Sunday, April 27, 2014


Gold Coast Marathon - 11 Weeks to Go

Tuesday 22 April

I've decided that this week is all about consolidation. After a month of really solid - if not a little quick - build up; it is important that this week I can consolidate those gains without getting sick or injured. Last week my body was beginning to feel the accumulated strain and it threatens revolt on me. Better take care!

Which brings me to my first run of the week, a Track Session comprising 2x1200m efforts and 4x800m efforts, all with 2 min rest in between. As I am on a short break between Easter and Anzac Day I had the chance to run in daylight once again - yippee! Unfortunately, since my run on Sunday, the pain behind my right knee has been bad. It is exactly as I've had on my left side from time to time, and manifests as a "flicking" pain low down on the medial side at the back of the knee. After a run it will feel swollen for some days. Despite my best Google-medico skills I am not sure what this injury is.

Today it bothered me the whole 2k of my warm up and several times my knee almost buckled under a sharp pain. When I arrived at the track I thought I'd give the first rep a go and perhaps it would be better at a faster pace. Within 50m it had gone again and by 100m I was stopped and almost in tears. This is so frustrating!!! I jogged slowly around the track intending to exit and go home (probably see a physio too). With about 50m remaining I once again picked up the pace (not sure why) but I could feel that the knee had responded well and was feeling ok. I have absolutely no idea what is going on or how this can be, but in the space of 100m I had gone from zero to hero and was running again!!!

I clicked the lap timer on my watch as I passed the finish line and off I went on my first of two 1200m intervals. After all that had preceded it, the intervals seemed almost anti-climactic. Target pace for the 1200m was 4.47min and I did both of these in 4.43min. During the rest periods I was too afraid to stretch or otherwise do anything involving my right leg lest it stuff itself up once again. The second set was 4x800m in 3.08min and I did these right on pace in 3.08/07/09/08. So the pace was great and I cannot say I felt any ill-effects from the long run on Sunday.

A cool down to home and I sit here not really sure what to do about this knee problem. Most importantly, I have some important confidence that even if it is giving me grief it can come good at no notice - so keep plugging away!

Fun at the New Runner Desk with Vanessa and Will

Thursday 24 April

Last night was my weekly Nike+ Run Club training session. I was assigned to lead the 10k group at 6m/k pace with Will. We had a good group over a different (safer) course to last week. The pace was even through to 8k (averaging 5.55 m/k to that point); then we let go of the reigns and brought the team home with a couple of faster k's (5.20 pace); finishing with 10.2k @ 5.46m/k. Another good run and the knee gave me no problem.

My original plan had substituted the tempo run this week for a Puffing Billy course recce with my friends. As I have the week off from work and am feeling pretty good I decided to put the tempo run back on the agenda and so headed out today, in the beautiful midday sun, to complete what should have been 8k at mid-tempo pace (4.31).

It is here that I will digress slightly into a discussion on training paces. According to the Furman FIRST program, which I am following there are very specific paces to reach for each training session. That includes track intervals, three different grades of tempo running, plus the long run. Last time round I found the paces for the track sessions to be a little hard (maybe I'm not suited to the short stuff), but the tempo and long runs were ok. Greg McMillan publishes a range of times for each interval and tends to be slower on the track reps but in a range mostly faster on the tempo runs. So what does this mean??? Well, I try to run tracks reps at the slower of either Furman or McMillan (fast end of range); with tempo at Furman pace (with anything in the McMillan range being acceptable after the fact). Long runs target Furman pace. I have either merged the best of both of these or created some Franken-pace that is largely irrelevant :-)

But back to the run. Regardless of what this pace 'could be' I had intended it to be 4.31m/k and so started easy with a 4.27. The next km, mostly downhill, was faster (4.13); then a slower one (4.26) to balance out. With my pacing being a bit all over the place I decided to run to feel and cruised through the next five km's in 4.22/24/20/20/23. I finished the full 8.4k trip home at 4.23 m/k so this was significantly faster than plan and was at my Furman 'short tempo' pace (but right in the middle of McMillan's equivalent 4.21-4.31). Aaargh!

Perhaps best just to say I went for an 8k run at a comfortably hard pace and leave it at that!

The final note for today is an injury update. Recent posts have commented on my right knee pain which I knew to be exactly like a problem I'd had with my left knee, only I'd forgotten what the problem was called. Duh! Today I remembered that through July last year my training diary was awash with notes about my "Bl**dy Popliteus" and I was even seeing my physio, Rob O'Donnell, about it. Though I can still feel that it is not right, at least today it did not bother me while running. I am going to ice it, see the physio and try to do some specific stretches for the thing. If that doesn't work I'll resort to praying!

