Sunday, August 30, 2009

Picking up the pace

Only a 24km run today. It's all relative I guess. Not so long ago 24k would have been an 'OMG this is a freaking long way run,' but not now. And lest I think things are actually getting easier, those wacky guys a Furman (whose program I am following) decree that this run would ratchet up the pace to make up for the shorter distance. Lots of fun!

The last couple of weeks I have found the first km or so a bit hard. Not pace hard, but just getting my body into the groove and my head in the right place. Both times I have wondered if I'd be able to finish the planned run. Not sure why.

These runs are basically in four parts: down to the beach, along the beach foreshore and back, then run back up to home. And, given terrain and wind have not varied at all, it is essentially an easy warm-up down to the beach, hard slog into the wind, easier run back with the wind and hard slog uphill to home. I think the time splits below show that out.

Today, if it was at all possible, the wind was probably stronger than it has ever been???? Certainly it had more "west" in it and less "north." In any case, it was unpleasant on the run from Brighton up to Elwood. I pray that we get a relatively calm day for the race. This wind just sucks big time.

I certainly picked it up for the first 6k of the second half of the run, covering this in 4.42m/k which is quite good. Obviously the mother of all winds was behind me so it probably isn't that great. What I was pleased with, though, was the time up South Road. I traditionally struggle along here. Today, somehow, it was a quick-paced struggle - despite walking for a few seconds when it just got a bit hard.

Overall, very pleased with this run. The training plan says to run it in 1:56 and the watch says I did 1:55.44 so right on target. Another woo hoo! And a great end to the running week.

Total run: 24km in 1:55.44hrs (4.49m/k)

1-6km 28.32min (4.45/9.30/14.09/18.56/23.46/28.32)  4.45m/k
7-12km 29.22min (33.20/38.04/42.52/47.51/52.44/57.54)  4.53m/k
13-18km 28.15min (62.32/67.10/71.56/76.37/81.22/86.09)  4.42m/k
19-24km 29.35min (91.02/95.59/100.54/106.01/110.49/115.44)  4.55m/k

Only three more big weeks now!

Friday, August 28, 2009

When is Marathon Pace not Marathon Pace?

Tonight's run was a 10-miler (16km) at marathon pace (4.38min/km) which means it should be comfortable, not overly hard. After all, in six weeks I am supposed to run 42km at this pace. OMG!

Now it was only a few months ago during my half marathon training that this same speed was my mid-tempo pace. And apart from that one very fast race I'm not sure that much has really changed. Which means that the 16km tonight felt like a fair workout and anything but a cruise about town.

I ran my regular North Road loop doing two laps to give me 16km. They were fairly even, run in 37.27min and 37.39min. There was also the now obligatory wind blowing which kept it a bit more interesting than I'd like, but what can you do!

Overall a pleasing effort. A few seconds behind target pace, but still ok. I am confident that come marathon day, this same pace will feel a whole lot easier.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

At Last ... Improvement!

It has taken until week ten of this program for me to replicate or improve upon any of my track session times from the half marathon program earlier this year. But tonight I finally did it! It feels so good to see some times that are faster than I have ever gone.

Tonight's set was 3x (2x 1200m) with 2min rest between intervals and 4min rest between each of the three sets. I last ran this set on 8 April (another Wednesday night) with times generally around 4.56min for each rep.

Tonight I did the now customary "first rep steady, not too fast, don't blow up before you've even started" routine. This seems to be working. Perhaps more accurately, now that I have ditched the Furman target times which were sooo fast for me that I was exploding after the first rep, I am better able to pace my efforts.

This time the reps were completed in: 4.56/4.52 - 4.53/4.52 - 4.53/4.46

What I am looking for is a comfortable first rep, even in the middle, and fastest last rep if possible. Realistically, tonight's times tell me I could probably have pushed to around 4.50min for each of the reps.

But who cares!!!! This is fast for me, faster than last time, right in the McMillan time ranges (4.44-4.59) and felt great.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bits 'n' Pieces

Good Reading
Saw an interesting article today on
Getting Past the Wall on Race Day by Gale Bernhardt.
This site actually has lots of great info ... but then, you probably already knew that.

Blog Probs
Also, thanks (and apologies) to those who have pointed out that Blogger's wonderful security word feature for posting replies has been troublesome! I have removed it (it was on by default) so you should be able to post a reply now ... I hope.

