Barefoot Running: Foot Strike is just the beginning – Part 1

If you’ve read much from the mainstream media on barefoot running you’d be excused for thinking that it just relates to changing your foot strike. Most media on barefoot running centres around taking off your shoes and changing from heel striking to forefoot striking when running. In doing so you’ll eliminate injuries and run off into the sunset leaving your shoes behind.

Whilst changing foot strike is one aspect to barefoot running there are a number of components. Changing from running in heavy cushioned shoes to minimal shoes or barefoot takes patience, commitment and most likely a change in mindset.

It’s quite reasonable to understand that humans lived for thousands of years without cushioned footwear and running injuries didn’t occur. While most runners also most likely know a runner that is currently injured or recently injured. It’s also quite reasonable to believe that the human foot was designed through evolution to walk or run without the aid of shoes. Then why is it so difficult to understand the benefits of barefoot running?

Mindset Change

To make a successful transition to barefoot or minimal shoe running the mindset may be the biggest change required. If you’ve got to adulthood and have worn over protective shoes all your life you have many years of mindset to change.

In barefoot running terms a fundamental change in the belief system is required. The runner must change their belief that the cushioning and support of traditional running shoes is helping to a mindset that says the human foot is fine without the cushioning and support.  The mindset shift to believing the modern running shoe does more harm than good by not allowing the foot to move in it’s natural form and weakening the muscles associated. Once this mindset shift occurs there is a transition period that will take time.

Foot Strength

If you have worn over-protective shoes fall your life then you will have weakened feet, ankles and muscles associated with barefoot running. It takes time and patience to build these muscles, however as these muscles strengthen you will become more resistant to injury.

Making this transition patiently is important, starting with becoming barefoot more often in everyday life and regularly walking barefoot will reawaken these muscles and build strength. From here it is simply a matter of beginning with small amounts of barefoot running and increasing this amount over time.

While you are transitioning utilise simple barefoot strength and conditioning tasks such as squats and jumping. As you gain strength in your feet and ankles you will develop better balance which helps when you stay stronger when running long distances.

A good drill to test this is to try and balance on one foot for a period of 30-60 sec. Once you can do this close your eyes and continue. As your strength increases this should become easier. Try the other leg and measure whether there is a difference between left and right. Another reason for increased balance is a heightened proprioception.

Proprioception

Proprioception is sometimes referred to as the humans ‘sixth sense’ and is the bodies ability to subconsciously perform movements and balance. Proprioception uses receptors in our skin, muscles and joints to give information to the brain as we subconsciously interact with it. Many of these receptors are in our feet.

By wearing over-protective, thick shoes we close these receptors over time which means less information is sent to the brain. By transitioning to barefoot movement and running we reawaken these sensors which gives almost immediate improvements in balance and basic subconscious movements.

Barefoot running is far more than taking off your shoes and changing to a forefoot landing foot strike. There are multiple parts in the transition and multiple benefits by making this change.

In part 2 of this series we will focus on specific tasks and techniques that will help you easily and safely transition to barefoot running and not lose mileage or fitness in the process. In the meantime start by spending time barefoot at home and begin to feel the difference.

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Beach to Brother Marathon 2018 – Race Report

My decision to enter the Beach to Brother marathon came soon after competing in the 2017 race. I was disappointed with my effort in last year’s race and how I raced contributed to some real suffering over the last 10km.

My training for this year’s event was mostly trouble free, in this preparation I slightly increased my mileage from recent marathons and was able to put together a good block of training. I was confident going to the race that I’d be able to put together a good race due to this training. Much of my training had been on the course as the race is held in my home town of Port Macquarie, Australia. I decided to run this race in Gladsoles trail sandals, which I had used in last year’s race and was very happy with running in them on this course.

Beach to Brother marathon is such a unique race and has many variables that mother nature can decide to contribute to its difficulty. Last year it was extreme heat that made the race very difficult, this year the weather report looked favourable for good conditions reporting mild temperatures.

Race morning started with those mild temperatures and fine conditions that were welcomed by all at the start line. My goal this year was to break four hours and my tactic to achieve this was to run patiently throughout and run my own race regardless of where my position in the race was.

