Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Guilty Pleasures

I know some people will find it hard to heat their homes and I know that some people will invariably get injured slipping on ice, but I simply cannot help it. I am just loving these conditions!

Maybe I'm completely deluded, but I feel perfectly balanced running on the road, including the icy bits. I tried to look into things like YakTrax, but found they are not suitable. The roads are not really covered, for most of it they are dry but with some icy patches that you have to take care on, and that’s not what those devices are developed for. So I just put on my shoes and head out. So far I’ve had no problems.

“Oh Dear, this is cold” was what came to my mind as I opened the door on Monday, though the actually words were slightly different, but let’s keep this blog clean for a change. -7C/20F is without a shadow of a doubt the coldest I have ever been running in, and you know what? It was just great! Maybe it’s subliminal memories from my childhood, but I could stay out in the cold all day. Give me that over the icy cold rain we normally get in November any time. Despite having to slow down on a few occasions to mind my footing, I was flying along the road, almost effortlessly. The temperatures must suit me; assuming that the HRM is correct I recorded yet another best on the HR/pace spreadsheet. In fact, on a couple of occasions I caught myself inadvertently doing sub-7 pace and put on the brakes to keep the effort nice and easy. Despite relaxing as much as I could I ended up with an average pace of 7:37.

The coach keeps reminding me that there is a lot of time left until the marathon and keeps urging me to stay on the relaxed side. Honestly, I keep doing that. An average HR of 140 is very much on the lower end of the scale and the perceived effort level was easy.

Of course, heart rate is not everything and that’s where the evaluation runs come in. Monday’s run doubled as a scouting session to find an ice-free flat half-mile stretch of road, because the road where I had done the last evaluation on was completely covered in ice. I found a good one, but rather far away from home. It meant 3.5 miles of warm-up, but it was the only stretch I could come up with. Apart from the distance from home it was perfect and I ended up going back-and forwards 4 times each way. The Garmin was set on alarm to help me keep the HR close to 161, which for some reason I needed a lot more often than last time round. I managed not to look at the pace numbers at all during the run, but I already knew that the change from last week was significant when I measured the recovery time to HR 130 – 32 seconds, compared to 38 a fortnight ago and 42 before that! Back home I finally looked up the pace figures and my jaw hit the floor. Check this out:

Here are the numbers from the last 3 evaluations:

Mile 1 6:40 6:44 6:44
Mile 2 6:55 7:07 6:57
Mile 3 7:14 7:26 6:59
Mile 4 7:16 7:36 7:02

Time to 130 42 42 38

And this is what I got today. Get your heads around this!

Mile 1 6:32 (HR 160)
Mile 2 6:38 (HR 162)
Mile 3 6:31 (HR 162)
Mile 4 6:41 (HR 161)

Time to 130 32

I’ll leave the interpretation of these figures to the coach and hope he won’t come back with “your Garmin must be faulty”. Just looking at this, I like what I see. By the way, the coach thinks my recent improvements might be down to me reaping the rewards from my ultra training this year rather than his own input. I think he is being overly modest.

I was quite surprised to see that I had run my highest monthly mileage of the year this November with 326. I had not aimed at setting a high mileage, nor has this month felt particularly tiring. Amazing!
29 Nov
10 miles, 1:16:08, 7:37 pace, HR 140
30 Nov
12 miles, 1:26:30, 7:13 pace, HR 147
incl. 4 miles evaluation:
   6:32, 6:38, 6:31, 6:41; 32 seconds to HR 130


  1. Very nice improvements!
    I wonder how heart rate is affected by running in the cold?
    Ie; does it beat faster or slower at the same effort level compared to more normal temps ?
    i think coach is right you did do an amazing amount of base building for your ultra, but his widson is teaching you about the importance of recovery.
    i think your fitness level is based on many years of training both good and bad.
    I've really learned this year the importance of recovery and training at less intense levels can bring about good improvements.

  2. Rick is right about all the above, I'm not sure about the heat, but think at least until the body gets use to running in the cold you would, at first, get the benefit of a slower rate at a faster pace in the cold.

    It is exciting, indeed to see improvements in fitness with heart rate and pace. I've come into some good fitness too of late. The last K of my hour and 20 min run this afternoon I took a short break and then concentrated on running as fast and relaxed keeping my heart rate between 120 and 125 bpm and finished the km in 4 min 20 seconds that's 6 min 58 mile pace.

    Very happy with that 4 months out for my goal marathon.

    Just stay on your feet, watch the ice patches, keep up the consistent efforts Thomas and keep us informed.

  3. You seem to be getting some proper Canadian weather these days! I reserve the cleats for the really icy days an normally just tiptoe around watching for the black spots. Great improvements so quickly!

  4. I know -7 is cold because we had a few -10s last winter. That's another reason why I don't run in the morning!

    Great data. Faster times and less fade this time, as well as the faster recovery. I'll credit MC. It looks like the generally easier running makes it easier to handle the high mileage too. Your heart-beats per km for that one was 662 (I'm around 770-790 at the moment). Scott though is super fit at around 530. Hope my current plan gets me down to the low 700s.