Monday, February 4, 2019

Finally some semblance of speed


I decided a while ago, after many years of poo-pooing GPS watches and such things as intervals and fartleks (which sounds to me what happens on an ultra when you’re not digesting your food anymore), to focus a bit more on speed – figured it couldn’t hurt and suddenly it sounded like a good way to spice things up instead of just going out for a plod.

Well, that was in 2015. After one session of sprints and one hill reps, I tore my left calf muscle during a kick boxing “tryout class”. Didn’t dare go near speedwork until late fall. I did a bit for a few weeks and posted a decent time at a local five-mile race, and continued in 2016 but it was very inconsistent and I really had no idea what I was doing. I figured it out (more or less) when I asked a coach to draft a training plan for me in 2017 for the GUCR and was really hoping to put that into practice in the fall when I started ramping up for a new season, but then again had to suspend it to sesamoiditis, which put me out of commission until early 2018, but actually continued bothering me up until recently, which meant that any speedtraining was haphazard at best – and therefore probably ineffective.

But finally, after taking my usual break from running in October and slowly easing back into it in November, I spent December and January implementing a speed-focused plan that included sprints (30” – 45”), hills (alternating every week with sprints), longer intervals (1’30” to 4’) – these were the toughest, but ultimately also I think the most effective – and lactate threshold runs (3x 8-16mn at 80-85% of maximum aerobic speed)…

End January, I did a 8km time trial at 10k pace (was supposed to be 10k but I had to cut my lunch break short) and shaved off almost a minute, which I thought was pretty good considering I was doing it in the blistering cold on a lunch break… And that seemed confirmed by a treadmill test of my “maximum aerobic speed”, posting 16km/h up from 15.1km/h end November - which, on paper at least, puts a 10h30 100k race within reach. But I think more than the numbers, it felt easier maintaining a higher pace for longer, which is ultimately what I am looking for.

So I feel like I’ve built a good base going into marathon training, as I chase a sub-3h30-3h25 in Annecy end April (I originally hope for a BQ but a) those sneaks have upped the qualifying time by 5mn, and b) I figured I’ll take it one step at a time. I think now that a 3h25 is definitely realistic, and I will specifically train at that pace (which I did not do last year!), and based on how it goes aim for sub 3h20 next year… Learning patience in my middle age…

And another thing I realized. Yesterday was my first real “marathon long run” in ages – brought back sensatory memories of runs of yore… For the past 10 years, I’ve basically been either doing long hikes instead of long “runs” in preparing for mountain ultras, or doing long slogs plodding along comfortably for hours when preparing for road ultras – but what I haven’t been doing is a long run at a decent pace So yesterday, my 1h50 run with 30mn at marathon pace and the rest trying to sustain a manageable pace but not an ultra shuffle brought back "happy" memories of the long runs I used to do when first training for marathons and that required an ice bath followed by a hot bath followed by a short nap… Good thing the kids are older and for the most part nobody notices if I'm off doing my thing (running or napping) for a few hours.

It was quite nice, I like whatever makes running feel new again! And I think it will be very profitable…

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