I started with this in the forefront of my mind and ran the first kilometre in a small lead group of 5-6 runners. After the short climb up to the top of Flynns Beach I took the lead of the group and rolled through the flat and downhill section onto Flynns Beach. I was a little surprised when only one runner came with me to this point and we had about 100m lead by the time on the sand. The other runner was another local runner and friend of mine Clifford Hoeft. Cliff and I ran the next section to Lighthouse Beach mostly together, on most of the uphill trail sections I pulled away as I envisage Cliff took these relatively conservatively and I did the same on the downhill sections and was easily caught. We reached the Tacking Point Lighthouse together with a good lead over the rest of the field.

The section along Lighthouse beach to Lake Cathie is a long 10km stretch of beach with a detour mid-way down the beach into a nearby trail before going back onto the sand for the remaining 5-6km. I gained a short lead at the lighthouse Beach aid station as I didn’t need to fill my flask. This section was nice running with relatively hard sand despite an incoming tide and a light southerly headwind to run into. Exiting the beach to the trail onto a nice gravel road and both myself and Cliff picked up the pace along here and rolled through this section to the aid station before going back onto the beach, I filled my water flask and was back on the sand just behind.

By the time we had come back to the sand the wind strength had increased and running into this section was more challenging. I decided to focus on my own running, and be patient running into the wind. The incoming tide was starting to make the sand softer and by the coffee rock section before Lake Cathie there were a few sections where I got wet with waves crashing against the rocks or needed to go rock hopping over the coffee rock section. In this section of the race I had put some space between myself and Cliff and I exited the beach at Lake Cathie with a few hundred metre lead.

A short trail section around Lake Cathie and I felt great going back onto the beach for the section to Bonny Hills. By this stage the wind was quite strong and the tide had made an initial coffee rock section of about 500m unpassable without rock hopping over. I had expected this section and was prepared for the coffee rock, running in sandals makes this section slightly more challenging as it is easy to catch a toe or roll an ankle. It was on this section I slightly rolled my right ankle and fell onto my knee, while only a small fall I got up with some pain in my right knee. The rest of this section is beach and into the now strong head wind was tough running, I exited the beach at Bonny Hills still in the lead and feeling good.

From Bonny Hills there is a section of both up and downhill grass and trail over Grants Headland. My knee by this stage was quite sore and all the downhill sections aggravated it more, I was still running quite well albeit in some pain. On the very tight single trail over Grant’s Head I was caught behind some half marathon runners and unable to pass, at this stage Cliff caught me. The trail between Grant Head and North Haven Surf Club was relatively uneventful as we ran together and both ran relatively conservatively. Reaching North Haven with 10km to go I stopped for water briefly before heading off for the last 7.5km before the 2.5km summit to North Brother Mountain. It was at this stage when Cliff accelerated ahead of me on the breakwall and I didn’t have the legs to go with him. I made the decision to run my own race knowing that the finish to this race is as tough as they get.

At this stage of the race the marathon distance was certainly starting to hurt and by the aid station with 5km to go I was feeling okay but my pace had slowed. From here it is mostly uphill until the base of the mountain and I had lost confidence that I was going to compete for the win. Cliff had run off looking very strong and I concentrating on surviving to the mountain and then doing what I can to get up. My goal of a sub 4 hour finish was still looking good.

The last 2.5km of this race has over 500m of elevation up a single trail, mostly stairs leading up the North Brother Mountain. Very soon into this climb I was aware that I didn’t have much if anything left and it was real test of my mental will just to get up the climb. With about 1.5km to go I was passed by another marathon runner. He was climbing the mountain very strongly and there was nothing I could do when he went past other than congratulate him.

Close to the top after taking a left hand turn the trail flattens out and there are a few runable sections mixed with further climbing. I tried to run these sections and hold onto my sub 4 hour goal but when I did both my calves started to cramp. I decided to power hike these sections and do the best I could. By this stage you can see the top of the trees and start to hear the crowd as the top is not far away. I was able to break into a run as I got near the finish and crossed the line in third place in 4:01:19. Just shy of my 4 hour goal but satisfied with a third place.

