Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A New Level

One problem with having a whole gang of kids at primary school level is the number of bugs they bring back home. Shea started coughing last week but was never too bad. This week it seemed to have caught all the females in the family as they were all complaining of a cold yesterday. I have been fine so far but I did wake this morning with a sore throat, so I might not escaped the general malaise. I’ll see how I feel in the coming days.

Getting sick would be a real shame because right now I’m feeling in absolutely incredible shape. Since it is dark in the mornings I can’t read the display on my Garmin while I'm running, so I’m “forced” to run be feel. On Monday I did not check the Garmin until after the run – and had a real WTF! moment, looking at the average heart rate (141) and pace (7:39). I went back through my running logs if I had ever run so fast at such a low heart rate and came up with one single workout, shortly before the 2008 Dublin marathon where I set my still-standing PB, but that was very much an isolated figure. The last few days have brought an entire set of these readings, absolutely unprecedented. The VDOT spreadsheet has me at level 57-58 (I would normally see myself at level 55), and all I had to do to get into this shape was to run easily! And it’s still only November! The funny thing is, the coach hasn’t even said all that much as far as direct training advice is concerned, most emails could be condensed into “run more and run slower”. The man is a genius! Things will get more complicated once I move into the next training phase, but looking at my running log is enough to get me seriously excited already. I am slowly starting to believe MC when he says I might be selling myself short aiming for a mere 2:59:59, though I would still be ecstatic if I ran exactly that.

Monday was a clear but freezing morning, the conditions I love most. My quads had been slightly sore after Sunday’s hilly long run so I took it very easy over 9 miles and was just flabbergasted when I saw the pace afterwards. I even suspected the HR of being wrong, but since the figure is not out of line with subsequent ones I have come round to believing them to be true. Since HR 141 is right at the lower end of the suggested effort level, I upped the pace for Tuesday, but not by much. I took one lesson from Monday; from now on I’m running in long sleeves rather than t-shirts, though I’m still in shorts until the temperatures drop below 0C. The effort was still on the easy side, so I was once more genuinely surprised by the numbers, having run 7:22 pace without once pressing the pace. I have run that fast numerous times before, but always classed that as a tempo run because of the effort required. It really feels like I have moved up a level. But I did discover that a low HR does not automatically equal low effort when my legs felt a bit stiff later on. My cardio system might be improving fast but my leg muscles are lagging behind. It is a clear reminder to be careful. The lesson so far, loud and clear, is that it is far better to err on the side of caution.

Not watching the news (far too depressing!) means I have missed the weather forecast, so I was completely taken by surprise by the miserable morning today. It was raining when I left, started again after 3 miles and then really started pouring after 10, just as I was passing our driveway on my way to a short second loop, tempting me to cut the run short but not succeeding. I got drenched and running in rain in those cold temperatures (about 4C/40F) is really uncomfortable. The HR/pace combination, still better than basically ever before, wasn’t quite as sweet as on the previous 2 days, maybe due to the less than perfect conditions or maybe the longer miles. I have noticed that my VDOT levels are lower on long run days, but since my long runs tend to be over much hillier roads than the shorter ones, I don’t take too much notice.
22 Nov
9 miles, 1:08:54, 7:39 pace, HR 142
23 Nov
10 miles, 1:13:56, 7:22 pace, HR 146
24 Nov
13 miles, 1:39:01, 7:37 pace, HR 144


  1. 'Silly BOY' Re-Garmin,turn the back light on!!!
    I'll put money on Ewen saying your run 2.36 at your next Marathon :]

  2. Regarding your question on my corner of the web, I never asked! Hopefully it never get put on the table either...

    Very interesting development with your training. Lots of food for thought for me.

  3. You lose Rick. I think it'll be something like 2:56:34.

    That's exciting Thomas. Does sound like you've moved to a new level. I need something like that... I have the 'running slow' bit down pat, just have to do the 'running more' bit. Re the muscles not having caught up with the aerobic fitness, I'm sure they will when you get into the short hill workouts.

  4. Amazing... so much so progress and with such seemingly little effort from you.

    Hope the cold stays away.. getting ill now would be a real shame..

    in timing stakes, put me down for a 2.57..

    I think you'll do a 2.45 next year as well though

  5. They're taking bets already?! As long as he doesn't pull an Andrew and fall off the proverbial cliff the next 6-12 months should be very interesting indeed. Good luck holding back Thomas!

  6. I had a WTF moment the other day but it was just because there was a caterpillar crawling up my leg!

    Anyway, Thomas don't worry about the family with the lurgy. Since I started running and getting fit I haven't picked up anything from anyone. I also put it down to giving up the milk, but not sure exactly why I seem imune to colds and flu these days.