The piles of snow are (almost) melted and the streets are clear and dry. The temperatures spend more time hovering above the freezing mark than they spend below it and I've dropped two layers of running clothes already.
So basically I have no more excuses.
It's time to get back into hill and speed training again.
I tend to avoid it during the cold winter months because a) the freezing air wreaks havoc on my lungs when I'm gasping for breath and b) the roads around our home always have some degree of snow or ice cover and it feels a little too dangerous to be tearing around a corner at breakneck speed in the dark over unpredictably slippery roads.
So I don't do it and, to be honest, it's a nice break.
Like most cyclical activities though, after a bit of time away from them, I'm ready to get back at it.
Yesterday morning I got up early, pulled on my running clothes and filled a water bottle. I strolled to the end of my driveway, put the water bottle on the top of my car, and headed out for an easy 1.5k warmup around the neighbourhood. At exactly 1.5k I was back at my car. I hit 'lap' on my watch, stretched my calves and sipped water for two minutes and then hit lap again as I headed off for an 800m sprint.
I love the fact that one time around my block is exactly 800m. I start at my car and end at my car and don't have to do much thinking other than to remember to turn the corners.
I usually do 6 or 8 times 800m when I do this workout but I figured I'd start with 5 since it has been months since I've run this hard.
It went something like this.
Sprint 800m. Hit lap on the watch. Check out my time and my heart rate. Try to get my breathing back under control while I stretch my calves. Do it again once my two minute rest was up. After the 5th one I turned off my watch and headed inside for breakfast, feeling energized and strong.
My 800m times were:
My heart rate at the end of each interval was 174 beats per minute. Since my max heart rate (based on my hill running experiment last fall) is 180bpm, I was running at just under 97% of my max before I dropped back down to 115 or so during the rest break.
Each 800m felt pretty tough and I don't think I could have gone much faster but they didn't kill me. I spent the day feeling energized rather than exhausted and nothing felt tight or sore afterwards.
Next week - hill training!