Big congratulations to Clifford Hoeft for winning this race, he raced a great race and was the strongest runner on the course today. Very happy to see him to be the first winner of this marathon local to our area.

With 24 hours of reflection I am happy with my race. I left everything I had on that course and can honestly say there is nothing more I could have done on the day. If I had my time again I would have raced the same way and gave myself a chance to achieve my goals.

 

The difficulty of this race was again magnified by the conditions, the wind and tide made the beach sections really tough and this contributed to the remainder of the race as it sapped energy from you that was really required for the brutal hill at the end. One of the beauties of this race is the mystery that the weather can create and how the coastal conditions change so much with the conditions. We may be waiting years before this race has conditions that will make it easier, it will be a different challenge every year..

This race is a must do NSW coastal trail race. It is super well organised and such a beautiful coastal course. The views over the coast from some of the spots on course are some of the best in the country, not to forget the amazing scenery on top of North Brother Mountain. It’s a race that gives me everything I love about competing in marathons, a tough challenging course, beautiful scenery and fantastic on course atmosphere.

Personally, I really want a sub four hour finish on this course, I certainly believe I am a good enough runner to achieve this and will undoubtedly be back from another crack at it next year.

 

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Interview with a runner – Russell James

Russell James is a barefoot runner from Killarney, a rural town of 250 letterboxes S E of Warwick, QLD, Australia on the foothills of the great divide just below the main range national park.

When Russell isn’t running he has an Urban farm setup where he supplies organic produce from a roadside stall and

markets. Russell and his partner also run a mobile event food van specialising in Allergen free plant-based foods, you can check out his business at Spudelicious.
Russell has personal bests over the following distances;
Half marathon  1.27.10
10k                     40.03
5k                       20.12
Thanks for spending some time with us Russell.

1. How long have you been running, and how did you start?

I started running as part of getting into triathlon. I was coming off the back of a long illness from a brain parasite that I contracted and I was looking for a sport that would get me fit.
That was back when I was 37 years old which is 24 years ago now. Apart from a time that I had a severely broken and shattered toe joint I have been running ever since then.

2. What running achievement are you most proud of?

I think what would come to mind would be representing Australia for the world championship triathlon event in Canada.
It wasn’t my best run as per times though, as I was the third Australian home in my age group and 33rd way down the list as an international competitor but representing Australia was a real blast.
Another running achievement that I am always proud of is someone coming up to me after the run and commenting how I can run so well in bare feet.

3. What is your biggest tip to becoming a successful runner?

I think as is any secret to successful outcomes is to understand the “why” of what you do.
 For me it was a desire to get well and fit, over the successive years it has changed its value and meaning to fit into more of a lifestyle choice and activities.
So for me, the stage of what I regard as ” successful running”  that I am in, I would sum up with the saying ” I’m not in it for the medal haul I’m in it for the long haul.”
The practical bio-mechanics of being a successful runner that I would put forward is getting your form right and all the running mechanics lined up before you start to stack on the kilometres. I would without any hesitation make the suggestion to a new runner to do barefoot foot strengthening and joint mobility work coupled with core strength work before you start to put trash miles on bad form.

4. What is your favourite training session?

It depends on what cycle of training that I am in.
Though I have not trained seriously for a number of years, it doesn’t mean I am not competitive but for me to train hard, my favourite training session needs other people to push me on 400m repeats around the track preferably grass.
This I find really helps me to sharpen up on the top end speed, yet, at the same time brings together the base work I like to do as strength work which I like as hill ( trail ) running.

5. How do you stay motivated when you don’t want to run?

I think this question brings you back to the “why”  you run.  For me running, mobility, fitness, plant-based nutrition are lifestyle choices which underpin my desire for healthy active ageing.
Running is part of the quest I have taken on, to be using this life I’ve been given to its maximum potential in this physical sheath that has been given to me.
Understanding there are cycles in all things and ebbs and flows within life, how you deal with ” lack of motivation” means at some stages if I’m not motivated to get out the door for a run its no big deal, pick it up the next week, the next day, the next month, whatever ………  I’m in it for the long haul.

