Tuesday, July 28, 2015

5 of 16: Build

Melbourne Marathon 2015 - Week 5 of 16

The first block of four weeks is done. Wow, time flies. In many respects, the 16-week period of the plan represents four macro-level blocks. You build for the first three, then taper for the fourth leading into the race. So this week is the first of a new block, the beginning of the second quarter, and I am well on my way. Jack Daniels and others talk about refining the plan and target times no more than every four weeks as it can take this long for changes to accumulate in the body. I have begun this plan with a target of 3:15 for the race, but a (not so) secret desire to get into shape to run a 3:10. So I am looking for evidence that I can sustain the faster paces associated with the 3:10 plan.

My theme for this week is build. The key sessions this week are just that bit faster than a few weeks ago and it is important that I can stay on top of them. I also want to use this theme for my runs, trying to pay better attention to pacing and building into each run rather than going flat out from the start.

Tuesday 28 July

There's a slight and disturbing trend emerging with my pace setting during this program. More than once I have set out with absolutely the wrong target pace in my head. Obviously this is not the end of the world (!) but sheesh, it's not like I have much to remember when I am out running. Today's interval session was another case in point.

It was a plain and simple set: 3x 1600m in 6.11 min with a 400m RI. If done on a regular aths track, no problemo, 4 laps plus 1 lap! When done at Olympic Park, however, it requires far more maths. Not difficult maths, but some. And when you head off for a run and you haven't even thought about the maths you are courting problems, as I was soon to discover.

For this track is ~520m around, a completely irregular distance of ever one was concocted. So, whilst heading down the hill to the track I began to work out what a 6.11min/1600m was for three laps of this track. Which was all fine except in my head 3x520=1660 and not 1560. Proudly, I worked out that 60m meant about 12 sec extra per rep; so when I started off I had a time of 6.23 for three laps in my head - let's call it 2.07 min/lap and be done with it I thought!

Now, if you haven't gone to sleep or clicked to another web page somewhere, you'll realise this was completely screwy. But I started my laps blissfully ignorant of the error. On the positive side, I was consciously holding back for the first lap, wanting to pick up the pace for each of the three laps rather than go out fast and die. So when I rounded a fairly conservative lap one and saw 2.04 on my watch I knew something was amiss. These times would not be easy and I knew I wasn't running this well. (See only took me 520m to work this out!)

Some very quick maths ensued and I realised I had stuffed the calculations completely. Doh! I quickly established a new target of 6.00 min even for the 1560m, though I now know the correct target was 6.02! Anyway, 6 min it was which meant 2 min/lap which meant I was way behind! A couple of faster laps and I finished rep one in 6.07. Wow, what a saga to get to this point!

Ok, on my rest lap I came up with a new plan - run the first lap in 2.02, the second in 2.00 and bring it home in 1.58. All sounds pretty easy. The next rep went fairly close to that plan and I closed with a 1.59 lap to finish in 6.01. I was very happy with this although I was stuffed! I crawled my way around the recovery lap and tried to pick it up again for rep three. This was a bit ugly and I did it in 6.07 - back where I started.

The cool down back to work was horrific. My calves were screaming in pain as they clearly had not enjoyed this session. I suspect they are still in revolt after last Monday's track session. Perhaps they knew they were back at the scene of the crime! Time for an easy day.

I also think I need to revisit my target times. The Furman plan is very hard on these short sprints and I find them way too hard. McMillan gives a range of times and even the fastest is slower than the Furman suggestions. These work much better for me!

Wednesday 29 July

Back to Nike Run Club tonight and I opted for a shorter 5k run as I wanted to rest my legs a little. I really enjoyed this 5m30s pace group as we trundled around the Yarra and Olympic Park environs. Each week we are also including the "magic mile" (at least that's what I call it) where we encourage our runners to "Find their Fast" and go for it! Today this group was really quick, running more than 30 sec ahead of their pace group speed. I was such a proud run leader :-)

Thursday 30 July

Today in Melbourne was another absolutely beautiful, calm, sunny winter's day. Oh, wait a minute, no it wasn't. It was a cold blowing a gale day, which is fine if you are staying inside, but not so much fun if you have a tempo set to do at lunch time. But I'd rather run in the daytime and at least see what I am doing so off I went down to the Yarra to knock out a 5km tempo run. The program called for a 2k warm-up followed by 5k @4.10 pace then 3k cool down to finish.

Due to the ongoing path works near Chapel Street I shortened the warm up to 1km so that I'd be well finished my fast bit before getting to the road crossing. Of course, since I'd be running fast, I extended the fast bit to near 7k so that I could have a go at my 'CR' time on a favourite Strava segment. An extra fast km never hurt anyone, did it?

In keeping with my mantra for the week of "build" I was careful not to overextend early. The first 3k are mostly sheltered and offer a bit of a cross tailwind so I was careful not to get carried away here. I did these k's in 4.05, 4.03 and 4.12 for the one that ends with some uphill. So far so good. I was feeling in control. The last couple of k's are a mix of uphill, downhill, headwind and tailwind - pretty much everything - and I ran these in 4.13 and 4.07 which is ok but not fast. This gave me a 5k split of 20.40 (4.08 pace) which was pretty good! I continued on for my Strava segment, covering this only 5 sec outside my best time which was done just before the Gold Coast Marathon last year when I was in great form and on a great day. Very pleasing!!

