The last couple of weeks have been a definite learning curve both in terms of running and recovery. February's training block went well when looking at in the cold light of day. I clocked up 219 miles and only had 5 days of non running. That is a big improvement on previous years and I have definitely felt the benefit in averaging 50+ miles a week. No doubt concistency and relative high mileage for me is making me a stronger.
In fact within a week of starting the hill phase my heart rate dropped like a stone on average by 10-15 beats for the given pace I was running on an easy day 6 weeks previous. I have definitely gotten more efficient and am not feeling tired after my long runs which although not exceedingly long i can maintain the 8:40 pace and heart rate below 145 beats per minute for up to 2.5hrs.
Along with the hill sessions in this phase I have been doing almost what you would call tempo runs but they are a little bit below that threshold. It's basically a training session that encourages you to run at the top end of your aerobic effort. This for me is around 155 beats per minute. I did a 9 mile run the first week and a 12 mile effort last week. It felt really good to get some faster sessions into the mix. The 9 miler was 158 HR and 7:49 pace while the 12 miles last week was even better at 153 HR and 7:44. Definite progress and feel that I could have gone faster and longer on this one last week.
On the flip side the hill workout sessions have been tough and have caused my calves and ankles to flare up (particularly the right hand side). Hill bounding is a form of plyometric training that can be hard on unconditioned legs with particular focus on the ankles. I did take things easy after the first session but I could feel after a couple of days that my right ankle was agitated. After applying some regular self massage though it's looking like the calves are finally adapting just in time before the real anaerobic work begins next week.
I clipped the long run yesterday to just under 15 miles and today's easy fartlek to 45 minutes to give the legs a break the past couple of days as my daily vitals were a little off due to lack of sleep. I have averaged just under 56 miles the past 6 weeks and am feeling healthy and looking forward to the next block of training.
It's been an interesting journey changing up my training approach and once I come out of this training cycle I have a feeling that I will never go back to another form of training approach. Never say never though eh!
I leave you with this quote from Lydiard about hill training. I hope one day that I will be able to actually do this because at the moment I feel more like deer with a gammy leg!
"Like a deer going over the fence..." - Arthur Lydiard