E.A.T. – Enhanced Anaerobic Threshold – is no Joke

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Up until a couple weeks ago, I’ve been cruising along on the Heart Rate Training plan, enjoying all the freedom to run slower/easy and then add in some “free pace” to run whatever pace I wanted. Then came Week 12 and sh*t got real. Enter the E.A.T. – Enhanced Anaerobic Threshold. The idea is to get your heart rate up to that place where you can really only hang on a little while longer, like at the end of a race, and see where your limits are to find your RP (race pace) for upcoming workouts.

The Workout
The EAT workout Coach MK (part of my Train Like a Mother Club plan) gives is a warm up with some strides followed by 2k @ an HR 161-ish range, 2k @ HR 170-ish, and 2k @ HR 185+ followed by a cool down. This workout is no joke. It’s best to do this one on a track.  Luckily it’s scheduled on a Monday when I work at home, so I dropped the kids off at daycare a little early and headed to the H.S. track. I approached the morning like a race morning, prepping water/Nuun bottles I could put in my shorts pocket and switch out mid run, ate my usual oatmeal, had some coffee, and went to the bathroom before I left the house. I lost my mind for a minute because I decided to put butter in coffee.  I haven’t done that in a while since I switched to coconut oil and  this would almost literally bite me in the ass later.

How it Went Down
It was a relatively warm morning in the mid-70s and sunny – not ideal. My warm up and the first 2k went easy enough. In my 2nd 2k I stopped a couple of times to adjust my music, which screwed with the whole “non-stop HR test” thing. Still, I hit a pretty good pace. Then came the last 2k and I swear I thought I was gonna die … not to mention my earlier coffee mistake requiring an urgent bathroom break (thank goodness the bathrooms were open!). This meant that I had a big break in that portion to allow my HR to go down.  When I started back up, it didn’t go up quite as quickly but I was able to hit a faster pace. This was not the point of the test.

Results? Sort Of…
I ended up with a 10k pace of 9:05 and a half-marathon (HM) pace of 9:06…. yeah that doesn’t seem right. There should be more than a minute difference there!  Another new workout was added that week called the Guerra builder, which uses your brand-new 10k pace instead of the previous rule of easy effort minus 2 minutes. I pretty much had to pick my own pace – 9:05 to 9:15-ish. My RP in the middle of my long run that weekend was HARD! I tried to hit the 9:06 but in that heat I just couldn’t do it.

Do Over
Fast forward another two weeks to last week Monday in Week 14 and I got a do-over. Don’t we all love do-overs?! Things I fixed this time around:

  1. Eased up on coffee in the morning – only had about 1/4 of my mug of coffee
  2. Ate lighter – toast w/ almond butter & 1/2 banana instead of oatmeal
  3. #1 and 2 ensured I didn’t need an emergent bathroom break in the middle of the run!
  4. No walking or stopping during the 6k “test”
  5. Drank plain water until cool down but had a GU right before last 2k – feel like that helped keep me going.

Overall it was a much better run, though I know I could push myself faster in that last 2k, because I’ve run faster 5ks. My HR averaged 162, 172, 182 (oddly enough!) in each of the 2k segments. The goal of the last 2k is to get 185+, so I will need to get my head “ready” to push myself more and not be afraid of the hurt. If you need some good mental toughness preparation, this run will do the trick! My resulting 10k pace was 9:33 and half-marathon 9:30. The paces are still way too close, but a 9:30 half pace seems so much more doable to me. Now it’s time for the real speed work to begin…

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