Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Last Night My Run Training Was A Failure...Or Was It?

So it was Monday night and it was time for my threshold run. The purpose of this run is to help elevate the barrier between the aerobic engine and the anaerobic engine. The higher the aerobic capacity you have, the faster you can run for longer. Seems simple enough.

It is for training sessions like this where it is very useful to know what you aerobic limits are. As I have mentioned before, this is where I have had my lactate threshold (that barrier we mentioned) tested by Jeff Zahavich at Kinesic Sport Lab in Halifax. There are less precise ways to calculate this barrier, but I figure, why bother having all these technological gadgets on our wrists and do all this training and not be as precise as possible. So armed with a small range of heart rate numbers we call Zone 4, I headed out for this weeks threshold run.

I started my doing my threshold runs 3 weeks ago (start of phase 2 of my training program) with a 15 minute run at pace. Then I increased that by 5 minutes for the next 2 weeks hitting 25 minutes in Zone 4 last week. This week was going to be a 30 minute run in the zone, but I finally hit a wall.

I ran through the 10 minute Zone 1/2 warm up gradually increasing my speed and heart rate and at 10 minutes picked it up. I started running pretty fast, my lungs adjusted and things felt okay. But then 10 minutes in my legs said, no more. It wasn't pain, it was just a lack of ability to run fast. I had been running at a pace around the 3:50 min / km mark. That seemed awfully fast to me, but the heart and lungs were quite happy. It was just the legs that said no.

At first I was rather sad as this was the first failure in my training plan. But then I realized, I am 10 weeks into my plan and this was the first real failure (other than being sick for 2 days). Now the question was, where was the failure?

I spent the rest of the scheduled 45 min run dropping back to a Zone 1/2  recovery run, eventually covering 10.5 km. And during that run I had plenty of thinking time.

During that time it all became rather simple to see the failure of my ways. Simply put, too much. I really should have been able to run a 30 minute threshold run at this point. But not 2 days after an 18 km easy run, because even though it is called an easy run, it is 18 km. Also last week I began experimenting with an increase in my running cadence, which while fine on shorter runs, obviously requires a slightly higher energy output until adaptation occurs.

So yeah too much and not enough rest. But why that title for this blog post? Because this one run could have become a huge set back if I didn't use my brain and adapt. I could have pushed harder and tried to get the 30 minutes in or even 25 minutes, but I didn't. I held back, dropped to an easy pace and made this a recovery run. I then used that time to analyse why things went wrong, and it is through these small failures that we figure things out.

So next week? Well, the increase in my long run distance will be slightly less, and I will make sure to rest better before I attempt hitting 30 minutes in a threshold run again.

On the plus side my athlete kicked butt and finished her run and is flying heartily through her training program.


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