Yes, I think it is! Over the last eight weeks, I am surprised at how my mileage is getting better and better even while keeping my pace “easy” (HR < 140, < 120 – recover, < 130 – build engine) for the most part. At the end of this week I have 31.3 miles, which has been typical of the middle of a marathon training cycle, not necessarily a heart rate half-marathon cycle.
Lots of time on my feet is a good thing since it means by the time I do my race, I’ll have loads of mental toughness from all these slow, long runs to get me through. Flash forward to the peak long run time of the plan, and I’ll be on my feet for 3 hours – there are at least three of these runs as well. My half-marathon PR is 2:07 and my goal is just to beat that time. After spending so much time running well over 2 hours, that 2 hour race is going to feel easy!
The runs are getting more interesting now and incorporating HR friendly speed work too. This week included PUOS (pick ups on steroids) which is a pick up pace every .25 mile during the 1:15 run, easy effort with surges, and 40 minutes of “free run” (whatever pace you want) in the middle of the long run. Good thing, because otherwise I’d have to suscribe to Netflix or something to keep me going if it was all just easy effort pace!
The plan generally works in twos – so it changes up every two weeks (sometimes a little variation between the two), which makes it easy to compare performance between the two. Comparing my long run between last week and yesterday, I improved my overall pace by 30 seconds. And last week I had a 5k in the middle of that run! In my free run with surges I got just over 1/2 mile extra in the same amount of time AND I had incorporated uphill burpees – this week’s workout of the week – in this week’s run. It’s exciting to see things finally click.
Though I’m seeing progress, I know I’ve just scratched the surface and have a long way to go. For example, last week in my 5k my heart rate got up to 198 during the race. This wasn’t even my PR pace, however I had run for an hour right before and it was pretty hot outside. I don’t know enough about max heart rates (other than the traditional 220-age formula) and the effects of running at or above your max for a period of time, but 198 certainly seems pretty high. It felt like it too; I wanted to walk so bad but didn’t, and this is what always derails me during a marathon – that incredibly strong urge to walk near the end. I also kept myself from pushing a little harder because I saw that HR. How long can I keep up that HR? What would happen if I tried to keep it up? I’ll need a field test probably to know for sure, but I’m hoping by the end of this plan my 5ks will either be at a much lower HR or I will be at a much faster pace for that same HR.