Friday, January 05, 2007

Wrong Readings

I used to be pretty well tuned into the effort my body was producing. Even without checking the heart rate monitor I could tell quite accurately at any pace what my heart would be at any given moment. This has changed. What used to be a HR 160 effort now produces a heart rate somewhere in the low 150, and getting the heart rate up to 160 or 170 requires more and more effort. It’s just like Andrew predicted. The cardiovascular system has adapted, but the legs take a lot longer to follow suit. Tempo runs seem to becoming harder and harder.

Last week I felt completely wiped out after my long run. For whatever reason, today I feel much better than 7 days ago – not that I’m complaining. It would just be nice to know what’s causing the difference. I certainly didn’t hold back on Thursday for the tempo run. In fact I was afraid I might have overdone it a bit, but those fear proved to be unfounded. Before the run I was wondering what’s the best option for this run: option 1 consists of a 2 mile warm-up, 4 miles tempo and 2 miles cool-down, which is probably what most people would recommend. The second option was a one-mile warm-up and then a gradual acceleration over the next mile, and the tempo effort for the rest of the run. I opted for the second option because 4 miles didn’t feel sufficiently long for the tempo part. In fact I probably ran the warm-up mile too fast, I was already thinking ahead of the speed bits and the legs kind of took over from there. I intended to keep the heart rate over 160, but it took about 2 miles to reach that level, and then it was really hard work to keep it at there. Once or twice I slightly switched off for a few minutes and had to jolt myself back into tempo mode. In the end I didn’t quite reach the planned average heart rate, but on the other hand I’ve never run 8 miles at that pace before, so I was satisfied with that.

As mentioned in my previous entry I ran the 17miles (plus change) loop around Caragh Lake again this morning for my long run, the same workout as two weeks ago, except that I ran it counter-clockwise today rather than the other way round. There is one big difference in doing it that way, because today the big climb with an elevation gain of 200 m (650 ft) was from mile 9 to 11, rather than from mile 3 to 5. Two years ago I twice tried to do this run but never managed to actually run the entire climb, I had to walk significant bits of it. Today the running was no problem, I was well within my limits and the HR never got higher than 155 or so (no, I didn’t keep checking). I was slightly worried that I might be tempted to cut off 2 miles towards the end, but that fear was unfounded, I felt pretty good as I passed the junction in question and cutting the run short was never an option. I had a bit of a crisis around mile 8 when I got hit by hunger pangs (no food before running) but luckily they went away eventually and didn’t bother me again. Apart from that I felt good until the last two miles when I started to feel tired and my feet hurt, but by then I was already on the home stretch. The effort was in the easy category, but I did notice that I tend to get faster the longer the run goes on. The first two or three miles were run at around 8:45 pace, and towards the end I guess I was at around 8:15, but without a particular increase in effort.

The weighing scales have also relented, half of the holiday pounds have melted away allegedly, and I’m on 153 now. You know what? I think the scales are lying.

4 Jan: 8.25 miles, 59:47, 7:14 pace, avg. HR 159
5 Jan: 17.25 miles, 2:29, 8:38 pace, avg. HR 144


  1. Great tempo and long runs. There will be days when you can't get the HR up no matter how hard you try and other days when it's high for no apparent reason. That's why it's good to have your own internal effort meter working. Rock on!

  2. I would say that the pace speeding up later in the run with no apparent increase in effort is a good sign. Keep putting in those consistent miles and workouts. I am not sure how you keep motivated with all the horrible weather you have. That's saying a lot since I am from the Pacific Northwest.

  3. Great run today, it looks like your body is absorbing all the training and hard work you’ve put in, congratulations.

  4. Nice work on the runs. Heart rate heading down, race times heading down...even weight heading down...down is good, right?

  5. You ran 17 miles without eating anything first? The things I'm learning about you today! I'm afraid to run 4 without eating first!