I still have a lot to learn about heart rate training. I've been working with it since August, though, so here are some observations I've made at this point. I'd love to have those others of you who are using this method to tell me if you've noticed anything similar.
1. Long slow runs appear to have a pretty quick effect on my ability to run faster at my "easy" heart rate. On October 6, I executed an extremely slow one-hour-forty-five minute run. I thought that thing was never going to end, as I was under orders to stay below 150 beats-per-minute the whole time and seriously felt like I was running underwater at some points. But on my next mid-week semi-long run (an hour run last Wednesday) my paces at sub-150 bpm were ten to twenty seconds faster per minute than I saw on the long one just four days before. Though I was still slow, I never had that "Geez, I'm really crawling" sensation--even on some pretty long climbs.
Also, slow runs at higher altitudes (even the 500-foot difference between my town (Longmont) and Boulder) and/or on steep trails seem to have the same happy effect a few days later. I'm going to try to do my last run before I leave for Detroit at a slightly higher and/or steeper location for this reason.
2. Maintaining my "sustained" (speed workout) heart rate is *hard.* On Friday, I did a tempo/sustained workout that consisted of a 15-minute tempo section followed by four 2 1/2 minute speed sections. I nailed the tempo section with no problem (staying between 164 and 168 bpm the whole time), and I managed to nail the first 2 1/2 minute interval too (range for these was supposed to be 170-175 bpm). But on the next three I couldn't get the heart rate to stay in that range. True, the middle two were slower than the first one (which I think means I was being a drag-ass and not running fast enough), but the last one was at a pace ten seconds per mile faster than the first--yet the average heart rate was only in the high 160s. Not sure what's up with that.....Anyway, I know I still need to work on toughing it out at those higher speeds. It's amazing how long 2 1/2 minutes can seem!
3. Pace is much less of a big deal to me now. I do look at it, but only in retrospect. Thus, I'm really not sure what to run next Sunday. Darren wants to look at my speeds and comfort level on one last "sustained" workout this coming Tuesday (four four-minute intervals at 164-168 bpm). If I'm able to stay comfortable and controlled during all four intevals, he says, I will have identified my pace for the Detroit Half-Marathon this Sunday (keeping in mind the race is at sea level, where this pace/heart-rate level will feel easier). As you can imagine, I'm very eager for Tuesday to get the question of my half-marathon race pace answered.
I also have a massage that day, after the run. I'm going to be spending a lot of time with my foam roller and in my bed over the next few days, too!
My weight is holding steady, but I know I'm in danger because I've reached a stage where I am hungry a lot of the time (even when I wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom or help one of my kids). Also, sugar cravings, which I thought I'd eliminated during my injury downtime, are back with a vengeance. So far I'm sticking with my "Sunday only" strategy for treats, but it's gotten hard.
Any advice on dealing with the hunger monster during marathon training? It's not like I'm going to be running fewer miles after Detroit!
Thank you to everyone for your nice comments on my last post. I'm off now to read some of the awesome race reports I'm sure folks have posted!