Does swimming ever get enjoyable?

As a runner returning to triathlon I’ve been asking myself this question recently. Does swimming ever get enjoyable?

This morning I went to my pool session and can’t say I enjoyed it at all. Firstly I thought of some excuses to get out of going but couldn’t find one. In the car on the way to the pool I thought about turning the car around and going home because I wasn’t looking forward to it. Lets face it, for a runner swimming is hard. It’s hard to because it’s a different muscle and skill set to running that currently feels a bit foreign. Hopefully once my fitness for swimming return so will some of the enjoyment.

Can’t say I’m expecting that to happen. This morning I swam 1500 metres, 30 laps of the Olympic pool. I didn’t enjoy any one of these lap, some were easier than others but all were boring and sometimes painful. There were plenty of other people at the pool and some even looked like they were enjoying it, so maybe there is some hope.

One of the things I love about running is the solitude, one of the things I hate about swimming is the solitude. Thats a weird thing to say but very true. I can run for hours by myself and don’t need to see, hear or talk to another person but half an hour in the pool is another story.

Even though I’d been off the bike for a long time I’ve enjoyed getting back on the bike. Obviously it’s a closer skill set and fitness to running which has made it easier to adjust. Returning to the pool has been a different experience.

Clearly if I want to train for triathlon I am going to have to go swimming. It’s a necessary requirement of the sport and one I hope I start to enjoy in the near future.

Do you swim and how do you find it enjoyable?

Plenty of people in the pool enjoying their swim.

Marathon Training – Week 4

After three weeks of marathon training aiming towards Canberra Marathon in April I’m starting to feel good about my progress. As I’ve documented in previous posts I’m incorporating triathlon training into the program aimed at Ironman Australia 70.3 in May three weeks after Canberra.

This week I started with a sore foot and decided to take a couple of days off on Monday and Tuesday to rest it. This did the trick and the foot was fine from these two rest days. Wednesday I returned to my normal hill repeat location for strength building hill repeats. Thursday I made a rookie mistake and forgot that I’d planned swimming and went cycling. With a public holiday on Friday and the pool not open to 9am on weekends I wasn’t able to get a swim in this week. On my weekends with my family I like to get my training completed early so we can spend the rest of the day together. Friday running was intervals and 8 x 3 min at 3:30 min/km felt good, tough during the last couple of efforts but mostly a good, confidence building run.

The weekend I was up early on both days for 2 hours on the bike on Saturday and a 2 hour long run on Sunday. Felt a bit sore in my calves on Sunday so I decided to not run my long run at goal pace and keep it aerobic to get through the time required. I will schedule this again next week and see how the week plans out, if I’m feeling good will run at goal pace but otherwise keep it aerobic. Each of these sessions went well and I go into week 4 with a confidence that I’m ready for what is ahead. Really happy with my run at the moment, bike is feeling good also and behind schedule in the pool for obvious reasons.

Important to be able to change the plan if things don’t go to plan. After feeling a bit sore after my Friday intervals in my calves they felt worse after Saturdays bike. Changing the plan from a goal pace long run to an aerobic long run allowed me to get through the time and build endurance rather then cut the run short due to soreness and miss valuable time building endurance.

Weather has been hot and extremely humid for most of the week and training in these conditions has been tough. Hopefully a bit of respite from the heat this week.

Week 4

Monday – Rest

Tuesday – Running – Hills (1 Hour)

Wednesday – Swim – Aerobic (40 min)

Thursday – Bike – Aerobic (1 Hour)

Friday – Running – Aerobic (2 Hour 15 min or 1 hour 45 min @ goal marathon pace)

Saturday – Bike – Aerobic (1 Hour 30 min)

Sunday – Running – Intervals (9 x 3 min with 45 sec recovery)

Looking forward to challenging myself again this week.

How is your training going? What races do you have coming up?




Some photos from this weeks training.


