22km Pacing Run

Keeping my head in the frame of "training run and not a race" for the Maroondah Dam 50km, I am avoiding a genuine taper. Just not doing anything ridiculous in the lead in week plus an extra easier day. Other than the 50km itself the hardest run is a 22km effort.

The main purpose of this run was to help fine tune my pacing for the 50km. The course itself is almost an out and back, just with a loop at the far end. The terrain is far from the steepness to be encountered at Maroondah. It does have a couple of hills, with the rest undulating and a short flat section. Half is rocky trail and rest paved bike path. An honest course that won't leave my legs too battered but should serve its purpose.

The plan.

Wear the same clothes and gear as race day. Take the same nutrition. Then run at what feels like the maximal pace/effort that I can maintain for the upcoming race. There was no plan to stick within any heart rate zone. Just record my heart rate and analyse everything afterward.

What happened?

...and I really mean, what happened?

The run started out okay. My legs were a bit stiff and I was feeling pretty tired. All that has been kind of standard lately. It didn't like take long to loosen up and fall into what felt like some good running. Traveling over the rocky trail in the dark I soon felt good. It felt easy yet fast. I checked my heart rate monitor and found my heart to be quite low at 124bpm. I decided I wasn't traveling as fast as I thought, maybe the lack of light was altering perception.

Soon enough I hit a section of which I knew the distance. Hitting the lap button I recorded some times and found I was running at about 4:00/km. Much faster than expected, especially since my heart rate getting over 130. This was strange, usually at this speed my heart is above 160. I didn't put any more thought into that. I was feeling good, the running felt natural and almost easy. Might as well see what happens.

It didn't take long to find out. Only about an hour in everything changed. My legs really began hurting, not the lactic acid burn, just a deep heavy ache the went hand in hand with a significant loss in power. My heart rate dipped down to around 110bpm.

Definitely the initial running had been too fast. But the heart rates and way I slowed was very different to how things usually go for me. So I tried forcing the pace and found the biggest hurdle was just generalised fatigue.

Instead of finishing the full 22km I took a short cut back home, believing I would be better served by not running myself down into the great. All up it was about 17km. An interesting run. A few things to think about. One thing that is clear is I will definitely have to take a very conservative approach in the 50km.

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