Sunday, June 14, 2015

Which Way

The last 4 days have been very contrasting. Thursday and Friday had me rather worried where my training and my fitness were going. The legs felt reasonably okay whenever I was running but the HR graph was pointing in the wrong direction all of a sudden and seemed to getting worse.

It is really frustrating to be running with the HR alarm at times. The effort is really easy and relaxed and yet that damn thing keeps bitching at me, relentlessly. I was tempted at times to turn it off (actually, I was tempted at times to fire the thing into the ditch!) but kept going. Crawling along at what feels like snails pace isn't really what keeps me going day in day out, and something had to change.

I know from experience that the HR tends to drop a few days after a faster run, once muscle fibres have had time to recover from the workout and adapt accordingly. Build on that over a few weeks and you get a lot fitter. I have done very little fast running for quite a few months now, but I did run the Cork marathon less than 2 weeks ago, which would have stressed my already fatigued muscles. That's where the problem lies. With the legs still in recovery after Turin I have to be really careful not to tax them too much, yet I really felt it was time to give them a workout. Without too much grounding in physiology and just going by whatever experience I have gathered along the years, a lot of this is just guesswork.

Anyway, I headed out on Saturday morning with the aim of running a few faster miles. I had reprogrammed my HR alarm app on the Ambit to raise the alarm threshold after the warm up but that did not work - I noticed after the run that there was a mistake in the script. Oops. So I just turned off the alarm, not out of frustration but because it would have been useless anyway. I did check the HR from time to time on the display but it was always higher than I would have hoped, usually around 162, and slowing down only seemed to have a temporary effect because the next time I checked it was up to the same level again.

For the majority of time I was running entirely by feel, however. It felt relaxed enough, even when that little breeze always seemed to blow against me no matter which way the road was turning. Still feeling reasonably good after 9 miles, 7 at a higher effort, I upped the effort for the last mile to get some proper leg turnover done for a bit.

The numbers show that speed is all very relative; two years ago even my marathon pace was significantly faster than that. It would take a good bit of work to get that back, but since I'm not training for a marathon I won't - not in this training cycle. But I think I might have made a mistake by mostly neglecting faster paces before Turin and I do intend to add more speedwork this time round, not much, just to get a little bit of stimulation to those faster fibres.

I was worried how the legs would feel on Sunday and was very pleasantly surprised by how good they felt. I wanted to do a long-ish run but decided against the loop around the lake to give me the chance of bailing out early, just in case. The main decision point was at a junction at the planned halfway point, 7.5 miles into the run: turn right and go home or turn left for a second loop through Killorglin. With the legs feeling as good it was not much of a decision, of course I opted for the longer distance. I still felt good by the time I got home, good enough to be tempted to add a few extra miles but decided that too little was better than too much.

It was with a bleeding heart that I read all those race reports from Portumna on Saturday. This was my key workout last year before Belfast, the one run that did the most to get me into shape to break into the national team. This year I just could not do it, it would have been a bad mistake with those still tired legs. But congratulation to everyone who ran, and to the runners in the Kerry head half marathon as well. I would have loved to join you!

11 Jun
10 miles, 1:20:37, 8:03 pace, HR 142
12 Jun
10 miles, 1:21:39, 8:09 pace, HR 145
13 Jun
10 miles, 1:14:28, 7:26 pace, HR 155
   incl ~8 miles @ 7:11 pace, HR 159
14 Jun
15 miles, 1:58:21, 7:53 pace, HR 145
Weekly Mileage: 77

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