Marathon training week 3


A successful week of marathon training getting through all my scheduled training. All my training went to plan, however after my long run on Friday I have been a little sore in my right foot. Nothing dramatic but some pain on the outside of my foot that hasn’t gone away as quickly as I’d like. Not an injury just a grumpy foot that needs some monitoring.

I have decided to take a couple of days off and rest the foot and make sure at this early stage of my marathon preparation that it doesn’t become an injury. So far no running, cycling or swimming this yet this week. Training will start again tomorrow and follow this pattern this week.

Monday – Rest

Tuesday – Rest

Wednesday – Run – Hills

Thursday – Swim – 40 min aerobic

Friday – Run – Intervals

Saturday – Bike – Long ride (2 hours)

Sunday – Run – Long run ( 2 hours – Goal marathon pace)

This week I am due to run my first goal pace long run of this preparation, this will depend on how my foot feels after the rest of the training this week. If there is still some pain I may revert back to an aerobic long run and run the goal pace run in week 4. There is plenty of time to get the training right for this marathon and making sure my grumpy foot doesn’t become and injury is important. taking a couple of days off is certainly not going to pose any problem but if it were to get worse and more time off was needed it would not be ideal.

Looking forward to getting back into to training tomorrow.

How is your training going? Are you on track for your goal races?

The Long Run


The long run has been the staple of running training ever since competitive running began. Every training guide ever written for running includes regular long runs. This is because it is the tried and tested method of increasing endurance for overall running improvement.

Every runner, regardless of the distance of races they run should run regular long runs. If you only ever race 5km races then a long run will give you the same benefit as a marathoner. The benefit is increased endurance. In running terms endurance is the ability to sustain a prolonged effort or activity.  Increasing endurance will help you give your best effort towards the end of your runs and races.

The long run length should be long relative to your overall mileage and race goals. There is no point pushing through a two hour long run if you only ever race up to 5km. A good rule of thumb is to schedule your long run to be roughly 20% of your overall weekly mileage. For a 5km runner who does 35-40km a week an 8-10km long run is more than sufficient. However for the runner training for longer races putting in 80-100km a week they will need a longer run to get the benefits.

As you run longer races the long run should build in time. I am currently in week two of a 14 week marathon preparation, my long run this week was at 1 hour 45 min and will build over the next 10 weeks until I reach a three hour long run. If I’m not focussed on a specific race distance then just maintaining a weekly long run that is roughly 20% of my total weekly mileage still has a  great effect on your overall endurance .

Focus on keeping your running at an aerobic pace. Pace doesn’t matter during a long run, keep the pace comfortable and ensure you get through the time. The seeds of endurance are harvested at an aerobic pace. This should also help make the long run the most enjoyable run of the week. Keeping the pace aerobic allows you to enjoy your run and the surroundings your running in.

Run long, run often and then run long again.

How did your long run go this week?




Marathon Training week 2

This marathon plan has started and week 1 went almost to plan. Completed all my run sessions as planned, with my hill session, interval and long run all going well.

Tuesday’s hill session was run over a familiar terrain and I completed this session and felt strong throughout. Thursday I completed intervals of 12 x 2 min at 3:30 min/km with a 1 min float between, a humid start to the day here made for a challenging session. Sunday’s long run was slightly shorter than planned at 1 hour 30 min but comfortable at an aerobic pace.

My other triathlon disciplines didn’t go quite to plan with just one swim and ride. I had a long ride planned on Saturday and felt fatigued when I woke up so I skipped this session and wasn’t able to make my afternoon pool session due to family commitments. Overall not a disaster in the first week of a preparation as I’m still adjusting to life back on the bike and in the pool.

This week sees a similar schedule;

Monday –             Swim                     (30 min – 1.5km)

Tuesday –             Run                       (Hills – 1 hour)

Wednesday –      Bike                        (Aerobic – 1 hour)

Thursday –           Swim                     (30 mins – 1.5km)

Friday    –              Long run              (Aerobic – 1:45 min)

Saturday              Bike                       (Aerobic – 1:30 min including single leg drills)

Sunday                 Run                       (Intervals 8 x 3 min – 1 min float)


Looking at a week without a rest day to ensure I get all my sessions completed. For the next few weeks I want to make sure I complete each session and develop the fitness needed.

