Thursday, November 6, 2008

Tough Threshold Day

Being that it's Thursday, it means I did in fact push my Threshold workout back a day.  The CMT really hammered on my quad for a good 35-minutes on Monday and the soreness from that lasted well into Wednesday and there was no point in pushing it.  I ran my easy morning 4-miler on Tuesday, but the soreness made that uncomfortable so I bagged the evening 6-miler.  I skipped Wednesday all together.  Good news is that the quad isn't as tight, but it will still need some work.

In regards to the workout, it was NOT 2-mile repeats - it was 3k, 3k, 2k (essentially 5-miles instead of six).  So although it was a bit of a reprieve, it was still going to be a really tough day.  

Making things tougher, I ran the workout at noon as opposed to my usual 9:30 - 10:00 am in order to get the temps up to help the quad.  Not usually a good idea to make sure the temps are UP when running a workout like this, but the quad was top priority today.  (the delta wound up being about +12-degrees compared to the typical workout temp)  I warmed up the quad really good - and the good news was that it gave me ZERO problems today.  Didn't feel any stiffness and not even a single "tug" anywhere during the day.

Coach set target paces as follows:  (3-min break between each)

First 3k:  slightly under 6:00 pace
Second 3k:  5:50-5:55 pace
2k:  5:45-5:50 pace

This was certainly a good deal of volume for me at these paces, but I've been crushing the previous T-workouts and it was simply time to step it up.

First 3k was run in 11:03 (5:55 pace) and felt nice and smooth.  Unfortunately the HR peaked at 171 which is 2 clicks higher than I was expecting.  I assumed the higher temps had something to do w/ it, and I was concerned that this foreshadowed some nasty "discomfort" heading my way a little later.

I picked it up during the 2nd 3k according to plan.  At the mile split I clocked in at 5:47, but shortly thereafter I started to feel it.  HR peaked out at 174 (again 2-beats higher than I was hoping for) but unlike the previous 3k, this time it felt like the HR was up.  I pushed through OK finishing in 10:55 (5:51 pace)  At least the last rep was only going to be 2000m, a 3rd 3k would have been really tough from here.

For the 2k I headed out at a great pace, but the total volume plus the effort required to get the previous rep finished was clearly catching up w/ me now.  After 1200m it crossed the line from "comfortably hard" to just plain "hard".  However, I knew that these final 800m was essentially THE workout.  Everything I had run previously was just to get me to this point.  I didn't let up on the throttle one bit.  The HR was only 171-172 so really this was just "mental anguish", not physical  (at least that's what I told myself).  I came through in 7:12 (5:48 pace).  Not quite what I wanted (I was looking for 5:40-5:45) but under the circumstances I thought I did pretty well.  I knew I gave all of the effort that I should during a T-workout, anything more would have crossed the line into time-trial territory.  Max HR was 172, not too bad considering the total volume on the day.

Overall - 8km (about 5-miles) at an average pace of 5:52.  I hoped to average 5:50 on the day, but I'll take it.

Several hours later and the quad actually feels BETTER than it did this morning. . . . and that's good because I've got a godawful hill repeat workout scheduled just 2-days from now. . .


Mon, 11/3:  No Running.  Lifting (upper-B, abs) stretching, rolling.  Appointment w/ CMT - focus on left quad.

Tue, 11/4:  AM  4-miles easy @ 7:16 pace
                    PM - canceled.  (quad still sore from massage)

Wed, 11/5:  Off Day (unscheduled)  Still sore, probably would have been fine for an easy run but decided to rest up instead.

Thurs,  11/6:  6.5-miles including 8k @ 5:52 pace.  (3k-3k-2k) in 11:03 (5:55 pace), 10:55 (5:51 pace), 7:12 (5:48 pace)  3-minute breaks between each rep.


Mike said...

I like these types of workouts, as I did something similar while working on my 5K (2K x2, 1K x 1). Your description of "mental anguish" seems appropriate, and it sounds like you stayed tough and had a good workout.

Thanks as always for the comments and good running to you.

Ewen said...

You did pretty well. Must be a relief there was no quad trouble.

I'm interested in the difference between 'comfortably hard' and 'plain hard'. In the second 3k for instance, did you have more in the tank (was it less than racing effort)? How does the average/max HRs compare from this workout to what you'd be getting in an 8k race?

Mike said...

Thanks for the comments guys - always nice to see.

