15 Miles Closer to The Blues

Workout Summary – 15 miles total
7 miles low effort – Avg Pace 8:55 mile
7 miles Marathon target pace – Avg Pace 7:35 mile
1 mile easy cool down

I capped off a week of marathon training with a 15 mile long run. Two weeks ago I ran 16 at a 9:15 pace which included 1 minute walk breaks every mile, so it felt good to push myself harder. Have to admit there’s definitely some pressure to get more miles in at or below target pace. My real marathon target pace is 7:49, which would just qualify me for the Boston Marathon. I use 7:45 as my training target pace, but I have trouble running at a 7:45 pace. My body seems to want to run in the 7:50’s or in the 7:30’s. Have not figured out how to sustain a pace in the 7:40’s yet.

I’ve been wearing my heart rate monitor (HRM), not because I use it to run at a specific heart rate, rather I look at the data at the end of the week and compare it to the previous weeks performance. I look at four pieces of data on a weekly basis.

1. Total Mileage

2. Total Time

3. Average Pace (calculated from 1. and 2.)

4. Average heart rate

Did I run faster than last week on non-recovery weeks? If this was a week where I am working on speed, was my average heart rate higher or lower than previous weeks? If I am getting faster and my average heart rate is holding steady or getting lower, then I figure my conditioning is improving. I used weekly averages because heart rate is susceptible to a number of things like temperature and humidity. If the data is not favorable for a week I don’t worry about it. Just keep looking at the longer trends.

Here is my heart rate data from the 14 miles in this run.

Heart rate data from most recent long run.

Easy to see at the midpoint of the run when I picked up my pace. My heart rate had been tooling around in the 140’s and picked right up in to the 150’s and continued to climb in to the 160’s, touching 170’s by the end of the run. There were hills as you can see in the elevation profile below and I was working hard at times. I probably could have run one more mile  or maybe two at or below target marathon, but I was quickly going to run out of gas. It was humid, drizzling really, as a cold front and the remnants of tropical depression Karen swept through.

Elevation profile from most recent long run.

I’m a little concerned at the heart rate climbing so high, but I did run 44 miles this week including two quality workouts. It was warmer than it should be on race day and I still have 14 weeks of training left including at least 3 runs of 20 miles or longer. No panic. On the bright side, I am better conditioned at this point prior to a marathon than I have ever been.