Good luck with your own training or racing this week.

Running Goals for 2018

With a new year almost here it’s time to set some running goals for 2018. 2017 was good running year for, I went under three hours for the first time in the marathon and remained injury free for the entire year.

This year I’ve decided to make a return to triathlon in an Ironman 70.3 event in May. Since I made this decision my motivation to complete this race has increased. I’m very happy to make this choice and look forward to training for this race. On top of this continue to train for at least two marathons and further my advocacy for barefoot running.

Goals 2018

Better my marathon personal best.

I have committed to running Canberra Marathon, April 15th and will start specifically training for this event in the next two weeks. This race will be my goal race for the year and one the one that I will look to run my best time. My personal best for the marathon was set in Seoul this year at 2:57 and the goal for Canberra is to go quicker than this.

I feel I need to prove to myself that my sub 3 hour marathon wasn’t a fluke and go quicker than I have before. A sub 2:50 is in the back of my mind but that’s the stretch goal for this race.

Goal – Sub 2:57 in Canberra.

Sub five hour Ironman 70.3

Previously as a triathlete I was able to break five hours at the Ironman 70.3 distance. With 4:53 my best time for this event. However I haven’t competed in a triathlon in six years now.

Ironman 70.3 in my home town of Port Macquarie is three weeks after my marathon. I need to be ready to swim 1.9km and cycle 90km strongly before I run the Canberra Marathon. I haven’t seriously swam or cycled for six years now so getting back to fitness in these two disciplines and still being ready to run a sub 2:57 marathon will be a challenge.

Over the past few weeks i have been back on the bike and been pleasantly surprised by how quickly my cycling legs are coming back. After three weeks of cycling I am starting to feel relatively strong on the bike (for a runner) and my aerobic fitness is still very good from running. My feeling is that cycling will compliment running and increasing my aerobic fitness further the more I ride. I’m yet to head to the pool, but need to soon.

I don’t want to come back to triathlon and not be able to be as fast as I used to be. I am running better now than six years ago and there is no reason why I can’t get back to this standard.

Goal – Sub 5 in May at Ironman 70.3

Run only in minimal footwear

If you’ve been reading my posts in the last 12 months this will seem a no brainer. This year I ran only in minimal shoes and sandals and was able to run injury free for the entire year. In 2018 I will continue to only run in minimal footwear, most of my runs will again be in sandals.

I want to continue to be an advocate for barefoot running and spread the word of the benefits of moving to this type of running footwear. It has changed my running enjoyment and longevity by increasing my foot strength.

Goal – Only run in minimal footwear

Stay Injury Free

This is obviously linked to the previous goal but staying injury free is a high priority. Being injury free is a major advantage when training for any race, getting even a minor injury through a race preparation can be very frustrating and makes it more difficult to be ready on race day.

Transitioning to barefoot running has increased the strength in my feet, this has been the catalyst for an injury free year. My belief is continuing barefoot running will continue to strengthen my feet and legs. hopefully by the end of 2018 my feet will be bullet proof.

Goal – Stay injury free

Goals are what drives the challenge of running. As runners commitment and then discipline is what keeps us on the path to achieving these goals.

If you have any goals for your running in 2018 I’d love to hear them. What are you aiming for? how will you achieve?



One lesson from a good and bad marathon

Marathons of last year for me were both good and bad and one lesson stands out above others. For both of these marathons my training was strong, I didn’t suffer injury along the way and was able to get to the start line fit and healthy. On both occasions I was confident of running a good race.

The lesson learnt is don’t be too quick to lose motivation and give up.

In the good marathon things went to plan from the start. I was able to comfortably run the pace I wanted to run and enjoy the race. When the marathon starts at 30km you need to be ready to give your best effort. On this day I was ready, motivated and for the last 10-12km when running became more difficult I was prepared to dig deep and give everything I had to get to the finish line.