6. What are your favourite running shoes?

Tricky question, I have been through many varieties of minimalist running sandal never really finding one that I liked, I tried Merrill as a minimalist shoe but there were a few things about them that didn’t suit me.
At the moment I am using a pair of Altra lone peak trail running shoes but most times I prefer to run barefoot.
Though I am looking for a good 5K running flat that I can use when I need an A race effort.

7. What are your goals for the future?

How far do you want to project into the future for this answer but I have consistently stated that a future goal for my running activity is to hold a world title for the 5K track championships for the 90-year-old age division.
Apart from that, I would like to be able to encourage as many people as I can to spend more time barefoot and to engage in an active lifestyle that is full of functional movement and healthy compassionate nutritional choices.
The best way I know how to do this is lead by example of healthy ageing and to be available to share any useful information I may have learned on the way. My last couple of years of parkrun have been a mixed bag of results as overall times but I have been generally in the top 3 age group finishers most runs I think it’s up to 63 last I looked.
We were doing a 50 in 50 challenge  that was 50 parkruns in 50 weekends  which we posted on our youtube channel  https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLh1yQBA5WcPAeVX4yjy8eL24Kp4HxkKy1 , but in February 2017 my youngest son was killed in a car accident and life took a different turn for us and we moved out here to Killarney where we are now.
We have been supporters and race ambassadors for the Warwick pentath race …. next year I want to have a good crack at the 10k hill ascent so I am putting back on the “serious” training hat.
Thanks ever so much for your time and for detailing your running career. Good luck with your running in the future, achieving your goals in the future. If you’d like to follow Russell’s running journey be sure to follow him on Strava at Russell James and Instagram @wattzupsport. 

Use the code: runninger20 for a 20% discount on all eyewear at ND:R Elite performance Sunglasses https://aus.naked-runner.com

Review – Gladsoles 10mm Super Trails

It’s no secret that my running footwear of choice is usually barefoot running sandals from US brand Gladsoles. I have now run in Gladsoles for almost five years now and for the past 2 – 3 years they have been on my feet more than any other. Whenever I am due for more barefoot running sandals I email Rich at Gladsoles and ask if he has anything new coming out. The purchase of these sandals came because my Trail 2.0 sandals had reached their decline after 1400km over all surfaces. This time around Rich let me know he had a new Vibram rubber that I may be interested in.

Enter the Gladsoles 10mm Super trail. These sandals are built on 10mm thick Vibram Nuflex rubber, the Trail 2.0 sandal was built on a 8mm thick Vibram Gumlite rubber. It was explained to me that the Nuflex rubber would be slightly less dense and slightly more flexible than the Gumlite rubber. If there was any criticism of the 8mm Gumlite rubber it would be that it was slightly too dense and didn’t have a lot of give.

What is missing from barefoot running sandals compared with most running shoes is mid sole foam. The mid sole foam is there to provide cushioning. When you run without mid sole foam your feet and ankles take more impact. There is no doubt this puts more stress on this area however in time the feet and ankles strengthen to the point where mid sole foam becomes irrelevant to your running. The effect of not having cushioning is mainly evident on longer runs as fatigue impacts running economy and running form. This has stopped me wearing sandals in road marathons to this point until my feet and ankles become even stronger. What I’ve been looking for in a barefoot running sandal is exactly what the 10mm Super Trail sounded like.

Immediately after running in the 10mm Super trail it was noticeable that the Nuflex rubber reacts slightly differently. It is quite a bit more flexible than the Gumlite rubber and slightly less dense. The benefit to this is a very small amount of give or cushion effect, that may be enough to help the feet, ankles and legs fatigue less through long runs and be able to run better for longer periods. The Nuflex rubber has been tested multiple times already on long runs of up to 3 hours 30 minute and this is evident.

Having a more flexible sandal means you still get fantastic feel from the ground whether you choose to run on road, trail or other surfaces. These have so far been tested on road, trail and beach conditions and passed each test comfortably. Initially this was a concern moving from a 8mm sandal to a 10mm rubber and whether this would affect the feedback you receive back from the ground. The 10mm sandal does give slightly less feedback however the benefits for longer runs outweigh this ever so slight negative.

