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A faster half marathon – Time trials and low heart rate running

After having 1,5 week off from running, I’m back and eager to start again. I still have one week of vacation time left and have every intention of putting it to good use. As stated last week, I’ve set up the plan for 5 workouts per week and this week will be the first time I’ll manage that.

This week has two short easy runs, two time trials with lots of PB’s and a long run that didn’t really go as planned.

Easy run

Coach Amy planned an easy 5K for my first day back. It’s already 16°C when I leave for my run, this won’t be an easy run at the pace Coach Amy wants me to run. Since getting my Garmin HRM Run two months ago and doing the lactate threshold test, I’ve been aiming to run all my easy runs in zone 2. It keeps my Garmin happy (it kept begging for more low aerobic runs) and, well… Garmin is right, easy runs should be easy and done with a low heart rate to get the most out of them. It’s hard to disobey the pace targets in the plan, but on some days the pace it wants me to run at is too fast. And on some days it’s too easy. I use the target paces as a guide to see how I’m doing, but my heart rate is what determines the pace.

The easy pace Coach Amy gave me was between 8:25 – 8:43 min/km, today I ran 5,2K at 8:50 min/km, better as expected. 

Tired run

I think resuming the training plan from being on pause has mixed up the workouts a little bit. The weekly tired/recovery run usually is planned for Monday’s, right after Sunday’s long run. There was no long run on Sunday as I resumed the plan on Monday and somehow the tired run is now on Tuesday. Fine for me.

It’s a warm morning again and I wasn’t feeling the dampy woods today. I head into town again. First part goes over an asphalt cycling lane through a small park, then to the path along the railway and back right through the city center. It’s a more social route as my normal forest area, lots more people around. Nice for a change.

It annoys me a little that I do a lot better on the runs when the Coach doesn’t give me a pace target. Today I ran within the normal easy run target, while yesterday would’ve been a perfect ‘tired’ run. In the end I guess it only matters for the plan’s confidence level. 

I ran 5,3K at an average pace of 8:27 min/km. 

Time trial – 1

My first time trial of the plan! A 1 mile run, as fast as I can. I haven’t attempted a fast mile since my previous time trial during the 5K plan with Coach Greg, which is when I ran my current 1 mile PB of 10:25 minutes. This was over a year ago, it’s time for a new PB.

I’m meeting a friend for this run, the same friend I agreed with to run the half marathon on October 11, race or no race. She’s a lot faster as me, so we never actually ran together. But for this short run, I’m hoping I might be able to keep up with her. My goal pace: 6:00 – 6:15 min/km.

After a short warming up, the time trial starts. I head out first, assuming I’ll be passed quickly. When that doesn’t happen I check my watch. Apparently I’m running at an average pace of 4:45 min/km, that’s clearly not going to last. My friend is now yelling at me that I’m going too fast. I know! I try to slow down and she finally passes me. It’s still a long way to go and I’m starting to struggle. I should not have started out so fast. It takes me a while to find my pace and I take a short walk break to catch my breath. My friend turns around confused, what are you doing?! I don’t know, breathing? I’m coming. I finally find a good pace and finish the last part of the run consistently at 6:20 min/km.

The time trial is over, did I make it? I save the workout and get the much anticipated message “2 new records!”. I beat my 1K PB by 17 seconds (now 6:04 min) and my 1 mile PB by 13 seconds (now 10:12 min).

We do another, slower run around the lake, making it a total of 4K and finish it off with a short strength training session. That’s probably enough training for today.

Time trial – 2

After the time trial yesterday I was excited to see what Coach Amy had in store for me next. Until the time trial is finished the next workouts are a mystery. Well, maybe she wasn’t satisfied with my result or just had to see if I could do it again. I have another 1 mile time trial today. Fun. 

No friend today to yell at me, but I have an empty cycling lane in my home forest. I know what I did wrong yesterday, lets see if I can fix my pacing today. I run a very even pace at 6:16 min/km, that’s a win already. And it’s enough, “1 new record!”, I beat my PB by another 7 seconds! My fastest mile is now 10:05 minutes. I’m sure Coach Amy will give me another 1 mile time trial soon, and the goal will be to get it under 10 minutes. We’ll see. 

Long run

After skipping all my long runs so far, I was really looking forward to this one. A short warming up and cooling down, plus a 12,87K long, easy run. The route was planned, the legs were ready. And then, after cancelling many races, this pandemic has now also managed to cancel my Sunday long run. I woke up on Saturday morning with a minor cold. My government clearly stipulates that the symptoms I had meant I was to stay inside. Family/dinner plans cancelled. Long run cancelled. By Sunday I felt pretty good again, but I needed 24 hours to pass. New plan: wake up at 6:00 on Monday morning, leave the house by 6:30 and get that long run done before work. 
 
The plan didn’t work out so well. It started great, I woke up at 5:55, but I didn’t manage to get out the door until 6:45. I calculated that I still had enough time for my run and be on time for work, so I left for my 12,87K run. After 1K I noticed myself calculation shortcuts of my route and how much shorter that would make the run. If I go straight instead of left here, it would just be 10K. Or even 8K if I cut it short a little further down the route. I’m usually able to kick these thoughts away, but not today. I felt a pain in my left foot that completely derailed my half marathon training last summer. I felt my right knee. I’m not even sure if there was really any pain, but I convinced myself going back home was the right thing to do. Not my best moment. 

I ran 5K at an average pace of 8:36 min/km. 
Summary

All in all a pretty good week, with a new 1K and 1 mile PB. I’m not happy about failing the long run, which in my opinion was really just me losing at the mental aspect of running. Next weekend, surely.

Next week has another time trial for me, this time a 5 minute version. Let’s see if I can beat my benchmark time.

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