Week five was my biggest of the season so far.
9 hours, 14 minutes
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
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