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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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

 

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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.

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.

 

This is now a run streak

When I woke up this morning and went for my morning run I hadn’t planned it being the beginning of anything. I’m in Sydney for a few days and i just woke up and went for a run. Later in the day it came to me to start a run streak, there were two good reasons;

  1. I’ve never tried one before
  2. Why not?

I’ve given myself a short term goal of 30 days – 17th October to 17th November and a long term goal of 100 days 17th October to January 25th. We will start with plan A of 30 days and see how it goes till November 17th.

A couple of self administered rules;

  1. Minimum run is 5km
  2. All runs are outside ( no treadmills)

One other thing I’m going to concentrate on for at least the first 30 days is to keep all the runs aerobic. 30 days without hard training, all my runs will be easy aerobic efforts designed to be relaxed running and enjoy what it is about running that I love. The aim is to reconnect with running and enjoy my running, nature and the outdoors. It’s not that I need a jolt of motivation, just that I want to try something slightly different.

I would like to have less reliance on technology during this time. I am not currently training for a race, there is no need to monitor my pace and complete any specific training aimed to peak for a race. Therefore there is no need to look at my pace for any of the runs and just enjoy 30 days of relaxed running. For these 30 days I will wear my watch, however set it to not show me pace or distance through the runs. The only data to measure is time and later distance as I log my miles for the streak period. I have a belief that most runners including myself are over reliant on technology and this has taken away some of the simple joys of running.

The reason i’ve chosen to avoid treadmills during this time is to harden my resolve in times of poor weather. It’s time to get tougher, no hiding from the weather.

I’m looking forward to noticing what I learn from a 30 day run streak and whether i can continue further than this. Something often gets in the way to stop us running even when the best intentions are there. I’m also looking forward to how I react to a different, more relaxed form of training during this time.

Have you ever attempted a run streak?

If so, how did you go?

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My week in running

My running week was mostly casual and relaxed with five runs completed for 41km overall all completed in my hometown. Started the week on Tuesday with a solid interval session, decided to break my intervals into two sets of 6 x 2 min with 1 min recovery, this gave me five minutes of easy running between the first and the second set which worked out fine and allowed me to push through to the end of the second set harder.

Most of the week saw me complete aerobic runs over a variety of runs with an undulating terrain. Didn’t have a specific hill session so added some hills to my aerobic runs for some variety. On Saturday morning I abandoned my aerobic run after 4km after being in a wild lightning storm, probably wasn’t in too much danger but for a short aerobic run I didn’t feel the risk was worth the reward.

I’m not normally a big fan of tempo runs during race training blocks as I feel I get more value from other training. However I decided to run a tempo on Sunday and went through a 2km warm up, 3km at 4:10min/km, 2km easy and 4km at 4:10 min/km. This run felt good and I enjoyed the tempo run for some variety. It might be something I revisit during my next marathon training block on semi regular occasions.

Mixed my footwear up for all these runs with Gladsoles trail sandals, Carson footwear Iguana racers and Salming Race 3 all being used during the week. Really enjoy the difference nuances of running with different footwear throughout the week.

There were a couple of performances on the international stage which really caught my eye over the weekend too. Both inspiring performances, one to win the world championship and another a rising star of Australian running.

Patrick Lange at the Ironman World championships in Hawaii, to run 2:39:59 for the marathon and run from 11th off the bike to not only win the world championship but break the course record was an outstanding achievement. Most of us don’t know what running a 2:40 marathon which is averaging 3:47 min/km or 6:06 min/mi feels like, it’s quick by any standards but at the end of an ironman is even more impressive.

Celia Sullohern won the Melbourne marathon in Australia on Sunday and ran 2:29. this is impressive running for a 24 year old. Into the top 10 all time Australian womens marathon times and putting her hand up for a Commonwealth Games birth on the Gold Coast early next year.

Hope you had a happy week of running.

 

Here are some places I ran this week.

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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