Total time of 54:00
TLDR: 2 x 0.6 miles hard in 4:48 and 4:53 (uphill). 1 mile hard downhill in 4:30.
Full Version: For today's run I wanted to build off of the idea that I need to build strength/speed, specifically at distances 400m-1mile. I have also felt like I need to learn to utilize my quads more when running, so I decided to run uphill repeats on the same stretch of road where I ran an all out uphill mile a few weeks ago. I felt like a mile was too long for the repeats, so I ran the repeats on the 0.6 mile stretch (approx. 313 ft elevation gain) starting where the road turns to go up towards the rodeo grounds, and ending at the parking lot to the national forest. My original plan was to run 3 of these repeats, however after running 2 of them I felt like I should practice running fast too, rather than just running hard at a slow pace, so I ran a hard downhill mile (approx. 416 ft elevation loss) on the same stretch of road (I was also curious to see how fast I could "fall" down the mountain as I knew that the grade was so steep that I would be unable to actually run all out without more practice running downhill).
I made it to my starting point in a little over 15:30, and I jogged around a little more until I hit 16:00 so that I could have an even starting time. The first rep started off well, and my quads were burning within the first 30 seconds because of the steepness of the grade. My breathing quickly caught up and acted as a limiting factor. There were a few times when I attempted to surge in order to keep the pace faster and avoid getting complacent. Each time I did so my quads reminded me why I had slowed down to begin with, but I was happy to at least attempt to increase the pace even if it was not sustainable. I finished the first rep in 4:48 (average 8:00 pace) and immediately turned around to go back to the starting line.
I made it back to the start line a little before 25:30, and I estimate that I averaged about 7:35 pace during my recovery as I ran back down the mountain. I jogged a few seconds more and started the second rep right at 25:30. I don't feel like I started the second rep as strongly as I started the first (still feeling a little fatigued from the first rep), and I feel like that is where the majority of the slowdown between reps came from. After the first minute or so I feel like things were pretty equal. I attempted to surge a couple times during this rep like I did during the first, and near the end I also tried to focus more on sustaining a strong pace without the surges. I finished this rep in 4:53 (8:08 pace).
After I finished the second rep I ran around some of the trails at the entrance to the national forest until my watch hit 35:00 (recovery of a little over 4:30). I then stopped my watch and walked over to the start point for the downhill mile. I rested for another minute or two before starting the mile. The mile did not feel as hard as the 0.6 mile repeats, but I could still feel the fatigue in my legs from the uphill repeats as I ran down the hill. My feet were getting shoved to the fronts of my shoes, making me wish that I had tied my shoes differently. I could also tell that I don't have lots of recent downhill running experience as running down the hill felt uncomfortable to the point that I felt like I was unable to utilize the elevation loss adequately. Once I hit the 0.6 mile mark (split time of 2:38, average pace of 4:23) the grade levels off a little, only dropping about 100 ft over the last 0.4 (compared to over 300 ft during the first 0.6). It was at this point that I started to really feel my legs burn as I finally had to start working harder to maintain the pace I was running at. I ended up hitting the mile mark at 4:30 (1:52 last 0.4, average split pace of 4:40), making this the fastest mile that I have run since the beginning of the Des News 10k back in 2010 (I think I split sub 9:00 for the first 2 miles that day), although I may have run a mile faster on the treadmill back in early 2011... I'll have to check. Maybe if I keep at it I will be able to break 4:30 for a legit (flat road or track) mile someday as I never made the effort to do so when I was younger.
After finishing this mile I kept the effort easy for the last 14:30 of the run until I reached the house in 54:00. My legs felt pretty fatigued during the cooldown. I'm hoping that this will provide a good stimulus for improvement moving forward. At some point once I finish building up to my initial goal base mileage (1:20:00 per run M-F plus a long run) I may also start running 3 hard workouts per week instead of 2.