle. If I am working with a slight underestimate of my maximum heart rate, that's fine. I'm not in this for money or glory, it's all about sustainable fun and health.

Saturday I joined folks who have been training for Quad Rock for a group run from the Eltuck picninc area at Lory State Park. We went up Well Gulch, the Timber Trail, Westridge, down Howard, connected to Mill Creek, went up Mill Canyon, and then did it all in reverse. Almost 18 miles and over 4100 feet of climbing. We had beautifully balmy spring weather and pretty good trail conditions, packed snow degrading into wet slush only at the very end of the run. I ran in shorts and a t-shirt the entire time. My feet got a little wet, but I didn't blister, and only crashed on ice and snow once thanks to my screwed shoes.

The local foothill trails have been closed for two weeks but were reopened yesterday. I went out for a shorter hilly run today at Pineridge and Maxwell and after a couple of miles my legs felt great. I love back-to-back long runs and not in a masochistic way, it just feels good to simmer the stiffness away, see some different trails, and revisit some of the thoughts and ideas I had the day before.