Have I mentioned yet that I’m tired of winter?
It’s not just the cold. I can deal with the cold. It’s that every run is in the cold and dark. Ugh. I am like a plant. I need sunlight to live!
The conclusion of week four means I’m a quarter of the way through my training. And the best part about this week four was that it was a recovery week for me.
I spent the prior seven weeks recovering from the Philly Marathon, building up my base and starting my latest training plan. Look how impressive that looks on Strava!
After all that, my body needed the break and the chance to “consolidate” my recent gains, so I cut back 12 percent to 50 miles and just one workout. (The crazy thing? I had my first ever 50 mile week in September. Now that’s a recovery week!)
I had been planning on getting my workout in on Monday, since it was a holiday, and it seemed like a great idea to get my hard run for the week out of the way on Monday, but it was very cold and windy…less than ideal conditions for a hard effort at half marathon pace. So instead, I moved some things around and got my 8 miles at general aerobic in instead. I also spent most of the day on the phone telling people we got engaged. I seriously think I talked to more people on the phone on Monday than I have in the past three years combined.
Tuesday was a rest/cross training day, which included a barre class. I decided to run to/from class both to save time and in order to spend less time in the cold. I followed that up the next day with more easy-peasy miles in the morning, before a Vo2Max Test in the evening.
A local physical therapy office had a promotion on Vo2Max testing, so I thought sure, why not? Basically, what they do is they give you a heart rate monitor and they strap a Bane-like mask to your face and then put you on a treadmill.
They start you out at 5 mph and 2.5% grade for two minutes. Then they bump you up every two minutes until you call it quits, so two minutes later I was up to 5.5 mph and 5% grade. After another two minutes, 6 mph and 7.5% grade, then 6.5 mph and 10% grade, 7 mph and 12.5% grade…and then I had to call it quits about 15 seconds into the section where it was 7.5 mph and 15% grade. Sure, I was breathing heavy, but my calves were on fire! I don’t know if I’ve ever run a 15% grade in my life…
Based on my results, they put my Vo2Max at 58.8, which isn’t too shabby! That puts me high in the “athletic” zone.
They also gave me some numbers that are supposed to be my heart rate ranges for different training paces, but I don’t think they are very accurate. I think the problem with the test was that it was the impact of the grade on my muscles (which have been really tight lately) that caused me to quit…not my overall effort.
According to the test, which assumes that your HR at the end of the test is your max heart rate, my max is 172 beats per minute, which is way off. The thing is…I am pretty sure it’s closer to 196, and even if it isn’t quite that high, I routinely get to 190 bpm in speed workouts.
Anyway, the test was interesting, but I’m not quite sure what to do with the data, since the HR zones are definitely off. I think the test would have been more accurate if it they started me out closer to a pace I routinely run at. So instead of starting it at 5 mph and a 2.5% grade, maybe 6 mph and a 2.5% grade. That way, by the time I got up to 10% grade, I’d be at my normal easy pace, and I’d be at marathon pace by 15% grade. I think that would have led to more accurate heart rate readings, but I’m no expert, so who knows?
Anyway, I finally got around to my hard work out on Thursday. The original plan was 3 x 3 miles at half pace…but that just sounded too hard for a recovery week (particularly 11 hours after the V02Max test), so I modified it to 3 x 2 miles at half pace, and even that was h.a.r.d.
It was a bit windy, so that showed in some of the splits: 13:16 [6:40, 6:36], 13:34 [6:43, 6:51], 13:30 [6:35, 6:55].
Ideally, I would have liked to have been closer to 13-flat on those, but oh well. I really struggle with HMP during training. During HMP-workouts in the fall, I was attempting 6:55-7 and pretty much always ended up just above 7. Then on race day I managed a 6:44 pace. Here’s to hoping it’s the same here…
Then something unfortunate happened… as you may have heard, there was this little storm called Jonas that wacked the East Coast on Saturday. While they were calling for a decent amount of snow, that wasn’t what worried me. I checked the forecast on Thursday night, and they were calling for 25-30 mile per hour winds, and gusts up to 50 miles per hour, starting at 4 a.m. on Saturday. Yikes.
I can take snow, but wind is my nemesis. I took my fiance’s advice and moved my long run to Friday morning before work. The 4:25 a.m. wake up call was less than ideal, but it was worth it in the end (minus my 10+ minute wait for a drawbridge…brrr!).
As it turned out, the storm was far worse than people were predicting, and not only was Saturday totally not an option, but on Sunday the roads were a mess! I struggled even to get an easy 6 miles in, slip sliding all over the road, and running a loop along the best plowed roads over and over again.
All in, it was a good week, and I was glad to give my body a chance to recover before launching into what is scheduled to be a new weekly high mileage for me this week, but more on that later 😉
Have you ever had your Vo2Max tested? Any tips on how to use or interpret the data??
How often do you incorporate recovery or step-back weeks into your training?