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.

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Between a race and a hard place

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When you are between races and don’t necessarily have to get out and train for a race motivation can be difficult to find to get out the door. This is my situation currently with my next gal race not till April my motivation has been lacking in the last week.

When my I completed my 30 day run streak recently I took the easy option and stayed in bed rather than run a few times. getting up and getting the job done would have been a smarter decision but I didn’t take this option. Now with the end of year madness starting I am busy at my job, which impacts family time and running time.  What I don’t want to do is lose the fitness base I have developed when my training starts again.

Finding some stepping stones in training to keep me running and motivated to continue running before its necessary to knuckle down to specific training is important  in the short term.

Training for my next goal race will start at the beginning of January giving a 14 week program leading up to the Canberra Marathon in April. In the time between now and January I will aim to keep developing my aerobic base, incorporate a weekly interval session to develop my speed and run a longer run each week. I also aim to run another goal race pace long run, my last was a half marathon distance so aiming for an increase of 2-3 kilometres added to this run, there will also be another scheduled for the beginning of January again to test my fitness. This will be a valuable guide to where my fitness is and whether it has decreased since the run streak ended.

This next six week period is a busy time of life so creating this training stepping stone is aimed at making sure I am ready physically and mentally to jump into specific marathon training once the new year starts.

With hard work comes greatness, however staying motivated to start the hard work in the first place can prove a hurdle needed to overcome.

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

 

New workout – Goal race pace long run

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I’ve been recently thinking about it and this morning completed a new workout that I plan to add to my usual schedule. Once a month I aim to complete a goal race pace long run to complement my other training.

During a race preparation training cycle I will complete my three key workouts which are intervals for speed, hills for strength, and a long run for endurance. These three key workouts are complemented by aerobic runs aiming to let the body recover and rest days.

The goal pace long run I have designed into my schedule to give a fitness test of where I am currently and also build confidence. Whilst regular, weekly long runs are completed slower at an aerobic pace to build endurance this run will have a different purpose. The goal pace long run will reach a maximum distance of close to 3/4 of the race distance. With my next goal race being the Canberra marathon I will build this run to around 32km run at goal pace. My normal long run will continue to build to about three hours.

This morning I began putting this run in my schedule with a half marathon. With my goal in Canberra to beat my marathon personal best of 2:57, I aimed this for my goal pace to be slightly better than this at 2:55 marathon pace of 4:09 min/km.  You can see from my Strava file below that I went a bit quicker than this at 4:03 min/km. I was slightly ahead of my goal pace with 5km to go and decided to pick up the pace and finish strongly.

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During my current run streak I am running at the moment, (currently at day 25) I have kept all of my runs aerobic and forgotten about pace except for a parkrun last weekend. Whilst forgetting about pace I have built my aerobic fitness and today’s run was aimed to test my progress during this run streak. I felt strong this morning and was comfortable at this pace throughout the run. Whilst any marathoner knows that the pace they hold through halfway should feel comfortable, it was good for the confidence to be able to run this pace without any focussed training over the last month.

Recently I have made a decision to not focus on pace during my runs, this was still a factor during this run and will be moving forward. I kept my watch only on the time setting of my run this morning and only looked at pace as it told me each kilometre split. This gave me the ability to focus on effort throughout the run, trying to remain consistent and evenly pace the run. This is a learned skill that every runner should concentrate on, being able to run a goal pace is great, but being able to recognise the effort it takes to run your goal pace and consistently run the pace is much more valuable.

Post Christmas, in fact 8th January marks 14 weeks to my next marathon and the time my focussed training will begin. During this time my training will focus on my three key runs every week , aerobic recovery, rest and every month a race pace long run. I believe this run adds value to my training and gives a platform to improve on my marathon result. In early December I’ll build on to todays run and extend the distance by a few kilometres and give myself a marker of progress from November to December.

Do you have a run in your schedule to test your fitness?

 

 

How to choose your next marathon?

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Hands up if you searched the internet today for marathons you are planning to run? Research shows that 95% of runners searched the internet for marathons today. I made that statistic up by the way.

When planning your next marathon or race there are a number of considerations to take into account. These will vary depending on the type of marathon experience you are looking for. Do you want to go on a holiday and run a marathon while you are there? Are you looking at running for new personal best?

Here is four simple considerations that you may think about the next time you search for marathons or races.

Location

Choosing the location of your next marathon is an important consideration. You could choose your marathon to allow a holiday in a new city or choose the city based on the marathon you want to run. Either way location and the logistics of reaching the marathon destination is an obvious consideration.

