Doable on paper. Bit harder in the real world. So far for my AnT runs, I haven't quite reached the mark.   I don't see this as a problem, more as information on my exactly where my fitness is at. I suspected a certain gap after the Coburg Harrier's New Years Resolution 12km, and that's been confirmed with two attempts at the faster intervals.

Analysis of my race at Coburg showed I raced at almost exactly the same heart rate from go to woe. That gave me a gradual but consistent slowing over the race. I lacked the ability to push up the intensity and pace in the end. It's like there was some sort of ceiling imposed. The same has happened in the interval sessions since. The good news is that below these speeds (3:53/km and slower) I am excelling. My ability to hold them feels almost comfortable and I can keep going.

So what's the problem? Basically it's a simple lack of specific fitness above anaerobic threshold leading to maximal oxygen uptake. Once I hit a certain rate or level of accumulation of acidosis my muscles fail to sustain a high work rate. There is also likely to be an element of mental fitness in that I'm out of practice at pushing in this intensity zone. Similar to the difference between race fitness versus training fitness.

How to get this aspect of fitness up to standard poses a few options. The most common option that springs to mind is a series of shortish (400-800m) repeats with relatively short recoveries. A session that will create that intense acidotic burn, sear the lungs and lead right into lactic tolerance training. That style of session will certainly address the problem, but it will likely move me towards an early peak in performance, put the breaks on further development of the other endurance qualities and probably have me on the downward curve of performance during the second half of the next stint of races. A different approach is required.

Strangely the approach isn't much changed from the original plan. It is still a series of 1000m repeats, aiming to get the speed to 3:42/km. The last two runs had the speeds about 3:49-3:53/km. The recovery will still be about 1000m, but this time I will make sure they are slow, aiming to be as fresh as possible for the next repeat. Pushing to get the speed right for the 'on' repeats is important. I'll push to get the pace right on the mark. Volume is still important, so the goal will be to hit a minimum of 8 repeats, hopefully extending that out to 12. The difference here is I'm not likely to increase the length of repeat out to 2000m as originally planned, just increase the number of repeats. Being fresh for these sessions is important.

What happens if I can't maintain the speed for each repetition? That will depend on how far in and the style of fatigue. If it happens early then I'll choose from either running slightly shorter repeats or just slicing a bit of speed off the 1000's to try to carry on some volume. If fatiguing towards the latter end it will be a decision between calling the session just slightly short or sucking it up and pushing through with whatever I can manage over the final few intervals. Form, technique and pacing will be the key to these decisions.

Of course the only way to reach further than before is to push further than before. The challenge is set.


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