55 days to go: 20 km run

I am happy that I was able to complete the scheduled 20-kilometer run today. The training schedule called for an easy 6k run, followed by a fast 7k, ending with an easy 7k. I had been preparing (dreading?) this long run for many days now. Yesterday, I had bought a bottle of Gatorade and stuffed the fridge with chocolate milk.

I was out the door by around 530 am, carrying a bottle of Gatorade and two packets of energy gels in my running belt. As it was still dark outside, I considered wearing reflectors but changed my mind. I figured that the skies would be illuminated by the light of dawn by the time I would hit the busy roads.

The route I chose was not an easy route. Fort Bonifacio is not a flat course. It had long, uphill roads, especially the one leading up to McKinley. I told myself that if I am lazy to tackle difficult, hilly routes then what more when I face the struggles and difficulties of a 42-kilometer run?

The first 6 kilometers was uneventful. My heart rate was steady at zone 2. The weather was cool. There weren’t that much cars on the road. People probably were still too lazy (or hungover) from Christmas celebrations.

The next 7 kilometers was tough but not too much of a challenge. The actual challenge was trying to nail the exact pace of 40 seconds below marathon pace. I hate it when I feel that I am maintaining a steady pace but my running app fluctuates wildly. The app was registering a deviation of up to 3-minutes plus-or-minus when I know I am running a constant pace! Is it because the GPS is spotty at the Fort where there are tall buildings and scaffolds above the roads? Or is it because iPhone GPS signals are more erratic than other devices (like Garmin watches)? It makes me begin to consider buying a running watch.

The last 7 kilometers, despite the easy pace, was not “easy.” My lungs weren’t bursting but my legs were heavy. I felt depleted. Again I told myself that this is how I would feel in the second half of a marathon. I would be drained and depleted. I should get accustomed to that feeling. So I sloughed through, one shuffle at a time, keeping my form in check, trying to relax, keeping my body erect, my head up, eyes looking forward.

I finished the 20k in 2:27:55. The sun was already up when I finished. I was still a good 500 meters away from home so I treated that walk home as a “cool down.”

Sunday is my next long run, and it is actually a 21k run event called Hashtag Fun Run. I am looking forward to it.



84 days to go: a much better long run

I wrote that yesterday’s run was a tedious run. Well my Sunday “long” 12-kilometer run was much better.

I was able to get a good sleep. I flopped to bed at about 10:30 pm and got up after 8 hours. Then I took another nap at around 2:30 pm and I think I overdid it because I woke up heavy and sluggish at around 5 pm. I promised myself that I would run no matter how late so I fired up the usual gadgets, laced up my shoes, and hit the pavement.

The day’s training plan called for an easy 4 kilometers, followed by 4 kilometers at 20 seconds faster than my marathon pace, ending with an easy 4 kilometers. After a few minutes of easy running I knew that yesterday’s drudging run was already history. There was zip in my legs. Gone was that feeling of lethargy. All systems were back to normal.

The second part was no different. I tried to coast, keeping a high cadence, but my iSmoothRun app kept on cueing me to go faster or slower despite what I felt was a steady pace. I am not sure if it is a glitch in the app or if it is because of spotty GPS in my area. I figured that if would rather err with a faster pace so I kept on running at what I thought would be the correct pace. It came out that I was running at 20 seconds faster than the prescribed pace. Despite that I didn’t feel exhausted or fatigued. I was breathing heavily but not gasping for air.

As a side note, the run took me to this stretch of road where cars tend to zoom by. I would reach that spot whenever a run was 10 kilometers or longer. The sun had totally set when I reached that part of the route, and the road had no functioning lamp posts so it was dark and cars had their headlights on. I had strapped reflectors and ran against the traffic, but I still couldn’t “tune out” and had to be alert for swerving vehicles, not to mention a few motorcycles or bicycles that don’t have headlights. This is the reason why I try as much as possible to avoid running at night.

I slowed down for the third part of the run. Actually I thought I would hit my zone 2 pace but found that I was still running relatively fast. I also wanted to see how long before my heart rate returns to normal. When the app cued me to go into the slower recovery pace, it told me that my HR was 172. After one kilometer of what I thought was a slow pace, HR dipped to 164. It never reached zone 2 however.

After a few hours, my coach advised me that he would review the data and see if I should increase the pace for the subsequent runs. I expect that he would since I feel that I have just been on cruise control.

Run stats:

  • 12 kilometers in 1:27:45
  • Interval pace – 7:50, 6:29, 7:36
  • Interval HR – 135, 163, 163.
  • Time in HR Zones – 1% in Z1, 37% in Z2, 38% in Z3, 24% in Z4.

90 days to go: 15 kilometer long run

My training plan for today called for a 15 kilometer run. Fortunately my training coach didn't prescribe the usual 15-kilometer long slow run where I would run at an easy pace. That would be so boring and tedious. My training plan was to run the middle 5 kilometers at a fast pace – 20 seconds faster than my marathon pace before reverting to an easy pace.

So the first 5 kilometers was the usual slow monotonous drudging run. The middle portion was where it got a bit challenging, if not fun. I had set my iSmoothRun app to provide me audio cues every minute so at least I would know how close or how far I was from the pace. I tried to maintain the prescribed pace but found myself running faster again. The voice coming out of my headphones told me to go faster but every time I finished the one-minute interval I discovered I was running 5 to 10 seconds faster. Maybe I should program iSmoothRun to be 5 to 10 seconds slower.

In the end, it wasn't a drop-dead exhausting run, though I did find it difficult to get my HR back to zone 2 after the fast interval portion. My “easy pace” has been somewhere between 7:45 to 8:30 but even if I ran at that pace, my HR hovered around 166.

Run stats: 15 kilometers in 1:52:54, first 5K at a 7:55 pace, second 5K in 6:34 pace, last 5K in 8:06 pace. Average HR was 134, 167, 167 respectively. I was able to maintain a good cadence throughout, averaging 91 for the whole run.

125 days to go: 10k run

Sunday is long run day for me. Ok, so 10k isn't exactly a long run, but it is the longest run of the week. My training cycle begins next week so until then I'm taking it easy and following a formula of 30-minute runs on weekdays and reserving the weekends for LSDs i.e., long slow distance.

The challenge I have though on the LSD runs is the “slow” part. I once lamented on the difficulties in maintaining a slow pace. I'm supposed to run at a pace that is 60-70 percent of my max heart rate, the so-called Zone 2. Using last week's fast run as my gauge, I had set my max heart rate at 190. With that, calculations had shown that my Zone 2 is below 151.

So I ran the 10k nice and slow. Pacing was about 8:15 to 8:30 a kilometer, yet, towards the second half of the run, my HR was already breaching 150! I was sweating but was nowhere near tired. No fatigue at all. My legs were still ok, despite maintaining a cadence of close to 90. I was barely huffing and puffing. I could hold a conversation but would have to stop between sentences to catch my breath. I slowed down not because I was tired but because I really wanted my HR to go below 150. I finished the 10k run in about 1 hour and 24 minutes but I still had energy and could've run an extra kilometer or two.

Still I should count myself fortunate that I could run for 90 minutes and that I could cover 10 kilometers with no problems. At least I am still fit enough to do that.