Sunday, February 2, 2014

Bupa London 10,000 Week 4 / 9

Monday: aerobic test (7 km in 24:49, 169 bpm average heart rate) + core
Tuesday: 50' @ 4:00 + plyo
Wednesday: 3 x (2' @ 3:00, 2' @ 6:00) + 9 x (1' @ 3:00, 1' @ 6:00)
Thursday: 50' @ 4:00
Friday: 4 x (800-400-200-1,000) with 800 @ 3:40 and 2' jog, 400 @ 3:25 and 1' jog, 200 @ 3:10 and 30" jog and 1,000 @ 3:45 and 4' jog
Saturday: 20' @ 4:00
Sunday: 60' @ 4:00 (London)

I'm very happy with how my training has been going this week. The reason for this is that I did my usual "aerobic test" which I use as a benchmark to see how I am doing and I did my best time by quite a margin. One of the difficult things about training for a competition is that you are tired most of the time and, as a result, not able to perform optimally; when you finally "taper" down so that you are fresh on the day, last minute nerves make you worry that your fitness is going to pot. Tune up races are a great way of checking your progress but require a "mini-taper" all of there own, as well as time to recover afterwards so, all in all, you lose the best part of a week in measuring yourself when you could have been continuing to improve. It is a bit like Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle: the act of measuring affects the measurement itself. The test, as you will know if you read this blog regularly, consists of running 7 kilometres while keeping my heart rate as close to but not above 172 bpm which, in theory and often in practice, corresponds to my Half Marathon pace. My heart rate takes some time to get to that level so a bit of informed guesswork is required but if the pace is well selected, I hit 172 bpm around half-way and I don't find myself having to slow down to avoid exceeding this limit.

It was such a windy day (33 kph winds) that I thought it would invalidate the result but at least it was a cool 11 degrees C. Normally I do this test in my full race garb - compression socks and nose clip included - but this time I forgot: perhaps they are just placebos anyway. I did run to the same drum 'n' bass mix I usually run this test to as the beats are in perfect time with my footsteps and I like to think it makes the tests more comparable. You can certainly tell that the football season has started up again. Now, I don't mind people playing football inside my athletic track (haha) but when someone runs out right in front of me to get the ball I can't help wondering how much they would aprpeciate me running through the middle of their game... Anyway, I completed the 20 laps of the 350m rectangular running track in 24:49 which was 40 seconds faster than my best time, which I got on the way to the New York City Marathon last year! This equates to 16.9 kph (3:33 min/km). Even if doesn't realistically extrapolate to a Half Marathon time of 1:14:48, had I carried on at this pace for just 3 more kilometres (which I can honestly say would not have been a great struggle), I would have beat best 10K time with 35:27 and without the adrenaline or pre-race taper that goes with a real competition. The point is that it looks like my focus on training for 10K, with the 3 quality sesssions per week and the "recovery" runs at a spritely pace of 4 minutes per kilometre is paying off. Only a few weeks ago I was having doubts as to whether the plan was working.

As far as my efforts to build up to being able to run 5 sets of 1 kilometre at 20 kph (i.e, in 3 minutes) go, I managed at least to complete the workout I had set myself last week: 3 lots of 2 minutes followed by 9 lots of 1 minute. I decided to wear my heart rate monitoir out of curiosity: my heart rate never got a chance to go any higher than 172 bpm by the way...

Finally, on Friday I had my last quality workout of the week - basically a repetition of the same workout I did last Friday only, this time, it felt noticeably easier. So much so, in fact, that I was able to do 30% more - 4 sets instead of the planned 3. This workout is perfect from a psychological point of view: each segment seems easier than the last, either because it is much shorter, or because it is much slower. The variations really help pass the time: in the end the whole workout lasted over an hour which, especially on the treadmill at work, would have been difficult to get through (without a very good film / episode to watch!). It really has been a good week this week, let's see if it continues this way.

Having said that, I was left feeling a bit too tired to run on Saturday, so I cut short my workout and postponed it until the next day, which turned out to be a great idea as I was able to do it outside and in London: I designed a great route and the weather was wonderful. The route took me past Battersea Power station, through Battersea park, past the Science Museum, along the Serpentine, Buckingham Palace (just as the guard was changing) and, at the precise moment I was running alongside Big Ben, it chimed 9 am. I videoed the whole thing with my GoPro camera attached to my head. Not the most exciting video but one, nevertheless, that I will use to pass the time on the treadmill one day.

In other news, now that I finally have my very own plyometric box (see last week) it is a lot easier to squeeze in some plyometric jumping sessions. I have even found a place for the box to live indoors:

Can you spot where the box is hidden?

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