A.M. Ran 5 with Benjamin, 1.5 with Jenny and Julia, 1.5 with Joseph, and 0.5 with Jacob. That gave me the total of 8.5 warmup. Then I took Sarah with me to the Provo Canyon. She rode the bike along side with me during my tempo run. I wanted to test myself on my standard 3 mile course to see if the improvement I noticed last week was from the long distance endurance, or if it was all across the board. I also wanted to get another point of reference.
However, the workout had another purpose. When pacing Sarah yesterday it occurred to me that she did not know how to properly respond emotionally to the high intensity effort, and it had cost her up to 20 seconds. So I figured it would be good for her to observe a more experienced runner deal with the fatigue while riding alongside on a bike. I would recommend this to everybody who has not run competitively for very long - ride a bike alongside somebody who has when he is running at a high effort and pay close attention. The speed does not matter so much, although those who have more competitive experience tend to be faster.
So I ran up a bit over 2 miles, and then ran the tempo on my 3 mile course from Nunn's Park to the mouth of the Provo Canyon. The first mile was 5:07, and felt reasonable, so I maintained the effort. The second mile was 5:12, and I was happy with it as well. On the third mile I started to struggle some for a number of reasons - fatigue from the first two, more areas of the trail exposed to the sun, and more people on the trail, so I had to do maneuvers to avoid an accident which breaks the rhythm. I also was getting complacent because I knew I was going to smash all of my times from this year with comfortable effort. Nevertheless I managed to run the next 0.75 in 3:59, and then Sarah started singing the fourth verse of Come, Come Ye Saints: "And should we die before our journey's through, happy day all is well. We then our free from toil and sorrow too, with the just with shall dwell." I thought that when I finished I would be free from toil and sorrow, and wanted to accelerate the arrival of that glorious moment, so I pressed harder and ran the last quarter in 75. This gave me 5:14 for the last mile, and 15:33.5 for the 3 mile tempo.
My efforts this year on that course have produced very consistent results with the times ranging from 15:55 to 16:06. So 15:33 was definitely an improvement beyond accidental. I changed two things in my training in the last month - added hill sprints, and a second 2 mile run in the evening. I am suspecting the second run is responsible for most of the magic. My hill sprinting times have not improved. I would imagine if the hill sprinting was responsible for the improvement I would at least see some improvement in those times. On the other hand, I do feel a difference from a month ago in the way I breathe. When things get hard, I feel like the oxygen I breathe in is going somewhere, like there is some infrastructure underneath to absorb it and it is not just the muscle contracting harder.
So that gives me some food for thought. I had tried running fast earlier this year with an HRM and observed that I was unable to get the HR beyond 167, and it dropped as I was unable to maintain the pace. That points to a neuromuscular problem. At the same time, adding a second run gave an improvement in performance. That points to some kind of aerobic improvement which should not have helped if it was a purely neuromuscular problem. I suppose the interaction between aerobic and neuromuscular is more complex than I realized. Live and learn.
P.M. 2 miles.