All my runs for the week were “easy runs” – that is, runs within Z2. It was a welcome respite from all the interval work that I had been doing. It has always been tough to squeeze in some quality runs during Christmas with all the parties, drinking sprees, and horrible traffic jams. This is the season of traffic deadlocks as people trek to malls for Christmas shopping. Friday (December 19) was supposed to be a “traffic armaggedon” as it was the last weekend before Christmas. Malls have been advised to close at 11 pm to spread out traffic but I think it made things worse.
Anyway, as I mentioned above, it's good that all I had to do was easy runs. I didn't have to do intervals. I could do the runs in the evenings and I could get a few more minutes of sleep. And since the runs were easy I could do consecutive days. Monday, for example, was when we had our office Christmas party. I had a few glasses of wine, left the venue at around 11 pm, but there was a traffic jam that kept me on the road for more than an hour. I got home at close to 1230 am – a 1 1/2 trip which normally would take me 30 minutes. Then another event made me get home around midnight. So instead of a rest-run-rest-run routine I rested on Monday and Tuesday and ran on Wednesday and Thursday.
Today’s 10K was even slower than last week’s 10K!
Again it wasn’t because I was tired or fatigued. It’s that I had to keep my HR below 146 as advised by my training coach. So while last week, my slowest pace was fluctuating around 8:30 a kilometer, this run found me around the 9:00 range. Well, to be fair, my average HR last week was 151 while today’s average HR was 145.
Mental note to self: run easy runs at 9 minutes per kilometer.
Run stats: time was 1:26:22, average HR was 145, maximum HR was 156, 56% in Z2, 43% in Z3.
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.
I have been doing easy runs. How “easy?” Very easy. So easy that it’s downright boring.
Many running sites (like this one) recommend a per-mile pace of 90 seconds to 2 minutes slower than marathon pace. Now my marathon pace is already slow to begin with – if I target under 5-hours, then my marathon pace will be 11:30 thereabouts. So my easy runs should have a pace of 13:00 to 13:30?
OK, since I am a country that uses the metric system, that’s 8:26 per kilometer. And my last easy run was done at an average of 8:28, does that mean I can do a sub 5 hour marathon?
My easy runs are based on heart rate. I have to keep my heart rate below 140. It’s not easy keeping your heart rate low. There’s this tendency to run faster. Your body is just aching to speed up. I still sweat but I don’t feel any muscle pain or any fatigue. I really wonder if this is effective but it seems all running websites point out that easy runs are effective. On the bright side, I don’t wake up dreading to run. When I haul myself out of bed, I just tell myself that this will be a boring painless 30-minute run. I tell myself that I would usually play iPad games for 30 minutes so I can easily sacrifice that for marathon training.