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.


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Dr. Nicholas Romanov’s Pose Method of Running (Dr. Romanov’s Sport Education)


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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

 

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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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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Marathon training week 12

A successful weeks training in week 11 of my program with my key sessions hit as planned. These were my hill repeats on Tuesday which as always tough but managed to get through the run. My long run on Friday I completed 39km and just under my goal time of 3:30, it’s very difficult to run almost past your house after 39 km and I didn’t have the willpower at that stage so I didn’t continue and run the extra 10 minutes. Sunday I completed intervals, these were 10 x 4 min at 3:45min/km with a 1 minute recovery between each. This was a really good session where I felt comfortable throughout and my favourite run of the week.

This week sees my last strong week of training before I start to taper off for the marathon on September 24th. Again my three key session will be run and for remaining runs I will keep the runs aerobic and make sure I get enough rest.

Monday – Rest

Tuesday – Hill repeats

Wednesday – Aerobic 40min

Thursday – Intervals ( 20 x 2 min with 1 min recovery)

Friday – Rest

Saturday – Long Run ( 3 x 14km)

Sunday – Aerobic 40 min

As the race gets closer I will run some shorter intervals this week but maintain the intensity that I have been running them. I have changed to these to a 2:1 effort/recovery ratio to help keep me fresher for the Saturday long run.

The Saturday long run is good session which i like to run a few weeks out from a marathon, 3 x 14km = 42km so essentially I am running a marathon in the three efforts with a 20-30 min recovery period between each. These will be run over a undulating trail and beach terrain close to my home at goal pace for the marathon. This session has been a real confidence boosting run for me in past marathons, coming out of the third effort well gives me the confidence that I am able to push my goal pace during the dark times that the marathon throws at you and helps you overcome these.

Looking forward to this week, it’s a week that will  allow me to test my training over the last 11 weeks and see where my fitness is at going into a marathon in a few weeks time.

Five years without alcohol

Today, August 26th 2017 marks five years to the the day that I made the decision to quit drinking alcohol. At the time I made this decision I thought it was a. If decision in my life but looking back it has been a positive change to my life and one that I am happy I made.

When I tell people I don’t drink and stopped five years ago a lot of people assume I had a problem with alcohol. This is not true, I made the decision to stop drinking alcohol because of large headaches I would get after even a small amount. The last time I drank I enjoyed three beers with dinner at a work conference and went to bed at 9pm, I woke up at 2am with a huge headache which I had for the entire next day. At this point I knew that my drinking days were over.

Over the course of the last five years I haven’t let the absence of alcohol stop me from socialising. I still enjoy time out with my friends and family and just abstain from drinking.

Not drinking has certainly impacted my health and my running, I never miss a training run because of a hang over and I feel healhtier because of not drinking. By not drinking I’ve been able to have a better focus on (in order) my family, business, running and other aspects of life. By not drinking I’m more motivated to do my best in the other aspects of my life

I can happily say I don’t miss drinking. I thought I would five years ago. I was wrong and I’m glad I made this choice in my life

If you prefer to run alone are you a weirdo?

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In the era of social media and interacting everything online is it weird if you prefer to run alone. Like everything else in the past 5-10 years there seems to have been an explosion in running being a social activity. Most people log their runs with a GPS watch and load the data onto a sharing site such as Strava, they talk about running on social media and organise social runs together that help keep people accountable to get out of the house and go running.

So, if you still prefer to run alone are you a weirdo? I began running because I had moved away from my hometown to the city and didn’t know many people, essentially I started running because I didn’t have any friends that could introduce me to a team sport. This was well before social media and GPS watches and all my running was done alone.

One of the reasons I fell in love with running was the solitude that comes from running alone. It’s a wonderful feeling being out running just you alone with your thoughts. Talking to a non runner recently about my weekend and long run on this weekend and told her that I had covered three hours of running and this was a great start to my Sunday. Her response took me by surprise when she said “to run for that long alone you must really enjoy your own company.” I hadn’t thought of it this way before as I’ve always run alone and never lacked company or needed other to motivate my running.

