Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Interesting heart rate test

Today: 14 km (yesterday 8 km)
Week: 22 km

First, let's get the tedious news of the leg out of the way. It's holding up. There are two distinct problem areas, one behind the knee and one higher up the rear thigh extending almost into the groin. When the knee is bad, which seems to be brought on by things like intervals, I feel alarmed and want to stop running and rest for a day or two. When the thigh is bad, it is uncomfortable, but doesn't feel like it is going to get any worse and I can carry on. Topical anti-inflammatory lotion seems to be bringing the knee under control.

I felt alright yesterday despite the 34 km the day before and ran a nice easy 8 km at lunch time. Nice and easy for the most part, but I did some accelerations up little hills and steps and things. It was quite a nice refreshing run.

Although my new regime with the cross-training emphasis had today down as a cross-training day, I decided the leg was good enough to do a heart rate test like the one I was doing last year in the lead up to Ohtawara. So, I ran to Komazawa Park, got the heart rate to the low 140s, then on the second lap accelerated to get it up to 149 and held it there for that and the next lap. That third lap is the test lap. Interesting result. The average pace was 4:18/km. This puts me almost exactly where I was at almost exactly the same time out from Ohtawara. That is, on the 10th October when I did this test the average pace was 4:19/km. Effectively identical. Ohtawara was on the 23rd of the following month. Tokyo will be on the 18th of the following month. So I have four days less from now until Tokyo than I did from that previous test to Ohtawara. This is actually pretty encouraging.

I think a couple of things let me down at Ohtawara. My long runs were done a bit too slowly, I didn't do enough miles at upper aerobic pace, and there were possibly some nutritional/energy supply problems on the day. If I correct the last one with better management, I can get back some time with just the same level fo fitness. And if I can get some pivotal training runs in over the next three weeks, hey, then who knows, maybe I can even get my fitness back to and beyond where I was at Ohtawara (if nothing else I now have one more full marathon in my legs than I did then ;-)

After the heart rate test lap I ran home firstly at regular heart rate of 143-146, but then as I was getting closer to Toritsu-daigaku, about 2.5km from home, decided that I should put in a bit more effort. It really hit me then that this is what I have been lacking in some of my training over the past year -- the hard finish to recruit higher level muscle fibers. When I was at a much earlier stage of running, I used to run with these hard finishes, though with no particular purpose, it was just something that approximated racing, and to get faster I just figured you had to run faster. And it worked, though I never strongly attributed it to that type of training  because I had a lot of potential improvement left in me and just about anything should have worked. Then I switched to heart rate based training and got a lot of benefit from it by getting much better conditioning of my aerobic system. And sometimes I would run intervals and sometimes a tempo run. But the progressive, hard finish type runs basically went out the window. Well, now that tempo and intervals are currently suspended from duties, it is time to bring back the hard finish. I ended up running the last couple of kilometers home at under 4:10/km pace, dipping down to 4:00 and below in places. I actually had to back off from the really hard sprint finish because of some twinges from the knee at about 500 m from home. But I still held the close-to-tempo type pace and ran it home strongly. I was pretty happy to have such a good quality aerobic workout while realising there are still things I can do to improve my condition without necessarily endangering the knee.

Three good weeks. That's all I'm asking for. Three good weeks.


Ewen said...

That HR test is promising Steve. If you're not doing intervals, the accelerating finish to some runs is an alternative. You probably don't need the 'hard sprint' though.

I think for most runners there's no need in general to do the long runs at the 'upper aerobic' (hard) level. I think easy is the way to go with these, with an occassional (1 in 4 long runs) test where you negative split down to marathon pace or quicker.

2P said...

I like the hard finish ;-)

Nice work mate.

Tesso said...

Clairie and I have been thinking about alternating our long runs - one weekend slow (1 min slower than marathon pace) and fuel free, the other faster (maybe 20 or 30 seonds slower than marathon pace) and with fuel. Ewen's plan sounds good though.

Fingers crossed for those three good weeks.

Scott said...

Cool Stephen

Three good weeks may get you there.
Thanks for taking the time to write like you do.

Your plan and description is helping me to better understand what goes into a good preparation.

I have one major concern with my preparation. Because of various injuries and holidays I haven't got any decent long runs(runs over 1:30 mins) in for the last 4 weeks and I'm worried that five weeks is too short to get in enough long runs and if I do too many in this short time it will leave me spent come race day.