A few weeks back, AJW wrote a column over on iRunFar about the "switch flipper," which he described as that breakthrough workout that re-confirms the training you have been doing is working and that your body is ready to handle an increased load. For me, that workout was yesterday.
It was our regular Tuesday 5 mile Big Boss Brewery pavement pounding group run, but we changed the course up a bit to add a decent climb in from miles 2-3. The past two runs were on a basically pancake flat out and back and I logged a 37:11 and 37:12. Training theory would lead me to believe that my run yesterday would be a bit slower, given the addition of the long bump in the road midway through the route.
Given that we changed the course a bit I decided to also change my workout. I was doing the Tuesday run at a set HR and essentially tried to keep my HR between 150 and 164 for the first 4 miles and then push it up above 165 for the last mile. This time I decided to go based on feel, that being slightly uncomfortable and to try to keep a constant effort around 7:25's, which would mean a flat 37 finish. Although I thought I would miss the goal by a few seconds I figured that it would be a good change of pace, figuratively and literally.
Mile one clicked by at 7:19 (avg HR of 141), which made me feel good to be banking a few seconds to give back on the climb. Mile two clicked off at 7:25 (avg HR of 154). The plan was still on track and the roughly mile long climb began...and then the switch flipped. I kept climbing and was holding roughly the same pace without much additional effort. Mile three beeped and I looked down to see a 7:19 (avg HR of 162), mile four rolled into a 7:01 (avg HR of 160) and mile five clicked off at 7:22 (avg HR of 164). Overall I came in at 36:26 with an avg HR of 164. I felt good when I finished and likely could have pushed the pace a little more throughout. For me, yesterday reconfirmed that my new training strategy is paying dividends.