I mentioned previously that my 5k race felt more like a fast tempo effort due to the fact that I was essentially running alone. I also mentioned that w/ the 5:45 average pace for that race I thought I might have "loosened up" the central governor a 1/4 turn or so. We decided to test that theory last Wednesday by moving away from the Threshold work to more of an Interval session w/ the 6 x 800m w/ 2.5-minute rests. I started those at 2:49 and worked my way down to 2:32, a bit better than expected for the HR data. This seemed to perhaps lend some credence to this theory.
Also, last week all of my runs were quicker than previous weeks while the HRs remained the same. Another good sign. But today it was time to determine once and for all where I stood - today we were back to Threshold work and the workout coach gave me was 2 x 2000m w/ 2-minute rests followed by a 1-mile. The target pace was 5:55 for the 2ks (so 7:21 overall) and then the mile at 5:50 flat. If in fact the governor was indeed loosened up and I was then "better than I was before", I should be able to easily hit these times w/ threshold level HRs.
Previously my T-paced work was between 5:55 and 5:58 per mile, this workout would give me an average of 5:53, but I could tell by the way coach described it that she expected me to be a bit faster than that, and frankly I expected that as well. It's "how much faster" that surprised the hell out of me today!
My instructions were to use the first repeat as a "warm up" if needed (i.e. go a little slower) but she wanted me to stay focused on the last two, as the idea was to get some lactic acid into the legs and have me run the last mile w/ that lactic acid to get used to pushing through. (something I perhaps didn't do during my 5k)
First rep came in at 7:18 (5:52 pace). A good start - it looked like I didn't need to start slow, and in fact hitting the time was quite easy. Now it was time to concentrate as things were certainly going to get tougher. After the first couple of laps of rep #2 I knew the pace was a bit quicker, yet everything felt smooth. I made sure I didn't pick it up too much - I still have that last mile to go, yet I came through in 7:11. After a quick calculation I realized, "hey, that's 5:46 pace" Not too shabby.
On to the mile. The fact that I had been running 5-laps per and this one was only going to be 4 seemed to give me a nice confidence boost. I told myself not to go out too fast and have to reign it in towards the end- I wanted more of a shallow bell shape curve to the pace (i.e first and last lap a little faster - middle 2 laps a little slower, but not by much)
First lap 80 seconds. Good start, now the plan was to hold an 85 second pace for the middle two laps. I could start to feel some lactic acid in the legs now, but I don't think it bothered me much: lap #2 - 85, lap #3 - 86. So far so good. A quick check of the HR showed 168. Perfect, right about 90% max. I picked it up slightly on the last lap, but made sure I didn't dig for home - it should be a threshold run all the way. Last lap 83, for a total time of 5:34!! Damn, a 5:34 mile at the end of a Threshold workout. That was nice to see.
It sure felt like I had improved last week when I was banging out 7-flat paces on my easier days, and I suspected that the race was good for me in that it let me know I could run in the 5:40s for a 5k. (leading up to the 5k, I hadn't done anything at "race pace" so I'm sure I lacked some confidence in the back of my mind) So that's what spawned the central governor theory and I suspected that the race had loosened it up a little - but this proves it. No way in hell I hit a 5:3x mile during a T-workout 3-weeks ago - not a chance. And really, how much more fitness can I gain in 2-3 weeks? Not much. This is all confidence, that's the difference. And honestly, I think this workout probably gives me even more confidence now.
Now it's time to make sure I don't do anything stupid - run anything "too" fast and get injured. I'm sure coach will keep me in check. Easy day tomorrow and then the Hill awaits my return on Friday.
Mon, 10/20: No Running. Lifting (upper-B, abs, legs including squats) stretching, rolling
Tue, 10/21: AM 4-miles @ 7:23
PM 6-miles @ 7:02 HR-151
Wed, 10/22 5-miles including 2 x 2k, and 1-mile w/ 2-minute rests (7:18, 7:11, 5:34) Average Pace: 5:45 for the roughly 3.5 miles