the experiments: experiment four
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.
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.