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.

Intervals

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?

Sign up to subscriptions if you’d like to chat about how to approach your goals.

 

Three tips to keep your easy running easy

A common mistake runners make, myself included, is running easy days too hard. Easy days are designed for you to recover and absorb the harder training that you have done and develop your aerobic fitness. When you run your easy runs to hard it hinders this process and your body doesn’t recover for the next harder session.

Here are three tips to keep your easy running easy.

1. Relax your technology game.

Easiest way to keep your running easy is to stop looking at pace during your run and focus on keeping the run relaxed. When you divorce concentrating on pace you will run on feel, this will help you recognise when running feels harder then it should be. The alternative is concentrating on pace and trying to stay at a set pace which may or may not be easy enough for you to recover. Perceived effort is a more helpful measure then pace.

Another reason is not every run needs to look impressive on social media sites like Strava. The pressure to post a run on social media that impresses friends and follows is an empty goal, when easy runs are easy running will improve and race day will look better on Strava.

2. Enjoy the easy runs

Easy runs should be the most enjoyable runs of the week. When you push a hard interval or hill session they are satisfying, but most would agree during the run they are hard. Easy runs shouldn’t feel like this, they should be easy, relaxed and enjoyable.

Take these runs to run socially, chatting with friends during a run is a sure way to forget pace and enjoy the run. If you prefer to run alone then put the headphones in and listen to music or a podcast. Enjoy the outdoors and enjoy the run.

3. Use heart rate as a guide

Measuring heart rate is a way to measure your effort. By concentrating on keeping your easy runs at a low heart rate you will get all the benefits of easy runs and aerobic training. The easiest measurement is the MAF method (Maximum aerobic function) of 180 minus your age. By keeping your heart rate at or below your MAF heart rate you will keep your easy runs easy and develop your aerobic function.

Keeping your easy runs easy is vital way to ensure you recover from the harder training runs and develop your aerobic fitness. Keep it easy and enjoy your running.

Web Hosting

Running year in review -2017

My major running goal in 2017 was to run a sub three-hour marathon. It’s been a goal for a number of years and this year I set this as a specific goal for the Seoul marathon and was able to achieve this goal. This year I only managed to race two major races, the Seoul Marathon and Beach to Brother trail marathon in September. I look back at 2017 as a successful year of running for two major reasons, I achieved my sub 3 goal and stayed injury free the entire year.

Seoul Marathon

Seoul marathon in March was my first major goal race. I trained specifically for this race and was very motivated to achieve my sub 3 hour goal. This kept me training through the Australian summer and this paid dividends when I travelled to the colder climate in Seoul. My race went perfectly on the day and I finished in 2:57 for a nine minute personal best over the marathon. Hitting my sub 3 hour goal was the highlight of my running year and an achievement that I’m really proud of. I trained hard for this race, stayed injury free through the preparation and gave myself the best chance to achieve the goal.

Beach to Brother Marathon

Beach to Brother marathon was held in September in my home town of Port Macquarie. The race produced an unseasonably hot day in the mid 30 celsius and this really took apart many of the competitors on the day, myself included. The weather and course provided a tough challenge and I finished this race in 6th place in 4:42. My pre race goal was to break four hours for this race, but the conditions made this goal unreachable. I’m not satisfied with this result for beach to brother and will be back next year for another crack at this race. It’s a great course in a beautiful location.

Total Mileage

This year I have run just over 2100km with 27000m of elevation gain. I have completed approx. 60% of this running mileage in Gladsoles sandals including the Beach to Brother marathon and remained injury free throughout the year. This has been the first year that I have ever remained completely injury free and also the first year that I have solely run in minimal footwear. Running in sandals has been the common denominator in this years progression to minimal only footwear. Late in 2016 I made the decision that these would be my number one footwear choice and I would rotate between some other minimal shoes to add variety. Running in sandals has helped strengthen my feet so it’s safe to say that 2018 will feature more sandal running. Staying injury free has allowed me to run all 12 months of 2017, I haven’t had a total break from running for longer than a week this year. This has kept my aerobic training consistent and the given me the ability to keep running and stay fit and healthy throughout the year.

