Marathon Training week 2

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

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

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

This week sees a similar schedule;

Monday –             Swim                     (30 min – 1.5km)

Tuesday –             Run                       (Hills – 1 hour)

Wednesday –      Bike                        (Aerobic – 1 hour)

Thursday –           Swim                     (30 mins – 1.5km)

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

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

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

 

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

Good luck with your own training or racing this week.

One lesson from a good and bad marathon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let the marathon training begin – Week 1

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

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

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

Marathon training week 1

Monday                               Bike – Aerobic     (1 hour undulating course)

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

Wednesday                        Swim – (40 min – 2km)

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

Friday                                  Rest

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

Sunday                                Run  –  Aerobic Long run (1:30)

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

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

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

Is barefoot running a fad or running in cushioned shoes?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free the feet in 2018.

 

If running in sandals seems like a good idea (which it is) Gladsoles . Use the coupon ‘therunninger’ and these awesome guys will happily give you a discount.

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?

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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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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.

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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.

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.