Tuesday, June 27, 2006

In Search of Flatlands...

I live in a hilly area so I'm usually going either up or down at any point during a run. Most times this doesn't bother me, and although I'm not the biggest fan of running uphill, at least I know the hills are good for my training.

All of this does bother me when I'm running a tempo or marathon pace (MP) effort. It's hard for me to maintain a steady pace/effort when I'm climbing or going downhill.

For example, this morning I wanted to run a MP run and decided to try a new route in hopes of finding as much flat sections as possible. After a 2.5 mile warmup, I slowly ramped up to what I thought was my goal MP effort (sub 3 hours or 6:51 a mile). However, I was still feeling tired from my 17 miler on Sunday, and it was a struggle for the first few miles.

The route I chose started off relatively flat before hitting a 1+ mile straight section that gently inclines. I then turned off into a residential area and ran a section I had never run before so I was counting on the Garmin Forerunner 305 to measure it accurately. What I wasn't counting on were the hills. A couple of parts were rolling and then the road climbed steadily, but not too severely for about a half mile. It was not fun.

When I reached the top I turned around and retraced my route. so that the inclines became downhills and vice versa. I ended up going around 6.1 miles @ 6:48 pace, but due to the ups and downs the pace was up and down as well. Splits were: 6:56, 6:49, 7:10, 6:49, 6:39, 6:38.

Only after I examined the training data in SportTracks and MotionBased, did I realize the elevation change was much more than I thought. The out portion climbed roughly 240 feet, and the return dropped about the same amount. No wonder the first few miles felt slow and tiring.

I'm wondering what type of route is best for future tempo and MP runs. I can use a flatter 1.85 mile loop or opt for more variety and tolerate all the uphills and downhills. Then again there's always the track, but that gets to be quite mind numbing in its own right after more than 12 laps....