Halloween Run—Marveling at the Body Adaptations

I stirred awake 10 minutes before the alarm clock. I was so excited about this run! Then I checked the weather and air pollution, and my excitement dropped a notch: smog was wreaking havoc. I warmed up, put on a smog mask, and headed out into the morning bleakness of fall. I had a mission to complete.

I wanted to run the same route I did last year’s Halloween. The only difference this time would be my fitness. The idea to compare stats from the same course ran a year apart was an invigorating one, and I forgot about high air pollution within the first few yards. Instead, I started marveling at the effects of consistent training on the human body. See, I knew the difference in performance would be significant—I just didn’t know yet the nitty-gritty of it.

The run was on a 5-mile course. Here are my stats from last year:

Average pace: 6:47 min/km. Average heart rate: 156 bpm.

Run cadence and vertical ratio:

Run cadence: 148 spm. Vertical ratio: 13.3%. Lots of weird stuff is going on here 😉

I recall that run pretty vividly. I remember because it was Halloween and throughout the whole run, my thoughts were drifting to horror movie options for the evening and all the unhealthy snacks accompanying the screening 😉 These thoughts were wrapped in warm and sunny weather, the vibrant oranges and yellows of fall spilling onto the country landscape. Back then, I wasn’t running in the morning yet—but sometimes it’s worth going for a training session in the afternoon, especially when the weather’s so nice!

As I ran through the fields, the trees growing along the path beckoned to me, shedding their leaves for winter slumber. I felt wonderful, relaxed, and energized.

By the end of October 2018, I was running regularly for a month and a half. I remember dreaming about being able to run at or faster than 6:00/km with a maximum heart rate of 145 bpm. Back then, such performance was so far away that I doubted I would ever be able to achieve it. Also, my running form, as you can see in the second picture, left a lot to wish for.

Fast forward to the fall of 2019:

Average pace: 5:30 min/km. Average heart rate: 145 bpm. I did 5 uphill strides at the end.

My HR stayed low, but it was still going up as the run progressed (even though the pace was the same). It means I still have some work to do to get back to my pre-break fitness. Nonetheless, there’s over a one-minute per kilometer increase in pace at 11-beat drop in heart rate.

Run cadence and vertical ratio improved, too:

Run cadence: 170 spm. Vertical ratio: 8.9% (!)

Just look at that evenness!

Human Body Is a Wonderful Machine

Even though I’m thirty-one, there are still plenty of positive adaptations to be had. That being said, I can’t wait to see the next year’s results! With consistent and wise training, I’m certain that even someone diagnosed with Hashimoto’s can get better and better with every year.

My dream now? Be able to run easies at 4:30/km with a heart rate under 145 bpm 🙂

Maja

Personal bests: 5K - 20:48 10K - 43:48

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