Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Squish, Squish

I didn't blog yesterday because I just couldn't take another day of writing about a bad run cut short. I woke up tired, and as I stalled in the kitchen beforehand I just didn't want to run. This is a foreign feeling for me, and in retrospect I should have just bagged it right there. I ended up dragging around for 7 of my planned 10 miles before calling it, and I simply never settled in.

Thankfully, today was a different story. 10 miles at the usual 6:08-6:12 was the original plan, but an email about my last few bad runs to the coach resulted in an audible calling for 6:10-6:15 pace if I needed it. I decided to hit the same course that worked well for me last week, and somehow the workout today went down without a hitch. The fatigue seemed gone, and I felt like the runner I know I am.

6:07, 6:12, 6:08, 6:10, 6:12, 6:06, 6:11, 6:06, 6:05, 6:08 (6:08 avg.)

The lower and higher numbers pretty much correspond with net uphill or downhill miles, and like last week it just came together well. The only onion in the ointment was the heart rate of 140 immediately afterwards. During a good spell where I feel like I'm recovering well and in balance, a lower heart rate like this would make me happy. However, as the coach says, "An elevated HR or a depressed HR on a distance run means you have not recovered fully from a previous workout. Sounds inconsistent, it's too low, it's too high and it means you're fatigued. I've seen it too many times in too many athletes to be a quirk. What I think is going on is the first type of fatigue is caused by calling in new muscle fibers which are not as efficient causing a greater demand on the heart and the other is when there are not enough fibers to call on which means the fibers don't fire and the demand on the heart stays low because nothing is creating a demand."

Looking back to my heart rate evaluation runs of 150-155BPM I see this-
7/5: 10 miles at 6:12 pace
6/7: 8 miles at 6:05 pace
5/17: 7 miles at 6:15 pace

Even if I give myself the benefit of the doubt and add a few beats on to compensate for taking my heart rate immediately afterwards instead of during, the reading today shows that something is off if I'm suddenly running 10 miles at 6:08.5 pace at 140-145BPM when a few weeks ago I was running 10 miles at 6:12 pace with a heart rate of 150-155BPM.

I think tomorrow's run of 10 miles followed by 5 at 6:08-6:12 pace will tell the tale. Are those muscle fibers just tired or are they missing in action?

Training: Today, 13 miles, 1:23:02, 6:23 pace
Yesterday, 7 crummy miles, 49:46, 7:07 pace


Chris Field said...

That HR too low thing throws me off.

Should it at least feel like more work to run that pace when the HR is too low?

Mike said...

Chris, the best way I can describe the feeling today at the lower heart rate would be to compare it to driving a car on the freeway and cruising at low RPM's. I didn't feel like I had it in me at all to change gears and really ramp up the pace if I needed to, but if I stayed in the window of 6:05-6:12 or so it felt like I was cruising along.

After doing many weeks of these workouts I think there is a mental component that comes into play and perhaps puts my mind on autopilot even while the body is struggling.

Thomas said...

Does it really make a difference to switch from a 6:08-6:12 window to a 6:10-6:15 one? The 2 or 3 seconds difference doesn't seem sufficient to be noticeable to me.

Mike said...

This post by the coach explains it better than I could Thomas. I had the option of running up to 7 seconds per mile slower to make sure I was able to do the workout just under the redline, or Lydiard's maximum steady state.

From the post (this is an example and should be adjusted depending on individual factors of course): "The exact paces and lactate levels are not the important point here, the rate of change is the critical point. Note that decreasing your pace by 24 seconds (from 7:00 to 6:36) raises your lactate by .5mM yet dropping it 10 seconds (from 6:10 to 6:00) raises it 1.0mM. The very next step (6:00 to 5:50) might find it raised by 2.0mM. At some point between 7:00 - 6:36 pace is what Arthur called the maximum steady state."

Hopefully by fine-tuning where I run these depending on my present condition (keeping in mind fatigue, sleep, recovery) and staying under the redline keeps me from essentially doubling the amount of lactate I produce. I do think something like 7 seconds can make a big difference if it's the difference between me running just below rather than above my maximum steady state.

Dusty said...

Glad you are feeling back in the groove. I'm interested to read more about the HR, I'm trying to decipher get used to mine and what it means since I'm always higher than the charts when exercising.