The possible downside to a less dense rubber is longevity. The 8mm Gumlite have run 1400km and counting, I am unsure whether the 10mm Nuflex sandals will give this type of mileage. So far though they have run 150km and have virtually no visible signs of wear to the sole of the sandal. These sandals most certainly give 1200km+ meaning they are giving double what most running shoes twice their price return.

Gladsoles sandals are custom made to a tracing of both feet which you email when ordering. This is a huge benefit from any other product on the market. They are hand crafted and customised to your feet making sure that every sandal is a perfect fit for the individual runner.

So far the running experience in the Gladsoles 10mm Super Trail has been excellent. These are the fifth sandal I’ve owned from Gladsoles and for running long distances they are the best yet. Running in this sandal so far and testing it over marathon specific long runs in training, I am confident this sandal can get me through a road marathon (or a race on any other surface) in my best shape.

If you are looking for a barefoot running sandal for your running give Gladsoles some consideration. While they may not be the most recognised name in the barefoot sandal arena they make up for it by working hard to make a mighty good running sandal. The customisation can’t be understated as every sandal will fit perfectly and the customer service is superb.

The Gladsoles 10mm Super Trails are great choice of barefoot running sandal. #freethefeet

 

Why I’ll run this marathon in shoes

The footwear choice for my upcoming marathon has been a decision I have thought about throughout this marathon preparation. Should I run this marathon in shoes or sandals?

Gladsoles sandals have been my number one footwear choice for the past 18 months, I do probably 60% of my running in them. I have completed a marathon in them before albeit the Beach to Brother trail marathon. They are a great sandal to run in. I completed my recent half marathon in these sandals in a new personal best time. I haven’t run a road marathon in these sandals yet though. My most recent road marathon was Seoul marathon last year which I ran in shoes, in particular the Salming Race 3.

While I do a lot of running in sandals, when I run long in them they are harder on my lower legs and feet. Naturally with less or zero cushioning they slightly tougher on the body. While this feeling is minimised by running a lot in sandals there is still a factor in the legs getting conditioned to running for long periods without cushioning.

Running in sandals has helped me be a better runner, my legs and feet are stronger and my technique is better. I have changed my foot strike from a heel striking runner to a forefoot runner. However when I run longer distances my form deteriorates as I fatigue. During my recent half marathon my form gradually deteriorated over the last 5km as I became fatigued.

For this reason I have chosen to run my marathon in three weeks time in shoes. Whilst I can run just as fast in sandals as shoes, when I fatigue in the final third of the marathon I don’t believe I can manage a running form that will allow me to run my best race in sandals yet. This is a weakness in the runner not the sandal, in time I will develop the strength needed to complete a marathon in sandals

The Salming Race 5 is the latest edition of racing flats from Salming and these will be my marathon race day shoes. They are fast, flexible and responsive. They are slightly narrower then the previous edition I wore in Seoul, which I would rather was not be the case but this is a small negative. The racing flat with only a small amount of cushioning will compensate for my drop off running form when I fatigue and allow me to run longer at my goal pace then the sandals on a road surface.

This is somewhat disappointing as it indicates that my barefoot running technique has still not developed to a point where I can run a road marathon and remain running with sound technique. I would prefer to run this marathon in sandals, however I am mindful that I want to run my best race and my weakness when fatigued will be better suited in shoes. I will continue to work hard on improving my foot and lower leg strength that will help me achieve this possibly for my next marathon, but this time it’ll be shoes in the marathon.

 

Marathon Training – Week 12

A disappointing week of marathon training this week. After putting together a few very solid weeks I started the week motivated to continue in this fashion but the week went south fairly quickly. This week I only managed to run three sessions and took four unplanned days off in a row during the week for a couple of reasons.

Monday started as planned with an aerobic run of about 40 min. Tuesday, completed my planned tempo session with 3 x 3km with 3 min recovery between each tempo effort. I averaged 4:15 min/km for this set including the recovery and the session went as planned. Wednesday morning I felt very tired and fatigued for some reason and with a wet morning decided to move my rest day forward. Thursday I was ready to run however there was torrential rain and I decided against it. I don’t mind running in rain however this was extremely heavy rain and not the weather to run an interval session in. On both Friday and Saturday I woke with illness and a slight gastro bug and decided not to run. Saturday I probably could have run but decided not to and save myself for the long run on Sunday.

