Today I had a tough, hour plus hill run. I did the run at Highbanks, a local metro park with a hilly, trail terrain. It's about the ONLY place in central Ohio to run with hills. One word to describe this run: HORRIBLE!!! I couldn't breathe, my heart rate was sky-high, my legs just wouldn't move. Ugh! Last year when I was training for the Boston Marathon I kicked Highbanks' a$$ and did 18 miles there. What the heck has happened in a year?
I call it "The Ironman Effect."
I've noticed over the last couple of long runs that things have shifted in my heart rate zones. Last year when I was training for my marathons, I did a lot of work in zone 3. My goal was to increase speed. When I ran in zone 2 last year, I usually only got down around 9:30/mile. But, when I ran in zone 3, I could get the pace down to 8:20/mile. This year because I'm going long (LONG!!!) all my work has been in aerobic zones, mostly zone 2. On my long runs now in zone 2, I've been averaging just under 9:00/mile. IN. ZONE. 2.!!! But, push to zone 3 and I'm only dropping to 8:40/mile. While this is great for the races I'm planning, I am NOT happy with where my running is now. One of my biggest fears of doing triathlon specifically was losing my running abilities. Yes I know running is still my strongest asset and is my most competitive game. But I'm struggling with running so few miles and running such slow miles.
Training for Ironman has been tough. There aren't a whole lot of races on the schedule and it's hard to remember that there's purpose behind EVERY workout. Many days over the last couple of weeks I've turned to Dave and said, "you know what, I just don't want to do this. I want go back to being a runner." But, I'm glad it's spring, workouts have moved outside, and races are on the horizon. I knew things would change by switching to triathlon and physically and mentally it's been tough to handle. But maybe "The Ironman Effect" will be useful in the long run. I just have a few more weeks to wait and see.