I’ve described recently that I’m trying to find the cruising pace that maximizes relaxation and enjoyment, which it turns out is also a good aerobic training pace. Lately, I’ve been going on this kind of ride two or three times a week for about two hours. Today I pushed it to 2:45. This pace also ended up keeping my heart rate in my target range of 110-120. I felt a little tired but afterward when I tried doing some intervals they felt harder than normal.
Loma Prieta and the Santa Cruz Mountains in the background, beyond a lake formed by Coyote Creek
This is the same phenomenon as athletes who have better endurance trying to force the tempo of a race to “take the sting” out of their competitors who have a better finishing kick. I remember a spectacular example of this when Paula Radcliffe won the New York City marathon in 2007, beating Gete Wami. The two women were good friends, even sometimes babysitting each other’s children on the road. But they were fierce competitors in the race. Geta ran pretty much stride for stride with Paula the whole way, and commentators were predicting that since Paula had failed to open a gap, Geta’s better finishing kick would prevail at the end. But Geta’s kick did not materialize and Paula pulled way to win in the last mile.
Throwing in intervals after a long tempo effort is recommended in preparation for events like marathons, that is when I first learned to do this. I don’t know if it’s ideal training for healthy aging purposes, but it works for me because it is convenient to only do two hard days a week, in which I squeeze both my zone 2 and interval training.
I’ll see how I feel tomorrow morning before deciding. This is reminiscent of a scene from the 1951 classic movie “Father’s Little Dividend”. Spencer Tracy’s character (who is also the narrator) gets inspired to work out at the gym. The narrator says that after leaving the gym “I felt like a million”. The scene then shows him trying to get out of bed the next morning, and the narrator says “the next day I felt more like a hundred”.