Chasing a Sub-6 Mile – Update #1

It’s been a couple of weeks since I declared that I’m attempting to run a sub-6 minute mile and it’s time for an update.  Here’s the link to the first post:  Chasing a Sub-6 Minute Mile

The summer here in the midwest has been typical – hot and humid – and my efforts have been influenced by that.  It’s no surprise that the hot weather will produce slower times and my running has fallen in line with that.  But I have been training fairly consistently and I’m seeing a few positives come my way.  And the weather this week turned much cooler and less humid, so I decided to give it another go.

First, I’ve dropped about 10 pounds from what I weighed over the winter months.  This winter weight gain is something I struggle with every year, but I generally lose the extra weight by mid-summer.  I currently weigh about 167 pounds, so another five or so pounds less might make me a little quicker.  I’ll keep that in mind.

The second positive is I ran to the local junior high school track last week and did a speedwork session of 4×400 repeats with a 400 recovery between each one.  It was a warm day and somewhat windy.  I wasn’t trying to do it for any other purpose other than to put in some work at a faster pace.  But I was very happy to see that I turned in those 400-meter laps in 1:30, exactly the time I need to be at a 6-minute mile.  Now, each 400 was followed by a recovery 400 in which allowed my heart rate and breathing to recover.  If I could string those four laps together though I would meet my goal.  I’m not counting that workout as an official attempt because it was broken into four segments, but I did get a huge confidence boost from it.

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I learned a little about pacing those 400’s as well.  The first one seemed to be the hardest. I went hard from the start and felt like I was fading at the end.  The second 400 was run similarly.  When I did my third and fourth 400 I decided to hold back at the beginning and little and push hard at the end.  That seemed to be the best way to approach it as I didn’t feel like I was dying by the end of 200 meters and staggering at the end.  That will probably be my approach to any further efforts and time trial runs.  Also, I am aware that I only ran 1600 meters and a mile is 1609 meters, so I will have to keep that in mind if I do further time trials on the track instead of the trail/road.

 

AUGUST 4, 2020 – Attempt Number 2

  • TIME:  6:25.2
  • WHERE:  MOKENA JR. HIGH SCHOOL TRACK
  • WEATHER:  72 degrees, cool wind from the north, low humidity – a perfect day
  • LEAD-UP:  A rest day prior and an easy-paced 3-mile warm-up
  • COMMENTS:  This wasn’t going to be an official attempt as I was planning on just doing 8×200 and some 100 repeats, but it was such a nice day I decided to give it a go.  I’m glad I did.  My previous attempt came in at 6:32, so to shave off 7 seconds seems to be meaningful.  I’m still 26 seconds away from going sub-6, but at least I am moving in the right direction, time-wise.  The weather was definitely a factor, and I did also hold myself back a little at the beginning of the mile.  I wish I had hit my splits, but forgot on the first lap and then just went with it.  Here’s to progress!

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Chasing a Sub-6 Minute Mile

With the 2020 racing season canceled thanks to the dumb Covid-19 Coronavirus, I was left with a big hole where my Ironman training and race was.  What to do, what to do?  I thought about it for a little while and realized that I didn’t want to keep training for an Ironman that wasn’t going to happen and that I should probably dial it back some and maybe use this year as sort of a recovery from the heavy training I had been doing the past couple of years.  Yeah…  not going to happen.

Back in June I did something during my training that sparked an interest in me.  I work in law enforcement in a part-time, non-sworn support position, and I joined my department for the annual Torch Run to benefit Special Olympics.  I rode my bike about eight miles to get there that afternoon, ran the two miles with some coworkers to satisfy the event, and then for kicks I decided to see how fast I could run a mile.  I did it in 6:35.  And I thought, could I possibly run a sub-6 minute mile?  At age 56 and change?  It was definitely something I began to think about.

A month later, right after the race got canceled, I texted my Gunner teammates and  advised them that I was deferring my Ironman to Chattanooga in 2021 and that I was not going to follow the training plan for the rest of the year.  I also advised that I was going to shoot for the sub-6 minute mile.

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Johnny replied with this:

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Okay, now the game is ON!  Actually, I’m not sure if John was laughing at my super long text about what I was doing, or that I had declared that I was attempting another stupid goal.  John knows me well and knows that I will obsess over something that no normal person would do – the running streak that turned into 3+ years is a good example.  That’s probably it.  But whatever, I’m going for it!

In addition to the first time trial mile, I’m going to try to do at least one one-mile time trial per week.  I will still do my typical three bikes a week and run on alternating days.  I am going to add some speed sessions to my run workouts and probably run some hill repeats as well.  My Ironman training plan had some intervals and repeats in them, but I want to focus a little more on shorter and harder efforts.

I’m starting this in mid-July, and it’s been hot and humid lately.  I hope to see improvement throughout the next month, but I will probably need a very good weather day for my attempt.  I’m also looking to scope out the best location to do the mile.  A slight descent on a straight, uninterrupted portion of the trail might be a good option.  I considered doing it on the track, but my son Ben said that GPS doesn’t work very well on the track if I want to use that as my official certifying distance and time.  I do want proof.  The last time I attempted a mile personal best was when I was in my late twenties, on an indoor track at Highland Park, IL High School.  Ten laps around the small indoor track was a mile and I spent a few weeks working my way down to a 5:29 minute personal best.  It was just me and the track and my Timex back then, so not all that official.  I’m also thinking of having Ben pace me on my serious attempts.  He’s game and that’s no problem for the kid.

Below is a short journal of my recent attempts:

 

JUNE 11, 2020 – The Mile That Woke Me Up

  • TIME:  6:35.2
  • WHERE:  New Lenox Commons, approximately 1/3 mile loops
  • WEATHER:  Sunny, windy, warm and humid, midday
  • LEAD UP:  I biked to get there, ran an easy two-mile warm-up, then did the mile
  • COMMENTS:  The loop has an incline and decline and it was a little windy that day

 

JULY 19, 2020 – The First Attempt

  • TIME:  6:32.1
  • WHERE:  LINCOLN-WAY CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL TRACK
  • WEATHER:  Mid-70’s but very warm and humid following a day-long storm
  • LEAD-UP:  I jogged a three-mile warm-up to get there and that was probably one mile too many.
  • COMMENTS:  I strained my back earlier in the day and was having a little discomfort with that, but I still ran as hard as I could.  The track definitely felt warmer than when I was running in the shade on the trail to get there.  I was forced to use lane 4 as my lane as lanes 1, 2, and 3 were flooded out from the storm in one turn from the earlier rain.  Ben was right when he said that GPS may not record me very accurately on the track.
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I was in lane 4 the entire time.  Nice job, GPS.  That last diagonal line is when I finished the mile and then hit resume after walking 100 meters.
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Mile 4 was my time trial mile.

 

Here are the links to the attempt updates:

Chasing a Sub-6 Mile – Update #1