Those who have been following my training on the podcast know that this training cycle hasn’t been going well for me. I’ve struggled with heat, humidity, asthma, stomach problems, and most recently, bronchitis. I haven’t been able to hit my workout targets in months, and recently DNF’d a half marathon.
I have a ton of excuses why this training hasn’t been improving my fitness, despite my getting out there for damn near every run I had planned. The fact is that I have been putting in the mileage, and my training paces are not lining up with my most recent race effort (27:46 5K). According to that race, my LT pace should be around 9:09, and my MP runs at 9:45 should be quite manageable by now. But that is not the case. I attempted an MP run yesterday, and averaging 9:50 in 45F temps, still felt like the effort was WAY too hard, and still had to stop to walk during the 5 miles that I completed.
So, what the heck is going on? This morning I stumbled across a training article by John “Hadd” Walsh which threw some light on the subject. I had misinterpreted my current training paces, specifically my lactate threshold. The speed work I have been doing has improved my VO2 max, and I incorrectly assumed that my LT pace had improved correspondingly, but it hasn’t. So when I thought I was training at just under LT, I was probably training too hard given the recent heat and humidity. I just assumed that when one aspect of fitness (VO2 max) had improved, all of the fitness (including LT and MP pace) had improved with it, because historically for me that has been true. But the reality is that usually I run my best 5K times AFTER my best longer distance races – that when I improve my LT, my shorter races improve as well. In this case I incorrectly assumed my LT had improved before seeing any evidence that it actually has.
So, what now? I’m four weeks out from my target marathon, and one day out from my half marathon. Clearly there’s not much I can do for tomorrow’s half other than carb-load my brains out, and try to run it at a relatively easy pace. I don’t know what my current LT is, so I just have to gauge my effort as well as possible.
As for the marathon, I need to figure out what my current baseline is. If I manage my effort effectively for the half, I should have a good idea. And from then on, I need to keep my training below whatever my current LT is, get as much easy mileage in as possible, and pray for the best.