Monday, 11 February 2013

P.I.T. #3 - 11th February 2013

My last P.I.T. ended with the Kent County 10M Champs on 27th January - 15th place overall and 4th Vet/Masters.  This one picks up with recovery the following day and goes through the next two weeks until the Kent County Half Marathon Champs in Deal on February 10th.

Jan 28th 
15.5M in 2:09:22 (8:23 pace) @104bpm.  Tired from race yesterday - HR/Pace ratio poor and legs tired. Plodded it out okay.
5M with Lydia in 56:13 (11:16 pace)

Jan 29th
15.5M in 2:03:53 (8:01 pace) @107bpm. Started out slower than yesterday, but got into my groove. Hr high still though. More recovery needed; legs still sore
5.5M with Lydia. Wet and windy again, but running together always brightens my day. 59:28 (10:43 pace)

Jan 30th
15.5M in 2:01:00 (7:49 pace) @109bpm.  Legs starting to come back, but HR still seems high.  Legs still lack "zap" though - I seem to recover quicker from 30+M runs than from shorter, harder runs.

Jan 31st
5M easy on the NDW with Lydia in 55:25 (11:09 pace) @88bpm. Windy.  She felt bad early on, but felt better and picked up as we went on.  Nice loosener for me.
11M track session. 1.75M w/u + drills; 2M @MP in 12:19; 3km (10:30), 2km (7:09), 1km (3:33) with 200 jog between; 2M @MP in 12:18; 1.25M c/d.
The 2M@MP (marathon pace estimate) are getting faster which feels about right.  The 3km was okay until the 3rd km - made the following reps much harder.  Long way to go still, but going to stick at working at this pace (5:36).

January 2013 Total =  544.5M

Feb 1st
Big weekend of training coming up so just one easy run with Lydia - a massive 12M on the NDW making it her longest run ever!  Further than her age (11yrs)!  2:14:13 (11:06 pace) @88bpm.  Wettest and muddiest I ever seen that section of the Downs, so she really did well to hold that pace for so long.

Lydia's previous longest run: her unofficial 1:23 at the 2011 Folkestone 10M

Feb 2nd
Long tempo, late start (2pm) with no food beforehand - fat burner!  Usual 15.5M in 1:44:29 (6:44 pace) @128bpm. Was going to do 5km reps @MP, but couldn't face it, so opted for a (mentally) easier long tempo.  HR seemed high, but it was pretty windy.  Still not convinced I am fully recovered from the 10M race, let alone track on Thurs; could make for an interesting long run tomorrow...
Another 4M recovery with my good friend Mike in 39:32 ( 9:47 pace) @102bpm. Very high HR for me at that pace. Not good.

Feb 3rd
Anything Lydia can do... She ran her age, so... 40M for me! Ultra training!  Having been already tired and having done a long tempo the day before, I knew I was going to be starting with tired legs, so this was going to simulate running further than 40M.  An early start, a crisp morning (0C) and I was a little nervous and fairly excited at the prospect.
Ran all along the North Downs Way from Lenham to the Medway bridge and back. 3800ft of climbing, making it pretty much typical for the NDW50 and 100 courses.  On race day it'll be approx. miles 70-90.
Legs tired and weary from the go.  Bit wet and muddy early on, but the frost kept things under control. However, as I got further on and the temperature rose slightly, the mud just got worse and worse.  Hit the turn in 3:08:03 (9:30 pace) with the last, long descent from Bluebell hill getting really hard to run in places.  The return journey was far, far worse.  One of the hilliest sections between Detling and Hollingbourne I was averaging almost 14 min per mile - I could barely walk the downhills in places!  My ankles, feet, core and support muscles were all working overtime, but I made it back in 6:32:48 (sub 10min/mile) @106bpm (124 max) - my longest run ever in both distance and time.
I was pretty pleased with this.  The course record for the NDW100 is just over 17 hours - a little over 10min/mile.  I was running slightly faster in much slower conditions than we'll have in the summer.  The distance was much shorter, to be sure, but I came in with tired legs deliberately to simulate somewhat later stages in the race.  Now, I am a novice so I am clueless about all this ultimately and I am not suggesting at all that I could break the course record - there is no way really for me to know how I feel or cope in the last 30M or so of a 100M race ahead of time. But I do know that I am going very well and that this run should be a real confidence booster.  A fast half marathon would be nice and all, but this year is all about ultras. And the ultras are all about the NDW100.  And this kind of run is where the glory (or lack thereof) is ground out.