My Sunday long was a planned 3 x 14km race pace effort with a 30 min rest between. It’s a session I like to do for my confidence and building mental capacity before a marathon. I was still not feeling 100% and decided against completing this session as planned. I decided on a 1 hour 45 min aerobic run followed by a race pace 60 min to finish the session. I was able to complete this session and felt really good for most of the final hour run. Part 1 of this long run was 22km followed by 13km at an average pace of 4:01 min/km or a bit faster then my marathon goal pace.

Overall not the week I wanted, short on both time and distance running for 54km. But it is what it is and we move on to next week

Monday – Aerobic (45-60 min)

Tuesday – Intervals (8 x 3 min at 3:30-3:35 min/km with 1 min recovery)

Wednesday – Aerobic (45-60 min)

Thursday – Rest

Friday – Long Run (5 x 5km at 4:05 – 4:10 min/km with 1km recovery)

Saturday – Aerobic (45-60 min)

Sunday -Tempo (4 x 3km with 2 min recovery)

 

Hopefully back to another solid week of training. Moving my missed interval session nearer to the front of the week and will probably delay my taper by a few days to fit in another last session, either tempo or interval in week 13. This week I am planning another marathon specific long run with 5 x 5km efforts at race pace or very close to it with a one kilometre jog recovery between. This will give me  30-32km session that will be my last long run before the  Canberra marathon.

While I missed a few training runs this week I didn’t dent my confidence. The soon part of my long felt quite good and this was pleasing as we are getting close to the race now.

Hope your training is progressing well.

Run well

 

My new Salming Race 5’s. These will be my marathon shoes, i’ll pot later in the week why.

 

Marathon Training – Week 11

Ten weeks of marathon training down, for weeks to go till Canberra marathon. This training cycle has gone quite quickly and in the recent weeks it has started to come together and I feel like I am getting ready to run a good marathon.

This week I gave myself a couple of days to recover from Port Macquarie Half Marathon last Sunday. This result has given me confidence that my running is on track and the motivation to push hard over the last few weeks of hard training till the marathon. Monday I felt sore in the legs and my recovery run was only 6km and fairly painful. Tuesday was a planned rest day and this was well timed as the legs were still pretty sore.

Wednesday the legs were still sore but I decided to push on with my planned hill session. Hills felt quite good once I got started and I managed to complete this session relatively comfortably.  Thursday was a flat 10km aerobic run. Legs were starting to feel better by this stage of the week. Friday was my long run day this week and I felt really good for the majority of the 2 hours 40 min I ran covering just under 33km in this session. Saturday was another aerobic run of 7km on fatigued legs from the previous days run.

Sunday I attempted a tough interval session. Goal of this session is to increase my overall speed while in a fatigued state. After a warm up I ran a 10km comprising of 4 x 2km at half marathon pace (3:45-3:50 min/km) followed by 500m hard (3:20-3:30 min/km) after each 2km. Tough part of this run is to go back to half marathon pace after a hard 500m and  recover from the effort at a high cruising speed. For the most part I was happy with this run but it certainly hurt and made me work hard.

Overall 78.5km run for the week another consistent strong week.

This week I am planning another strong week. Hoping to get my mileage up towards 90km which is about my limit currently with my work, family and study schedule.

Monday – Aerobic (45-60 min)

Tuesday – Tempo (3 x 3km at 4:00- 4:05min/km with 3 min float)

Wednesday – Aerobic (45-60 min)

Thursday – Intervals (8 x 3 min at 3:34-3:45 min/km 90 sec rest)

Friday – Aerobic ( 45-60 min)

Saturday – Rest

Sunday – Marathon specific long run (3 x 14km at goal race pace with 30 min rest)

This week there are three significant sessions to begin to peak my training towards the marathon. Hills have been replaced by tempo for the remainder of the preparation. Strength work is now completed and it’s time to  peak my speed and endurance for the marathon.

Tempo session on Tuesday is relatively straight forward with three tempo efforts to work on my marathon cruising speed. This pace should feel relatively comfortable in my current condition.

