Sunday, March 29, 2009

Signs of Progress

Some workouts you like, some you don't. I’m generally apprehensive before speed workouts, and sometimes before log runs. It doesn’t stop me from doing them, of course, but I’m always glad when they’re done. Friday’s progression run, on the other hand, was one I was really looking forward to. I knew it would be a tough workout, but I was confident I would be able to do well and I love the idea of running strongly over a long distance.

The plan was the same as last week, namely 3x4.5 miles divided by half mile of recovery. I didn’t program this into the Garmin but pressed the lap button manually. The problem was that without the helpful beep of the watch I ran past my slowdown points not just once but twice. However, that was the only thing that went wrong; the rest went swimmingly.

Not even the weather could stop me. I woke several times during the night listening to the wind splashing the rain against our window. I thought I might have to divert the run to the Ard-na-Sidhe road, but it stopped raining just as I got up, and I decided to run the same Cromane loop as last week. The general idea was to run the first segment at 7:30(ish), the second closer to marathon pace, and the third one at marathon pace or a tad faster if I had the legs for it.

From the outset I had to battle the wind, and the rain returned within the first mile. I struggled against the elements, but halfway through the first section I reached a turn, and from there on the wind would be supportive. I checked the watch and was very surprised to see the pace much closer to 7:00 than 7:30. I thought about slowing down, but now, with the wind pushing me on, running 7:00 pace was so comfortable that I kept at it. Admittedly I also benefited from the 60 feet net elevation drop over those miles. As mentioned, I felt so good that I inadvertently ran half a mile longer than planned and decided to cut the second segment accordingly. On the middle part I had to climb those same 60 feet again and the wind wasn’t as helpful any more. I still managed to get close to marathon pace and if that had been on a level road I’m pretty sure the same effort would have yielded 6:52. I was still reasonably comfortable at the beginning of the third segment, though I definitely started to tire during those miles. I managed to hit the pace though, and was so happy to be running at 6:48 that I missed my turn-around point and ended up with an extra half mile – again. Never mind.

I kept wondering why the run went so much better than last week until I remembered that 7 days ago I had done this the day after mile repeats, while today I ran them on fresh legs following a recovery day. Who would have thought that a strong workout is better on rested legs? Another lesson learned, and if I keep improving my training lore at that rate I might even know how to train for a marathon by the time Boston comes round.

I was really happy with the run, and especially with the way the legs felt afterwards. I took an even easier recovery day on Saturday with only 6 slow miles. But I got a real surprise when I assessed my resting heart rate. Despite Shea’s best attempts to disrupt it came up with 37, the lowest number I have ever seen. It had been 43 only six weeks ago and has steadily come down since then. I must be doing something right.

Unfortunately the foul weather returned today, just in time for the daylight saving time to arrive. I got up, had one look at the lousy conditions outside and decided to wait. It could only get better. Niamh eventually joined the rest of the family, slightly puzzled why I was still indoors at 9am, but very understanding of my reasoning. If this had been a recovery day I would have binned the entire workout but I did not want to miss out on half-mile repeats. I eventually ventured out when the rain died down, but I still had to battle the gale force winds. Maybe they were responsible for my slower-than-planned pace, at least that's my excuse. I did 7 repeats, 2 more than last week, but I missed out on the sub-6 target pace I had hoped for (with an eye on Yasso). However, I won’t lose any sleep over it.

I know that opinion has been divided, but I decided to run the 10k in Cork next Sunday. While it is definitely not my target race I still want to do reasonably well and accordingly I’ll take it a bit easier this week. This means that effectively I will be starting my taper soon, earlier than originally planned. I can’t call this a taper just yet because my most telling key workout, 20 miles with half at goal marathon pace, will be on Tuesday. That will be the last of the big workouts, and I’ll think of Wednesday as the start of the taper. I have moved the last of the progression runs to next week, where it will take over the long run. The pieces are falling into place, the hay is in the barn, and I'm running out of clichés.
27 Mar
15.5 miles, 1:49:24, 7:03 pace, HR 157
incl. 5,4,5 miles @ 7:01, 6:54, 6:48 pace
28 Mar
6 miles, 48:59, 8:10 pace, HR 137
29 Mar
9.6 miles, 1:13:20, 7:39 pace, HR 155
incl. 7x800, 6:06 pace avg.

Weekly mileage: 80.6


  1. Looks like your just coming into form at the right time!
    Don't worry about the gales slowing you down, it will just make you stronger in the 'long run' [ race day!].

  2. Looking good Thomas. Very solid running. I may see you next Sunday. You can use me as your final fitness check!

  3. Great past few days of running. Looks like everything is clicking. Well done!

  4. Sheesh, the weather this year is crazy! We had snow again this morning, unheard of for this time of year. I'm looking forward to reading about your Boston experience. It's gonna be so fun for you!

  5. Very good progress for sure. It really is amazing what even one day of rest can do for the legs. Good luck on the final MP workout!

  6. You're going well Thomas. That's quite enlightening about the recovery day. I'm thinking not this one, but maybe by your first Boston as an M50 you'll have the mystery of marathon training solved ;)

    The 10k and 20 mile/marathon pace should be good ones.

    By the way, I wish you wouldn't keep going on about all that rain - you're making me jealous.

  7. Well done with the tempo session. So, are you starting to get excited yet? When are you flying out?