Showing posts from 2011

Post Feast

After amusing myself by telling my wife I was going for a run Christmas morning just for a reaction. Really there was no way I was going to miss the kids opening presents. The day was a planned no-training day. One to forget about my own version of normality and drink and feast, and otherwise feel half lazy.

For the most part it was a great day. A thunderstorm and hailstorm hit Melbourne with force in the evening. The weather beauro marked is as 'very dangerous'. It gave us a version of a white Christmas in the middle of summer. Our cars took some hail damage, and other than plenty of mess around the house we got away with just some clean up. Others nearby weren't so lucky as roofs and fences were destroyed and some flash flooding had cars behaving more like boats.

The next day I was back to something more usual for me. Work and running. I was feeling a little bit heavier on that morning run before work. The rest of the week was to follow the progressive plan.

The long run…

Close Enough

This week started with some gastro. That meant the first three day without training. With the days reduced to five and trying to be careful not to play catch up I looked to see how to key include my key runs. I settled on the following:

Day 1: 80min endurance/aerobic conditioning run. This was my best feeling run in quite a while. Fresh legs obviously helped.

Day 2: easy 60min was the intention, but became a day off. Combination of post gastro, resultant reduced sleep and night shift was too much.

Day 3: Hills for 60min. Just over a series of moderate hills on rough ground keeping the ascents and the top bd of my endurance zone and the downhill dropping the HR into the base zone. It's a key session but not very hard at this stage.

Day 4: easy 60min run.
Later in the day I completed a strength session which gave me about 40min of work. Squats, presses, pull ups plus an assortment of core and remedial exercises.

Day 5: Long run. Planned 2:15, cam back in 2:12. The majority was meant…


Thinking I was back on track for some consistent was obviously a little misguided. This new training week hasn't seen any running yet.

Day 1 I was meant be up very earlier to to get an extended run into work. However, I stuffed up setting my alarm. Luckily my wife woke in time to wake me so I could rush into the shower and take the car instead. No problem, I thought. I would just fit in a run in the evening.

Well that didn't happen either. Instead the vomiting of the 1 year old from the previous night had moved onto the 3 year old. So as not to be left out I joined in on the fun. Something we ate or just a random bug I don't think I will know. Whatever, it is now two days without training as a result.

Long... finally

It's been about two months without a genuine long run. I did get in something a bit over two hours on the trails, but it was stupidly slow and involved more walking than I liked, so in my book it doesn't count. At the moment it looks like everything is back on track for some consistent training. The knee is good. Life is balanced. I have my systems going. The chance of another snake bite is very low.

This training week, I've got in the key runs of aerobic conditioning and hills. There was only one day with no running as I skipped an easy run due to working an extra night shift. The runs were all as expected. Mentally I'm struggling with the slow speeds, but I'm sure if I speed up now then that will lead to some holes in my consistency. So mainly slow running is where I am. It's allowing me to back up each day. This week has given me 7 out of 8 days of running.

The target for my long run was 2 hours with the majority in my endurance/aerobic conditioning range (E…

Forming The Habit

Last week had the original plan changed. It was a a full night of almost no sleep in hospital that wore me down. Recovery from the actual snake bite was straight forward and quick given that it appear no venom was released into me. Other than a small amount of pain in my leg around the bite on walking over the next, I just really needed to catch up on sleep.

As a result I just skipped the next two days of training. This meant missing my long run. So still no long run since before my knee became a problem a few weeks ago. It would be stupid to try to play catch up on any missed training.

Instead I need to stick with the basics. Probe I can actually handle the initial volume before adding. So getting into a new training week I have to tread a bit carefully. Keep the easy runs very easy. Keep technique on the moderate aerobic conditioning run and treat my long run as my first long in quite a while. So it will be capped back at 2 hours.

It's been too long without some solid consistenc…

Snake Season

I've seen plenty of snakes over the years while running or just in the bush. I often take a compression bandage on some of my long runs if I'm some of the more isolated trails. This is the first time one has bitten me.

Just out for a local evening run after the kids went to bed. Only about 20 minutes in, I was still running pretty slow. Coming off a little dirt track next to creek, where it is reasonable to assume snake would be I found one. Unfortunately I was less than two steps from the snake when I noticed it. I made a failed attempt to jump away to the side, but got to see it strike my leg.

Since the plan had been an easy 60 minute run in my area, I wasn't carrying a phone or other gear. For a few seconds I tried the denial tactic, but realised that wasn't going to be helpful. As a better plan I tied my singlet around my leg. It wouldn't do much, but it might do something. Then I approached the house just across from me.