In the bad marathon things didn’t quite go to plan from the start. The weather was unseasonably hot, I wasn’t prepared for this and didn’t adjust my pace early enough because of this. I was still able to run the pace I wanted to early in the race but by 30km when you need to dig deep I was cooked and didn’t have the motivation to dig even deeper. This lead to my legs cramping and I gave up and needed to walk. If I had adjusted my pace earlier and recognised that it wasn’t going to be the easiest day things may have been different.

Sometimes it seems easier not to adjust your pace and go through a tougher process to get to the finish line. I believe on this occasion I gave up too quickly, recognised it was going to be a tough day and didn’t give my best effort over the final quarter of the marathon.

In the good marathon I was buoyant as things were going to plan until 30km. Because of this my motivation was high and  I felt ready to give my best effort when I needed to most and was able to finish in a personal best time. The marathon is complicated race, nothing prepares you for the kilometres after 30km. Long runs in training give you the base to be ready but what happens in the final quarter of a marathon is mostly mental. It’s important to see it through to the finish and stay motivated even if things aren’t quite going to plan.

In my marathons I attempt to keep my pacing as consistent as possible, from 1km to 42km. The change in effort required to run the first to last kilometre is astronomical though. It is very easy to let self doubt creep into your mind as you tick over the kilometres, the key (easier said then done) is to keep believing and accept that the journey through a marathon is not going not to be easy.

Part of the process is knowing to sense you are giving up. It might be just some small thoughts that the pace is getting hard to hold. When things get tough as they in evidently and you recognise these thoughts it’s time to take a kilometre slightly slower, relax your breathing and get to the next aid station or kilometre marker. Stay strong, there is a finish line up the road soon and you’ll feel better once you are there.

In all races and especially marathons in the future I will try and teach myself to stay in the moment. Go through the process and do everything I can to keep self doubt out and give my best effort. The challenge the marathon presents in the final stages is why it’s so alluring. Disappointment for me comes from races where I know I gave up too quickly and could have done better if I was tougher mentally in the moments that mattered.

Is there a time when you recognise you’ve given up too soon?

Let the marathon training begin – Week 1

This coming week marks the start of my 14 week preparation for the Canberra marathon as well as integrating an ironman triathlon program into my schedule. The basis of this program is to run my three key sessions every week building up speed, endurance and strength over this period to peak for the marathon April 15th.

On top of this I will aim for two cycling sessions and two swim session per week to build other disciplines for Ironman 70.3 three weeks after the marathon.

The goal of the first week of the schedule is to begin to imbed this training rhythm into my cycle for the next 12 weeks. My priority is to continue to make running my priority sport however with a focus on the bike and pool. I am also planning to have one complete rest day in my each week.

Marathon training week 1

Monday                               Bike – Aerobic     (1 hour undulating course)

Tuesday                              Run –  Hills (2 x 2km hill repeats)

Wednesday                        Swim – (40 min – 2km)

Thursday                            Run –  Intervals  (12 x 2 min – 1 min recovery)

Friday                                  Rest

Saturday                             AM Bike  –  Long ride (1:45)                                       PM Swim (40min – 2km)

Sunday                                Run  –  Aerobic Long run (1:30)

This marathon program will be similar to recent programs where i have a two week taper before the race.  This one will be slightly different because I will still include swimming and cycling into the taper. This preparation will have a monthly goal pace long run starting in week 3 and with three weeks before the marathon a 3 x 14km race paced effort. These are focussed efforts to test my fitness during the cycle of training. The 3 x 14km effort is one I have used in my previous two marathon preparations and when this session goes well it is a great fitness test and confidence booster going into a marathon.

Still deciding whether to race in the lead up to this race. Not convinced racing a shorter distance during a preparation gives any benefit on marathon race day.

Motivated and looking forward to getting straight into training next week. My two weeks of training since Christmas has just been a warm up for the sessions to come. Now it’s time for the marathon and triathlon training to begin.

Is barefoot running a fad or running in cushioned shoes?

