I’ve been listening to some running podcasts and I keep hearing, over and over, this idea that my training intensity should be split into two categories: really easy, and really challenging. In fact, they recommend that 80% of mileage be run at an easy pace (super easy to carry on a conversation) and 20% of mileage should be at maximum intensity (in the form of intervals, hill repeats, and tempo runs). Above all, my training runs should avoid “The Black Hole” at all costs. They describe the black hole as “…an enjoyable, moderately taxing workout intensity that falls somewhere between a piece-of-cake recovery pace and a hellishly intense interval session. It’s vigorous but not aerobically painful—which is why so many athletes are sucked into its vortex.”
This describes probably 90% of my training mileage.
Turns out I’ve been running in the Black Hole for years because it feeds me happy endorphins. Even today, during what was supposed to be an easy 10 mile run (10:30-11:00 pace) I threw in an 8:12 mile, just because it felt so good. I do this all the time; start out easy, warm up, go fast at the end – but never so fast that I’m breathing really hard. Yet at the same time, I’ve always wondered why my pace never seems to improve much.
So I’ve decided to re-think my training after the marathon and really try to stick with this 80/20 intensity training (so in a 30 mile week, only 6 miles would be at high intensity, the other 24 would be at low intensity). I may need to go with a heart monitor until I start to understand what a low intensity pace feels like. You would think that, after the many years of running I’ve accumulated I could just instinctively “feel” the intensity and adjust accordingly. But for me it’s been years of going for an endorphin glow (which feels great). So I suspect this will be a tough habit to break.