September 25, 2009

Qui sème le vent récolte le tempo

Last night I ran fast and steady for 5 miles. In fact much faster than I'd planned. This is either very good or moderately bad.

How to know?

A few weeks ago I was hitting real resistance about two-thirds of the way through my tempo runs. During last night's tempo I hit the resistance but I was just able to focus on my resources rather than my suffering. I only lost about 4 seconds in the second half. So that's good.

But tempos are supposed to be at lactate threshold, or LT. Running at LT pace incrementally pushes the threshold up as supercompensation gives you better performance over time. A gauge of LT pace is one you could hold in an hour-long race (so my 1:04 in February's Cherry Tree gives me about 6:24 m/m). Or the McMillan calculator gives me a range between 6:12 - 6:28 m/m. Last night I ran 6:09's.

As a newbie I really should be trying to get a bodily sense of these things rather than hanging them on benchmarks. The Cherry Tree was 7 months ago, prior to any training really, and the calculator is just an Excel gimcrack. Too much gear and metrics subtracts from the pure feel of legs on the road doing a specific job.

So last night I was feeling for my LT, that is, a pace just before my legs tired. During the run I sensed aerobics were holding me back, not tired legs. For small stretches I could center my mind in my muscles and felt a lot of mojo still in there. But my chest was heaving a little.

Looks like my aerobic capacity is lagging behind my LT. Not a surprise: I'm topping out at 40 miles per week for a marathon coming in 36 days. As Joe Garland would say, my low mileage means I'm "going in soft".

I probably ran too fast to get much of an LT bump last night. But centering my mind in the muscle and its huge reserves was a big breakthrough, and one I'll need for the race.

Another Garland pearl, originally from Charlie Spedding, is the idea of a "perfect" workout. Not "hard" or "easy", but optimal for the job. I did a hard workout last night. Remains to be seen whether it was perfect. Guess we'll find out in 36 days.

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