Today dawned (dawned at 9.30am) cold and grey and damp. Clouds hung around Arthur's Seat like they do in Japanese prints. I guess its something to do with humidity although I don't know if its still humidity when its cold.
I had planned some kind of speed session and for want of a better idea I headed up to the Meadows for 5 X 1 mile at "pace" with half mile recoveries in between. Before I went I tried to think about what pace might mean at the moment. Maybe if I could squeeze my heart rate up to round about 93% of max. That's about where it is for a 5K.
Trying to run hard is so different from trying to run long. Running long is all about keeping a steady head on you and not getting in a flap about anything. Trying to run hard is about getting in a flap. Well I assume so. I'm crap at running hard - or I am at the moment - and I immediately got into a place of conflict. As my heart rate went up then all my sirens started to go off. "I cannae hold her Captain, she's breaking up", shouted Scotty from the engine room. I saw my heart rate settle back down as without thinking I slowed up. "Get a move on Bozo", chibed another voice, "this is a speed session isn't it?". I was helped by a girl with a blond pony-tail who had the temerity to run past me. "I'll bloody show you!" I thought, and held on just behind her until she stopped. Presumably she was following her own interval session. I was delighted to fly past trying to look better than I felt. My breath was rasping and I felt sick. "Hang steady to the end of the road" ordered the Captain. "Aye, aye Sir" I rasped and did just that. At the end of the 1st mile my heart rate was 173 - 94% of max.
I knew that I'd gone off too hard and was unlikely to equal my first mile but I had managed to break the thick crust of my complacency and start to hurt myself. Hurrah!
I had my half mile recovery to get my heart rate back down and have a bit of a think about things. There's nothing like running harder than you want to to make you appreciate running easy. I wondered if bad temper and irritability is really necessary for running hard. Maybe not - and yet, to paraphrase a Zen master, you cannot achieve anything without risking your equilibrium...
So the 2nd and 3rd miles went a bit easier than the 1st. Harmless students morphed into stumbling idiots as they walked in clumps and failed to make room for me as I bore down on them with my little pink fists pumping. "Out the way you fuckers!" I didn't shout. (at least not out loud) "Someone making an effort here!".
The 4th mile, as per tradition, I was all at sea, starting to feel my real tiredness but not near enough to shore to dig deep and make a proper effort. Lap 5 I pulled out as many stops as I could and matched lap 2 (the 1st lap was the quickest.) Then it was a delight to jog home. So much so I went the longer way round the back of Arthur's Seat to make the total run up to a bit over 14 miles. Back home I do feel better for having pushed into the red zone.
I've included a screen shot of my heart-rate, elevation and pace from the Garmin. The pace (blue) never tells you anything. The heart rate does show you where you're making an effort. I see that the efforts I made have a very similar shape to Arthur's Seat. The green line shows elevation and I think I've found Bert Logan's hill in the meadows. (Bert claims to have a hill session in the meadows. The rest of us are bamboozled. ) That must be what slowed me down in lap 4.