It's the time of the year for new beginnings - the first daffodils popped their heads out of their green cocoons a few days after new years, adding a bit of welcome colour to the garden. The time feels right to awaken from my slumber and do something more meaningful and structured with my running. It's been a long time since I sniffed the sweet nectar of a PB and this has made me apathetic. It may take a while to reach those dizzying heights again and with the uphill struggle against an ageing body I may never get there - but it's time to test the waters and see what I can squeeze out of a bit of structured training.
My easy runs are not as effortless as they used to be, which tells me that my aerobic base still needs building. Therefore I did not deviate from my weekend tempo/long run double act to taper for the Dungarvan 10 miler last Sunday and instead ran it as a progression run from 7:20 down to 6:40 pace, which is all I could manage, having completed a 20 miler the day before. Still it was a good enjoyable effort - starting with the 75 minute pacers - passing the 70 minute pacers at mile 6.5 and finishing up a few seconds under 68:30, well shy of my PB - my philosophy being that a 20 mile run the day before is more beneficial training than knocking a few more minutes out of a 10 mile race, particularly as I am training for back to back marathons in just over 2 weeks time. The training even gets more specific this weekend where about 10 to 15 souls will complete a full recce run of the back 2 back experience, at the invite of the Race Director. This is the first time i have been "invited" on to such a select shortlist - I guess there were no other nutters out there.
Rather that use the race on Sunday to assess where my running "is at" I opted for the less stressful method of running 5 miles around the track at Tuesday evenings club session. I have done this test on and off over the last 2 years at a constant 140 HR with the recorded average pace and pace drift ( pace variation from mile 1 to 5) giving a good indication of my general aerobic and endurance fitness. Rather that stick rigidly to the 140 HR (I should drop it by 1 every year to ensure I am running well within the aerobic zone) I dropped to 138HR this year and in order to have a direct comparison with previous years I assessed the number of heartbeats it takes to run 1 km, which should remain constant year on year for a specific level of fitness. For example I found that when I was in peak aerobic shape in 2011 & 2012 I was running a km with 600 heartbeats. Tuesday's session revealed that it currently takes me 621 HBs to run 1 km (averaged over a 5 mile run) which tells me I have a little to go before my aerobic base is complete. Also the drift from 7:03 to 7:25 pace from mile 1 to 5 suggests that my endurance base needs a bit of "tidying up" also. Although I am in a slightly better place than I was this time last year - covering the 5 miles in less time and with a lower HR.
Mile 3 of my 10 mile Progression on Sunday (Courtesy: Joe Murphy)
Mile 9.75 with Clubmate Anne Marie - Looking a bit more Stressed. (Courtesy: Joe Murphy)