Hello friends and neighbors. I hope that your Tuesday tasks aren’t hellaciously hairy.
My Tuesday has been anything but typical. As part of my action plan to pick up my pace I tried a new track workout AND some new fuel for my morning run. My track workout consisted of: a two mile warm up, three sets of 4x400m at 5K pace with 200m recovery jog between intervals. I rested with 2 minutes of walking between sets, then ran home.
The new fuel that I tried was a teeny-tiny power pill made out of blue-green algae.
I was sent a free sample of a cool product called Energy Bits, encouraged to try them out and share my opinions with you, my gentle readers.
Energy Bits are concentrated capsules containing a blend of the blue-green algae Spirulina species. Each bit clocks in at one calorie and boasts an impressive array of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
It might seem strange to pop thirty green pills directly before a workout.
However, when you really think about it, tiny tabs of compressed algae aren’t any weirder than the space-age packets of complex carbohydrates that we runners slurp down mid-race on a regular basis.
I must admit that I felt pretty dreadful at the end of my track workout this morning.
I’m also aware, as a scientist, that changing two variables at once is a TERRIBLE approach to conducting an experiment. My workout AND my nutrition were both new-to-me. How can I tell if a particular perturbation is responsible for an observed effect if I haven’t kept all of my other conditions constant?
This is why I am reserving judgement, for the time being, on the new fuel that I fed my face with this morning. I like that EnergyBits are an all natural fuel-source, and I like the idea of eating algae, so I intend to keep experimenting with these little plant-based nutrition pills. I will write up a full review, with my thoughts on the science behind the subject, in a later post.
For now I thought I would share tips and tricks on track etiquette. Speed workouts all involve running a specified distance at a prescribed pace. That’s fine, in theory, but the twisty-turny-stoplight-and-hill-filled reality of the road can make it tricky to actually achieve your intended 3 x mile repeats at 10K pace. Hitting the oval is a great resource for speed development: you don’t need a fancy GPS, or a heart rate monitor, or a hyperbaric chamber. All you need is a positive attitude, a watch, and the ability to multiply by four.
The track is flat and even. There’s no possible way to get lost while you run laps. I find the combination of repetition and all-out effort makes facilitates quieting my mind’s default mode network to find a flow state. However, it can be intimidating to sneak onto your local high school’s football field for the first time.
To maximize the effects of your exercise (and avoid pissing off your fellow runners) here are a few rules of the road for track workouts.
1) Have a plan. Write out your intended intervals and recovery periods before you get to the track. Otherwise you’ll wind up running in circles.
2) Stick to the outer lanes if you are running slow.
3) Call out “track” if you want to pass someone.
4) Run counter-clockwise.
5) Be aware of other runners. If you hear someone approaching, let them pass.
5) Be predictable: don’t suddenly switch lanes, switch directions, come to a dead stop, or bust out into a Carmen Miranda musical interlude.
Thanks for dropping by! Now let’s discuss:
Track workouts: Love ’em or hate ’em? What are your favorites?
Algae as runner-fuel: Too weird, or too cool?
I used to take a blue-green algae supplement for a hangover cure while I was in college. I had never considered the possibility of getting calories from Cyanobacteria.