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the experiments: experiment four

giving it everything, all out (photo ©

With the trial marathon having gone so well last week, it was time for another test of my legs. Rather than drop back too far from full distance, I felt fresh enough that 20 miles was achievable. I planned the format of this entry in my experiments line-up some time back. It was just waiting for the right week to test it out, when my legs didn’t seem reluctant.

The format: 2/2, 2/4, 2/6, 2. The explanation: 2 miles easy, 2 miles sub-pace, 2 miles easy, 4 miles sub-pace, 2 miles easy, 6 miles sub-pace, 2 miles cool down. Despite running blocks of 8 and 10 miles sub-pace already, I was more than a little unsure about the effects of this session.


Scrap everything I said about the two-mile alternates! This was the toughest test of my experiments yet, without a shadow of a doubt. A couple of key things to note: 1) this was the furthest sub-pace total I have run so far in my experiments, 2) the progressive lengthening of each interval really hit hard. I made a serious mistake, psychologically, at the end of the 4-mile interval. I told myself that it was starting to hurt – perhaps my legs weren’t as fresh as I thought they were. After that, the final 6-mile interval was always going to be tough.

when conducting experiments, never tell yourself that something is tough before it's finished, it makes it so much harder
when conducting experiments, never tell yourself that something is tough before it’s finished, it makes it so much harder

There are reasons to be happy looking at the splits, despite being wrecked at the end of the run. The first 2-mile interval was too fast. Again, my discipline needs some attention. The 4-mile interval was comfortably sub-pace and pretty consistent considering it was all run on a net incline. The 6-mile interval comprised a net-zero elevation change for the first 4 miles and a slight uphill for the last 2 miles. I ran the first 4 miles at a consistent pace. However, they showed signs of tiring compared with earlier. Technically I missed targets on the last 2 miles by 1 second and 3 seconds. A steadier start might have helped me feel fresher at the end. However, I think I lost the battle when I acknowledged the pressure on the 4-mile interval (view Garmin data).

Today, I did not finish this run with more left in the tank, as has been the case previously. The 2-mile cool down was the first cool down in a very long time that I obliged the guidelines and really slowed back to a crawl. I was all out. However, there are positives from only missing 2 splits by small margins. Running below pace target on average for all the sub-pace miles combined is another positive. That’s not the goal though – consistency and not writing myself off is the goal. This year and this project was about finding limits and trying to break myself so that I could learn from it. Today, I broke myself, in the best possible way. The experiments are working.

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