Week #5
Total = 144.5M

Feb 4th
10M in 1:27: 41 (8:43 pace) @99bpm. Course flooded in places. Legs better than expected, but appreciated an effortless plod.
8.5M with Lydia in 1:35:57 (11:14 pace) @84bpm. The girl's on a roll!  Big mile long hill in the middle of this which she rocked - she really loves pushing the hills.  She seems to be adapting to longer runs well and should see her paces drop fairly soon, I reckon.

Feb 5th
This was supposed to be VO2 max session for the fortnight but, not surprisingly so soon after a 40 miler, the legs did not agree with the training plan. Tim, who has been sick for ages, came out with me for the warm up, ran the first rep easy and went home early.  Nice to have him out with me - have really missed running with him. Total 10M - 5 reps up Liverton Hill (0.55M - peaks at 17-20% gradient). Reps were: #1 4:19 @128 (137max); #2 4:08@133 (144); #3 4:07@135 (144); #4 4:09 @137 (144); #5 4:09 @135 (144).  HR low, but felt hard = not recovered.  But a good session done.
8.5M again for recovery, this time alone (apart from Buddy the dog) in light snow.  1:12:01 (8:27 pace) @100bpm.  Much happier with this run - felt good.

Feb 6th
10M in 1:22:14 (8:09 pace) @100bpm. Feeling fresher and getting better - legs still a little weary towards the end. Still waiting for the sub 8mm pace / sub 100bpm runs - got it down to 7:45 pace and under 100bpm back in summer 2010 and would love to get back there before the big ultras.  Sharp, cold win out there today.
5M on NDW with Lydia   - v. cold and v. windy, but the girl's unbounded enthusiasm for running on the trails brighten us both up!  Forgot to restart the watch after putting Buddy back on the lead, but it was under 10:40 pace.

Feb 7th
8M on NDW with Lydia in 1:22:15 (10:18 pace) @92bpm (115 max).  The girl is starting to see the improvements from all her efforts - her pace is noticeably starting to drop now on her easy / steady runs. Nice loosener for me before track tonight.
11M track session with the club. 1M w/u; 2M @MP (12:12 @max of low 130s); 4 x 2km with 84secs recovery (7:00 @140, 149 max; 7:00 @145, 151 max; 7:01 @146, 150 max; 7:07 @145, 150 max); 2M @MP (12:24 @131, 136 max); 1M c/d.  This is definitely the best track session of the campaign thus far.  We have been doing these AnT sessions at 5:36 pace (84 secs/lap) sandwiched between 2 x 2M at marathon pace (MP). 2 weeks ago we did 3 x 2km and I slowed on the third - today I slowed on a 4th rep. Last week we did 3km / 2km / 1km and I was already slowing significantly on the 2km - today's 4th 2km rep slowed slightly less. The HR at this pace has dropped 3-5bpm too.  And in the same time (2 weeks) the MP has dropped from 94secs/lap to 92secs/lap with a more dramatic drop in HR (5-10bpm) - will probably drop it down further to 90secs/lap (6:00 pace) next time.  This is all good progress!  That said, I worked hard and my legs were shot at the end so I didn't force myself to hold pace on the last 2M when the legs were tired.
Need to recover before racing on Sunday.  The HM course is pretty hilly (75ft/mile) so I doubt I'll break 1:20 - when I mentioned it to Dec tonight he joked that having run 59:59 and 36:59 in my last two races I'd probably run 1:19:59.  We'll see.

Feb 8th
15.5M in 2:11:00 (8:25 pace) @99bpm.  Tired after last night's session, but listened to legs, paced accordingly and didn't get too tired at the end.
5M with Lydia in 53:24 (10:37 pace). No HRM. Nice easy loosener.