If you decide on a marathon as part of a holiday obviously you will need to plan your holiday around the time the marathon takes place, which may or may not be the best weather to visit a particular place. Many marathons are held in cooler months as more suitable times for running, this may not be the best time to visit some cities.

If you decide on the marathon location for other reasons then you’ll need to decide on travel arrangements and how long the travel to the race will be. Logistics of arriving at the race location is a consideration. Racing close to home gives the benefit of easier travel, but there is a mystic about racing a marathon in a far away exotic destination.

Another factor in choosing your marathon location is whether you want to race in a large city or smaller country venue. Both have their positives, do you go for the excitement of a big city race with many runners to create an atmosphere or a more interment country race with fewer runners but easier logistical challenges on race day.

Choosing the location of your marathon is exciting part of the process. This has certainly been a consideration I have used for both reasons to see a new destination and also to be able to complete a race on an already planned holiday.

Cost

Everyone has a budget and although running is less expensive than a lot of sports the financial costs certainly add up when you factor in all the requirements of running and travelling to a marathon.

When you look at the simple costs of entry, accomodation and travel to a marathon costs are another important consideration. Cost of entry will vary depending on the race and entry requirements, certainly the larger city marathons with entry criteria which make it challenging to get into the field let alone run are more expensive to enter than a small rural marathon.

The other factors depend on the location of the marathon you choose but include travel (planes, train or automobile), accomodation, food and also leave requirements from employers. This can start to add up and become and expensive way to put yourself through a 26.2 mile torture test.

Course

The course you choose can shape your race, marathons are not created equally and depending on your goals for the race may help you decide which events to run (or not to run). If you want to run a personal best time then choosing a hilly run in a hot climate may not be ideal.

With so many marathons to choose from these days be sure of your goals and what you want to experience in your marathon. If you choose a big city marathon you are likely to see plenty of the sites of the city. for the first half of my marathon in Seoul earlier this year it felt like a guided tour of the city with 20 000 friends.

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Seoul Marathon 2017 medal

 

If you are looking to set a new personal best or aiming for a goal time look for a flat course in a cool climate. This will greatly increase your chances of reaching your goals. Alternatively if you are looking for a fun atmosphere then the course is likely less of a considerations.

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Choose your course wisely

 

Size

Choosing a marathon based on the size is important so you know what you are getting yourself in for. Marathons in big cities are great, thousands of people running together makes for a certain energy that is fantastic. They also come with the challenges of getting to the start, lining up at the port-loos prior to the race, challenges of positioning in the start area and potential crowding, especially if you are chasing a time.

Smaller marathons allow for much easier logistics on race day, and an overall less stressful race experience. But not the same level of energy and atmosphere that you get when you run a big city race. If you like the solitude of running alone or just want to avoid the crowds smaller marathons are a great option.

 

The easy choice to make is deciding to run a marathon, the feeling of accomplishment at the end of a marathon is an amazing feeling and one every runner should know. Deciding which marathon to run is a harder choice, decide on the type of experience you want and the choice will be much easier.

How did you decide on which marathons to run?

 

Things to do when transitioning to barefoot running

 

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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?

 

 

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The road is a long one, be patient

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The top 4 reasons you should be barefoot running

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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.

 

 

 

 

The first week of a streak

When I committed to a run streak last Tuesday I made a goal to run all my runs outside and not let the treadmill in my garage allow me to avoid any inclement weather. Running in the rain is a part of running and usually not bad once you get started, especially in October in Australia where the weather is starting to warm up before summer.

During the first seven runs of my run streak I have run 63km over the seven days. All of them at an aerobic pace and all of them forgetting pace on the watch. Longest run has been 11.7km and shortest was this morning at 6km in heavy rain. The first four days of my running were in Sydney where I was having a short holiday and used these runs to explore the northern suburbs of Chatswood, Artarmon and Willoughby as this is where we were staying. Running in different surrounds allowed me to find some new trails around this area and was a nice change of scenery. There is some great running terrain around these areas which I wasn’t aware of before.

My challenge of not avoiding rain may have jinxed me to some degree as three of the first seven runs have been held in relatively heavy rain. My last run in Sydney was wet, my Saturday run including my local parkrun was wet and this morning was particularly wet. For this mornings run I had just gotten out of bed and started getting ready to run when the rain started making a jinx even more believable. Good to get the job done in the rain though, on a normal week I may have skipped some or all of these runs and stayed in bed.