Intervals on Thursday is another key session to build speed. Keeping these efforts relatively long and more specific with marathon training. 3 min at good pace with a rest of 90 sec to lower my heart rate and get me ready for the next. Eight of these efforts will be a challenge but one I should be able to handle.

A session I like to do three weeks from a goal marathon is this 3 x 14km with 30 min rest between at goal race pace. I haven’t decided what goal race pace is yet but it will be 4:10 min/km or slightly lower. Aiming to beat my marathon best of 2 hours 57 min. This session is hard, very hard but when I nailed this session three week before Seoul marathon I knew I was going to run my best race. This session is as much about building speed and endurance as it is about building confidence. This is a session I am already anxious about running next week.

Looking forward to another good training week.

Run well.

 

 

Marathon Training – Week 10

This weeks training culminated in the Port Macquarie Half Marathon where I ran a new personal best for this distance. One of the pleasing aspects of this is it came at the end of a relatively large week of marathon training.

Overall 77km ran this week including the half marathon to finish the week. Monday I completed an aerobic 13km. Tuesday my usual hill session of 9km, Wednesday another aerobic run of 8km and Thursday intervals which were 10 x 2 min with 1 min rest. I ran these efforts without looking at the pace on the watch and these efforts were comfortably hard between 3:30-3:40 min/km. Friday was rest day and Saturday I ran an aerobic 14km before racing on Sunday.

This week I am giving myself a little bit of time to recover from the race before getting straight back into training. No time to rest as the next three weeks are key endurance and speed building for Canberra Marathon on April 15th. A successful half marathon result during a training block has given me a lot of confidence that I can keep working hard over the next few weeks and run a good marathon.

Monday – Aerobic recovery run (30-40 min)

Tuesday – Rest

Wednesday – Hills ( 60 min)

Thursday – Aerobic (45-60 min)

Friday – Long Run – Aerobic ( 2 hours 40 min)

Saturday – Aerobic – (45 min)

Sunday – Intervals (2km half marathon pace – 500m hard x 4 with warm up and cool down)

Trying a new interval session this Sunday. Over a 10km course doing 2km at my half marathon pace 3:45-3:50min/km and then hitting 500m hard (approx 3:20-3:30min/km). And doing four efforts of these over the 10km. This will be a really tough session but if I can hit these efforts for 10km will give me a real confidence boost. may also still be somewhat tired from Fridays long run so looking forward to seeing how this session goes.

Next three weeks are key marathon specific weeks. Over the next few weeks I am going to throw some marathon specific training into my sessions. Next week I aim to drop hill repeats and transition to some harder tempo runs over a flat course. I feel strong now, time to take some time to work on marathon specific speed.

Let me know if you have any queries or concerns.

Run well

 

Marathon Training – Week 8

Another good week of marathon training. The run is going well with six runs this week and just over 80km covered. Unfortunately the swim and bike components have not gone well and today I have made the decision to not progress with training for the Ironman 70.3 in May. Whilst I am disappointed I haven’t been able to put it together and get my triathlon training on track it gives me time to focus purely on running a good marathon in Canberra. I may revisit my triathlon goals at a time in the near future when a marathon isn’t in the midst and requiring my focus.

Running this week started on Tuesday with my usual hill session. Hills went well and half way through this preparation I can feel the strength needed for a good marathon returning nicely. Wednesday was a 10km aerobic run that helped the legs recover and be ready for intervals on Thursday. I had a real purpose with intervals this week of 20 x 1 min with 1 min rest to keep every interval under 3:30 min/km. I failed on two of these intervals and stupidly one of them was the first, the other was the last which I can cop because I was spent after this session. All the other intervals were run between 3:20 and 3:30 min/km.

Friday was another aerobic run, this time only 7km. I knew I had a tough long run planned so ticking the legs over was the purpose of this run. Long run on Saturday had a purpose of 5km aerobic then 5km at my threshold pace of 4:10 min/km x 3. Meaning every 45 min contained a 5km effort with a 3km warm down afterwards to give me 2 hours 30 min overall. Really happy with this run, the efforts felt hard, particularly the 3rd but I was able to hold the pace and finish the session feeling confident. I rounded out the week with an 11km aerobic run on Sunday over grass. The grass was nice on the legs and a good way to finish my biggest week of the year so far.

