I have quite a bit to say about today's run so I'll skip any anecdote at the beginning and get into the meat of the workout.
Two and a half weeks into my 4 week speedwork period and I wanted to get an assessment of my fitness. For me the best way to do this is by doing a marathon pace (MP) run. For this workout I'll warm up with two easy miles and then speed up to the 7:10-7:15 range. These are the meat and potatoes of my marathon training. Dare I say it, at least as important as my long runs. I'll complete two of these each week usually with 10-11 miles at MP. A friend once told me (he read/heard it somewhere) that if you can complete 2/3 to 3/4 of your race distance in an untapered workout you should be able to complete the whole race at that pace. For me that would be about 18 miles at that pace. Yikes! I've never gotten beyond 12 miles at MP. Maybe that's why my marathons are run at about a 7:35 pace instead of 7:15.
Still I think these workouts are so beneficial because with only three runs per week, a long run plus two of these, I'm able to run a pretty good marathon. This was my training plan leading up to Myrtle Beach in February and with it I qualified for Boston and missed a PB by less than 2 minutes. I occasionally did a fourth workout that was a short, easy run but more often it was a swim or bike ride (with an eye towards my June half iron triathlon).
I divide these workouts into two groups, short ones and long ones. The short ones are 6-8 miles and long ones are 9+. This is an arbitrary distinction based only on the fact that running 9 miles at that pace makes it over an hour. I build up through the short ones and into the long ones throughout a 2-3 month build up before a marathon. The more and longer the long ones I can do the better trained I am. So with all that in mind, I embarked on a MP run to test myself.
I was hoping to get into the range of long ones but more expecting to do 7-8 miles at that pace. What makes me stop? Usually fatigue and my HR. If it is too high too long then I know I'll have a long recovery and my later workouts in the week will suffer. I felt good getting started, the pace was easy; must be the payoff from my recent speed sessions. After six and then seven miles though I could feel the fatigue and my HR was becoming elevated. I know I could have pushed and completed an 8th mile but a 9th (and therefore a long workout) would have been too tough. So I called it quits there and did a mile warm down. Seven miles at 7:08 is probably about right and looking at my build up for Myrtle Beach I'm in exactly the same place. Maybe that's not bad not having done that workout for about a month and when I enter that portion of my training in September I'll still have 6 solid weeks to push the distance.
So let me know if you have any thoughts on this. I'm toying with the idea of intentionally keeping one of these workout in the short range each week in order to maximize the distance I could do in the second one.
All in, today was 10 miles at 7:49 pace.