Whats next?

I’ll post later about my specific goals for 2018 but I’ve already committed to Canberra Marathon in April. On top of this I’ve decided to give a return to triathlon a crack and compete in an Ironman 70.3 three weeks after this marathon. This means from the start of the new year I will start a program to train for both of these races. It will be somewhat difficult to train for a triathlon and still get to the start line of a marathon in my best condition, but this is the challenge I’ve decided on.

Another goal for 2018 is to race more. This has been a good running year for me, staying injury free and fit throughout the year. I could have taken advantage of this by racing more.

While the year still has a few weeks left I’m ready for 2018 and to start fresh with some new running goals.

Stupid or not?

 

Is it stupid or not to do an Ironman 70.3 three weeks after your goal marathon? This is the question I have been entertaining in my head in recent weeks as I have been motivated to give triathlon some focus again. It’s been six years since I last competed in an Ironman 70.3 triathlon and maybe it’s time to go back for another crack.

I’ve already committed to running the Canberra Marathon on April 15th as my goal race for the first half the year. Ironman Australia in my home town of Port Macquarie is three weeks later on May 6th where there is a full Ironman and a 70.3 event run concurrently. If I’m going to do a triathlon in 2018 there will likely only be one and it will be this one. So with that said is it stupid? Maybe.

The first problem that enters my head is that I will need to put quite a bit of focus into the bike and swim and will this negatively effect my running? After all the marathon is my number one goal race. My initial thoughts are that the bike and swim may not have too much impact, cycling is going to build my aerobic base, which will only help running and likewise the swim. If I continue to focus on my three key running sessions each week  of long run, intervals and hill repeat then I can use the bike as recovery from running somewhat. Problem solved.

The second problem is the time it takes to train properly for triathlon. The reason I stopped triathlon was because of the time it takes to train. There is no doubt that I will need to limit my training focus somewhat. If I train six days a week once a day I can have 3 x run sessions, 2 x cycling and 1 x swim. If I can fit in a second swim on one of the days then this could be enough. Problem solved.

The third problem is whether it is stupid to do the Ironman 70.3 so soon after a marathon. Ideally I wouldn’t do it and feel that it could deplete my body by competing in both these races as I will want to do my best in both. Between the two races there will need to be emphasis on recovery, running a marathon is tough and recovery is usually underrated. Recovery will need to be prioritised, if it is then maybe it’s not the stupidest idea ever. Problem solved.

With all three of my problem solved I just need to decide whether to commit to both races and enter. Give me a week to decide.

If you feel like trying to convince me if this is stupid or not, leave a comment.

images

 

Four discoveries from a 30 day run streak

This morning I completed my 30 day run streak and during this time I made some discoveries about my running. Here they are…..

  1. Aerobic training is beneficial

At the start of the run streak I decided that all my running in these 30 days would be aerobic and I would forget about pace. On the whole I was able to manage this only running twice outside my aerobic capacity. This was a parkrun effort and last weeks goal race pace half marathon run.

Running purely aerobically for the majority of the 30 days has seen me develop my aerobic capacity. Running aerobically often is easy on the body and recovery is simple, when you run within your limits there is no soreness the next day and you are able to run more. Following this when I did increase the intensity and complete a tougher workout, my half marathon felt very comfortable. Building the aerobic engine is very beneficial for running performance.

The take away from this discovery is that during my next focussed training block I will have more aerobic training to compliment the focussed harder workouts.

   2. Technology is unnecessary (almost)

Another goal of this run streak was to divorce pace and use perceived effort to measure my run rather achieve a pace for the run. This has been a successful discovery where I am now unconcerned by the pace my watch is saying and rather the feeling my body gives me from the effort I output.