Getting through my three key runs every week is a goal for every preparation of mine. I continue to believe that developing speed, strength and endurance is the best way to run best on race day. This week i was happy with all three of my key sessions and how my running has progressed in the seven weeks of this marathon preparation so far.

Week 8

With triathlon off my mind it’s now purely focussing on running and this marathon. Working hard over the next 5-6 weeks before tearing for the race.

Monday – Aerobic – 1 Hour

Tuesday – Hills – 1 Hour

Wednesday – Aerobic – 1 Hour

Thursday – Rest Day

Friday – Long Run – 2 Hours 40 min (Aerobic)

Saturday – Aerobic – 45-60 min

Sunday – Intervals – 14 x 2 min with 1 min recovery

 

I have also decided to compete in the Port Macquarie Running Festival half marathon, March 11th, just two weeks away. Looking forward to a solid week of training before a race that will test my fitness. Aim of this race will be to stick to a consistent pace, quicker than marathon pace and try and hold this pace of the duration. There will be no taper for this race, it will be a good test of my current fitness deep into marathon training.

I’ll also run this race in Gladsoles sandals, most likely the trail 8mm model. Looking forward to testing my speed over 21.1km in sandals. I haven’t raced a pure half marathon for a while and I haven’t decided yet whether Canberra marathon will be in sandals or shoes. This half may make the decision for me.

Looking forward to another week of marathon training. Feeling like my fitness is coming together.

Run well.

 

Marathon Training – Week 7

Week 6 of marathon training was a disjointed week and the schedule changed from what was planned. Travelling for work early in the week left me fatigued mid week and I had to reassess the plan as the week unfolded.

Running went to plan while I travelled for work with runs in Penrith in Sydney. Aerobic on Monday and intervals on Tuesday were run to plan. After a few weeks of longer (3 min) intervals I enjoyed the shorter intervals at 1 min and had fun with this session. Albeit I ran it mostly in an industrial area as I wasn’t sure of where I was running.

Took a rest day on Wednesday as I was feeling fatigued instead of cycling. Thursday with my long run planned I woke up early with a bad headache and it was very hot and humid. Didn’t have a long effort in me this day so I took another unscheduled rest day.

From here I changed the schedule up so i can fit in my hills and long run into the week. Friday I ran hills over my usual terrain. Still hot and humid this was an uncomfortable run. Saturday I ran a short aerobic run followed by 2 hour long run on Sunday before I went to work. Normally I don’t run long runs before work but needed to get this one in. Overall this meant my running went quite good for the week but no cycling or swimming this week.

Sometimes you do have to change the plan when things don’t go to plan and taking the two rest days meant the quality of my runs was better later in the week.

Week 7 now and after this week we are half way through the scheduled plan. Starting to feel like my running is coming together. The triathlon side of things isn’t going to plan this week and I may reassess and abandon plans for the Ironman 70.3 race, will decide this in the next week or so whether to continue or whether to just focus on the marathon only.

Week 7

Monday – Rest

Tuesday – Run – Hills – 1 hour ( 3 x 2km repeats)

Wednesday – Bike – Aerobic 1 hour

Thursday – Run – Intervals 1 hour ( 20 x 1 min with 1 min rest)

Friday – Bike – Aerobic 1 hour

Saturday – Run – Long Run 2 hour 30 min (Including 3 x 5km at 4:20 min/km threshold)

Sunday – Run – Aerobic 45min – 1 hour

During Thursday’s interval session I am increasing the rest component from the previous week. Aim of this session is to run each effort below 3:30 min/km with increasing the rest to assist I am able to give my best effort every interval.

Long run on Saturday needs to hit 2 hour 30 min. Within each of the first three 45 min periods I will run 5km at my threshold pace. Will try and keep this run over a relatively flat terrain.

Looking forward to another strong week of building towards the Canberra Marathon. Feeling like my training is heading in the right direction currently and want to keep this feeling. Feeling ready to run when you step on the start line is a big advantage for later when the race becomes a mental battle.

Train well, run well.

reach out if you have any questions or concerns about your running.

Photos from week 6 of marathon training