SC100 Training: Focus 4

An interesting week. Definitely my toughest week of training. Starting with a basic run I was surprised at how easy it felt. The speed was quite high for this type of run, and it felt like I could go forever. A good start.

For my hill/speed run I was flying. The plyometric drills and uphill sprints came naturally. Nothing was forced and it felt fast. I got in a few extra repeats since it was going so well. Then some downhill sprints. The plan was for 6 x 15 seconds here, but I called it at 4 when the legs started feeling tight and on that last repeat I really felt each foot strike.

Next morning I knew I'd been training hard. Plenty of pain and a bit of swelling of my left patella tendon, especially over the tibial tuberosity. So a day without running and icing was called for. Then I was fresh for the pace run. Into the south side of Plenty Gorge covering the awesome single track. I ran a course that has taken me 2:15-2:20 to cover in the past. This day my legs were definitely moving better. Most of the extra pace came from improved skills through the technical jutting rocks and twisting trail. The terrain also didn't seem to suck speed out my legs as the run progressed. Overall it felt comfortable and I took 10 minutes off my previous best over this course. I followed this run up with a night shift and again didn't run afterwards, choosing sleep as more important. Plus I got to icing my left patella tendon again as it was grumbling a little.

That seemed to be enough to have me feeling right for my hill run. All up 17km including warm up and cool down. The main stint was 10.5km that incorporated one lap of the Plenty Gorge Trail Race. I hit the uphills hard, the downhills I made sure were fast and eased back just a little on the very few flat sections. It was nearly genuine race intensity. The 10.5km of technical hills was covered in 49 minutes. That is a very good time for me over that course. The legs did take a battering.

An extra night shift of work was thrown in, but I still got an hour basic run done. I ran okay, but my legs were realising the hard kilometres covered so far.

Finally I was up to the long run. I had big plans for this one. I drove further out so I could cover some truly challenging terrain. I started in Panton Hill and covered the mixture of trails through the conversation reserve system and ended up in St Andrews. My legs started the day already feeling behind the eight ball and they definitely didn't get any better into the run. My heart rate monitor was playing up so I was left with perceived exertion. The effort felt comfortable despite my legs basically just hurting from the first step and the pace was faster than my usual for the longer run. I hit my first checkpoint ten minutes early and was happy. Then I headed up towards the real climbing.

A few false roads as I discovered more mapping errors in the links between trail sections. Eventually I worked my way over the Rifle Range and into the Kinglake National Park. Despite having covered what I used to consider big climbs, the hills were now just starting. The trail was now mainly a 4WD track, so nothing technical. Except for a few shortish dips down, I just kept going up and up. That got me over the tops of Mt Everard, Mt Beggary and Cookson Hill. All through I'd made a point to run every ascent and this continued. Once at the highest point my legs knew it. They were now just worn out. The best way to describe was my glutes, hamstrings and calves felt like they had swollen to twice their size and were just big lumps of barely usable flesh.

Three hours in and time to head back down. The climb up had been long, so the way down was long. This just made sure the quads were rooted too. Out of Kinglake and working my way back on the roads and single track I was struggling. My nutrition seemed to be keeping up, but I had taken too much out of the legs. They hurt and just didn't want to work. Things kept progressing this way until the 4.5 hour mark where I balanced everything up. Yes I was struggling, but I knew I could force things. It was similar to the later stages of the run of an ironman. It did remind me of how I felt in the final parts of the Maroondah Dam 50km earlier this year. The decision I had to make was would it be worth the recovery. Since that recovery was likely to take at least a week before I would get in another hard run the answer was no. So I backed off, took a short cut back to the car and walked for most of the final hour. For walking I made a point of keeping on at some sort of reasonable pace, but it definitely wasn't running. A total of 5.5 hours in the end.

A good batch of training for the week. I punished myself with some good quality runs that should add a lot of fitness. Recovery is about what it tends to be at this stage in training... just enough to get through. More importantly I think I've found sound cues to get the pacing right for the 100km. Last week's long run pace was slower and I held together all the way. I was also better recovered going into that run. This week I ran a fair bit faster and then put in a lot more climbing than ever before. Plus I made a point of really running those climbs and not just shuffling up. I believe I've now got enough insight into how to mediate the intensity over the first portions of the 100km. At least I know what is clearly too hard (even if it feels comfortable at first). Looks like I am still on track.

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