During each of the runs I have only looked at the time for the run on the watch and not pace. This has taught me to focus on my feeling and breathing to stay aerobic and run consistent pace through effort. During the harder half marathon effort the same applied and I was impressed by the consistent pace I was able to achieve.

The future of my running will feature less reliance on technology, I am committed to continuing to monitor my running by feel and use the data to analyse post run.

3. Running everyday is good for you

While I am normally an advocate for rest days, life balance and letting the body recover from runs I found the task of running everyday good for me. All my runs are completed in the early mornings and the simple task of committing to getting up each morning and going through the process to get out the door and run was mostly pretty easy.

During the 30 day streak I had wet weather on 5-6 of my runs, only one of these days did I consider not running through the rain, however this doubt lasted about 15 minutes before I decided to get the job done.

I enjoyed the day to day commitment of getting out the door to complete my run. Committing to a run streak is a way to challenge you to overcome a small challenge everyday and start the day ready to tackle something bigger if it arises.

4. Minimal footwear is better

This may have not been a discovery but more a reinforcement. Every run I did with the exception of one run were completed in zero drop footwear. these specifically were Gladsoles sandals both the trail 8mm and new 6mm and Carson Footwear Iguana Racers.

If you are fully transitioned to barefoot running then minimal footwear is better for your running. After 4-5 days of the run streak I had a slight pain in my right calf that was evident for a few runs, this went away by itself and I was able to run without pain for the  all the other runs. Minimal footwear keeps you aware, your feet stronger and running with better technique. To run injury free for long periods of time these are important. Without trying to jinx myself to an injury I believe the benefits of transitioning to minimal shoes will help me run longer into my life.

Don’t be scared to make a change to your footwear if you are on a path of consistent injuries. It will take time but it will be worth it.

Overall the run streak has been an enjoyable experience and most likely will continue beyond 30 days. My routine of running every morning is a habit I would like to continue.

Photos from a 30 day run streak

 

Things to do when transitioning to barefoot running

 

IMG_1849

 

In a recent post I listed the reasons why you should be barefoot running, however how do you transition? The main barefoot running transition question people as is how long will is take? This is different for everyone and may take as little as a couple of months or much longer. In order to give yourself the best chance of transitioning successfully and without injury the following tips may help.

If you take the time to transition correctly and build the strength and mobility needed to barefoot run long term you will reap the benefits down the track.

Be Patient

If you are an accomplished runner and have decided to transition to a flatter more minimal shoe or to barefoot running then it is difficult to stomach that you may only be able to run for very short periods for the first weeks or months. Patience is essential to avoid injury. For the first few weeks you should be combining walking and running either barefoot or in minimal shoes and running for no longer then 10 minutes working up to 30 minutes at a timely the end of the first month.  This will require patience and humility if you are used to running for much further.

Be ‘barefoot’ in everyday life

Increasing the time you walk barefoot will assist in building strength in your lower limbs and feet that are essential for barefoot running. Look to purchase some minimal shoes for work or casual life and try and be barefoot when at home. This will increase your mobility of the muscles that need to be retrained in order for injury free barefoot running.

Concentrate on your form

While you are transitioning to barefoot running concentrate on your form. Concentrate on landing on the balls of your feet, stay upright, don’t over stride and stay light on your feet. This will make sure you use the muscles associated with barefoot running and give them the best chance to gain mobility and strength.

You may choose to continue to run some mileage in your ‘old’ cushioned running shoes, especially if you are a seasoned runner. This is perfectly fine however make sure you concentrate on your form even in your cushioned shoes and retrain the body to run on your forefeet.

Listen to your feet

When you start running barefoot or in minimal shoes it is essential you look for the signs that you are overdoing it. It is normal to experience a small amount of pain in the calves, achilles and feet however too much and you may need to reduce the mileage and take longer to transition. This is a key sign of taking the time necessary to transition successfully and avoiding injury. Be prepared to have a long term view if the pain is experienced.