Ewen - none of the reps were up to what I'd consider a "race" pace. I try to keep the max HR on these threshold runs between 90%-92% of max HR. I don't have hard data - but my best guesstimate is that my max HR is about 186-188, so 92% is about 172. I try not to go over that, although I did on the 2nd 3k. I believe the reason is that the workout paces are set based on previous results/HRs and all of those were during morning workouts where the temps were 12-degrees cooler. Not complaining about the temps as it was only about 70-72 degrees during the workout, but I believe this temp difference added about 2-beats/min to all of the efforts yesterday compared to expectation. Had I wanted to, I'm sure I could have gone considerably faster on the 2nd 3k, but that would have left me dead in the water on the final 2k!

In regards to what I'd expect in an 8k race - good question. I've never run an 8k race. In fact, I've only run one road race in my life and that was the 5k I ran last month. (no HR data for the race - forgot the strap) Back when I used to actually run, I was a 100m - 400m guy, so all of these distances are foreign to me.

One of the things I'm really working on is my "mental approach" to these longer distances. I tend to either lose concentration and/or fail to push through when it starts to get "hard". I'm just not used to it and I think it's a "skill" that needs to be trained/learned/developed - thus the reason for some of these higher volume threshold workouts. I've got a 4-mile tempo run next week which will REALLY be tough for me - likely to be 70% mental and only 30% physical. (Now if I were to do balls to the wall 400m-600m repeats, I AM mentally geared for that and I can do those well - but I guess it's because that's what I used to do in my previous life) So I'm mentally stronger going faster rather than slower - weird I think, because lots of experienced distance guys HATE running all out 600 meters - to me it's a FUN day!

I guess the long and short of it is transitioning from "comfortably hard" to "hard" for me is I start to feel different enough that I'd prefer to stop running (this only occurred in the last 800m of the 2k - the final rep) Now for a "mentally stronger" guy I'm sure he wouldn't feel like stopping, but this is what I need to practice - pushing through, because physically I should not have a problem at that point. If I ever want to be a good "racer" at 5k or 8k, I need to go considerably beyond what I feel during these workouts so if they are in fact close to "race pace" it only means I'm a WIMP!!

Not that I'm confident that any of this really answers your questions . . . .

bricey said...

good to hear that the quad held up and the extra day recovery was certainly the right decision. That's a nice (i.e. hard) workout you did and doing it solo without the adrenelin of a race must give you alot of confidence for next year's season. Were you on road or track?

Also do you plan on running any indoors next spring? It would certainly give you some nice feedback ahead of the outdoor season.

Mike said...

Hey Brendan - congrats on the baby once again!

I do all my tempo/threshold stuff on a track. (most people hate the it, but I'm a track guy so I actually prefer it!)

My coach wants me to do indoor nationals, but I'm going to put that off until the following year. Instead I'm going to run some "winter track" out here in CA where it's outdoors to get me ready for Spring/Summer. I think that starts in February or March.

In two weeks I start my preliminary speed work and I'm very much looking forward to that, but the quad needs to be 100% by then that's for sure.

bricey said...


I just saw your comment to ewen. I can fully empathise with your thoughts re. concentration for the longer runs/races. Also being a ex track runner I feel exactly the same particularly in 5k to 10k races. It is a skill to be acquired. Up to 10k you have to have the ability to 'concentrate' on maintaining a 'quick' pace but also you have to handle the effects of a prolonged period in a zone approaching max heart rate.

I think that it's a 'bit' less of an issue for the 10M / HM / M races as the heart rate is generally lower so you only have to concentrate on the pace!!

bricey said...

thanks mike,

I can understand your love for the track. It can get repetitive for the longer intervals but measurement / pacing is much more controlled at least you don't have to deal with any hills!! Also running round and round and round a 400m circuit will certainly help with your concentration.

winter track racing .. the joy of living in a warm climate!! :-(

Ewen said...

Thanks Mike - that explains it pretty well.

Regarding the mental aspect of different types of training - although I'm slow, I don't mind short/fast intervals. The ones I don't like are longer efforts (600 to 1000s), with short recoveries.

In 3-5k races on the track, or up to 10k on the road, I tend not to push to the absolute maximum if the early splits don't indicate a good time is on. This is probably a mental weakness that I need to work on. In the old days I was willing to "kill myself" in every race, even if I was outside a PB time.