Marathon Training – Week 6

Another marathon training week passed and one where I gained a lot of confidence in my running currently.

Four runs this week and two cycles. Didn’t swim this week as I just didn’t have the motivation to get to the pool on Wednesday so cycled instead. Planned to swim in Friday although motivation didn’t return and I took a rest day. This gives me doubts about whether Ironman 70.3 is a good idea as the swimming is certainly dragging to this point.

Running is going well though, my hill session on Tuesday felt great. I added a third repeat of my 2km Hill which I train on. The third was my 50th repeat on this hill over the past 12 months.

Intervals on Thursday was another strong session. 8 x 3 min at 3:30min/km with 1 min rest. Struggled to hit a couple of my splits but felt mostly good throughout.

Long run on Saturday was my best session and the one that gives confidence moving forward. 2 Hours 20 min with 2 x 12km at 3 hour marathon pace. Felt my pacing was good for both efforts. Ran into some hills in the last 3km of the second effort close to home which slowed me down although my effort didn’t change through this period.

Running a strong long run capped off a good week. Cycled twice for an hour each time, Sunday the legs felt average so I dropped the Sunday ride back from 1:30 to 1 hour.

This week I am away for work for a couple of days so will run early in the week and may not swim again. Trying to increase my run mileage over the next 2-3 weeks so a little less cycling too.

Monday – Run – Aerobic (1 hour 15min)

Tuesday – Run – Intervals (20 x 1 min 30 sec rest)

Wednesday – Cycle – Aerobic (1 hour)

Thursday – Run – Aerobic Long Run (2 hour 30 min Last 10km at 4:20min/km)

Friday – Rest or swim (30min)

Saturday – Cycle – Aerobic (1 hour)

Sunday – Run – Hills (1 Hour 15 min)

Looking forward to this week. Main highlights are continuing to increase my long run time and also increasing the time of my aerobic run and hill sessions. Overall trying to increase my mileage.

The end of this week will mark half way to my fitness building stage of the marathon preparation. Building endurance will stop after week 9 and then the focus becomes maintaining endurance and increasing speed through tempo and interval sessions.

Run well this week.

Reach out if you have any feedback or questions.

Marathon Training – Week 5

A solid week of marathon training this week, being able to hit each of my sessions as planned. Running consisted of my three key sessions being hills, intervals and the long run. Feel the regularity of completing these sessions has kept me in good shape moving forward toward the next stage of my training.

The triathlon segment of my training isn’t quite going as well as planned. I am struggling with the swimming component and motivating myself to regularly swim. The cycle is going better, however I think I need more time on the bike but don’t want to sacrifice running time with a marathon now nine weeks away. My main goal is to run a good race in Canberra and then do my best in the Ironman 70.3.

This week I have decided to focus a bit more on the run with four run sessions, two bike and just one swim.

Monday – Run – Aerobic 1 hour

Tuesday – Run – Hills 1 hour

Wednesday – Swim – 40 mins

Thursday – Run – Intervals (8 x 3 min         – 1 min recovery)

Friday – Bike – Aerobic – 1 hour

Saturday – Run – Long Run (2:20 including 2 x 12 km at goal race pace)

Sunday – Bike – Aerobic – 1 hour 30 min

Looking to push the run along a bit this week, particularly the long run with a more marathon specific session. 2 x 12km at race pace while still completing the duration of the long run will be a good test of exactly where my running is currently. With less mileage this marathon preparation while incorporating cycling and swimming it’s a risk that this effects the marathon preparation. This run is about trying to see how I shape up as we get close to the middle of the marathon training phase. Currently I am a third of the way through the 12 weeks marathon phase before a 10-14 day taper.

Another decision I will make closer to the marathon is whether to run in shoes or sandals. Most of my training is being completed in sandals, however I haven’t run a road marathon in sandals yet. I need to be comfortable to run the marathon as fast in sandals as shoes. If I can tick that box then I’ll happily run in sandals.

Looking forward to another strong training week and finding out exactly where my run fitness is currently.

Hope your training is also going well. Reach out if you have any questions.

Run well.

The Long Run

 

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

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

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

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

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

Run long, run often and then run long again.

How did your long run go this week?

 

 

 

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.

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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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Yes, you can go running without technology

Its taken me two runs to confirm what I already knew. You can run without technology dictating your running and you will most likely enjoy your running more. With the decision made to let go of the reins on technology and run only with feel I set my watch with one data field set on time during my runs over the last two days.  I am wearing the watch simply to track how long I run for and afterwards to track my distance run over my 30 day run streak period.  While the jury is still out on whether it is better to divorce from technology completely, there are certainly signs to suggest it could be beneficial.

Whilst not focussed on pace, you’ll automatically focus your run on feel and effort. Focussing on feel and effort allows you to not be a slave to the watch and the pace you are trying to stick to. If you feel good you will likely run faster, if you feel a bit off it’s likely you’ll slow down. However you’ll understand how you feel from the effort you put into each step of the run.

If you are not tracking pace, you’ll look at your watch a whole lot less. This is allows you to focus on running and being outside. Enjoy the scenery, fresh air and the reasons why you enjoy running in the first place. I’m guessing you didn’t start running so you could look at your watch, be easier to do this at the pub with a cold beer.

Looking at pace may in fact slow your progress towards your goals. You may be capable of running much faster then what you think and sticking to your goal pace may be limiting you. Run with feel and put in your best effort and who knows how fast you can go.

Take a break from technology, you don’t have to completely stop looking at pace but choose some runs to simply enjoy running and teach yourself to run with feel.

Stop looking at your watch and you may see some beautiful scenery out there.