Change of plan / approach
Decided while running and chatting with Lydia tonight that I am going to shift the way I am training with immediate effect.
The 15.5M easy runs, even when tired, are typical of the way I have been training; typical of the way I love to train.  My body thrives on it.  I find that by maximising my mileage in this way, just so long as I listen to my legs and let them dictate the pace, my body slowly adapts - my HR drops, my pace naturally, without forcing, gets faster and I can run even further.  I adapt to running on tired legs (crucial, I believe, for ultras) and burn fat better (ditto), especially as I never eat beforehand.
In the past I have done these kind of runs and nothing else, just as a way of building base - sometimes even before adding a long run, let alone any faster running.  That's what I did late summer 2012 (and many times before over the years).  In the last few months of 2012 I incorporated speedwork and dropped the mileage dramatically to allow me physically and mentally to cope with the much-harder-for-me speedwork.
As 2013 started, I ramped the mileage back up while maintaining the speedwork.  It has been, in my mind, a great success - I have increased my fitness, dropped HR, run longer runs than ever before and improved my speed.  That said, I am not naive enough to think that this is either ideal or permanent - I know if I recover better between each session, I will benefit more from each session. So why not do that all the time?  Because I have found that by pushing the mileage in this way I get better progress when I drop it slightly and adopt more of a hard/easy approach.

En route to victory: North Downs 30K 2005

A good example of this is the best result of my life so far: the North Downs 30K in 2005.  I pushed the mileage up to 140mpw while doing some tough sessions too and progressed steadily.  I peaked with my first ever 160 mile week and then switched to a more distinct hard/easy approach - instead of easy days being 15M am and 7M pm, I just did 5M am and pm.  Immediately I saw big progress and it led to a perfect peak - all the benefits of the higher mileage were appropriated through the shift to a more distinct hard/easy pattern of training.
I am finding currently that I am going into all my speed workouts more tired than I would like.  More so, I have been unable to do any VO2 max training which, much that I hate it, is crucial for me to improve my AnT as much as possible, which is what I need for a decent HM PB come April.  I think I have done sufficient high mileage for now and I will return to it as we hit my main ultra season in April.  And it is not as if I'm about to do 30-40mpw or anything - we're talking 100mpw rather than 140mpw.
The bottom line is that I am trying to listen to my body; I have plenty of races and key workouts ahead and I am getting ever closer to my first A race of the year.  All in all, it seems like the right time to make the switch.  This weekend's HM is only a C race, but I need to recover more beforehand not only to do it justice, but also to benefit from it as a training race.
So the plan is to recover properly from here on in - more like 5M/5M than 15.5M/8.5M.  Recover properly before Sunday's County HM Champs to make it worth the effort and not let it derail the training; recover properly before the 10K on Wednesday so that it is more than another comfortable 37min jaunt; recover properly between workouts so that I can start to progress more from them so as to get as close as I can to the 75min HM target in April.
It starts now...

Feb 9th
5M in 43:37 (8:45 pace) @92bpm.  No mistype - ninety two beat per minute! That HR, on this course (moderately hilly) at that pace seems pretty good even for me.  Looks like my legs are recovering even before the additional focus on recovery.  Runs like this can seem, at first glance, insignificant but may ultimately communicate a lot.  Pleased.
Another 5M (same loop) in 50:28 (10:06 pace) with Mike Page and Lydia - Lydia pushing the pace and making Mike work.  She's really starting to see the fruit of her efforts - really happy for her.  A nice loosener for me - legs will fresher and ready to go tomorrow.  Forecast not so good - 25mph winds and heavy sleet/snow - definitely not expecting anywhere south of low 1:20s now.

