Last year during my run/walk speed experiments I was astonished to discover I could clock a faster mile by walking every fifth minute than by flat-out running.
Yesterday my sister and I made a similar discovery during our 30-20-10 speed workout. Though we weren’t necessarily paying attention to our mile times, we happened to notice at one point that we’d registered a 9-minute mile – which is pretty fast for us — despite the fact that we’d walked for two minutes straight in the middle of the darn thing.
During a 30-20-10, you jog for 30 seconds, switch into higher gear for 20 seconds and then sprint for 10 seconds. You do that four times, followed by a 2-minute recovery of walking or jogging, then start another set.
We did five sets during a four-mile workout that included a warmup and cooldown, and we walked our 2-minute recovery periods. We happened to notice our mile time on the third mile because we started one set at the 2-mile mark and finished the third segment of a second set at the 3-mile mark. One 4-minute set plus 2-minute recovery plus 3 minutes of another set = 9 minutes.
The cool thing about this realization is that it gives us something else to shoot for besides just getting through these workouts. Traci loves speed workouts, but I just kind of endure them, especially because now I’m always afraid my perpetually sore hamstring is gonna explode on me.
If you told us to go out and run a 9-minute mile, we wouldn’t necessarily know how to pace ourselves to do that. So it’s cool to realize that this pattern produces a 9-minute mile — and to think about using that as a potential building block toward putting together an unusual race strategy sometime.