Showing posts from October, 2009

False Start

Nearing the end of two weeks downtime I decided I wanted to get back into training. So I picked last Monday to start on a more triathlon orientated program. The basic intent was to build some good conditioning using the different disciplines and intensity levels. The break from running everyday (yet still training) would likely work to stay injury free. The plan seemed solid, yet flexible. Over each 8 to 9 day cycle I had up to 12 training sessions listed in order of priority. I never expected to hit all of them, but the priority system meant no matter what came up I knew what session to pick and could be happy with what I left out.

The basic premise of each cycle involved a sessions in each discipline that focused on building endurance, working at or above threshold intensity, plus an easy or technique orientated workout. Supporting this was a bike/run transition plus some strength training. It looked quite manageable.

My view of this training quickly changed once I started. It wasn…


Currently the training plan isn't really one at all. I'm taking at least two weeks to catch up on other things. In that time I'll only perform whatever exercise I feel like. So far I haven't been for a run. Luckily I haven't come away with any injury or the like from the marathon.

Melbourne Marathon - 42.195km

Surprisingly there were no moments of stress or doubt over the final pre-race hours. Maybe being at work for the two days lead up provided enough of a distraction. Maybe getting out of bed at 04:30 meant I hadn't really woken up until race start. My brain wasn't fully functioning in the morning. I'd left my sunglasses at work the day before, so picked them up on the way to race. Then thought I left them in the car once at the MCG, and was without them for the marathon. Which was fine, except they were in the bag I was carrying and could have had them for the run. At least I didn't notice the lack of sunglasses during the race.
The warm up felt good. It started with some slight heaviness in the legs, that soon gave way to a light, springy run. Even standing at the start line, I was relaxed and keen to get on with things. Rob De Castella's speech was perfect. No pretending the day was going to be easy.

The race started. I now have no idea if we had a coun…


Unofficial gun time.

Enough said for now.


The last day before I get up ridiculously early to run a ridiculous distance. Yet I enjoy it. Enjoy it to such an extent that I have spent six months working towards it.

I've run a good number of races from sprint to ironman distance triathlons, running races of all distances too, including a 24hr rogain. I have a background in the science of human performance, coached others and coached myself. Finally it has all come together this year. Because this time the lead up now simply feels routine.

The stress levels are low. There is very little doubt.


My goal is to run sub 3 hours over the 42.195km. I will do what it takes during the day to make it so.

I'm reminding myself I have a good base of fitness behind me. I know what I am capable of running for 30km comfortably, plus I am now fitter. My half marathon times are faster than I really needed. I have completed a reasonable number of long runs. Race pace feel good. I am injury free and well rested.

On the day I need to remem…

Drink Stations

The Melbourne Marathon is aiming to be international level event. They are offering some reasonable prize money, it is host to the National, State and University championships. They are even offering extra support for some athletes. However, I believe they've missed getting one of the key fundamentals right.

It is important to get the drink stations correct. After all, race nutrition and hydration is so important during the marathon. Initially they were going to provide only Powerade NO SUGAR as the sports drink: ie. no liquid carbohydrate source during the race. This changed after plenty of complaints. Now they are providing Powerade Isotonic, which is a 6% carbohydrate and exactly what should be provided. However, the problem is there is no consistency as to when this is provided. I was hoping for it to be provided at every aid station (approximately each 2.5km) or at the least, every second station (5km). This is not the case. Instead there are varying gaps, and no pattern that …

Carbo Loading

Unfortunately it doesn't involve drinking beer.

The Australian Institute of Sport provides a fact sheet that summarises the current scientific view and gives some useable examples. This is very similar to how I am approaching. The sample menu is almost identical to my three days of the loading phase. However, there are a few slight differences.

The fact sheet states that a depletion phase is not necessary. All that is required is a reduction in training and a high carbohydrate diet for 3-4 days prior to race day. It doesn't take into account that my training has been reduced for 10 days. There is a difference between simply increasing muscle glycogen stores above normal levels and maximising these stores. I would prefer to have 200mmol/kg ww of stored muscle glycogen, instead of 150mmol/kg ww. Both values are above normal values, but it could mean the difference of performing 3% better instead of 2% better on race day. I'd like to attempt to achieve that benefit.

As a result …

The Marathon Taper

As with the rest of training, there is an art and science behind a good taper. Interestingly the taper period causes lots of stress, discussion, self doubt and unrealistic expectations. With feelings of being unfit, heavy and flat alternated with some exceptional speed in the legs. Combine that with extra time to eat or worry about losing fitness, it is no wonder it is mentally a difficult period. Add to this the usual amount of conflicting opinions, and misinformation that pervades through the fitness and sports communities, it is clear why many struggle to get things right in the lead up to race day.

There is some good research on the topic. While the science doesn't answer all questions, it does provide a good guide. Combine this with the experience of has been found to work, and we should be getting close to the a good taper. So what are the guidelines I like to work from when constructing a taper?

IntensityThe intensity should be held at current levels. Possibly even slightly i…

Biggest Return

The athletics track was the perfect place for the last hard session. 6x1000m run in about 3:45, equivalent to 10km race pace, with 200m float recovery. The great thing about this run is it felt good. The intensity was up, the heart rate was around 90% of max, but the speed felt natural. The shortened recovery periods were just enough to ease the mild lactate build up without too much drop in the rest of the physiological work load.

Benefits of this type of run include stimulation of VO2max, increased neuromuscular efficiency, strengthening of type I, and IIa muscle fibres, facilitation of the lactate shuttle, mild stimulation of muscle and blood buffering, and stimulation of most aerobic enzyme activity. Essentially all the elements I wish to enhance beyond just simple endurance for the marathon.

Best of all, the session felt how I hoped it would. No struggle, just good smooth running. The exact confidence boost I needed to get through ten days of doubt during the taper.