Feb 10th
Deal Half Marathon (Kent County Champs)
Arrived later than planned and was a bit rushed - only managed 1M warm up, with the HR a little high (as it often is pre-race).  Noticed as we gathered at the start that I couldn't see many of the faster guys from the 10M champs a couple of weeks ago.  Maybe the forecast had kept them away?  I had been glad to awaken to find that the heavy sleet/snow that had been forecast for 11am just last night was now not due until late afternoon.  But it was still very cold (1-2C) and the wind was 25mph or so which would make it feel well below freezing.  I was here for a C race and was taking no risks: I wore a long sleeved Icebreaker merino top, a Concurve windstopper short sleeve on top and my club vest on top of that! Also wore thermal fleece tights and gloves.  Was amazed at how many were wearing shorts and, in a few cases, even just vest and shorts!  It's not compulsory race kit, guys!
When the gun went and we set off into the wind, we quickly settled down into our places - I found myself in a group of three or four in 5th place and back.  Ahead were two leaders (Daniel Watt of Tunbridge Wells Harriers and Gavin Kitchingham of Orpington RR who beat me to the bronze at the 10M champs a couple of weeks ago) and another group of two - including another V40.  I saw that one of the guys in my group was also a V40 so I knew I was in the V40 bronze medal group. 
I was keen not to set off too fast, having slowed at the end of the 10M and this being 3M longer, and so as we went on through the first few miles I slowly found myself breaking free from my group as the inevitable faster early pace wore off from those around me.  I am realising that I may just get a V40 medal if I don't slow too much at the end, which is pretty inevitable with my poor speed endurance.
Then I see something bizarre - up ahead Gavin is walking!  "Well," I think, "that's him out - must have pulled a muscle or something."  But then I look again and he is running, seemingly at the same pace, but now with the other two to make a group of three.  Strange.  We settle into a rhythm in the horrendous wind and it is Dan leading, the group of three (with two V40s) and then me.  The gap is not huge but it is enough and so we seem set to stay.  I close the gap a little as we approach mile 4 and then, in a single mile, everything changes.
As we pass the 4th mile marker the gap starts to close.  I have noticed that I am doing better on the hills.  I suspect this is because my HR is significantly lower than I had planned - in fact, it was starting to frustrate me: "Not rested enough again!"  On the hills I was able to get the HR higher while, if they were already at HM race effort, they would not be able to do so as readily.  I knew from looking at the course beforehand that the biggest climb was just after mile 4 and as we hit it I made a concerted effort to get the HR up near AnT.  The gap started to close and just as I was within a few metres, Gavin stopped again!  (Afterwards he told me he had felt sick, but it had cleared up at around 6M - he went on to finish 4th.)  Then I passed the other two just as I crested the top of the hill - I continued pushing into the strong wind over the top and opened up a gap.  At this point I knew it was not about hitting prescribed HRs that might cause me to fall apart at the end again, but I was now in a race for county championship medals and I need to pace myself carefully.
Long story short, that was how it stayed until the end - Dan way ahead in the distance and me running scared and holding a small but significant lead over 3rd place.  I finished 2nd overall and 1st Vet40/Masters earning me silver and gold county medals respectively (my first ones ever) and £35 of vouchers from Runners Retreat
With approx 1M w/u and 2M c/d, it was just over 16M for the day - couldn't quite motivate myself to get out and do any more miles post-race.  Ian Forrest, you didn't help! ;)

Week #6
Total = 117.5M

Here's the data (time; avHr, maxHR; elevation gain (in ft) / elevation loss):
Mile 1 - 6:07; 137, 145; 105/0
Mile 2 - 5:59; 140, 144; 23/52
Mile 3 - 6:35; 142, 149; 102/46
Mile 4 - 5:59; 142, 145; 43/69
Mile 5 - 6:30; 147, 150; 118/0
Mile 6 - 6:13; 144, 146; 33/0
Mile 7 - 6:07; 142, 150; 75/105
Mile 8 - 6:02; 141, 147; 49/82
Mile 9 - 5:53; 140, 144; 0/43
Mile 10 - 5:55; 138, 145; 0/85
Mile 11 - 5:56; 141, 146; 92/118
Mile 12 - 6:16; 144, 147; 92/0
Mile 13 (+.1) - 6:25 (5:46 pace); 142, 147; 10/131
Total = 1:19:56 @141.5 bpm (150 max), 741ft elevation (56.5 ft/mile)

Comparing this to the Canterbury 10M just 2 weeks ago is interesting:

                               Pace           AvHR        MaxHR      Elevation/mile
Canterbury 10M:   6:00 pace    147bpm    155bpm    40.4ft
Deal Half Mara:    6:06 pace    141.5bpm  150bpm    56.5ft

After complaining about strong winds and hills in the 10M race, today the wind was much stronger and the hills harder.  Despite that, and despite the extra 3.1M, I was only 6secs/mile slower and my HR was around 5bpm lower.  That is good progress in just two weeks!  And in addition there was less slowing / crashing and burning in the final stages.  I was definitely struggling to hold the effort over the last few miles, but had I eased even a couple of bpm then I'm sure I could have continued a while longer.  That gives me confidence for the first B race of the year and the next County Championship: Thanet 20M in 3 weeks.
The only negative is that I'm not sure I could have got my HR up that extra 5bpm even if I had tried harder.  That is why I am committed to recovering more between hard workouts which will hopefully see me progress in that area.  A great test of this will be on Wednesday when, after just two days recovery, I am racing another Gravesend 10km - this time I won't be cruising round with Tim (who has been sick for a few weeks and will be taking it easy if he runs at all), but simply aiming for the highest average HR I can manage for the race.  Recover thoroughly, work harder.