Yesterday I went running and i was not barefoot, it was my weekly interval session and I decided to wear Carson Footwear zero drop shoes for this run. I ran in these shoes for two reasons, they are awesome and I hadn’t run in them for a while. Normally when I run in sandals, I don’t see too many more people out running barefoot or in sandals. Yesterday I saw two people, I felt like I was the odd one out wearing shoes.

Of the two guys I saw running barefoot, one was a guy I know who has recently started running in some cool homemade sandals. The other guy I didn’t know but I noticed he had some very minimal shoes on and then when I passed him running the other way later in my run he was carrying them and running barefoot.

This got me thinking, is barefoot running the fad or is running in cushioned shoes the fad and is this fad coming to an end? When “Born to Run’ came out in 2009 and a lot of people attempted to transition to barefoot there was a lot of media about the new fad of barefoot running. But people have been running barefoot for thousands of years and only wearing cushioned running shoes for 40-50 years. So isn’t the fad that we decided to run in shoes 50 years ago?

When the barefoot running ‘fad’ started post 2009 there was very little information on transitioning and many people got injured and went back to wearing their cushioned running shoes. Nowadays there is a lot of information about foot health and transitioning advice. The best resource I know is The Foot Collective, this is a comprehensive guide on foot health and barefoot education that your should have a look at.

A few years ago when I started running in sandals it was unheard of to see another like minded runner. yesterday there was two, and if you count me in zero drop, wide toe box and minimal cushioned shoes there was three. Barefoot running isn’t the fad, and fads don’t last forever.

If you run in highly cushioned shoes they will impact your foots natural movement. They weaken your feet and contribute to injuries. If you want to stop neglecting your feet, change to a minimal footwear that allow your feet to move naturally. If you do decide to ditch the fad of cushioned running shoes take your time to build foot strength. Transitioning to barefoot is a marathon not a sprint, take the time to do it right to give you the best chance at a successful transition.

Make the choice, ditch the fad of cushioned running shoes and change your running forever. If you have any questions on barefoot running or transitioning let me know.

Free the feet in 2018.


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Three runs per week in 2018

With the year coming to an end most runners start planning the runs and races they are targeting in the new year. With this comes also how to fit training for these races around the other commitments of life. How will you train for these races and still go to work, see the family? For me a return I am targeting a return to triathlon with a Ironman 70.3 race scheduled locally in May. On top of this I’ve committed to a marathon three weeks before.

When the new year hits I’ll have 15 weeks till the Canberra marathon, with this being a goal to run another sub three hour marathon. Also in the back of my mind is that I need to train to get my cycling and swim fitness back, six years after my last triathlon.

In order to do this I’ll be aiming my running at just three runs per week, complimented by two cycling and two swim sessions per week. It’s important each session has a purpose, if I’m only running three times per week and still hope to run a fast marathon then each run must count. I’ve documented in these pages before my belief of the three key runs. Usually complimented by aerobic running to recover and have the body ready for next key run. this time around my running will be complimented by cycling and swimming and zero aerobic recovery runs.

The Three key sessions

The three key sessions which I’ll aim for each week are, the long run, intervals and hill repeats.

The long run

The long run has been the staple of running training since competitive running began. Every training guide ever written for running will include the long run. This is because it is a tried and tested method of increasing endurance for your overall running improvement. The weekly long run is vital to build the endurance needed to run a marathon.


Interval running is about increasing speed. If you want to run fast on race day you need to run fast in training and teaching the body to able to run fast when fatigue starts to set in. Intervals are the best way to teach the body to run fast.

Hill repeats

Third building block in the three key sessions is hill repeats, which is aimed at improving strength in the legs and overall strength endurance. For my two marathon events this year both featured a weekly hill repeat session. Strength is an important attribute at the back end of a marathon when everything hurts and you still need to try and run fast.

These three sessions are distinctly aimed at improving endurance, speed and strength. Complimented by cycling and swimming I am confident I can get to the start line of the Canberra marathon ready to run my best.

What are your goals for 2018? And how will you approach them?

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