Friday 25 April

Today, Anzac Day, and time for an easy run with friends up in the Dandenongs. We are all running the Puffing Billy Great Train Race next week and wanted to do some course recce before the event. So with some car shuffling we were able to run from Belgrave through to Emerald, covering all the "major obstacles" of the course over the first 10k or so. Weather was perfect for running, quite cool with no breeze and sunny skies. It quite simply does not get any better than this! Run finished, we sojourned to the Emerald Bakery and cafe for coffee and muffins before the ride home. Popliteus threatened to misbehave on the first downhill out of Belgrave, but came good thereafter.

Sunday 27 April

Today was my biggest run so far of this build up; a planned 32k at MP +28 sec (5.18m/k). I worked out a two lap course to North Rd, down to the beach and back up South Rd; passing by Dave Weeks house at about 20k before a shorter loop going as far as Hampton St and returning up South Rd again. So this would be a harder course than last week (more up and down) but at least I'd have some company for the last 12k or so.

The first (big) lap was mostly at under 5.20 pace but the beach and South Rd legs had a reasonable headwind and I just wasn't in the groove. I think mentally I found it hard since South Rd is normally the end of my runs so knowing I still had a long way to go played with my mind a bit. To be honest I even conjured scenarios where I would just do 20k and leave it at that! I completed this lap to Dave's house at an accumulated pace of 5.15m/k so right on target or thereabouts.

After a brief water stop we headed out and the company made a big difference - at least in my head, if not my legs. The pace quickly drifted out to 5.35-40 for most of the next 7k but it didn't feel so easy! Pleasingly, once back onto South Rd, the next 3k's were in 5.31-32 with a 5.25 and a 5.18 to finish. This was very good, so even though there was some slow bits in there it was not a complete blowout. Overall this run was about 5 sec/k slower than a comparable run in 2009, but that run was along the beach (flatter) for 20k and the last 6k of that was a shocker in 6m/k+ ... so some good signs that I am running well :-)

For this run I had two gels - the first at 1h10m and the second at 2h3m.

Strava links for the week:

Tuesday - Track 10.8k @5.19; 1200's and 800's
Wednesday - Nike Run Club 10.2k @5.46; cruisy Fitzroy Gardens and Tan
Thursday - Bentleigh Tempo 8.4k @4.22; comfortably fast
Friday - Puffing Billy course recce 10.6k @5.47; with Wilko,Weeks and Robert T
Sunday - Going Long 31.7k @5.22; Dave Weeks joined for last 13k


Week 4 (this week): 5 runs, 71.7km, 6 hrs 24 mins   ... biggest week ever!
Week 3: 4 runs, 57.7km, 5 hrs 9 mins
Week 2: 5 runs, 48.6km, 3 hrs 51 mins
Week 1: 4 runs, 41km, 3 hrs 28 mins
Total: 18 runs, 219 km, 18 hrs 52 mins

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Running into Easter

Gold Coast Marathon - 12 Weeks to Go

Tuesday 15 April

My first run for the week and my first time back at the aths track in five years. To be honest, I had not missed it one bit in that time, but I was itching to get down there early this morning for some mile repeats. So at the ungodly hour of 6.20am I headed out the door.

The weather was good - cool and dry with a bit of fog around. At the track it was me with one other guy walking laps with huge headphones on and flapping his arms about, and a woman who seemed determined to stay on the opposite side of the track to arm-flapping man!

My legs were still feeling quite heavy from Sunday's race, but the plan only called for 3x 1600m efforts in 6.40 (4.10m/k pace) with a 1 min rest between. Easy ... or so I thought.

The first rep I kind of cruised around for the first half, not wanting to go out too hard. I'm not exactly sure that I actually went any faster when I picked it up; crossing the line in 6.50. Hmm, a bit slow. Not sure if that's tiredness or laziness. Anyway - two more to go.

These were much better and I got my act together for two nice reps, both on the target time of 6.40. So happy to get that one done and dusted.

Thursday 17 April

Second run of the week was last night with my favourite Nike+ Run Club, only this time was my very first as a run leader! It was so different being on the 'other' side and was so much fun. For this week I had been assigned to lead a 10k run at ~7.00m/k pace - the designated beginner group. We had heaps of fun as we ran through the dark streets and parks of Melbourne with the group staying together beautifully through 7k. At that point, with the end coming up and a co-leader keeping pace at the back I led about two thirds of our crew as we picked up the pace a little. We finished the run at 6.45m/k overall and the smiles on their faces told the story! To finish I took the crew through a stretching routine - those of you who know me will see the irony in this!

Nike really look after their run leaders and have outfitted us all with some beautiful gear. A pair of Lunarglide+ 5 shoes, a Dri-FIT running hoodie (this is nice!), a Dri-FIT knit running shirt (even more comfortable than my regular Dri-FIT shirts) and cool Phenom 2 in 1 running shorts (I am hooked on these). Of course, now all my other Nike gear takes a back seat to this new stuff. It's fantastic!

