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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Previous Mileage Factor

It's like my legs can recognize the roads they're on.

With a new mid-week distance, I had to put together a new route last night. While I've created a ten-mile course in my neighborhood, there are several points along the way that are without sidewalks. While this isn't such a big deal on a sunny Saturday morning, a dark and cloudy weekday is not the time to test the headlights of the city of Austin.

So, I basically combined the better part of two courses to create a new one that I knew would be safe for an early run. Knowing about my safety didn't make it any easier to get out the door in the morning, but I still managed to do it and hit the pavement.

The first mile felt a little difficult, which was a little frustrating. Now that I'm officially in training, I've got to start paying more attention to my pace during the run. After about 2 miles, I checked my pace and found that it was good, but not nearly as fast as it felt. It's always a problem when you realize that you're expending more energy to get less speed, so I began focusing on what might be wrong.

I went through the usual checklist. I'd gotten enough sleep the night before, I'd eaten well all day yesterday, and the previous day's run was far from taxing. Though this reminded me of how slow I ended up feeling on Monday as well. That's when it hit me: I may have been awake, but my body wasn't there yet.

For weeks now, I've been running at various times throughout the day, and my body has had plenty of time to wake up, including joints, lungs and all other various parts that are involved in the process. The last couple days, as I've actually gotten up on time, all of these parts have been rusty for the first few miles, so my runs have started with a slower-than-expected pace. Once these miles have been completed, my legs feel much better, but at that point, it's exceedingly difficult to increase speed.

It's an effect that this morning I termed the Previous Mileage Factor. It shows itself in many different aspects of the run. For one thing, the difficulty of one workout is directly related to how many miles you did in the last one. On the bright side, it also means that, like this morning, a few miles of warm up will lead to easier movement later in the run. All of this combined to a pretty decent second half of today's run.

Except for one little part. As I neared the end of the first part of my hybrid course, I felt my legs engage, seemingly of their own accord. This was the last half mile of the 8 miler I used to do, and my body was excited to be done. But then I took a right turn, and my legs got confused. For a minute or two, everything went a little haywire, as if my legs really believed they were almost done. The final two and a half miles, part of my 5K course, seemed much more difficult than they normally do on Wednesday mornings, and this is the last effect of the PMF. Any hill, regardless of size, becomes far more difficult after tough miles. This is why every marathon course has a late hill, just to test your ability to complete the work.

I completed everything in a decent time, regardless of the increased PMF of the day, and the knowledge of finishing ten miles on a Tuesday morning is more than enough to motivate one through the rest of the day.

Or so I hope to find out.

Tuesday's workout:
73 degrees, cloudy
10.31 Miles

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