Had a fun diversion from training yesterday as we celebrated my eldest daughter Brooke's fifth birthday with a party at our local traffic school. It starts with the instructor giving the assembled throng of kids a walkthrough of the course whilst explaining the road rules. It ends with the same mass of kids riding in every direction on both sides of the road in something resembling a highway on the sub-continent. Amazingly, no crashes and no road rage.

Tonight we went out to celebrate both my wife and Brooke's birthday (Brooke is the day after mum) at an Indian restaurant. It was Brooke's choice so we could indulge in her favourite "orange chicken."

As you can see from the pic here, little Keira enjoyed it immensely!

32 redux

Today was the second 32km run of this program (with two more to come). The last one was way back on 2 August with a slower target pace (which I did not make). So I was not really sure about whether I'd make the pace today or not - which was 4.57m/k.

I decided my best chance was to go out at a reasonable pace and get some time "in the bank." I also knew that with this awful wind (again!!!) I was going to need to run conservatively for the first half. Hmm, time in the bank AND conservative pace. Not sure how to resolve that one.

Anyway, felt good going out, even into the strong wind along the beach. The sun was out, lots of people - including some obvious marathon training groups - so perhaps it just felt better all round. Made the turn at Middle Park in 78.41min so I had to run 79.43min for the return leg to make pace.

This focus on making pace today is a little odd given that with my track runs I have decided to ditch the target pace calcs. Maybe the long run paces just seem more important??

For the first 10km of the return leg I was making up about 5sec/km and feeling good. Rounding the turn at South Rd and I reached the 26km mark with still 1.15min up my sleeve. Though I felt much better than last time round I knew that this last 6km is mostly uphill, traditionally slow, and will be where fatigue kicks in. So it was no certainty I'd be right.

I held it together (just) to 31km and had 5.24min to run the last km. This is a hard last km and I was a few seconds slower to finish just 6 seconds off the target time. Actually, this is probably pretty remarkable in any case, to run that close to a target time over that long a distance.

I was (still am) tired, legs fatigued, but no injuries and felt pretty strong. Very happy with a great end to the week.

1-6km 28.54min (4.51/9.38/14.25/19.08/24.05/28.54)
7-12km 29.44min (33.46/38.43/43.38/48.45/53.43/58.38)
13-16km 20.03min (63.40/68.39/73.34/78.41)
17-20km 19.36min (83.39/88.34/93.20/98.17)
21-26km 29.10min (103.14/108.02/112.53/117.50/122.46/127.27)
27-32km 31.03min (132.33/137.35/142.41/146.34/147.57/153.02/158.30)

This also finished off my biggest week to date, with the 3 runs covering 53.99km in 4:24:43hrs.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Running can be fun!

Completed my second session of the week last night, a 10km tempo set and - surprise, surprise - it felt good again! I had almost forgotten what it was like to run without sickness or injury, but it was niiiice.

It was another windy night - as the whole week has been in Melbourne - so conditions were not at their best, but it did not really bother me. I've noticed that, too. When you feel good then climatic conditions don't seem to be nearly as big an influence as when you are not on such good form.

The main part of this set was the 7km at mid-tempo pace (target 4.22m/k). I have not been pacing my tempo runs very well recently so consciously took this one out at a steady pace, with the intent to finish strongly, not in a heap like some other efforts.

Ran just under 4.30 pace for the first 5km then hard on the easier section towards South Rd with a 4.18 and 4.20 to finish the 7km in 30.58min (4.25m/k).

I am really pleased with this. Pretty close to target pace, certainly reasonably fast, and much better than all recent efforts.

Ahhh, maybe I can run well after all!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Back on (the) Track

Gosh, it seems like ages since I ran on the track (actually, it is three weeks) and I was looking forward to tonight's session. I have certainly found the sessions this time round to be a lot harder than before and my times have generally not been as good. Not sure why: sickness, cold weather, night running, windy conditions? In any case, it just hasn't been what it was four months ago.

So today I decided to ignore target times and just run according to how I felt. Or, put another way, just run each interval as hard as I think I can. This felt somewhat liberating and I actually enjoyed myself here for the first time in a long time.

The session is the same as one I did back on 1 April so I had a clear point of comparison. This consisted of:

w/up to track 2km
1600m hard (7.00), 400m easy
3200m hard (13.53), 800m easy
2x 800m hard (3.13/3.16), 400m easy
c/down to home 2km
Total: 12km in 59.26min

Apart from the first 1600m which, in retrospect, was a little slow, the others repeats all felt about right and were within a few seconds of my April times. And, overall, door-to-door, the session was about seven and a half minutes quicker than in April so I definitely ran the easy bits much quicker too. Not that this is an objective in itself, but it means I was not getting as much rest between intervals. I am happy about this!

