Programming in a PR: Treadmill intervals

After getting my butt kicked in last week’s 200-meter intervals, I was desperate to change things up for Tuesday’s 8 x 400-meter workout.

My sister Traci on the treadmill in our parents' garage. This was an 8 mph quarter mile, which produces a 1:52.

My sister Traci on the treadmill in our parents’ garage. This was an 8 mph quarter mile, which produces a 1:52.

So instead of tearing off down a gnarly gravel road in the afternoon heat and humidity, hoping for a fast time but not very confident about achieving it, what if we punched the speed we wanted to run into the treadmill and just held on for dear life?

It was humid in my parents’ garage, but at least we were out of the sun. My sister and I alternated 5-minute warmups on the treadmill and stationary bike, then Traci went first, hitting the 8 mph button that produced a 1:52 quarter-mile – our best time from our previous session two weeks ago.

It was a little tough, I discovered when I took my turn, but not as much as I expected.

Next time around, I increased my speed partway through – to 8.3 mph, and then 8.5 mph. The result was disappointing. It’s not that it was so much harder, but my time was only 1 lousy second faster! Still, it was a PR.

On her 3rd interval, Traci upped the ante to 8.6 mph – a 7 minute per mile pace. That generated a 1:45.

If she’d run that on the road, it might’ve psyched me out. But I knew all I had to do was punch in the same number and I could match her. So I did.

On No. 4, Traci went for 9 mph – a 6:40 mile pace. She came off gasping for air, but she did it: Another PR, shaving off 5 seconds for a 1:40.

So did I – chanting “If Traci can do it, so can I!” in my head the whole way.

This was amazing. Here we were, halfway through, and we’d started at our previous PR and managed to set a new one every single time. We were sweating like pigs and our legs were getting shaky, but it was an awesome feeling.

We decided to go back down the ladder for the next three intervals, running No. 5 at 8.6 mph and the next two at 8 mph. Even though we were getting tired, it was amazing how “slow” that felt, considering at the start of the workout that was a PR.

After Traci wrapped up her last quarter-mile with another 8 mph-induced 1:52, I decided to try an experiment: Just for the heck of it, I wanted to see how long I could hold 10 mph, a 6-minute mile pace.

I lasted 45 seconds, the equivalent of a 220 (.125 mile), before dropping back to 9 mph and then, a few seconds later, 8 mph. The time was disappointing – only 1 second faster than our 9 mph interval, at 1:39 – but still, it was another PR.

And it came on the last interval of the day. How often does that happen?

Not sure why I wrote "10" instead of "8" for that last interval. Must've been getting light-headed at that point!

Not sure why I wrote “10” instead of “8” for that last interval. Must’ve been getting light-headed at that point!

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2 Responses to Programming in a PR: Treadmill intervals

  1. bgddyjim says:

    Nice! Now that’s some speed, baby! Nice job.

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