Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Following the FIRST program, I ran an interval speed workout tonight . One mile slow, then 4 x 800 splits at paces listed in the FIRST book. Then a mile or so cooldown.  For those who are not versed in speed workout out terms (which I really am not either), that means running 800 meters 4 times at a certain pace. Also, there is a rest interval of about 2 minutes between each 800 meter sprint.

FIRST has me running my 800 meter interval in 3:12. I run most of my miles on a treadmill, which posed an interesting quandary: how to figure out the proper treadmill speed setting to run the interval. And the book lists about 5 different intervals I will eventually use, and I might change my goal pace, so I thought I would create a simple Excel spreadsheet to do it. To spare everyone the hour of my life it consumed, I didn't find an elegant Excel solution.* So, anyway, to cut to the chase, that translated into a 9.3 mph treadmill setting. That is fast for me. That was also going to mean lots of treadmill speed changing and to avoid having to think, I actually wrote out the workout on a little Post-it to stick to the treadmill while I ran. (The post it was eventually soaked with sweat and fell off.)

It was a good workout; not a crushing one, just solid and challenging. The 800 meters were a good interval distance for me. Enough to be challenging, but not so much that I thought I wouldn't make it. It sure made the workout fly by, too. I was always looking at the clock to see how much of the interval I had or how much time until the next one. I did 5 miles before I knew what happened. And I am not completely wiped out. As much as I had been dreading this workout, it actually felt great. Maybe this FIRST thing isn't going to grind me into the ground.

I also ran all of these paces at the treadmill listed pace. My footpod -- which is calibrated with my GPS watch -- always has me running faster (and thus farther), but that is another post for another time.

My Nike Lunar Trainers are set to arrive Friday. I can't wait. I'll probably take them for a quick spin Friday night and then maybe use them on the Saturday 15 miler. But tomorrow is a rest day. Ahhh...

* It is easily done on paper I know. The first step is to convert 3:12 per 800 meters into a per mile pace. Easy enough, even in Excel, but then try taking that per pace and calculating miles per hour -- all in excel, using the formulas rather than just setting it up to do the math. I figured out a way, but it was basically using excel as a calculator and not the best way.


  1. Hmmm...I did my intervals on the treadmill yesterday too, but doubt that the effort is equivalent to the same effort if I were to do them on the track. One reason I know this is because my heart rate doesn't go as high when I'm doing intervals on the 'mill as it does on track. Also, it just felt easier, because I just had to maintain pace and not set the pace as I would outdoors.

    I try to compensate for this by setting the incline up a bit to 0.5 or 1.0 when I'm doing intervals on the treadmill, but still haven't found the effort to be equivalent.

    Will work more on this the next time it rains and I have to resort to intervals on the treadmill again!

  2. I'm sort of lazy and just consider that 800m is about a half mile, so a 3:12 800m equals *about* a 6:24 m/m pace. I choose whatever pace is closest to that on the treadmill. Does your treadmill not have mile/minute data fields?

    I'm doing FIRST too, btw...and I do my intervals on the treadmill now as well (due to the heat outside). I'm curious what your "rest" interval pace is? IIRC, FIRST doesn't specify that pace...but I pulled mine from the Mcmillian online calculator.

  3. You my friend, are a machine. How great is rest day? Mine is tomorrow too and I am totally looking forward to it. Hope you like your new shoes.

  4. I just do not understand how everyone does speed work on the treadmill?!?!? Seriously, I think I need a live demonstration. I don't get it. I also loathe the dreadmill and refuse to run on one unless I have absolutely no choice. (Read: Hurricane or other impending natural disaster) Kudos to you for figuring out the workout and getting it done. I've seen so many people talk of this FIRST program that I think I want to read into it... just so I have a better understanding of it. It sounds so intense. Keep up the great running!

  5. Still so surreal.. I did that exact same workout on Monday, but I also prefer the track over the "dreadmill".

    And to finish off your spreadsheet, all you have to do is convert the pace to minutes/mile, so that 6:24 would actually be 6 + 24/60 = 6.4, then divide that into 60 --> 60/6.4 = 9.375.

    Is that what you were looking for?

  6. Now I see what you mean...

    How familiar are you with VBA? You could write a function that converts text times to mph in no time

  7. Speedwork on a treadmill? Do you live in a cave or something? That's hardcore man. I loathe 800's. My favorite this season are mile repeats. Not sure why. I think 800's are just twice as painfull as 400's (which I love). Good luck with FIRST. Never used it, but heard lots of good things about it.

  8. I agree with the Laminator. When I did my repeats inside, my heart rate does not go up as high as when I do them outside, even though I had the 'mill set to 1.5 incline.
    But regardless, great workout, and I totally write my pace/distance/inclines on a paper too, and bust a$$ on the treadmill and everyone else is like, who is this crazy chick? haha


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