This morning’s run was a race prep workout with lots of useful lessons. The workout: 20 miles in 2:05:30. Splits: 1:02:59 / 1:02:31. ~ 6:17 average pace.
I started the run faster than normal, looking to run the mileage at a fairly steady pace without much in the way of progression. The workout ended up coming in three distinct sections: First 10, next 5, last 5 – or Aerobic, Press, and Suffer.
The course is an out-and-back 10 miler that I do twice. Now that autumn is just about here, it is pitch black for the first 10 miles - which means I can’t see the watch. (My watch doesn’t have a backlight that works.) The faster start took a little getting used to, especially since the first mile is net uphill. I could feel the pace a little in the shoulders but I was hoping things would smooth out on their own. And they did. I took that as useful lesson #1. Don’t be too afraid of starting at pace.
After I got over the initial shock of the starting mile I felt very good. I ran with relative comfort, not pressing or straining, but certainly keeping the pace as fast as was comfortable while taking into consideration that I was still in the single digits. I imagined that I was running in a group and this mental image helped keep me on pace. I tried to disassociate a little as I figured I’d have to focus during the last half. I was very glad when I got back to the house to see the first 10 covered in 1:02:59 (time check courtesy of porch light). Useful lesson #2: running by feel can net good returns.
During the next five miles I tried to press ever so slightly without crossing the line to see if there was room to maneuver. I still felt good but was working harder now and paying attention to what I was doing a little more closely. The sun finally came up at mile 15 and the watch told me I covered this portion at a 6:09 pace. I turned for home with a good attitude and ready to work but what felt like a sub-6 mile came in again at 6:09 at mile 16. I knew then my game was played. Useful lesson #3: Don’t work it too hard too early.
Begin suffering. The last 4 miles were like being too close to the fire. As I crossed mile 16 and began mile 17 all the doubts that were silent before were ringing loud and clear. Lots of advice to call it at 16 and jog the last 4. But I had courage and strove on into the abyss. It hurt, I knew it would hurt, but I did it anyway. A simulation is a simulation after all. I focused on my form, tried to keep my stride light, and ran as hard as I could without straining. “Train, don’t strain” was what I kept repeating. Aerobically I was getting weary and I had to pay attention to avoid “going to the legs” – using a more powerful stride to keep pace which could bring on an injury. Lesson #4: Don’t be afraid to enter the hard miles. Lesson #5: Know your weak points (in this instance, lack of muscular strength).
The miles clocked in slower – especially on the inclines, but the times weren’t too bad. The abdomen was getting sore and the frame was getting sore. However, I still got a slight negative split after covering the last 5 miles @ ~ 6:23 pace. All in all, a good stimulus. The next four days will be easy paces and distances.