Today, during a beautiful sunny lunch break at work, I headed out for my third run, a 10k tempo session. I have a path that takes me out along the Yarra River which is just really beautiful to run beside. After a 3k warm-up the main set was 5k @4.23 pace, followed by a 2k cool-down.

I did the main 5k right on 4.23 pace (4.23/21/20/32/17) though my heart rate was up in the mid-160's which is a bit higher than I'd expect when going this fast. It felt harder than I would have expected, but I was very pleased to nail the pace and complete the set.

I am finding that my legs are almost constantly sore at the moment and recovery between days is hard to achieve. Tomorrow is a bike ride up in the Dandenongs - we do 'The Crucifix' which is aptly named for our Good Friday ride. Long run on Sunday - a bit nervous ahead of a 29k journey.

Friday 18 April

This morning it was up early to head into the Dandenongs for our traditional (can two years be a tradition?) Good Friday ride on a course aptly named The Crucifix.

This is a 70k ride which takes in four of the popular climbs; starting with the '1 in 20' from The Basin, then down to Burwood Highway for 'Devils Elbow' with Churchill Drive/One Tree Hill tacked on. The third climb is 'The Wall' from Monbulk then up to Skyhigh at the top of Mt Dandenong. The last climb is 20% nasty in parts on 'Inverness Rd' from Mt Evelyn.

There is a lot of climbing in this ride and after the last few weeks my legs were so tired that I could hardly turn them over. So it was not a fast day, but a fun one. At least until the heavy rain came and drenched us for the last 45 minutes.

Tomorrow another (easier) ride.

Sunday 20 April

After another wet bike ride yesterday and a very early rise for Easter morning egg hunts - as you do when you have two young girls - this afternoon it was off to do my very first proper long run for this marathon build. The target was 29km @5.18m/k and I decided to run down to the beach and along to St Kilda Pier.

To be honest I'm not sure I was really looking forward to this run. Maybe it was just trepidation as I hadn't run so long in quite a while and had missed the early weeks of this build up so was jumping in with quite a long effort. Or maybe it was because I'd struggled to sleep last night as my left knee was mildly throbbing (still not sure what that was). In any event, as is often the case, once you start running all of that melts away and you just enjoy the run for what it is.

Unfortunately, from early on, I suffered a pain behind my right knee (aargh!). The left one, strangely enough, was completely ok. This pain is similar to one I have had behind my left knee from time to time. It is really annoying and feels like something is 'flicking' over the back of your knee somewhere. I just ignored it as best I could and kept running.

The target pace today was "only" 5.18m/k which I expected to be pretty easy and my normal method on these runs is to have a minute or so "in the bank" for the last 6k up South Rd which undulates generally uphill and tends to slow me down a bit. By the end of the third km my pace had settled at 5.09m/k and when I turned at half way, the St Kilda Pier at 14.26km, it was still 5.10m/k for the run thus far. The even pace was helped by the fact that it was a beautiful afternoon with no wind to speak of, which is not always the case down here. I had a single gel with me which I took at about 15k.

Somehow the pace over the next 5km quickened a little - I did this in 25.32min - and I turned at South Rd with 6k to go still averaging 5.10m/k for the 22.26km covered. By now the pain behind my right knee had become really bad and even though I didn't feel super-fatigued, my pace for the last 6k dropped to 5.20-5.38m/k. I was not really too fussed about this as I have suffered some real 'blow-outs' along this stretch, so arriving home in under 2:30hrs with 28.5km @5.14m/k was very satisfying. Apart from my bad knee I felt ok, much stronger than I had anticipated, which is very encouraging!

11 weeks to go!

Strava links for the week:

Tuesday - Track 8.9k @5.00m/k; 3x 1600m repeats
Wednesday - Nike+ Run Club 9.9k @6.45m/k; Run Leader
Thursday - Tempo 10.3k @4.41m/k; main set 5k @4.23m/k
Sunday - Long Run 28.5k @5.14m/k; to St Kilda - target pace 5.18


4 runs
57.7 km
5 hours 9 minutes

Monday, April 14, 2014

Run for the Kids

The last run of the week was one of my favourite events, the annual Run for the Kids. I've done this event every year except for one and love it. So - regardless on what the training program wanted me to do - I was going to substitute a 15k hard run. The weather was amazingly good and I lined up in brilliant sunshine alongside a few friends (Judy, Phil and Peter). My legs were feeling quite tired after a couple of big weeks (for me) and so I hoped to do around 1:07 when last year I did 1:05.

