Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Humidity Workout: 800s and 400s

DC summer has finally struck, and I guess I can't really complain (it is almost June). Last night was my first hot and humid workout. Oof. At workout time (7pm), it was 78 degrees with 71% humidity. Definitely not the worst I've ever run in, but still uncomfortable. 

(The picture is me, all kinds of overheated during my Saturday night race...also exhibiting some weirdly twisted form...what can I say? It was the last few meters of the race!)

When the weather is not ideal, it's important to adjust workouts accordingly. Due to the humidity, Coach George opted for a workout of shorter repeat distances.

Though short and fast reps may feel difficult, they actually make more sense when it's hot and humid. Each rep takes less time; therefore, your body has less time to overheat, and more frequent recovery periods to cool off. 

The most important part of this (and most) workouts is to keep your pace consistent. My last 800m was about 5 seconds slower than my first, and my last 400m was just 4 seconds slower. All my times were within that range. If you find yourself running your last reps 5-10+ seconds slower than your first reps, you are probably starting too fast. Re-adjust to find a pace that is difficult but manageable for the entire workout.

We did 4 sets of 800m, 400m. Normally we would rest just half the repeat distance, but since it was so hot, George felt merciful and gave us a full 400 meters between each hard run.  Also, you'll notice that this is technically 8 reps...but trust me, it's much much easier if you think of it as 4 sets (it's a mental thing)...4 is much more manageable than 8.

800s/400s Track Workout 

Warm Up:
Jog 15 minutes, stretch, strides.

1. 800m (400m jog recovery), 400m (400m jog recovery)
2. 800m (400m jog recovery), 400m (400m jog recovery)
3. 800m (400m jog recovery), 400m (400m jog recovery)
4. 800m (400m jog recovery), 400m (400m jog recovery)

Cool Down:
Jog 10-30 minutes slowly. Stretch. Hydrate!

If you don't have access to a track, you can still do this workout. Take your 5K race pace per mile, and divide it by 2 for the 800s, and by 2 again for the 400s. Then run that amount of time hard on a trail, or wherever you normally run. For example, if your most recent 5K time was 28:00, that means your pace per mile was about 9:00. Therefore, for the 800s you should shoot for running 4:30 hard, and for the 400s it's about 2:15 (try a bit faster if you can manage it - you might surprise yourself!).

And of course, when it's summertime, make sure you're really really really well hydrated before, during, and after your workouts!

Check out my Tips for running in DC humidity on Examiner. And my Hydration article.