Thursday, November 08, 2007

A tough one

Had a pretty tough workout last night. I was proposing another tempo run, this time 12 km, and was going to write an email to Joachim to invite him to join me. Before I could, he wrote to me and announced he was doing 3 x 4.4 km "intervals" at 3:47/km with a mile recovery between each. My first reaction was to gulp. My second was to think that, well, that structure would be similar to a good tempo run. Tempo intervals I think they call it. Having not done any intervals quite as long as that (I think the most I've done is 2 km), I decided what the heck, but I told him that my target pace would be more likely to be 3:50.

And 3:50 is what we set out to do. I developed a sore left fetlock (soleus) during the first interval, but decided to press on. Despite a bit of concern about more severe damage, I went on to complete the workout, though it did suppress my pace a bit on the third rep as you can see from the data:

Time Pace HRav
16:43 3:48 155
16:41 3:48 156
16:56 3:51 154

Again noteworthy is how stable and low my heart rate stayed for this pace. At any other time in my running history, 3:50/k pace would have seen me getting over 160, if not in the first or second km, at least by 3 and 4. But not at the moment.

Before anybody gets too excited about what this means, I can assure you that it does not mean I can run a 4:00/km marathon. It just means that lactate threshold is not the limiting factor. There is no doubt in my mind that my legs would give way at around 25 km if I went out at that pace. In fact they might give way at 4:10/km. So balancing the theoretical potential against the biomechanical realities is what makes the selection of a target pace really interesting for this marathon. In some ways it comes down to a simple question: how bad do ya want it? How much pain are you willing to withstand? I suppose a lot depends on how the rest of the taper goes. But it is indeed getting interesting, even for me.


Christian said...

`how bad do ya want it? How much pain are you willing to withstand?'
sounds familiar...

anyway, congratulations to your workout! (i personally believe that this tempo intervals are a good training)

2P said...

FWIW I've never been convinced that anything over 5k to 7k (absolute max) at true tempo pace is that worthwhile in training - I think the reps you did in this session will be of much more value. You pose an interesting question about how much pain are you willing to withstand - I would ask I slightly different question - how much pain are you willing to enjoy? Because mate when it ceases to be fun it aint worth doing - but if it hurts and you are still having fun (and pain and enjoyment are not mutually exclusive) then keep on going!

Scott said...

Hey Steve, I hope this isn't what 2P is really trying to say.

Ewen said...

Sadly, the pain you will inflict on yourself will last longer than 28 seconds ;)

When I saw that workout in your diary I was quite impressed. It's a bit unusual - I guess you run a little faster than you would for 13k straight as a tempo run.

4:00/k pace is interesting in that it's an arbitrary number. I mean, 4:03s or 5s might be more comfortable, although more taxing on the mental arithmetic side of things. If you were American, you'd be running 6:30 miles instead (2:50 pace).

Being 'on' a 'big PB' target will be a big advantage motivation-wise, especially if all goes well up to 30+k. Running at a 'little PB' target could be harder as there will be very little time in the bank.

Leave the pacing decision until the last week - no harm in that.

Clairie said...

looks like you are in great shape Steve and the blog is exciting reading....I will be just as keen as you to see how you fare.

sub 4min pace is a dream even for 500m for me.......but one day i'll be back :))))))))

Anonymous said...

Did Joachim happen to say why he wanted to do 4.4k as opposed to 4k, speaking of round numbers?

Anonymous said...

we had a great workout on Wednesday. I enjoyed every round and as I said:" if we die today during the workout, we die running fast" For me it was very hard. I tried not to imagine that this speed has anything to do with the M itself.
Bob asked about why I was doing 4.4k rather than 4k. Well, I think this is a psyco trick I guess. The last 400m are an extra round which I try to run all out. These 400m are mentally detached from the 4ks ran befor somehow. (know what I mean?)

As for your goal pace for M day, Steve, it might be a good idea not to think about the big goals, e.g. PBs, sub 2:5x or sub 2:4x or whatever but rather to prepare yourself for the "incremental step goals". It goes like this: First 5k I want to find an easy pace and set a goal window for that (e.g. 4:05-4:10 or...). Don't think about the M! Then try to stroll on the next 10k. Until the HM the pace should not feel hard. It should feel easy. After the HM wait another 5-8k without pushing. THEN, the Marathon starts and you should think about your goal EVERY SECOND!