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 is better than my endurance for longer distances. I believe the most accurate answer is a combination of both, but with the greatest emphasis on the fact my endurance is lacking. I know I couldn't pull out a 3 hour marathon tomorrow. It is important to remember McMillan's explanation on equivalent race performances:

"Do keep in mind that a 5K runner is unlikely to run the equivalent time in the marathon off of 5K training. The runner would obviously need to train for the marathon to accomplish this equivalent time."


In the four weeks post marathon, I only performed two high intensity runs. One of short hill repeats and the the other 200m runs at about 3:30/km pace. These were well spaced apart. Some moderate strength training sessions were thrown in, but these were performed will within my capabilities. No pushing the envelope.

On race day I made a concerted effort to run harder/faster than I felt I could maintain for the race distance. Despite a section of about 1.5km in the middle and some reprieve on a couple of descents (which I'll cover later), I achieved this goal. What I was surprised at was my ability to surge with significant increase in speed near the end and my running on the hills was so much better than anticipated. Prior to the marathon I felt my hill running was well below par. During the 10km it was a relative strength.

Analysing my heart rate file it shows an average of 175bpm for the entire race, but all the uphills were at around 180bpm, with the final 800m at 184bpm. With a HRmax of 188, these are high. Usually my 10km race HR is about 170bpm with some creep towards 180. It is easier to get an higher HR on hilly courses, but this day I feel I tapped into an extra level of intensity from myself.


For roughly 1.5km in the middle of the race, I slowed a good deal and really struggled to run well. Despite the first section being run harder than usual this was more going on than just fatigue. I was hurting, and had good intentions of dealing with it and keeping the speed up. However, I wasn't completely where I needed to be mentally. My thought process appeared positive initially, but with advantage of hindsight I had convinced myself the effort wasn't sustainable and had given myself enough justification to drop away for a period. This was reinforced by the fact, that once I regrouped my thoughts and structured my approach towards the process of running the best I could at the time instead of overall outcome I was back at the intensity and speeds of the first section. I was later able to chuck a little extra speed on top of that too.

It is possible to get some sort of recovery within the race itself. Pushing hard uphill meant my legs burned. Yet, I was able to either hold position or even make some mild gains on the descents while gaining a significant reduction in heart rate and some respite from that burn.

Race Skills

Every now and then I prove to myself I can race above what my training predicts. This was such a time. I am competitive and do develop a white line fever in races. At the Eltham Fun Run I got a lot right. The majority of the pacing was good, and I was able to use the terrain reasonably well. The uphill running was well measured. With hindsight I could have got away with running a little faster on the descents and not suffered too much on the in-race recovery. The 1.5km slow section was mainly mental. There is a lot of evidence to show there is a slump in races and time trials with most athletes, this usually occurs during the 3rd quarter. If I can reduce or even eliminate this slump then it may lead to some huge race improvements even without much improved fitness.

The other aspect I have a reasonable appreciation is positioning. Running the tangents, picking line of site when coming up to pass and making use of blind turns gains some free speed or position. My mind works well enough to think about and use these tactics in race. What I did miss, was a good start position. As a result I was unaware of how many were in front of me. Judging by the large time gaps it didn't make much difference for this race, but might make a difference in other races.

Final Words

Racing gives the ultimate high. It hurts, but feels great at the same time. The analysis might seem over the top to some, but it is all part of the process I enjoy. Usually these thoughts just ramble through my head over the week post race. This time I decided to type out the rambling. Maybe it will serve as a reference for future improvement.


Popular posts from this blog

New Blog: Running Alive

Race Report: Sandy Point Half Marathon

This Is Forty