The front door opened, and told them I h…

Square One

I've harped on a bit lately about reduced training, injury and rehab. Good or bad, my training has been what it has been. The result is I've had to take a better look at everything. No point going over every detail, and how to has changed from the goals and plans I set recently. The summary is I am pretty much back at square one again.

As a result of choices and mistakes my base has been eroded. My basic endurance now pretty crappy. Second to that my faster running, both at around threshold and faster has suffered. All this combines to a reduced ability to handle a decent volume of hard training. Not to mention the risks associated with problems coming from injury.

Where is square one?

Well it's right at the start of base building. Given I am looking at racing some ultra marathons and having a crack at the marathon again, the most important overriding element is endurance and aerobic structure and function to support everything else. So that will be my focus.

I have pencil…

Go Hard: November 2011

My run training was hampered by a knee injury.
That didn't stop me from getting out onto some good trails.

Coburg Lake Classic 10km - Race Report

I restarted my training over a month ago with the intention of racing this race fast. Obviously having to deal with an injury and the required reduced running has meant less than an ideal build up. As a result my intentions changed to forming a race plan specific to my injury rehabilitation. It also became an opportunity to try something different in my racing.

The Coburg Lake Classic 10km, is usually a simple 2 x 5km out-and-back lap affair, with a moderate hill that results in 4 climbs (2 on each side) on a concrete bike path. Recent heavy rain saw the Merri Creek overflow and flood some of the course, so an alternative was in order for the day. The result was 4x2.5km looped laps, over a very undulating circuit the only flat section was the athletics track itself. Also adding into the mix was a section of wet, muddy soft grass that amounted to maybe 500m out of the 10km. Otherwise it was a mix of bike path, concrete path, a slippery bridge and road. As it worked out, the 10km race w…

Patella Femoral Syndrome

What's wrong with my knee?

It hurts when I run, and keeps hurting afterwards. Most of the pain is surrounds the patella and is variable in both intensity and location (but is clearly within the tendon) and highly dependent on activities. Eccentric loading causes the most grief, such as downhill running. The pain reached the level where it was obviously counter-productive to even contemplate running through it.

Essentially all other attributes are classical Patella Femoral Syndrome. If you're not familiar with it, a quick internet search will reveal a ridiculous amount of references, almost all giving the same descriptions.


Hard to say exactly what the initial cause is. There is a bit of chicken or egg problems here. Best I can do is list the contributing factors that are relevant for me, then work on eliminating those problems. The list are mainly chronic issues were were probably exacerbated by some acute loading.

Late stage over pronation with compensatory internal rot…

Only As Strong As Your...

No point sticking with a plan if it isn't going to work. I'm now at the end of my second week of training. Continuing on from the first week, it certainly hasn't gone anything like I originally planned. My left patella tendon is more than a weak point. It is an injury. I'll cover the details later, but the short version is I have patella femoral syndrome. I've had it before, and it is a symptom of other, more ongoing issues. So it will take a while to correct. So here is what the last training week looked like.

Day 1: Run: Hill repeats: 14x40sec, walk/jog back (70-100sec) Day 2: Run: Easy 1hr approx 9km. Slow, but feeling almost comfortable. L) knee sore later in day Day 3: Rehabilitation: cycle & run too painful for knee Day 4: Strength: Session Deadlift, Bench 3+
Day 5: Run: Easy 1hr, approx 10km, knee felt ok
Day 6:  Strength: Session Squat, Press, 1+Aerobic conditioning run: 60min, mainly flat, taped knee, main focus on correct running form Day 7: Rehabilita…


I need big goals. I train at my best when working to push my limits. Examples of when I got my training right, worked very and had life on track have always been when working towards significant targets. The main one's that come to mind are:

1st marathon1st Ironman triathlon1st sub-3hr marathon There have been others. For my big goals to work, I also need a genuine desire to achieve that goal. It has to be more than just doing something a bit better or faster than before. It has be more than just going somewhat faster. An element of fear has to be there. That fear may simply be the fear of failure, or it can be as big as wondering if I can even complete the race. So far it has always come from initial throw away thoughts that spark a little further interest. At some point I follow up that interest and it develops into almost a need to pursue the next challenge.
At the moment triathlon doesn't fuel my passion. Running does. I want to go back and run a faster marathon. I want to …

First Week

I have covered my goals leading into next year, and outlined a training plan to get there. Exactly what this involves may be best demonstrated by giving some and daily and weekly accounts. Instead of a generalised post every now and then. My first training week (8 days) went a little something like this...

