The day’s long interval run – 5 sets of 12 minutes at a pace 50 seconds faster than 21K pace – WAS a challenge. Man, that was tough! I don’t recall the last time I was challenged this much. The first interval was tough but I figured that I could keep that pace for an additional four sets. By the time I got to the third interval, the thought of quitting crossed my mind. By the fourth interval, I was seriously considering quitting but had to repeatedly coax myself to finish. You can do it, I was telling myself. I was already counting down the minutes. I had to keep on saying to myself that I should endure this discomfort because this is how tough it will be in a marathon.
I still managed to run slightly faster than the prescribed pace, averaging something like 60 seconds faster than 21K pace, or 10 seconds faster than the prescribed pace. But it was a wonderful feeling to push myself harder than usual. It’s a mental boost to discover that I still have stamina, despite my age!
I told David, my marathon training coach, that I had been holding back in the interval runs and because of this he modified the training plan. Instead of 20 seconds faster than 21K pace, he upped the intesity to 50 seconds. Now that's a challenge, I told myself.
Today's run was a “short interval run,” which meant that an interval would be 4 minutes long followed by 2 minutes of slow recovery. I was to do 6 intervals and was eager to find out if I could sustain a faster pace.
I was gung-ho in the first interval. What I thought was the prescribed pace came out to be much much faster. Instead of 50 seconds faster than 21K pace, I was doing 90 seconds! While I wasn't gasping, I was actually relieved that it was a faster pace because I doubted if I could run 5 more sets in that pace! So I dialed the pace down and it was closer to the prescribed pace, albeit still a tad fast, about 10 to 15 seconds off the mark.
While it wasn't an easy run, it was also not an exhausting run. I didn't feel drained. My legs didn't have that wobbly feel. I was breathing heavily but not short of breath. My gait still didn't feel smooth though. I didn't feel like I was coasting. I didn't feel like I was at a steady state. I guess my stance would improve as I run more intervals.
This week was the week I started doing interval runs. When I was in college, we did interval training. 8x400s or 12x200s. I hated interval training. It was brutal, exhausting, lung-burning. I would be woozy and gasping for breath. At that time I could do 400 meters in around 60 seconds during training and I would be so close to quitting after two-thirds of the way. Luckily our coach would continuously egg us on.
Now my interval training runs aren't that brutal. On Tuesday I did 5 sets of 2-minute runs supposedly 20 seconds faster than my 21km pace. I ended up doing the intervals at a much faster pace – around 90 seconds faster than my 21 km pace! Not a good idea, said my coach. Couldn't help it – it was funny running a fast pace after weeks of boring zone-2 runs.
Today I was scheduled to do longer intervals – 4 sets of 10-munute runs at 20 seconds faster than marathon pace. This time I held back and was quite successful in nailing the pace. It was still faster than the prescribed pace but this time it was around 10 seconds faster. In the end I was breathing heavily but not gasping. I could've gone an extra interval if I wanted. This was even more surprising considering that I only had 4 hours of sleep!
It was interesting that my HR drifted no higher than zone 3, which is between 147 and 165. According to my iSmoothRun logs, my HR was 67% in zone 3 and 28% in zone 2. I was expecting it to reach zone 4, maybe even zone 5. I guess this was because I was holding back from running a faster pace.