Showing posts from July, 2011


Leading into the marathon I wanted to get in another two or three races. Unfortunately my work roster, some other commitments and race calendar have combined to make this unlikely. At this stage, it looks like my next race won't be until the 42.195km itself in October. Not quite ideal, but a slightly different challenge to find the best out of myself.
On paper it looks ideal. A simple, uninterrupted lead-in of consistent training. However, that in itself is the problem. Yes it does provide an excellent framework to develop a strong fitness base. What it usually lacks are those extra parts of fitness and mental adjustments that racing brings. These are important when looking to achieve challenging personal bests.
There are two options. The first is to find a way to get in a race or two. I am working on it, but haven't come with a good idea yet. Second option is to get a little more creative in the training and try to get a similar response in a few sessions. It might be as simple…

Defence Mechanisms

The Threshold Phase of training can be very difficult to get right. The balance between enough stress and adequate, but not too much recovery can be elusive. In describing my approach to this phase I originally stated:

"This style of training can really hammer me. Not so much in the form of injury, but more in a fatigue, failure to recover or just get sick way."

In my second 8-day cycle, I was up early for the prolonged threshold run (60min main set). It didn't go as planned. The short version is, I felt flat to begin with, tried to run solid, then hit the wall and struggled to run back home. On face value the session was fail. I could just write it off as a bad day, and try harder next time, but there needs to be more insight. Just trying harder won't make next week more likely a success. So why did things go wrong?

A large proportion on training for endurance races goes into being able to override the body's defence mechanisms. Pain, fatigue, urge to stop, urge to…

Nobody Here Except For Us

Most of my posts recently have just been race reports and explanations of my training plan. All pretty dry topics. What gets left out are the little extras that go into the training. Here I try to cover a little of those extras. The result is a random mix of different things that haven't fitted into what has almost become a formula.

I've always enjoyed getting off the concrete and bitumen. It's one of the reasons I live where I do. Now having raced the Salomon Trail Run a few weeks ago, I have rediscovered just how great trail running is. I love getting onto the rough ground, with plenty of ups and down, rocks, mud, fallen trees and anything else nature likes to throw in. My attention is being drawn towards the ultra marathon trail runs around the country. It's been a long time since I have hit the bush for orienteering or a 24 hour rogain. My future racing is likely to have something different in it over the next few years.

Continuing on with the trail them…

Coburg Fun Run 12km - July

Leading in towards this race, the accumulation of recent training, broken sleep and fighting off the germs the family have been throwing all came close to a tipping point. This called for a relative sleep-in (7am), and a day off running. Strangely it took a lot convincing it was the right thing to do, not to force myself out of bed at 5am and head out into the sub-zero morning. Taking the needed recovery when it isn't scheduled is often a hard thing to do.

Onto the race. Another Coburg Harrier's Fun Run. This time it is their usual 12km course (2x6km laps). The day started with the simple goal of just getting in a good honest race effort. This was taking the place of my faster threshold session, and potentially the shorter interval session as well, so I wanted it to really count. As is becoming common for me, progressing through my warm up and lining up on the track I wanted to put myself in for the win. I do know there are plenty of better runners, but I am hitting a standard …

Threshold Training - 2011

Time for the second phase of my marathon preparation. This will be the Threshold Phase. For an overview of the overall plan check out Melbourne Marathon 2011 Outline. Let me begin with the straight details:


4 x 8 day cycles + recovery/test week.

Increase the speed and time I can sustain running at anaerobic threshold
Enhance ability to run relatively quick at low effort with better substrate use
Aim number 2 really just carries over from the base phase. My long run in each cycle should cover that. My plan is to continue on with the same approach from the base phase. That approach is run for 3 hours at about my aerobic zone (70-82%HRmax). The pace won't be pushed on these sessions, that's what the other key sessions are for. I want the speed of these runs to naturally develop. For a more detailed explanation on the ins and outs of my long read The Marathon Long Run.

Now for details on Threshold training:

I've defined my Threshold heart rate zone as 155-166bpm (83-88%HRm…

Base Results - 2011

Four weeks of training. To be honest, the first two weeks were nowhere near as consistent as I would have liked. A number of factors led to this, both uncontrollable and controllable. I learnt from my mistakes and put together a high quality second half. Now with a handful of days for a couple of tests, a little recovery, I can take stock of where my fitness is at. Then plan the phase of preparation.
The original description of intent and training outline for the Base period can be found in Base Training - 2011, and also in Basic Structure.
Now to step through each goal.

Run For 3 Hours Comfortably Partial tick? I hit most aspects of my goals for this. I know I can now just go out and run for 3 hours at a reasonable pace, and feel pretty comfortable. I had been hoping the pace would get down towards the 5:00/km mark, but I am currently at 5:40/km. Up from the 6:22/km over 2.5 hours that I started with. Otherwise, I can get through a run with a slight negative split and feel quite good thr…

Time In The Zone

Following my post, Training Zones, Rob Smith asked, "how much training do you do in each of the zones?". This will be my attempt to answer that question. Mainly it will explain why I can't just give a, 25% in this zone, and 33% in that zone, answer.
As a refresher I outlined my heart rate training zones as: Aerobic 132-154bpm (70-82%HRmax)Threshold 155-166bpm (83-88%HRmax)VO2 167-188 (89-100%HRmax)To understand how I apply these zones, I need to explain some aspects of my training philosophy. Firstly, training and racing fit into my life, and shouldn't compromise other aspects. Therefore, what I choose to do in training isn't always structured around what makes for best training practice, it is often dictated by it is what I can fit in. Recovery is highly variable, and as a shift worker, with two young kids, my recovery, especially sleep is quite often compromised. This can have a big influence on what I do within a session.Second, I am no longer a believer in real…

Salomon Trail Run Kew 10.8km

The Salomon Trail Run....
....the inaugural race, and I think it is right up there in my favourites list. Simple concept: Bitumen is Boring, have a race in a picturesque and natural environment. isn't the long to ultradistance tradition of trail running here. In this case, the trails, along the Yarra River. Plenty of dirt, rocks, a bit of mud and grass, twists, turns, up and downs, some sets of stairs and trees.
I have no connection to the event other than being a competitor, but it was run exactly the way I like it. On time, accurate and appropriate information, encouragement of good etiquette (which was even followed by the runners) and an almost low key approach. It didn't have the extra rubbish that seems to be creeping into many of the bigger events. Hopefully the series is a success and it is the start of more such events.
Reconnaissance Part of the appeal of the day was that I wouldn't know all the ins and outs of the course until out racing. Kind of the opposite to mos…

Training Zones

"Find your zones, and stick with them" - very common advice. I have definitely followed this in the past. I had some good results, but plenty of times I didn't as well. There are a lot of problems with establishing and sticking with training zones, whether they be based on speed, heart rate, power or perceived exertion. The most obvious is you are making a lot of assumptions. These include, you get certain predictable responses from working at a certain level for a certain time, the way you established the zone is accurate, it doesn't vary over time ad plenty of others. Now plenty of assumptions may be accurate, and I am definitely not recommending against the practice. For me following the same guide over a full training program.

What do I do?

I establish the requirements of my event, versus my own fitness and from there work at defining some training guidelines. These guidelines vary over time as my fitness changes and/or I discover I need a different stimulus. In th…