I think I might run like this more often.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sandy Point Half Marathon

I live and run near the beach so I am used to the fact that there is nearly always a wind to contend with down there. But this morning was bordering on ridiculous. Today we had to deal with a 50kph (gusting to 60kph) northerly wind during a two-lap out and back course from Sandringham to Brighton.

In order to get the k's up for the day I ran down to the venue at Sandringham. Nice and easy, 7km at 5.25m/k pace. There was only 15min to race start when I arrived so I quickly got my race number and free 2XU compression socks and went to the start line.

A side-bar here on these compression socks. I have been wearing some Skins socks to bed regularly. I find they make an enormous difference to my recovery, especially when I have sore calves as I had this week. But I hadn't worn them in an event. Now these 2XU ones are soooooo sexy (not!). More like something Zorba the Greek threw out. But since there were so many people wearing them today I decided to give them a go. (They probably helped too!)

My plan for the race was to run steady 5m/k pace for the first half then a "fast finish" (straight from the Greg McMillan handbook) at 4.38m/k. I ended up running 51.26min (4.53 m/k) to half way so was pleased with that, then put in a burst for a couple of km back into that bl**dy headwind. I managed to pass quite a few people but paid for the effort as I was soon tucked in behnd a couple of other guys biding my time till the final turn.

At that point I decided to go for it. It went something like this:
Brain to Legs: ok, run faster now, you have a tailwind and there's only 5km to go.
Legs to Brain: you don't run much, do you?
Brain to Legs: I COMMAND THEE to run quicker.
Legs to Brain: ok, you're pi$$ing me off now, I am going to run SLOWER.

So, rather than knock out a fast finish, I actually ran slower for the second half, a 52.10min (4.56m/k). This gave me an overall time of 1:43.36hrs (4.55m/k) and a total run for the day of 28.13km in 2:21.43hrs (5.02m/k).

This is a general improvement on most of my times, but I had wished for more - not much - just 5 sec/km. But considering the awful wind, a sore throat that returned after only three days of feeling good, and some still sore calves I should be pleased. And am!

Friday, August 14, 2009

When does this training get easier?

At some stage in most running programs your body seems to catch up - or perhaps just give in - and the pace of the sessions gets easier. Half way into this program and that point doesn't seem like it is ever going to come.

After an easy session on Wednesday night I still am not fully recovered from the City to Surf. My calves - especially the left one - are still really tender.

The session tonight was one that I have done before, about a month ago, and back then had a great run. So I was feeling optimistic about having another good run here. I even managed to squeeze it in before nightfall so was looking forward to running in daylight too.

After the 3km warm-up it was into the hard 5km at short-tempo pace (4.13m/k). I went through the first km in 4.16min so was right on where I needed to be. Unfortunately it kind of went downhill from there with subsequent k's in 4.24/28/32 and 30. Just plain harder than it should have been. A 5km time of 22.10mins being a whole 53sec slower than last time.

I am getting a bit over all this target pace stuff. Whereas for the half marathon program it seemed to be right-on for me, this time round it seems way too fast. I have my suspicions as to why:

1. During the half program I was still coming from a low fitness base so was still on the way up.
2. The target pace this time is based on a blindingly great run in the half marathon which was the "peak" of my fitness, with taper, racing flats, etc. That is, this pace was about as good as it gets and is not maintainable ... it's a peak!
3. Recovery from the longer runs in the marathon program is slower meaning the track session (especially) is much harder.

Anyway, I'll persevere. Even if my runs are slower than target pace that's ok, it just means I'll probably be in great shape to run a 3.20 or 3.25 marathon instead of a 3.16. No problem there!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

City to Surf

For me there is never any question what I'll be doing on the second Sunday in August. It is running in the City to Surf fun run in Sydney. I have been doing so for 22-years now, since 1988, and even though this year I am following a strict training regimen for the marathon, this race was always going to replace whatever training run I had planned for that day.

In this case a hard, hilly 14km race replaced a 21km run.

After the week (fortnight) I have had I was not sure what to expect. I am still not over this infection and, to make matters worse, on Thursday night I suffered two massive cramps in my left calf DURING MY SLEEP which left me very sore for the last few days. How pathetic is that, I am now suffering injuries even while I am resting at night!

I decided that, because of this, I would not run with any particular time in mind which is highly unusual for me as I have a finely honed series of target splits for any given finish time on this course.

