Thursday, February 25, 2016

Not Half Marathon Pace

I felt pretty much destroyed after Sunday's run and was more than a bit worried how my training was going in general as well as how I would recover from this one workout. The way I felt immediately after the run I wasn't sure if I would even be able to run properly the next morning, though it did improve during the day.

Well, at least I was in for a nice surprise on Monday morning. The legs, while tired, were not sore at all and a slow easy 5-mile recovery jog both felt good and made me feel better. I basically repeated the same on Tuesday, a little bit faster for the same subjective easy effort. On Wednesday I did 8 miles still very easy, and the heavy feeling in the legs had completely gone away by then.

The nicest surprise, though, was the heart rate for all of those runs. For the last few weeks, basically ever since I had picked up a bug in that third-rate hospital a month ago, the heart rate had been elevated by a worrying amount for every single run. Looking at the numbers alone you might have thought I was hammering all my runs but they were genuinely at an easy effort. Ever since Monday, that has changed. I have seen this several times before, sometimes one big workout can all of a sudden cause a noticeable drop in your heart rate (or, in other words, a jump in your VDOT). Usually that's a tempo run but on Sunday it was a long run, albeit one with a faster segment in the middle. With that new set of numbers and the legs feeling perfectly fine again, I felt reasonably optimistic that I was ready for another workout on Thursday morning. The plan said 4 miles easy, 4 x 2 miles at half-marathon effort, 4 miles easy again. Tough but manageable?

It was a freezing cold morning but no wind whatsoever, pretty good conditions - certainly better than what we've had to cope with over the last few months. The first few miles passed quickly, so quickly in fact that I almost forgot that I had to start a fast segment at that point.

What happened next was interesting.

I'm not sure what my half-marathon pace would be at the moment but I would hope for it to be around 6:30. My 2 recent 5k races would indicate that to be a realistic target, though the 10k was a bit slower. But this morning I found it absolutely impossible to run that pace. It is far better to run at a controlled effort than try to overreach just to hit an arbitrary pace goal (which I almost certainly would not have been able to hold for 4 segments), but my controlled pace sure was slower than I would have expected. I ended up with 6:47, 6:45, 6:36, 6:44. The positive signs are that the pace held up very well. The heart rate was very steady at about 160, which is definitely lower than a half marathon effort, and I basically had the feeling that I could have run much, much further at that effort (in fact, the recovery breaks felt unnecessary and just served to break my rhythm) but no faster.

The reasons? The cold temperatures might have something to with it, some lingering fatigue from Sunday, the fact that I haven't done much speed work at faster pace (then again, I had no problems with sub-6 pace at those 5ks), and I'm pretty sure MC would point to a lack of recovery and trying to do too much. I don't think it was a bad workout as such, I'm feeling pretty good and energised afterwards and if I had run 10 seconds per mile faster I would have been perfectly happy (albeit still thinking of a few years ago when I would have cruised through those segments at 6:20 or faster). I don't think I'll break any records in Ballycotton next week but I've had some time to come to terms with the fact that I'm not quite in the shape I would like to be in right now. Anyway, there's still plenty of time before Manchester*.
22 Feb
5 miles, 43:01, 8:36 pace, HR 132
23 Feb
5 miles, 41:48, 8:22 pace, HR 134
24 Feb
8 miles, 1:04:36, 8:04 pace, HR 137
25 Feb
17 miles, 2:07:19, 7:29 pace, HR 149
   4 x 2 miles @ 6:47, 6:45, 6:36, 6:44
* btw, fuck you, Damien Duff, Didi Hamann and Liam Brady.


  1. Good to hear things going in the right direction. Your work out was at half marathon pace, just my half marathon pace, not yours! (My current PB is @ 6:47 pace, done back in 2010 ;-)

    I suspect your are still recovering, mixed in with lack of muscle tuning required to efficiently run at 6:30 to 6:40 pace simply due to the lack of faster runs of late. A week or two of proper training should sort that out.

  2. Are they the three dudes that beat you out of the top-100 last year? Just catching up on my blog reading Thomas - you're going well. Keep cranking out the good training and Manchester will take care of itself.