Mile Markers: Smoke Storm

Mile Markers: Smoke Storm

The week started out with a smoke storm. I found myself missing the humidity of previous weeks, because at least 95% humidity means you can still be outdoors. On the other hand, once the air quality hits the unhealthy zone, I was cautious and stayed indoors on the treadmill until the smoke lifted.

Our air quality was so horrible early in the week that the local news media discouraged vacuuming. Yes, vacuuming – because of how it can kick up dust and possibly ash particles. We couldn’t leave our windows open, which is rough when you don’t have A/C (very few homes/apartments in the Seattle area do). Thankfully, the smoke lifted near the end of the week. Sure, the forecasts warn it will worsen again this week, but I savored those outdoor runs I got. 

I’ll be honest though: I had a hard time putting in the mileage this week, between being stuck on the treadmill and how the smoke made me feel. I ran 35 miles this week, which is okay, but not what I would hope to be running for less than two months out from a half marathon.

Mile Markers: Smoke Storm

Monday: 7 miles on the treadmill

You know that sensation at the start of a run when you aren’t fully warmed up and everything feels sluggish, including the passage of time? That sensation is exaggerated on the treadmill, at least for me. The first couple miles were a slog, and then everything clicked into place and I comfortably finished off 7 miles. 

Tuesday: 4 mile tempo run (7 miles total) & Pilates

Our air quality had been in the red zone for about 24 hours at this point, and I was beginning to feel the effects, including dry, scratchy eyes. I had problems with my contacts early in the morning, but managed to fix them before a treadmill run. 

I did a continuous tempo run for 4 miles, except I slightly changed the pace or incline every 1/4 mile to keep the run interesting. I averaged around a 7:10/mile pace for the 4 miles. 

Mile Markers: Smoke Storm

I initially had the intention to go to the gym, but I felt blah from the smoke – a mild headache and itchy eyes – so I opted for gentle Pilates instead.

Wednesday: Strength training

Even though I am a morning runner, I prefer to strength train later in the day. After work, I met Ryan at the gym. I did barbell deadlifts, hip thrusts, TRX rows, lunge stance single arm presses, and box jumps. This was a really fun workout! 

Mile Markers: Smoke Storm

Thursday: 5 mile run

I wasn’t sure how bad the air quality was early in the morning (the EPA site had been crashed on and off due to high traffic), so I played it safe with another treadmill run. In terms of treadmill runs, this one felt pretty good. I set the pace to an easy effort (9:06/mile avg) and programmed in rolling hills with the virtual scenery. I listened to a podcast while running. Currently, I’m binging on “On Coaching” by Steve Magness and Jonathan Marcus, and I really enjoyed their episode on threshold training during this run.

Later that day, the smoke finally lifted! I threw open the windows, vacuumed, and we took the dogs on a long walk. 

Friday: 13 mile fartlek long run

I ran outdoors! The air quality briefly dipped into the yellow/moderate zone, just in time for my long run. I threw some fartleks into my long run for variety and a different training stimulus. My workout was 5 miles easy, then 2-minute surges to tempo at the start of each mile for 7 miles, then the final mile at a steady, smooth effort (with the contingency of only doing this if I felt good). I did feel good and cranked out the final mile in a smooth 7:29. 

Mile Markers: Smoke Storm

Saturday: Strength Training

The air quality worsened again, back into the orange zone. We pushed back our run and just strength trained instead. I did a lot of work with kettlebells, including walking lunges, single leg deadlifts, and snatches. I experimented with the battle ropes, which had me out of breathe within well less than a minute!

Sunday: 3 mile easy run

Ryan, Ollie, and I ran three slow and easy miles before breakfast. We visited Bainbridge Island to see Ryan’s brother and his family, since they were in town on vacation. We really enjoyed our Sunday with them, including a stop at the Bainbridge Island Brewery. 

Mile Markers: Smoke Storm

[Tweet “Trying to keep up half marathon training in a smoke storm via @thisrunrecipes #halfmarathon #runchat”]

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18 Responses

  1. Oh wow! I hope there’s some form of relief soon. I’ve never had to deal with poor air quality. As much as it would pain me, I’d choose the treadmill too. But a run is a run. I’m just not sure I could tolerate a 20 miler or anything. Way to go on making things work!

    1. I don’t think I could do a 20 miler – or even much beyond 10 – on the treadmill now! When I had my own treadmill, it was easier to go about two hours. These gym ones reset every hour!

  2. That sounds awful! I think I would rather run on the treadmill than not run at all. At least you got in your long run outside- I think those are the hardest to get through on the treadmill. I hope it improves soon!

  3. Yikes! That is a tough week of training and those treadmill miles HAD to be hard on you!! I hope you at least have a few days of running outside (without the nasty side effects to your eyes and throat!) before any more smoke comes your way. Hang in there and YAY to that 13 miler!!! Great pace!

  4. Oh yikes! That is no fun to be forced indoors for every run, but it sounds like you made the best of it. More strong runs, as usual! Nice work!

  5. It sounds like a rough week. I can’t imagine having no A/C in those conditions, mostly because the filters would at least help with the air quality indoors. Great job in getting those runs done on the treadmill. A TM run is better than no run. Thanks for linking!

  6. I’m so sorry to hear about the continued issues with air quality. We’ve had that in the past but we have AC, so staying indoors isn’t as big of an issue. Hope it clears soon!

  7. That’s no fun and I can’t imagine running 7 miles on a treadmill (though I have in the past). My gym is hot, though! I love your plan for your 13 miler with the surges at the start of each mile: I might try one of those myself. Hope this week is better for you.

    1. Thank you! I got the idea from both Brad Hudson’s book Run Faster and from the online training logs of the NAZ Elite on Final Surge, so if you like that workout you should check out those resources.

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