February 01, 2012

When a runner's body takes over

Today I had a 24K session. In this type of run, I am aiming for a pace average of between 4:41 per K and 5:06 per K, which is 10 to 20 percent below my marathon goal race pace of 4:15 per K (which would get me across the finish in 2:59:xx.)

I felt tired at the start, which didn't surprise me, for several reasons. First, I am running a lot.

Second, yesterday's was a lactate threshold session, which I had done at night because the Squamish Titans, a multisport club I am a member of, held its monthly 5K time trial, or race, whatever you'd like to call it. Since my 16K included 6K at 15K to half marathon race pace, I opted to do the 5K with the group as it's more fun and mentally easier to chase others.

I would simply tack another kilometre at the end of the 5K and resist the temptation to race all out; I was aiming for 15K to half marathon pace, not 5K speed. I warmed up by running the 9K to the meeting point from home; it was dark and rainy, and a nice temperature for running.

With the group, a total of 16 plus the coach, we warmed up for another 2K and did three striders.

As everyone settled into their chosen pace and effort, I ran stride for stride with Andrew, another Titan, which was great as he even generously did the extra kilometre with me. We covered 5.89K in 23:59, or a pace of 4:06. My average heart rate was 162bpm. Perfect!

I ended up running 18K in total last night. On Monday, I had covered 16K after Sunday's 32K; including today's 24K, that's 90K in four days. Yeah, I had reason to feel tired today.

But as I got into a rhythm on the sunny trails, making my way to the dyke that runs along the Squamish River as it heads toward the Spit and the Estuary, a beautiful area offering spectacular views of the Howe Sound and the Chief, I noticed that as my mind was busy thinking about being tired, my body was showing that it didn't matter.

My legs kept moving in a smooth rhythm and Mr Garmin told me that my pace was exactly where it should be. My body had taken over to show that the fatigue I felt didn't mean that I needed to move at a slower pace; I was comfortable under 5:00 per K, and my heart rate was in the mid 130s.

As I wondered over the next few K whether this would only be a short burst of energy before I'd hit the inevitable wall, my legs kept moving at the same clip. So I relaxed and went along with it; I still felt tired but my body had taken charge and showed that it was firmly in control.

After a slow start - I ran the first 5.5K in a little over 30 minutes, I ran the bulk -19K - at an average pace of just under 5:00 per K.

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