Thursday, June 07, 2007

A Surprise

The coach created an illuminating post a few days back that explained some effective strategies for executing "evaluation runs" during a training cycle. In the post sub-maximal efforts were discussed, and as luck would have it I was assigned one of these tests for today.

May 17 was my last test, when I was told to run seven miles while keeping my heart rate between 150-155 beats per minute. If you look back at the post about this run you'll see that the first half was run at around 6:11 pace, while the overall pace dropped to 6:15 by the end. I obviously slowed quite a bit towards the finish, and I found it hard to keep my heart rate under 155 during the slight uphill portions of the one mile course.

Today I had the same assignment, with the only difference being covering 8 miles instead of 7. This time I set the auto-lap feature on my GPS to record each mile, so that it would be easier to see later just where and when I started to slow.

After running 19 miles in a double yesterday, including 6 hot miles after work in 90 degree temperatures, I didn't expect to run any faster than I had three weeks ago. In fact, with the extra mile thrown in at the end I expected the cumulative pace to probably be a little slower. Much to my surprise, everything clicked instead. The splits were 6:03, 6:04, 6:04, 6:03, 6:07, 6:07, 6:08, and 6:01. When I got halfway through the 5th mile I could feel that I had to start slowing a little on the uphill to keep the heart rate in the assigned window, and this just killed me. In my mind and in my legs I was just getting warmed up here, and all I wanted to do was to take the heart rate up to 160 or so and finish the run with a few sub-6 miles. I don't know why, but I just felt good. However, once again I could feel the evil eye of Mystery Coach upon me, so I flicked the devil off of my shoulder and stayed with the program for the sake of the data, even though it meant a few slower miles.

As I rounded the bend and began the 8th and final mile I decided to try and focus my energy on being as biomechanically efficient as I could. I worked on balancing my upper body over the legs and floating on the hips while bringing my feet up behind me quickly and pushing off the forefoot strongly. While the heart rate was still 153, I could feel the pace quicken here over what it was for the past few miles, especially as I ran through the turns. When I got to the final uphill portion I did have to pull back again, but finishing the last mile in 6:01 was a bit of a shock. I think I'm just naturally a bit of a sloppy runner, and to see such an improvement in pace at the same heart rate just by concentrating on form was really an eye opener.

Again, today didn't even really feel like a workout (though I'm guessing a 2h10m long run tomorrow will). Putting the 6:04 average pace today against the 6:15 pace I ran three weeks ago at the same heart rate makes me feel good, but it also makes me wonder if I was starting to come down with a bit of the sickness I had the following week. Whatever the reason, I'll take it.

Training: Today, 10 miles, 1:02:41, 6:16 pace, 8 miles at 150-155BPM, splits of 6:03, 6:04, 6:04, 6:03, 6:07, 6:07, 6:08, 6:01
Yesterday p.m., 6.2 miles in 42:19, around 6:55 pace


eric said...

This was a great run to read about. I cringe a little bit (okay, a lot) when I see you even *thinking* about dropping the pace to some arbitrarily 'fast' level, like sub-6. It's good that you stuck with the workout as designed. That's the kind of decision that will serve you well in the weeks to come.

You're coming along well. Stick with the plan!

Abadabajev said...

Why is it that when you believe you're not going to have a good workout, you pull a rabbit out of your hat? You ever stop and wonder about that?

I also cringe when I see that you 'wanna' do extra curricular activities like 'up the pace' to achieve 6 mpm for some unknown reason.

You don't need to get down to 6 mpm to prove to yourself that you can accomplish that task.

Confidence man.

You are in much better shape than you think you are.

Abadabajev said...

oooooooooops. I meant to say achieve sub 6 pace.