On Tuesday, I joined my running club for what was scheduled to be a up to 8x400 in order to start getting people ready for race season. Being in the heart of marathon training, I wanted to do 800-meter repeats instead. The pace would depend on how I felt after Sunday's 21+-miler, anywhere from 5K-10K pace. One other guy, who's training for Boston, also wanted to do that. He's very fast in everything from the 5K (usually runs about 17:45) to the half-marathon (where I think he's run sub-1:23), but his marathon performance tapers off, with his PR somewhere around 3:15 (not that I'd sneeze at that, but he's clearly capable of doing better). We decided to our 800-meter repeats at a pace of 6:00-6:04, or 90-91 seconds for each 400-meter lap. As you are about to see, it did not work out that way. Here's the breakdown of yesterday's whole workout:
- 3+ miles warm-up
- 1.5 miles (6 laps) of drills & strides
- 6x800 at the following paces (1 lap recovery at 9:00+ pace):
5:44/5:39/5:53/5:58/6:01 (what it should have been the whole time) and 5:31
- 2+ miles cool-down run home - slow!
Total for the day was a bit over 11 miles. Perhaps the repeats were too fast, but being able to do the last repeat faster than the first would signify that the paces weren't too crazy. What they were is inconsistent, thanks to my fumbling around to figure out what my new 5K pace actually is and therefore who it should feel. My max HR was 180, which occurred on the last repeat as I pushed the final 400 meters.
Today, I stuck with my planned 10 miles, run comfortably at about an 8:35 average pace. The hills were tough - both up and down - but while I might have felt some fatigue, it did not affect my pace at all. My HR today may have been a few beats higher than usual for that pace, but I didn't feel like I was exerting myself any more than I should have been.
This newfound fitness level is a very pleasant surprise to me, but seems to have befuddled some of the members of the running club, including our beloved coach who wrote me a concerned e-mail last night warning about the perils of running too fast during marathon training. He's right to be concerned, since he knows my injury history, but no one other than a couple of close running "confidants" know how my training has been going since last fall. Thanks to extra hills and core work, along with approaching 3 years of consistent running, it appears that I am reaping some benefits (finally, if you ask me).
Of course, the challenge now is to stay healthy and peak at the correct time for the Sugarloaf Marathon in May. Every good workout and each new race PR gives more more confidence that I will finally fulfill my goal of qualifying for Boston by running under 3:20. A bunch of new shorter distance PRs will merely be icing on that cake.
I'll keep you posted on what develops from here.