The day began very cool due to no cloud cover which meant that it would warm up to a nice temperature (probably around 10-15 deg's) by the time the race started at 9am. I managed to get a good spot not far from the front and was able to run within about 30-seconds of the gun.

You can see from the graph below that this course is not flat which means that you need to take the first 6km at a steady pace, with plenty in reserve for Heartbreak Hill which starts at 6km. If you can get to the top of that in good shape then you are well placed to run strongly to the finish.

I have learned this lesson (the hard way) several times in my years here but with rising age has come not only wisdom but the sense to actually follow it and for the last couple of years I have run really well paced races.

One thing I find a lot is that I actually race well. I am reasonably adept at maximising whatever training I have done and turning that into a performance on race day. My half marathon at Williamstown was a great example of that. It means that - as I am finding in this training block - I may have trouble meeting target times for intervals etc that my race times say I should be able to do.

There may be other factors here too (wearing race shoes, the atmosphere of an event, etc) but whatever it is I generally race better than my training might indicate.

In the end that was probably the case here too. I ran 61.35mins which I am really happy with. I had great strength at the end of the race (which you'd expect) and probably could not have gone much harder. This is my best time since 2003 (60.53) and fifth best ever (fastest is 56.56). If I could lose 8kg and get down to the race weight of those halcyon days I am sure I could give even my PB a decent shake.

The fact I am finding it hard to walk today is probably no surprise!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Being sick is OFFICIALLY giving me the s$%#s

Ok, ye marathon gods, what in the heck have I done to upset you all??? Why do you seem so hell bent on keeping me from even getting to the start line of this race? Did I trod on a fairy or something? I am not sure, maybe you just have the WRONG PAUL WILSON ... there are, after all, so many of us. Whatever it is, can you just bug off and leave me alone.

There, got that off my chest. Which is just as well, since this week my wonderful sore throat decided occupation of my neck was not enough and it wanted lungs too. So here I am, it's hard to swallow, difficult to breathe and I am trying to run a marathon program. It just ain't happening.

I gave the track session of this, week seven, the flick on Tuesday in an attempt to get better. But it has not worked. So rather than miss a second session I have set off tonight to do my tempo set.

This was always going to be difficult as it is blowing a gale outside but I was optimistic of maintaining somewhere near the 4.31m/k pace dictated for the 10km main set. Well, what a joke that turned out to be. I ran 47.56min (target 45.10) and felt like crap. The last three km's were each over 5min's which is just disastrous.

Still, I did it. I am just not sure if that is the right thing or not?

This Sunday is City to Surf. Hmmm.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

32 today ... 32 today ...

No, it's not my birthday, and - unfortunately - I am several years the wrong side of 32 (crikey, where did they all go???). Rather, 32 is the number of k's I ran today.

After how I have felt this week (and still feel) I was not altogether sure that I'd do this run; but I headed out the door leaving my mobile phone at home ensuring I'd have no option but to run all the way home.

The course I ran was a familiar one from home down South Rd to the beach then along the path through Brighton, Elwood and St. Kilda to the u-turn at Middle Park (16km). Today I was blessed with running into a mongrel North-Westerly headwind all the way up the beach which was no fun. It also had the effect of sapping my strength for the return leg when I needed it.

The target pace for today was 5.06 min/km and as is obvious from the splits I ran on target for the first half into the wind (great stuff!) and picked it up early on the way back, maintaining a 30-40sec buffer to target all the way till I began the journey up South Road. (This rolling uphill stretch is fast becoming my nemesis on long runs.)

Unfortunately I "ran" 6.04min/km's along here and so finished about 5min behind target time. The reality of this is that it is still much faster than I have previously run these kind of training runs. Plus, I have run 32k with 10 training weeks still to come (incl. another 3x32k runs) so I should only get better.

I had a Power Gel at 13km (yummy Chocolate) and again at 24.5km (god-awful coffee latte or something). I am sure these made a difference as I certainly did not suffer from hunger knock. My legs held out generally well, especially pleased with right hamstring which was no real issue at all.

Overall, very happy with this result (even if the last 5k was a bit ordinary!)

1-6km 29.53min (4.58/9.51/14.44/-/24.50/29.53)
7-12km 31.08min (34.57/40.07/45.24/50.40/55.51/61.01)
13-16km 20.37min (66.20/71.24/76.29/81.38)
17-20km 19.50min (86.34/91.28/96.20/101.28)
21-26km 30.39min (106.29/111.31/116.41/121.51/126.59/132.07)
27-32km 36.24min (137.52/143.38/149.46/155.59/161.47/168.31)

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