Day 1: High Intensity
Eltham Fun Run 10km race. About 5km worth of warm up and 1km cool down, so 16km for the day. I came in 6th overall in 38:25 overall a hilly course. I raced at a high intensity, and pulled up very sore.

Day 2: Recovery
My left knee and quads were a little questionable the day before the race. The race certainly hammered that weakness. With my quads trying to halve their lengths and spasm, my patella tendon was suffering from all the abuse. Sore to touch, very painful to move. Ice, rest and gentle physical therapy on the muscle bellies, was what was required.

Day 3: Basic Run
66 min and 9.7km, giving a pace of 6:52/km. Slow, but the HRav was 125. The lowest intensity…

Interpreting Day One

The point of training is to get better at racing. So I chose the Eltham Fun Run 10km as my first day of training for the new program. It was to also serve as a genuine test of my true fitness and racing skills. What did this day tell me?

My current 10km race time is now 38:25.  Outside of my target range of 37:17 - 36:13. This difference is probably reasonable right at the start. Most of my 10km race times have been in the 38:xx area over the last few years. So this is probably my base level. The task now becomes to improve from here.

Working off the McMillan Running Calculator my current predicted race times are as follows:

5km 18:30 (3:42)10km 38:25 (3:50)21.1km 1:25:29 (4:03)30km 2:05:10 (4:11)42.2km 3:00:17 (4:17)

As can be seen above, my predicted marathon time is 12 minutes faster than 4 weeks ago. Two possibilities here. First is I gained a high amount of fitness from the marathon race and the recovery period had me fresh on race day. Second is my ability for the shorter races i…

Training Into 2012

I have some goals.
I have my race result.

Now for the training plan.

Heart Rate Zones:

HRmax: 188
MAF HR: 151

B: 113-131 (60-69%) Base
E: 132-151 (70-80%) Aerobic conditioning
T: 152-165 (81-88%) Anaerobic threshold
V: 166-188 (89-100%) VO2max

Training Week:

8 days (not everybody else's 7 day, Monday to Sunday)

Because of the rotational shift work and variability in commitments, the plan is a set of priorities. Each training week will then be structured in how to best meet those priorities given my other commitments.


Long RunHigh Intensity RunSupportive sessionStrength sessionBikeStrength sessionSwimSecondary Basic RunCore trainingBike This is the initial training. There is a lot in there that isn't running. However, I am finding I need this other work to limit over use injuries and other issues.
Priority 1. Long Run: 2-5 hours, initially aiming for a duration of 2:30-3:00. I would like the majority of to be in the aerobic conditioning zone, but do expect that when …

Eltham Fun Run 10km - Race Report

Marathon. Recovery. Some exercise. No genuine training.

To kick off the first day of training I decided to start hard with the Eltham Fun Run 10km.

Last year I managed 9th place in a time of 39:31. Check last year's race report here. This year I wanted to do better. With having four weeks of recovery post marathon, I didn't really know if that was going to be possible. Whatever the case, I developed a race plan.

With hardly any flat, this is a race of up and down. Mainly on bitumen, plus a small section of gravel. Not really a fast course, but a course I can make work for me if I can put up with a painful race. Having the ability to travel fast downhill and even gain a little recovery, I wanted to push the concept of going extra hard on the ascents. It is a risk, and may rob me of significant time later in the race, but if it works then I can gain some places and maybe some chunks of time when heading against gravity. There have been a handful of races over the year that I hav…

Goals Setting Towards 2012

To get the most out of my running I need a plan. Working rotational shift work (8 day cycle) and not living off a typical 7 day week forces a different line of thinking. It isn't as simple as writing a repeatable week that covers 8 days. I have to take into account the commitments that are related to the Monday to Sunday world. For example, day 2 of my training week may be a Wednesday or Sunday. The competing interests of the rest of my life will be very different depending on which day it is. Over the years I have tried a few approaches. Many mistakes have been made. There have also been a few successes. What follows, is the starting point of my next major stint of training.


Currently I do not have an exact race in mind. That doesn't preclude me from setting some strong goals. I've been tossing around the concept of running a couple of trail ultramarathons next year. I'm looking around the 50km-ish mark. Exactly which ones and at what level I'll compete in ha…

Learning From Mistakes

This year's marathon preparation was almost a contrast to my 2009 effort. This year I made some significant mistakes that kept me a fair distance from any attempt at a personal best. Two years ago I got a lot right which resulted in a PB of over 10 minutes. Often it is important to focus on the positives and take the best from each situation. On the other hand, I also think it is important to analyse the mistakes to understand why they happened, where the future risks are and to develop strategies to not make them again.