 

Use these simple tips and ask for advice if things don’t go to plan. Every runners barefoot transition is different and will therefore the process for each runner may be different.

If you have successfully transitioned to barefoot running  how did you do it?

What obstacles did you need to overcome, and how did you do it?

 

 

IMG_3700

The road is a long one, be patient

running

The top 4 reasons you should be barefoot running

2016-09-16-10-42-47

While barefoot running has faded somewhat from the mass media attention it was receiving a few years ago there are still some very valid reasons why you should be running barefoot.

By barefoot running we mean running without shoes or in minimal footwear. By minimal footwear we mean shoes with the following attributes. Low heel to toe differential or heel drop, wide toe box and less cushioning and flexible materials. There are many different minimal footwear options available today.

Transitioning to barefoot running takes time. If you try to rush the process, you may suffer injuries in the calves or achilles. Be sure not to rush the process, it may take months or even years. Once your transition is complete your running will benefit.

The four top reasons you should be barefoot running are;

  1. Reduced injuries

Once you have transitioned to barefoot running you will likely run lighter, with a forefoot landing over a bent knee. This will ensure that you suffer less lower limb related injuries related to running. While barefoot running is not a panacea to injury free running it will go a long way to helping you run consistently more without injuries. Cushioned shoes won’t stop you getting injured, most likely they are the cause.

     2. Stronger feet

Running in an inflexible, cushioned shoe will inhibit the natural movement of your foot. The shoe does the work which the foot is designed to do, this will weaken your feet over time. Running barefoot or in flatter, more flexible footwear will build strength in your feet and lower limbs.  With strong feet comes a strong platform to run successfully and run injury free.

    3 Better awareness

” The more minimal you are the more aware you are” Chris McDougall

With more awareness comes better ground feel. While running you will become more aware of your posture,  foot landing, surroundings and effort. More awareness of your foot landing means you will be aware of every step and how and what you land on. This is a key reason why accomplished barefoot runners can run injury free as their awareness for where their foot lands is greater. Simply put running barefoot allows for more sensory feedback which increases awareness.

    4. Get faster

Forefoot running is faster than heel striking, pretty simple. Landing on your heel with a straight leg gives a braking effect, landing on your forefoot with a bent leg is faster and a more efficient way to run. If you want to get faster barefoot running can help you achieve this.

Transitioning to barefoot running is important, be patient and don’t rush the process however slow it may be. Once you successfully transition you will be free of heavy, inflexible running shoes and your running will become transformed.

If you wear traditional cushioned running shoes and have suffered injuries, it’s time to rethink your running footwear. Taking them off or replacing them with minimal shoes could be the answer.

 

 

 

 

My divorce with pace – Day 4

Earlier this week I committed to a month of running where I divorced myself from pace. Or at least committed to not monitoring pace during my runs. My watch has been set to a single data only of time to measure to monitor the length of my runs only.

Being overly reliant on technology is an easy trap to make for the modern runner and a trap that I have fallen into at times. My goal for this month of running is to enjoy my running and divorce myself from needing technology to measure my pace on any runs.

When I started running there weren’t GPS watches, I measured my runs simply on feel and perceived effort. I was still able to train and race as well as I do today without technology. My goal is to get back to this level of feel before I start training for another race so that I am ready to train without the burden of technology. Technology will be used to analyse my effort post run.

I guess you could call this the next step in my minimalist running transition. The transition to minimal footwear has enlightened my running and I believe a minimalist approach to technology will do the same.

During these four days of running all my runs have been easy aerobic runs. I have resisted looking at pace or any other metrics during these runs. I have also resisted pushing the pace on these runs and ensured the pace was easy.

What have I noticed in four runs?

