Not so much omens and woo woo as hard, clear data. For the fourth consecutive week I did the 80% of HRmax pace test.
Last week I was over the moon that the third lap, the test lap, was in 9:03. This morning I actually had to work like crazy on the pace-up lap just to get my heart rate anywhere near 149. Finally by the start of the measurement lap, which is on a slight uphill, I was able to get up to the target of 149. On this uphill section in previous my heart rate would easily creep up to 151 before I would have to adjust; today it only made it to 150 and then the slightest of easing would halt the increase and soon get it back to 149, or 148, or 147...I had to be really careful or it would just start dropping. And this was going uphill.
The time for the lap: 8:51 ... that's bloody 4:07/km!! There is no conclusion to be drawn from this other than that long, hard aerobic runs are just a veritable pot of training gold. My Tuesday and Wednesday runs over the past three or four weeks have really paid off in aerobic endurance. The comfort at a stiff pace in the race on Sunday was very real. And speaking of that, I felt absolutely no fatigue or soreness from the race until about 12 km into today's run. At this point I had to decide whether to do another lap of the park (that would result in over 18 km for the run) or head home. I was a bit torn, but was feeling that my legs were definitely not real happy about the pace we'd been running. I took that as a sign not to overdo it and pointed the pony for home. I still managed a reasonably fast park to home leg, but had to crack the whip to keep the legs turning over as they were definitely interested in a more relaxed pace.
This certainly bodes well for Tokyo, but still leaves me with a bit of head scratching to do. In particular, the sense of being underdone for genuine long runs. I could squeeze in a run of about 30-33 km this coming weekend, leaving 14 days for recovery, or just keep churning out as many of these 16 to 22 km aerobic runs as possible. It is also going to make a pacing strategy interesting. I am definitely fit enough now to be able to confidently go out at 4:10 to 4:15/km pace and hold it long into the race...but for just how long? And how bad will be the fade? I really want to avoid another fade of Ohtawara-esque proportions, so am inclined to try and be more conservative and feel relatively fresh coming into 30 km. Well, I suppsoe these are good problems to have. Better than worrying about how to optimize a running/cross training regimen that could get me to the start line of the marathon, which is where I was at only a little over a month ago.