Sunday, January 25, 2009

Speed Matters

With 12 weeks to Boston, the time to start the fun and games has well and truly arrived, as Michael pointed out. Since I started my hill training this week, I’m right on schedule for the hard work. The thing that’s not quite going as planned is the speed I’m running all of a sudden.

And I’m talking about running faster than I normally do, not slower. I already noticed that on Thursday, when my easy run inadvertently was much faster than anticipated, without me realising it until afterwards. Pretty much the same happened on Saturday, but to an even greater extend. I came back from the 8 mile run with an average pace of 7:48, and when I checked the mile splits afterwards I could see that I had gotten faster with each mile until I ran 7:30 on the last, uphill mile. The thing is, I genuinely ran easily and I never pressed the pace, and the fairly low heart rate supports that point. But normally I would definitely not expect to run that kind of pace on an easy run so far ahead of the marathon. I did similar easy workouts before Dublin, but only in the final weeks before the race. I have three different theories. One, I might be reaching my peak far too early. That would be bad. Two, I might be on my way to a new level of fitness. That would be good. Or three, and maybe the most likely, the lower mileage this week left my legs in a much more rested state than in previous weeks and therefore able to run faster with a lower effort. Whatever it is, for the time being I’ll continue as planned; not that I have any alternative ideas anyway.

Today I was out again for another 30/30 workout, and I noticed a huge improvement to last week. It wasn’t easy. I had planned up to 25, and I started labouring hard after about the ninth one; the chart does indeed show a marked increase in the heart rate from that point onward. I kept going on, and by the 18th I pretty much had enough. I kept going on for 4 more, but after the 22nd I was so exhausted that I felt like collapsing at the road side and called it a day. The fact that the last 3 had been slightly uphill and against a headwind didn’t make it any easier, I guess. Even though I felt utterly wiped out immediately after the repeats I recovered very quickly on the way home, enough to put in a bit of an effort over the last mile or two.

When Niamh asked how the run had been I said it might have been my best workout ever, because I had pushed myself harder than possibly ever before in training and yet recovered very quickly. The pace showed a marked improvement to last week’s 6:10, with an average pace of 5:44 for the fast segments. If I had stopped after 18 the average pace would have been 5:37. Maybe I should have left it then, but from a psychological viewpoint those last repeats were important. The coming week will pretty much mirror this one. But it will be yet another week closer to Boston!
24 Jan
8 miles, 1:02:33, 7:48 pace, HR 143
25 Jan
8 miles, 58:37, 7:20 pace, HR 161
incl. 21x30/30 (5:44 avg)

Weekly mileage: 71


  1. My vote is for #2, a new level of fitness. You have worked hard to get yourself there and I believe you are seeing the benefits.

  2. Perhaps you should try door number two. It very well may be that a new normal has arrived.

    You'll have to talk to Mike about the chocolate balls...

  3. It looks like you've moved to a new level Thomas. This happens. In the old days I was a 31:30-45 runner for a particular 5 mile race, and then one year surprisingly ran 30:15.

    Maybe you'll go straight from 3:05 to 2:55.