Friday, January 30, 2009

This Better Be Worth It

Maybe I should not call this the hill phase, as I’m only doing one hill workout a week. I might do 2 next week, but haven’t decided yet. That’s not to say that I’m taking it easy. Far from it. I’m far more tired than I was during my 85+ mile weeks. Running fast is exhausting, who would have thought!

Wednesday I headed for the hills again, in what was basically a repeat of last week’s workout. The first things I noted as soon as I left the house were the tired legs. I wondered if there was any point in even attempting that workout. I could have run easily again and done the hills on Thursday. However, if I get up in time for a longer workout but only end up running, say, 8 miles, I would have sacrificed half an hour of sleep for nothing. It’s probably not a very good reason for persevering with the original plan, but it was good enough for me.

The tempo part of the run wasn’t very good, there’s no denying. I ran 2.65 miles at an average pace of 6:47, 6 seconds per mile slower than last week, and if I had not kicked in for the last quarter mile the figures would have been even worse. The legs just were not cooperating. I tried to convince myself that the effort is more important than the pace, and that I might still get the same benefits out of the hill sprints. Well, I did the same all-out efforts up the same segment of hill. Of course, we humans only ever do true all-out efforts if a sabre toothed tiger or one of its relatives is chasing us, and when doing a simple training run then you always find you can push some more, no matter how hard you’re already trying. I did notice that the max HR at the top was 2-3 beats lower than last week, but I cannot say for sure if I ran less hard or if it was the result of my body already adapting to that sort of training. The positive thing was that I managed 9 repeats compared to 7 last week, but next time I will definitely try to extend the hill sprints to 60 seconds, even though I generally feel like collapsing after 45 seconds. As I said, I’ll try.

Thursday was an easy day, slightly hampered by the awful conditions. The wind and rain was enough to make me do 2 out-and-back runs to Ard-na-Sidhe rather than run alongside Caragh Lake. The legs, especially the quads, felt very stiff and heavy. Once again I was glad to be back home 81 minutes after leaving. I wonder how I managed to go out for a second loop, because the temptation to call it quits halfway through was definitely there. Maybe it was the urge not to have sacrificed sleep needlessly again.

Last Friday I had done a marathon effort workout and I decided to repeat that today, but to extend the fast section. I warmed up for the first 1.5 miles, then ran 8.5 miles at marathon effort, with half a mile to cool down at the end. I felt very good initially, but that was when the wind was at my back. To nobody’s surprise the second half was a lot tougher, and my average pace didn’t hold up. I was a bit annoyed with myself because I kept losing focus and slowed down to 7:30 on more than one occasion. The HR was supposed to be in the low 160s, but the average ended up just below 160. Still, it was 5 seconds per mile faster than last week, which is not a bad improvement at all. I take that, and I know there is more where that came from.
28 Jan
10.5 milesm 1:27:11, 8:18 pace, HR 147
incl. 2.65 miles @ 6:47, 9x45sec hill sprints
29 Jan
10 miles, 1:21:01, 8:06 pace, HR 142
30 Jan
10.5 miles, 1:16:20, 7:16 pace, HR 155
incl. 8.5 miles @ 7:03 (159 HR)


  1. Pushing the workout back a day would have been sensible, but who says marathoners are sensible?

    You did OK. Not sure if there's much to be discerned from HR at the top of the hills. Sometimes if you're tired the legs aren't able to push the HR to maximum, even on 'all-out' efforts (unless there were a sabre tooth tiger chasing you).

  2. One of the hardest parts of training is knowing how much volume and intensity our bodies can handle, for a keen athlete one of the hardest things to do is back off!
    On Thursday I knew I was going to have a bad day because all my muscles were aching so much and I was completely wiped out!
    Even so, i decided to see how i was after a good warm up, sometimes you can come around and feel better and better as the session goes on, in my case I still felt stuffed! so i cut the session down and ran back at a pedestrian pace.
    Our bodies have there own rhythms and don't always keep inline with a training program, Some of the best Body builders use what is known as INSTINCTIVE TRAINING, they use whatever weight or reps, that feel right rather than following an exact training plan!
    I think in your case you did the right thing, you came around and did a good session!
    But if say you had 3 bad days in a row then its time to look into your training load and recovery.
    I think you are bound to feel stiff after starting hill training, you should find yourself coming around as your body plays catch up.
    The only time to worry is when repeated performances go backwards, this is overtraining and as i know to well its not pleasant!
    I was impressed with your marathon tempo run on Thursday,because, man that wind was hideous, yet you improved, very good signs, so no worries!

  3. Rick makes some very good points. Most of my running is done that way, I run to the way I feel. Some real good runs again this week.