I am back to Sydney this week for work on Wednesday which may cause a challenge fitting my run in. With an early 6:30am flight I’ll either be up very early to run or running later in the evening after dinner. I’m leaning towards a late evening run backed up by an early morning run on Thursday. Otherwise the normal challenges of work and life are present but I’m confident they won’t get in the way of my continuing the streak.

How to run a negative split marathon by Galen Rupp

In winning the Chicago marathon Galen Rupp has broken a long drought since the last American won in the windy city. The first since 2002 to win and the first American born in 35 years.

He has done so with an impressive negative split. Rupp was ultra consistent running with a large lead pack through halfway in 66:11. The second half of the race run in 63:09. Rupp was extraordinarily strong over the last five miles running his last five mile splits in 4:39, 4:35, 4:30, 4:34 and 4:33 finishing the last 5.2 miles or sub 2:01 marathon pace and gave himself a 38 second personal best at the marathon.

A 66:11 first half is certainly not fast by runners of these standards but for Rupp to be able to still have this type of speed at the end of the marathon is highly impressive. The absence of pacemakers in Chicago impacts the times compared with the fastest marathons in the world. Be interesting to see Rupp line up in London or Berlin in time and test his ultimate marathon speed against the likes of Kipchoge an co.

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For the average marathon runner this may be a ‘don’t try this at home’ moment. Being able to run a large negative split in a goal marathon is obviously difficult. It’s much easier and safer to run a consistent race.

Even if you were to run below your goal race pace for the first half there is no guarantees you’ll be able to run above your goal pace late in a marathon. There is not many of us have the ability of Galen Rupp to run a large negative split and still run your best marathon time on the day.

 

 

New goals – Canberra Marathon 2018

With my race season likely to be coming to an end for the remainder of the year, it’s a time to plan for some new goals to train for in the beginning of 2018. One race that I have wanted to do again for a while has been the Canberra marathon and I am going to plan this as my first major goal race for 2018.

Canberra marathon is a race that I have done before but a long time ago. I ran the Canberra marathon in 2002, it was my second marathon and to date on a road marathon course it’s my personal worst marathon time. It was a day that I learnt how much the marathon distance can humble you. I had run the Sydney marathon as my first marathon the previous year and everything went to plan, in training and on race day. On my journey to Canberra I suffered injury setbacks in training and was nowhere near as fit or ready as the previous marathon in Sydney.

On race day I was still aiming to give myself a chance at a sub 3 hour marathon and raced the first half of the race accordingly. After 10-15 minutes of running the heavens opened and the rest of the race was run in torrential rain, this was not the end of the world and we dealt with that as it came. By 30km my poor preparation and over ambitious race goal was starting to bring me undone and the last 10 km of this race was a lonely place. I made it to the finish line in what today is still my worst marathon result. it’s a marathon that I will remember for just how hard the marathon is when the ‘wall’ gets to you and just how humbling this felt at the time.

A long time has passed since my one and only attempt at the Canberra marathon. It’s time for the Canberra marathon to be a focus race again. When I arrive in Canberra, 16 years after my first attempt there my goal will be the same, a sub 3 hour marathon is again the prize that i’ll be after. This time I will be better equipped to achieve it, having done it this year in Seoul I am confident that I can get my body ready to do it again. I am also confident that my race strategy will be better and I’ll give myself a good chance of achieving this goal. Secretly I’d like to go a bit quicker, 2:57 in Seoul was my perfect result there, but maybe I can go a bit quicker than that.

What I’ve learnt in the years since my first Canberra marathon is the importance of pacing your race. Back in 2002 I didn’t have a GPS watch, I had a stopwatch and looked at the time when I passed each kilometre marker and then did a quick mathematical equation to work out each kilometre split.  What running in those time did was teach me to pace my run by perceived effort rather then the watch, it’s something I still do in all races and just use the watch as measuring stick to track my progress.

I’ve also learnt to respect the marathon distance every time you run it. If you go into a marathon and think it’ll be easy because your last race went so well, it’ll kick your arse. Every marathon is a new experience, a new journey where you start from zero and end at 42.2km. In 2002 I expected to run well because I had run well in Sydney six months earlier, I expected it to be easy. It wasn’t.

Looking forward to finishing my year with some enjoyable running before knuckling down at the start of 2018 and getting ready for another crack at the Canberra marathon in April 2018. This time I’ll be ready.

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