I know my achilles heel is going out too quick so focussed on running conservatively at the start. This worked (kind of). So whereas last year I blasted the first km in 4.01, this time round it was only 4.07 So far so good. Down through the tunnel and we bumped into Phil's mate who was running faster than us. So Phil ran a bit quicker. Then I ran a bit quicker. On the way out of the tunnel I let them both go. Another km or so later I caught and passed Phil (not sure what happened to him in the end - suspect the Ironman from a few weeks ago probably caught up with him)!

Through 5k in under 21 minutes (faster than last year) but HR was good at mid-160's so I just kept going. Legs weren't feeling too bad so all was ok. Down the back through Docklands to 10k and I started to feel a bit tired. Aargh! Need to tough it out for five more k.

I have a real dislike for the climb over the bridge at Collins St and no matter how I am feeling it never gets any easier. Once that is done it feels easier as you run through Spencer St then along the casino promenade.

As the picture here shows I was really feeling the pinch along here. Not sure I even knew my own name at this point. After two k's in 4.13 and 4.18 it was only the final push around the boatsheds, up the last incline to St Kilda Rd and then to the finish line. Even though I was pushing hard along here my HR never got above ~167 which is unusual - normally I'd get to 170+. Not sure what this means but I think I felt the lack of any runs over ~one hour.

Crossed the line in 1:03.55hrs (4.19m/k) so was very pleased. Just over a minute faster than last year. Obviously all the training with Nike+ Run Club #WeRunMel had paid off. A great end to the week and I'm super motivated for the week ahead!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Oops, I've Done it Again!

Gold Coast Marathon - 13 Weeks to Go

In the dark ages (aka 2009) I trained for and ran the Melbourne Marathon while keeping this blog. Since then I've just written the odd race report, but mostly it disappeared into blog-scurity. Even last year, when I completed three marathons I didn't write up anything ... though for a funny look at how I unravelled during the Great Ocean Road Marathon you can watch this little video :-)

Fast forward to 2014 and the need for me to do another marathon with "proper" training when I see that one of my friends (hi Kim!) has entered the Gold Coast Marathon in July. Boom - there it is! 2 hours later and I had entered, booked flights and somewhere to stay.

Now for the training!

So I've dusted off my old Furman "Run Less Run Faster" program and put together a 13-week plan to get me to the Gold Coast in good shape. This is week one of that plan. And, just like last time, I'm going to use this blog to record my training and other random thoughts along the way.

It's Thursday today and it is my first day of no running this week (my legs are glad of this!)

On Monday I completed an easy 9k @5.12 m/k with Nike+ Run Club as part of their Run for the Kids training sessions. I also ran with them last night, winding it back even more for an easy 5.7k @5.06 m/k in the rain. Even better, the folks from Ben and Jerry's were handing out ice-cream which I managed to grab and eat whilst running along. Mmmm.

Sandwiched between these two easier run was my first Furman session - a speed/interval set of 5x 1km efforts with a 400m float in between. Last time round I did all these sets at the local athletics track, but I'm trying new things this time and so decided to run it on the footpaths around home. BIG MISTAKE!

It was a rainy night and within ten minutes my glasses were covered in water droplets and fog from my breath. Add in a steady stream of oncoming headlights from cars and I could not see a thing. To make matters even harder, there are so many low hanging trees on this path that I was getting wacked in the head every few hundred metres and had to dodge numbers of obstacles/path closed along the way too.

Suffice to say that my five efforts were somewhat slower than planned and slower than what I think I could actually run if I wasn't worried about just staying upright. I completed these in 4.08/07/10/15/12 against a plan of ~4.00 even. I'm not really too worried about the time, it was just good to get out and run hard again.

My first video blog in this series is also up on YouTube:

Friday 11 April

On Friday I took time at lunch to head out for my tempo run. After the run in the dark and rain it was great to run in daylight when you could see where you were going. The program called for 7k @4.31 pace with warm up and cool down bringing this to about 10k. In my rush to leave home I had forgotten to pack my running socks and paid the price for this with a few blisters by the end of the run :-(

I headed out along the Yarra River and began my effort when I got to Punt Rd bridge. The path here is wonderful and twists and turns as it follows the river on one side and the freeway on the other. I was really determined to run on target pace and not get carried away. That said, the first kilo was a bit fast, but I got back on track through the second k and ran evenly thereafter. I finished off with a couple of slightly quicker k's and finished with 7k @4.31 pace. Woo! Hoo! My best run in a while, very happy!

Strava Links for the week:

Monday - Nike+ Run Club 9k @5.12; easy cruise
Tuesday - Street Speed Session 8.6k @4.55; hard and wet 5x 1k
Wednesday - Nike+ Run Club 5.7k @5.06; eating ice cream in the rain
Friday - Tempo 10.5k @4.43; minus socks plus blisters
Sunday - Run for the Kids 14.8k @4.19; hard race - great time!

Weekly Summary:

Week 1 (this week): 5 runs, 48.6 km, 3 hours 51 minutes

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