You can probably infer that today's tempo run went well...
Cast your mind back a week and I was concerned at my apparent lack of pace having felt shattered whilst averaging a mere 7:30 pace for 3 x 1 mile intervals, but after a fair performance in completing Wednesday's 1k intervals I went into today's run feeling far more upbeat.
I ran 3.12 miles warm up/cool down at about 9:15 minute miles but completed the 4 mile tempo run at 7:02 pace - even faster than target and with the last 2 miles in 6:55 and 6:52 respectively, despite being wrapped up in sub zero temperatures and running on a fairly uneven surface.
If that wasn't pleasing enough my legs feel pretty good too. A little soreness near the inside top of the tibia and some light doms in glutes and adductors but that's all.
On that basis (and tempting fate here) I think I've cracked the sore calves issue.
I'd previously hypothesised a number of contributory factors leading to soreness - pace, mileage, inadequate rest etc - and I suspect all played their part but I think the biggie was my gait.
In early summer I'd ran a race and on seeing a race photo from the finishing mile I thought it looked as if I was heel striking when fatigued. Its difficult to draw such conclusions from a single image but it was enough to make me think far more about a forefoot foot strike, and proprioceptive adaptation being what it is the more I thought about it the more it began to happen.
That led to some soreness in calves and achillies but no particular damage. I put this down to a temporary strain as my muscles adapted to the modified gait and after a few weeks the pain began to ease off.
Then, in October, I began the 24 week programme and with it began twice weekly speed sessions featuring fast hill repeats and intervals ran at 1 mile race pace. For that type of training there's an increased tendency to run up on the toes with the heel barely touching the ground (if at all) and I suspect that began to carry over into my running generally: a powerful forefoot strike with the calves getting no rest within the gait cycle.
When I needed to slow down to base pace or recovery run pace I maintained the foot strike from faster sessions but slowed through reducing my cadence so my gait consisted of a series of powerful over striding 'leaps' but from toes to toes rather than the more common fault of heel striking.
So, having considered this I've made an effort since Sunday to simply up my cadence back to 180 strides per minute - even running with a handheld metronome on Tuesday. The idea is that the fast cadence will bring the stride length back down, reduce impact and hold foot strike at a more normal forefoot/mid foot position so that the calves rest momentarily within each stride.
The results are excellent with the tightness and pain I felt in the calves completely disappearing.
Roll on Sunday!