MAF test 9 – limits

Knoxville downtown green-way near the University of Tennessee

My sleepy self hit this crisp and cold morning at the tail end of October with two goals in mind. One to test my progress with a MAF test on the local track, and the second to get in a 20+ miler before my taper for the next road marathon. With both goals accomplished I’m now laying on the couch with a cardigan and a hot cocoa. It was a fresh start to the winter with zero temps and frost with some fog steaming off the rivers. I’m usually dreading the winter season, this time around not so much. It’s a welcome change to have seasons. Different conditions keep things interesting. But don’t get me wrong, I’ll be the first to cry for joy once spring comes around.

the test

orange lines are previous tests, green line is the latest, red line is the current target

I broke 8 minute miles for the first time (7:59), so improved by 83 seconds per mile since starting the journey in January. Can’t complain about that. I was expecting just a little better based on my normal runs going so well. Perhaps I had too much to eat and drink last night, or perhaps the cold weather had an effect. Either way, going sub 8 is good especially considering I was calculating on February for this milestone.

Given this I’m still feeling a snag up ahead though. As my MAF times get better they are getting harder
to maintain. In other words, even though they are at a slow pace, they
are taking more out of me than they used to. I was not really expecting
this. It’s not a huge deal yet, I can still get through them, it’s just I
have to mentally focus more. I have plans for when these snags
happen, there is much I can improve on in other areas, larger training
volume, some speed work, more cross training and core workouts. My
overall body fat percentage is also still high (relatively) Tweaking and taking things up a few notches should keep the improvements coming.

But I have to come to grips with this year being the easiest year for improvement. It’s just going to get progressivly harder as time goes on to eek out more performance.

A nice 9 month road to a MAF pace of 8 minute miles

Now 9 months into collecting max aerobic function test scores and the data points are getting more clear with every test. Looking back at the first couple of tests, it’s revealing to see how impossible it was to glean much of anything out of the data at that point.

the long run

I hit 21 miles for the day and this is my last long run before tapering for a November road marathon. The Chickamauga Marathon is held outside of Chattanooga on November 9th, and is fairly flat, at least compared to the Knoxville Marathon I ran in April. I’m eager to see what all this training has done for me the last few months. I’m hoping to improve my time by about 15 minutes to get under 3:20:00. This is as far as I can tell a realistic goal. A 7:38 pace per mile seems very doable now that my slow aerobic pace has come down to 8:00 min miles.

My strategy for now is to go out at 7:50 pace for the first few miles, hit the half in about 1hr 41min, then hopefully have some strength left to negative split. As usual I’m kind of dreading the 22 mile point where things just tend to unravel just a little. Funny how having run ultras on trails don’t really help much when you’re in the last stretch of a marathon. It’s such a different beast. The pace is much higher, your hitting the anaerobic zone much more, the pounding of the pavement shakes you to the core. It’s also different psychologically. In some ways it’s just as hard as running a trail 50k or 50 miler.

After Chickamauga it’s back to the trails for me in preparation for the Lookout Mountain 50 miler in mid December. Should be fun.

This past years tests: