You know, sometimes things happen that make "it" all worthwhile. Whatever "it" is. You work and work and work and work. You question whether you'll ever see results. Any results. I'm know the feeling all too well.
And then, something happens. Most call it a "breakthrough." Well, yesterday was one of those days. I've been putting in a lot of work during this training cycle. This will be the third week in a row up above 30 miles. Two speed work days each week - one *hard* interval day and one tempo day. Burnout started showing it's ugly head this past week. I've got a bunch of little niggles all over - tired legs, sore back, creaking knees, tender hip. I was beginning to wonder....
Yesterday was long run day. This week was a little bit of a back off week. On tap was only 9 miles, but it was a 3/1. In Higdon terminology, a 3/1 is a run where the first 3/4s of the run is at long run pace, and the last 1/4 at goal race pace. So, the run ends up requiring a little more effort because of the last quarter.
I'm using a combination of Higdon and Pfitz training methodologies. I'm using Higdon's Advanced Half Marathon plan to guide me from a mileage and overall plan perspective. I've taken the Higdon plan and lengthened out most of the runs to stay in the mid 30 mpw range. Then, I'm using the Pfitzinger heart rate methodology to guide my effort. I keep my recovery runs at less than 75% of my maximum heart rate (MHR). My easy runs are between 75% and 85% MHR. Tempo runs are as close to 90% MHR (lactate threshold) as I can get them. And my intervals are up over 93% of max heart rate.
So now for my breakthrough. Normally, my long runs are in the 10:15 to 10:30 pace range. At that pace, my heart rate is right around 78% MHR and pretty easy and comfortable. I shuffled my way along the San Diego Creek trail. I got back to my car feeling pretty refreshed. I checked my Garmin. 1:28 and change. Wait a minute - that means that I had to run less than 10:00 per mile. On a long run? Yup! 9:48. Just all of a sudden. My perceived effort was no greater than the week before. The last time I ran nine miles (three weeks ago) my pace was a 10:13. Last week's 12 miler was 10:55! Now I know, 9 miles ain't 12, but I was still pretty amazed at yesterday's pace. So, I started looking at heart rate, assuming that I must have been up pretty high for most of the run to hit that pace - but:
Heart rate below 85% for the first three quarters of the run, and as expected, a little uptick as I climbed the hill back toward my start point and threw in a step or two faster.
Bottom line? I'm re-energized! Maybe I'll go run again today!