  1. I’ve looked at my watch a whole lot less

2.  There is scenery around me everywhere

3. The mind works better with less distractions

So far the divorce from pace has been a positive experience. Looking beyond the next month where the pace will remain aerobic, I aim to continue this approach to when I resume with my three keys weekly runs being the long run, intervals and hill repeats during my next race preparations.

Just some of the scenery I was able to take in during my last four runs.

 

Running without racing.

IMG_1201

Last Sunday’s marathon was the culmination of training towards a goal race and despite the challenges that unfolded during the race I am happy with my overall effort. This race was the culmination of 14 weeks training which is my normal plan for a marathon or longer race.

Last Sunday’s marathon was also likely the culmination of my racing year, with not many races left before the end of the year and certainly very few close to home. This means it’s time to switch gears with my training and enjoy my running with less focussed training towards trying to peak for a race. At times not having a race to train for has been a time when my running has suffered. I have struggled with the lack of focus and specificity and too much ice cream and skipped runs.

These days I have running without racing plans which keep me running regularly and enjoying my running without the pressure and challenge of a race in the not too distance future. This plan starts with continuing to run a similar amount of times per week and using variety in my running to keep focussed.

During October I plan to continue with my three key workouts each week, these are hill repeats, intervals and the long run however each will have far less focus. Hills will likely be similar, intervals shorter with more recovery and the long run shorter and not building time each week. Continuing to focus on these runs will keep my fitness ready for when my next race preparation starts. In addition to these will see some varying terrain and locations to keep my running interesting. to add variety I like using a weighted vest for some short runs, or efforts during runs. Skipping an aerobic run for a weighted vest hike is another option for easy days.

Adding variety can also be done by changing up footwear. As the weather gets warmer I like to use my favourite running location, the beach for some barefoot intervals and aerobic runs. GladSoles Sandals will still be my go to footwear for most of my runs though. And I will use my Carson footwear trail shoes for when I want some variety. These are the best shoes I’ve run in without socks, which is great for the beach and when the weather is hot.

The main focus while I’m running without racing is enjoy my running, add variety that isn’t achieved when training for a race and relax without the pressure of training hard.

Summer in Australia it’s certainly the best time to be outdoors enjoying the place we live. It’s a great time for relaxed running and enjoying the surrounds. I’m looking forward to running without the need for racing for the next few months, and enjoying my running.

 

Is six days without running during a marathon taper a bad thing?

 

 

Time will soon tell if six days without running in the week leading up to a race is a bad thing or not, but so far it doesn’t feel like it play a major role in the marathon I am running on Sunday. The week has been pretty relaxed so far and haven’t really had the race in the front of my thoughts just yet. Have been focussed on trying to get some good sleep and resting my foot, albeit with the normal demands of work, study and family life.

The good news is I haven’t eaten ice cream every night this week as I put my feet up and haven’t put on any weight. Resting has meant I will be very fresh for the race on Sunday but possibly slightly under done. Six days off running hasn’t sapped my confidence, still feel I’ve done the long training beforehand to put me in a good position as the race unfolds.

Six days off running has let my troublesome foot heal, there is now no pain in the foot. This is important for confidence as much as anything. I never really felt like the foot was going to stop me running or hinder the race in any way but decided to play it safe and minimise the risk of going into long race with pain. Marathons a tough enough without having other problems to hinder your race.

Overall I don’t think six days off running will have any effect on my race, it won’t be an excuse if the distance and terrain win the day. Looking forward to having a small run tomorrow morning and testing the foot and sharpening myself up before Sunday.

Weather forecast is for hot weather here on Sunday with a maximum of 33C/90F. This could cause problems for everyone as the race is scheduled just after the end of winter and certainly all of my running for this race has been in cooler weather. Heat also brings the snakes into play on the trails as they love to come out when the heat comes out. No point in worrying about the uncontrollables though.

Looking forward to the challenge on Sunday.

Photos are all from on the course of the Beach to Brother Marathon