Hope, change and tempo runs

Matt Fitzgerald recently wrote about how he was afraid of his upcoming workout. I have one like that in a few hours, a 10 mile general aerobic run with an additional 5 miles at 6:51 pace tacked onto the end. That’s about my current half marathon pace, which I’ll need to sustain just over 34 minutes.

These 34 minutes and 15 seconds will be difficult. I know this. What I want to avoid is having them be pure hell.

A few weeks ago I had a run that was very similar to this, one that I didn’t think went particularly well. I was 13 seconds off pace and had to stop a few times. Since then, I’ve looked at what may have gone wrong that day, and experimented with a few potential remedies, all in order to help prepare myself for another try today.

First, I looked at how I ran the initial non-tempo miles and concluded that I ran them too fast. All of them. From the get go, I was so eager to work hard on this run that I started working hard too early, then paid for it during the miles that counted at the end. I was also running into a headwind for the initial 5.5 miles, which I know tired me out. I should have taken this into account and adjusted my pace, but I was too bull-headed at the time to do so. Also, this run was scheduled for the first day of my new menstrual cycle, a time that has proven itself time and time again to be the day when I am likely to run at my worst.

I also looked at what I was doing in the days before that sub-standard run. For one, I’d cut calories fairly drastically (I’ve been cutting them to shed fat), so I may have been low on glycogen reserves. I’d also done a fast finish 17 miler on the Sunday before that Tuesday run, so I was probably not fully recovered from that.

Here, then, was data I could work with — a whole bunch of factors that I could influence next time around.

I knew I’d have to do this run again — except with the fast miles a little longer and a little faster — in a few weeks, so I conducted a few experiments. First, I tried doing a fast finish long run with the aerobic section done at a lower heart rate than my typical 75-78% for general aerobic efforts. I kept it right around 72% max heart rate, then only sped up in the mile or so before the very fast ones at the end. I also did the first two at very slow speed and low heart rate — under 70% mhr.

The other thing I did was make sure I didn’t cut my calories too severely in the two days before this run, and I loaded up on carbohydrates and water. I also made sure I got plenty of sleep and stayed away from alcohol.

The result? I had no problem running at 7:00 pace for the last 2.5 miles of a 17 miler.

I’ve taken care to do all the pre-run preparations described above. In a few hours, I’ll put that together with my pre-tempo-miles pacing strategy and hope for the best. At least I’m going in knowing I’ve done everything I can to help myself, and that can only benefit me mentally.

Now let’s see if this actually works.

6 Responses

  1. well done and you find know the solution.
    Goodluck and a nice weekend.
    Rinus.

  2. Nice analysis. So often we latch onto one cause when we have speed problems, but you have covered several bases. I sometimes wonder if time of day can be a factor as well.

  3. So c’mon woman, you’re keeping us in suspense…how’d it go??

    • I was going to wait for the full report posting tomorrow, but I’ll summarize. It was “eh.” Which just goes to show you that you can do everything right, yet still have some mysterious factor assert itself.

      It wasn’t that bad, actually. I was, again, an average of 14 seconds off pace. But I blame it on two things: residual fatigue from Tuesday’s speedwork and a steady 5mph wind hitting me half way around each of my 20 laps. I simply couldn’t defeat the wind.

      More tomorrow.

  4. Aw, sorry that it was an “eh” run for you but yeah, the wind and previous speedwork sound like obvious culprits to me. And doing 20 laps of anything sounds mind-numbing in itself. Looking forward to your post, as usual.

  5. […] Hope, change and tempo runs […]

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