Your comment regarding training ‘moderate/moderate’ versus ‘hard/easy’ has truth to it but its more like ‘easy/moderate’.
On the ‘easy’ end of the scale I really do feel comfortable at the 8:30-8:40 pace. Every way I can objectivly or subjectivly measure it.
a. By heart rate – It HRR is under 75% even over very long durations at this pace.
b. Perceived effert – I feel comfortable at this pace, I automatically assume this pace during the recovery phase of interval workouts.
c. Bio-mechanics – I find it more uncomfortable to run for any length of time slower than 9:00. My shins begin to ache and my stride turns into more of a shuffle.
On the ‘hard’ end of the scale there is merit in what your advising me. There are reasons why I tend to not push the high end. The biggest is I suffer from EIA. My asthma is ‘triggered’ by different conditions but one of the triggers is fast running.
More than once last year I found myself many miles from home, without my inhaler, when I would suddenly have an attack and need to run all the way home, a scary situation. My asthma comes in cycles. Usually the spring (hayfever, pollen, etc) or during very cold weather, combined with high intensity running, would lead to an attack.
Its because of the asthma at high intensity that I never tried running shorter races before building to the marathon distance.
It may also have been a contributing factor in last years performances because I had a notably rough spring regarding asthma. And in October the conditions at Mystic were cold and rainy. During both races I needed to use my Albuteral inhaler several times.
This was quite different then my first year of running and racing where I seemed symptom free, so much so that I was posting on boards that running had ‘cured’ my asthma.
Since November I have been on AdVair and have been symptom free. I actually was suprised at how well I handled the cold this winter. If my asthma remains under control through the interval phase this spring I can train closer to the ‘hard’ then the ‘medium’. I have not used the ’emergency inhaler’ since starting the AdVair treatment which is a very positive sign.
Another good sign is that I am doing really well in hill phase. I am pushing my heart rate into the 90-100% range during the final few repeats with no signs of breathing trouble.
Beyond the asthma another reason I tended to train ‘easy/medium’ was because I had no experience dealing with the ‘discomfort’ associated with the ‘hard’ workout. I think over time I am learning to push the amount and duration that I can tolerate ‘discomfort’. So far this winter, relieved of the asthma, and with more experience I am pushing my hill workouts much harder than last year.
In the end I may be second quessing and looking for answers where none are needed. I may have had a couple of bad races due to the return of my asthma. With it now under good control the results this year may more closely reflect the effert I am putting into training.