Instead of going the miniature and covering every speed variance in each run versus heart rate, or marking kilometers covered versus sleep, it will be more useful to take a larger view of my training. The outline of goals versus the type of training actually completed and in relation to the rest of life will be more useful. Let's get into it.

The Goals

I wanted to run a new PB at the Melbourne Marathon, that meant faster than 2:58:44. There was even hop…


Post marathon I didn't have an exact plan regarding my recovery. I just went with the concept that I should know my body well enough by now to do what was required to recover. Also at the back of my mind, I didn't want to detrain to the extent that I felt like I was restarting. There was a bit of hope of being able to take some fitness gains from the marathon itself. At this stage I don't know how much of that I have achieved.

Since the marathon itself I have only done whatever I feel like and nothing of what I don't. The only other criteria I put on myself was to stay clear of any sustained threshold style running. Currently that is something that really eats into my recovery abilities. So over the last couple of weeks I have got in a couple of weights sessions, a swim, a few very low intensity runs of up to an hour, one 2 hour easy run and two sessions of very short and fast intervals.

Every few days I've noticed an increase in energy. The aches and tightness of …

Marathon Intake

Like every other aspect of my racing I do apply a drinking and carbohydrate strategy during the race. The best way to describe this is cover what I actually did during the race and give some reasoning along the way.
The carbohydrate loading leading was covered in Carbohydrate Loading - Melbourne Marathon.

2.5 hours prior to race start:
60g cornflakes150g peaches & pears200ml low-fat milkEspresso500ml Gatorade 

This topped up my liver glycogen stores that get depleted during the overnight sleep.  The timeframe allows everything to settle and pass through my stomach to minimise the risk of gastrointestinal problems during the race. The water within the gatorade combined with the hydration strategy as part of the carbohydrate loading over the previous days should have me adequately hydrated for the race start.

45min prior to race start:

300mg caffeine

10min prior to race start:

200ml water This was preceded by a 15 minute easy warm up. The water bolus aims to help ensure the s…


Post marathon my brain took a break from training, as did my body. An easy swim and a very, very slow run was thrown in at some point. It wasn't training, just something to loosen up. Otherwise, my exercise has consisted of a few walks with the dog and family. On Sunday, it was good to be on the other side and support my wife in her first fun run in 17 years. Despite taking note of the winning times and thinking I could have beaten those, it was even more enjoyable than I was hoping. It was good to see others get excited in the same way I do.

Soon enough I'll get to answering some questions that have been asked about the marathon and my preparation. This will also include a bit of analysis of what went wrong and what went right in the build up. This week, I am getting back into some regular, comfortable training. Future plans are still up in the air, but there are a few thoughts bouncing around inside the skull.

Recovery has been surprisingly exceptional. At this stage I think t…

Melbourne Marathon 2011 - Race Report

Experience played a very important role this time around. The time on the clock was far from my original goals. I had overcooked myself in training so the final few weeks were no where near what I believe is required for a good marathon. Fighting the green snot that my family kindly shared took something away from an optimal condition. These aren't excuses, just the couple of negatives that created some obstacles. On the other side there were many positives to be taken from this marathon.
My pre-race thoughts on pacing can be found in: Pacing - Melbourne Marathon.
The carbohydrate loading went to plan (Carbohydrate Loading - Melbourne Marathon), and I found myself feeling full and energised. There is a certain look to the body on race morning when this goes to plan. I had that look.
In the taper (Short Taper) I completed the least amount of training that I have ever done in a taper. This was because I fighting the germs making there way around the family and I still required some ex…

Marathon Training 2011


Carbohydrate Loading - Melbourne Marathon

Yet another topic that can have more opinions than participants. I'll keep things relatively simple. This is my plan as it relates to me. It is the carbohydrate loading plan I have followed many times over the years. I have tried other modifications, and results seemed to be at least less than optimal. Mainly I follow the guidelines from the Australian Institute of Sport. There is a lot of evidence, research and practice behind these guidelines. They are well tested. However, there is a little bit of extra detail to go beyond these guidelines.

AIS - Carbohydrate Loading Fact Sheet.


Starts on Monday with a run of approximately 80-90min, which includes 30min at or above marathon pace. This should tap slightly into the stored muscle glycogen, and set up the body for some mild to moderate carbohydrate depletion.

My diet from Monday to Wednesday will be relatively low in carbohydrate. The focus will be on protein dominant foods. The calories will also be relatively low for me. I …