“Doesn’t it get boring?” This is a question non runners have been asking runners since the dawn of time. Quite simply, No. I am very rarely bored when I go running alone or with others. I go running because I enjoy running, if I got bored from running I’d take up another sport that I didn’t get bored doing.

My top 3 reasons to run alone.

  1. Solitude. Running alone is a great experience. Alone with your thoughts, just one foot in front of the other.
  2. You set the session. When you run alone you can run at your desired pace. If you feel like running fast you can, if you feel like running slow you can. It’s up to you.
  3. Time saving. When you run alone you don’t need to meet up with people, you can run from home and save time by just getting out there and run.

When training for a race I find that running alone helps me stay focussed on the training I have planned. I set my program and stay accountable to each run of the session. My success or failure at the race is absolutely up to me.

There is no doubt that the social aspect of running and running with others appeals to many people. Those that would prefer to run alone are probably in the minority today.

If you prefer to run alone……run alone.

If you prefer to run with others……run with others.

Whatever way you prefer to run go and do it, it’s about the running first and foremost.

 

 

 

 

Marathon training week 8

With training taking a large set back last week as the entire week passed without running. My head cold developed into a flu that had me bedridden for a few days and no running took place for the week.

With the flu still lingering and unable to shake at this point I am taking a soft approach to getting my running back on track. The next fews weeks will determine whether the marathon I am planning for is going to be successful as I’ve missed a humber of key sessions and fitness.

This morning I made it back to running for a 5km aerobic run that’s not a pretty sight. Still have a cough and blocked nose lingering and I really felt this during the run. It was my first run in 12 days so i had expected to lose some fitness.

This week I have no specific plans until the weekend where I will try and make a fist of park run and test my fitness out a bit. And Sunday i plan to have a long run of sorts depending on my health.

Monday – Rest

Tuesday – Aerobic 5km

Wednesday – Rest

Thursday – Aerobic run 30-40 mins

Friday – Rest

Saturday – Parkrun (5km fitness test)

Sunday – Long run (1:30 – 2 hours)

 

 

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If I can get through these sessions on the weekend and get rid of the last remaining flu from my body I will assess where I am and try and get back into normal training for the next week.

Worst case scenario is that I abort the marathon i am planning and down grade to the half marathon at the same event. Not what i want to do but it’s a possibility if things don’t go to plan. Either way it’s good to be back running after a pretty horrible week 7 of training.


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Running in “Cold” Weather

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Where I live on the Mid North Coast of NSW, Australia has one of the most ideal climates in Australia, temperate climate all year round with a short winter period. Winter has arrived now and will be with us for the next month or two.

For some parts of the world winter means snow, ice and sub zero temperatures. For this area of Australia it means cold mornings and if the sun is out close to 20C in the day time.   We are pretty lucky to live in a climate like this.

This morning I went for my long run, left the house at 5:30am for a two hour effort. It was cold, it was 4C to be precise and it felt cold. Over the past month as the temperature has dropped I have resorted to wearing my gloves, buff and arm warmers during my early morning runs and usually I am taking these off within the first 10-15 min of my run. Today I felt the cold, not that it was that much colder than previous runs but I felt the cold. I was wearing shorts, t-shirt, gloves, arm warmers, buff and toe socks with my sandals and I didn’t warm up and until after an hour of running when the sun came up.

I’ve run in colder climates than this when travelling, as recent as this year in Korea where it was much colder than today. The key is layering and when the mercury drops like this morning I made the mistake of not adding an extra layer.

My 3 tips for running when the weather gets cold.

  1. Cover the ears and fingers

Get a good set of gloves and a beanie or buff to cover the ears. If your head and fingers are warm it goes a long way to keeping you warm

2. Add an extra layer

A good running vest to cover the torso will keep you warm when the temperature drops close to freezing.

3. Get out there and run

Once you start running and your core temperature increases running becomes comfortable. Get ready quickly and get out there and run.

The other advantage to running in cold temperatures is the body recovers quicker. Plus the after run coffee tastes better after a cold run. Embrace the cold and run.

Love to hear your tips for cold weather running if you live in a place which really is cold. What do you do to stay warm and keep running?