Last week, I ran my first 20-miler in a long time with the idea of bringing it into my experiments catalogue. It worked well. As the 20 was just an evolution of two previous 18-mile workouts, I decided it was time for something different again this week.
My mileage last week was a little heavy, finishing at 67 miles for the week. That meant that I was perhaps not as fresh this week even though I felt reasonably well. I had run 2x5km and 2×4-mile segments in the last two experiments without much trouble. This made me wonder how I would handle running that distance in one block during a 20-mile run.
So, that’s exactly what I did. I broke up the 20 miles into an 8-mile warm-up, followed by 8 miles sub-pace and a 4-mile cool down to finish. I intended to run the warm-up just above 8-minute pace and then drop it for 8 miles to below 7:30 pace.
I am starting to surprise myself here; really. Despite coming off a 67-mile week into a 50+ week, this run flew. My diligence in keeping the warm-up on target pace was, for once, not bad. The big shock was the splits for the 8 miles sub-pace. I’m not sure how or why but I hit a great rhythm and not only dipped under marathon pace rather quickly, I pushed on running some splits between 20 and 30 seconds faster than goal pace (view Garmin details).
So, what does this mean? Hooray, I’m cured! Sadly not. I’m not quite sure what to make of it to be honest. The aim of these experiments is not just to prove to myself that I can do something. They are equally important in identifying at what point I break myself. I’ve never run a 67-mile week in my life, let alone followed it up by running two 20-mile training runs way below my marathon PB pace.
This is where I go back to thinking about the impact that the weight training is having on my running. That more connected feel and extra leg strength must be adding up to more than just injury prevention and stability/comfort at speed. I must be pushing further with each stride to make up these numbers.