Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Raising My Threshold

So, yesterday was my first lactate threshold (LT) run (also known as tempo runs) under this training plan. These workouts are where I try to tame the biochemical demon from which this blog takes its name. Without getting too technical, when one runs at or faster than a certain pace, the body produces lactic acid, accumulating it faster than it can be removed. That accumulated acid slows you down. By training at or just faster than your LT, you can raise that threshold and thus run longer at a faster pace. For obvious reasons, this is especially beneficial for marathon runners, since the ideal marathon involves running just below one's LT. The most talented/best-trained runners run closer to their LT's than the rest of us, and from what I can tell based upon my limited experience, that is the area where I could most benefit in terms of marathon preparation.

Weather and schedule forced me to run on the treadmill yesterday (yuck!), but I do find that it helps my speedwork, particularly in the winter. Yesterday's workout totaled 8 miles, with 4 at LT pace [which Pfitzinger says should be between 15K and half-marathon (HM) race pace, though other guidelines generally provide that it's the pace you could sustain for an hour, but no longer]. I've run two HM's at 7:39 average pace, but never have run a 15K race. Since I don't have a very recent race time to use as a guide, what I did was the following:
  • 2 miles warm-up at about 8:30 pace
  • Progressively faster miles 3 through 6, starting at 7:30 per mile, and running each one about 5 seconds faster than the last, with the last LT mile at about 7:12 pace
  • 2-mile cool-down, which was the hardest part of the run, since it felt slow and awkward

I monitored my heart rate (HR) closely and it stayed where it should, mid-160's during the tempo part of the run, below 150 during warm-up and just above 150 during cool-down. Last half-mile or so was a hassle, because the gym's TM shut down automatically at the one-hour mark (which is usually my limit, too), so I had to reset and start a "new" run. My Garmin Forerunner 305 with foot pod kept going, though.

One other training note is that my lower back was bothering me a bit after Sunday's long run in NYC, so I went into yesterday's workout with a little trepidation. I barely felt it during the run, and it actually feels much better now. Looking forward to seeing my chiropractor on Friday.

Happy reading & running to all. -ESG

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