BMC50K Training, Day 75

Today’s workout is a 12-mile run. I’m killing time – dragging my feet – before heading out for the run. It’s in the 30s, no appreciable wind, and we got a dusting of snow overnight. It’s now about two hours after breakfast, so I’m hoping to start my run within the next hour or so.

I had a threshold workout scheduled for Wednesday evening. It sucked. As in bad words, I want to cry, I’ll never be able to make the time cutoff for BMC50K, sucked. I was supposed to run five 5-minute intervals at 85-95% of max heartrate, with one minute of recovery after each interval. I attempted this on the treadmill, and I think that was the primary mistake.

First, I simply could not maintain a heartrate that high. It wasn’t an “ohmigod my heart’s going to explode and I’m dying” feeling; I just couldn’t do it, as if I’d been asked to push a Volkswagen up a hill. I suspect threshold training is better suited to athletes with better cardiovascular health. There’s a few quirks about my heartrate, though. First, my resting heart rate is really low. It’s currently in the low-50’s. However, when I was forty pounds heavier and did little-to-no exercise, my resting heart rate was in the 60’s – that’s what considered normal, not what one would expect from an obese, unhealthy person. (The link will take you to a chart that suggests my resting heart rate was “excellent” while my overall health was not.) Because resting heart rate is an indicator of overall health, a low resting heart rate will give a slightly higher threshold heart rate.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that when I first start running, even if it’s my plodding, 15:00/mile pace, my heartrate shoots up. It’ll be high for the first few run intervals, and then it settles into Zone 1 (115-130 bpm). It happens with almost every workout. I’m not sure if this is normal. It’s frustrating, because it means I almost never hit Zone 4, which is critical for training. (Fortunately, training for an ultramarathon is almost entirely base training. Endurance is everything.)

I have no idea if these two factors make a difference; I’m frequently reminded that for all my reading about endurance training, there’s a ton of stuff I don’t know.

The other issue is the treadmill itself. I’ve found that when my heartrate hits highs (150-ish) when I’m outside – cycling or running – it’s not the distressing experience it is when it happens on a treadmill or a spin bike. I’m sure this is mostly mental, but acknowledging that hasn’t made training indoors any easier. Also, I hate the treadmill. I don’t hate it because it’s boring; I hate the belt moving underneath me instead of me moving over the ground. I never run at a constant pace outside. When I set a target pace on the Garmin, I give myself a window – anywhere from :15-2:00/mile. Outside, I’m dodging road hazards and evading Chihuahuas and waiting for cars to pass or moving sideways around mud or trail hazards. On a treadmill, I have to tell the belt how fast to move and then I try to keep up. I haven’t found a maintainable pace that’s challenging.

Wednesday’s workout was discouraging – discouraging enough to think I’m never going to be fit enough to complete the BMC50K within the 8-hour cutoff. That stung me like lemon juice in a paper cut. I wrote a long whiny email to my coach.

By the next day, I was over the pity party. Yes, it sucked. But I have to let that go. I decided to make today’s run a road run, because I need to remind myself I have the stamina to do this training and to complete the 50K. There’s some elevation on this course; it’s not completely flat. Tomorrow is an 8-mile run. I plan to make that run more challenging to force my tired legs to push through and get stronger.

Bottom line: I’m not going to let a bad workout derail me. I can do this. Yay, me!

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