I finished a total of 6k hard in 4.10 pace which is ace and continued on for the 10k run into a light drizzle and nasty wind. A good run, very happy with this!

Sunday 2 August

The last run of the week and the big one, my long run. The weather yesterday morning was forecast to be rain and wind, so I went for a ride and deferred the long run till today. As it turned out, the rain disappeared by mid-morning yesterday and by today the wind had picked up so it was probably worse. Aargh! Oh well, that's life in a Melbourne winter. It's going to be windy. I remember back in 2009 it was really windy for almost every long run and on race day it was perfect. I hope for much the same this year!

Today's loop was once again down to the beach then south along the shore to Parkdale, before returning inland via Nepean Highway and Chesterville Road. The target pace was 5.04m/k but I intended to run a bit quicker than this and try be around 5m/k if I could. I was right onto the pace from early on and kept it fairly even at 4.55-5.00 for the first 20k down to Parkdale. This was the easier part of the run, I knew it would be harder slightly uphill and into the wind on the return.

I worked hard and ran these in about 5.00-5.08. I was tired, and y left knee was feeling a bit sore, but I was not overly fatigued. Once again I had three gels - one just as I started then two more at 60min and 100min into the run. These worked well. Coming up the last km I was even able to lift the pace slightly to get back to an average of 4.59m/k for the run. Very pleasing!!

Training Program:
Full session details for my whole training plan here.

Strava links for the week:
Tuesday - Three More Miles 9k @4.48; incl. 3x 1560m @6.08/01/07.
Wednesday - Nike Run Club 4.9k @5.24; easy with magic mile.
Thursday - Flippin' Windy 5 (and a bit) 10.4k @4.33; incl. 5k @4.08 (6k @4.10)
Sunday - It's a bit ... windy! 29k @4.59; strong long run in windy conditions

Week 5 of 16 (this week): 4 runs, 53.3 km, 4 hrs 21 mins
Week 4 of 16: 5 runs, 65.8 km, 5 hrs 38 mins
Week 3 of 16: 4 runs, 58.3 km, 4 hrs 46 mins
Week 2 of 16: 4 runs, 52.4 km, 4 hrs 30 mins
Week 1 of 16: 4 runs, 50.1 km, 4 hrs 11 mins
Total: 21 runs, 279.7 km, 23 hrs 27 mins

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

4 of 16: Going Long

Melbourne Marathon 2015 - Week 4 of 16

After a great end to last week I am really looking forward to the week ahead. My theme is "going long" as the long run this weekend is the first of the 32k runs. One of the features of this Furman program is the early and continued appearance of 32k runs - five in all, getting progressively faster towards race day. If I am travelling well then these are very enjoyable, though definitely not easy!

Monday 20 July

After reshuffling my run days last week and doing my long run on a Saturday i was able to fit in an 'extra' run on Monday this week. One of the Nike Run Club leaders, Lincoln, is offering track sessions at Olympic Park in preparation for the marathon so I took the opportunity to join in. As you can see from the photo, it was a beautiful Melbourne evening as I headed down to the track. Tonight I'd also be doing my first run in Nike Free 4.0 runners. I figured this was a short, sharp session on a reasonably soft surface so that would be a gentle introduction to this style of shoe.

After a warm-up Linc took us through a series of drills focussing on form. I typically ignore this aspect of running though know I should be doing it, so was happy it featured here. The main set was one I am very familiar with - the famous 'Mona Fartlek' session. This consists of 20 minutes of running, with alternating hard/easy intervals of the same duration. So there was 2x 90sec, 4x 60sec, 4x 30sec and 4x 15sec with equivalent recovery bits after each one. Sounds easy - only 10 minutes of hard stuff which, as Linc pointed out, should be at 5k pace, with the easy bit at marathon pace.

I pointed out to him that I'd run this session before, but paced it differently (wrong) and done sprints with easy recovery. I would try to run this one a little better!! In reality, though, I fell somewhere between the extremes. The fast bits were definitely quicker than 5k pace and the recovery at slower than marathon. When all was said and done I'd run about 4.77km in the 20 minutes which is not bad.

As for the shoes. Well, hmmm, they are definitely on the "Free" side and put a lot more stress on my calves (and feet and quads) than my regular runners. I'll definitely have to use them sparingly, though to be honest, there's a fair chance they may become casual shoes and I'll stick to something a bit more cushioned for running.

Tuesday 21 July

After last night's session my legs were not happy campers today. The program called for 5x 1km efforts with 400m recovery but I ditched that completely in favour of a very easy run of just under 5km. Even that hurt! So much for adding in an extra session this week. Aaargh!!

Wednesday 22 July

It hasn't been such a great start to the running week. After Monday's shoes challenges my feet, calves and legs were pretty sore. A slow run yesterday and today I was still sore - especially in the calves. At Nike Run Club I was given a 'free ticket' to choose which run I wanted to do and so chose to go fast and long in the 10k 5m/k group. As a designated 'extra' when it came to the magic mile at Fitzroy Gardens I had the chance to set a fast pace at the front for the quicker runners to chase. Surprisingly I ran pretty well and with some good speed. The balance of the 10k was a mix of faster/slower pace with Linc setting the tempo up front. It was a good workout for me and a good run all things considered. Nice to get back on track for this week.

Thursday 23 July

The tempo run is normally my favourite of the week, being "a good distance at a good pace." Each of the last few weeks this run has become faster and today it was 6.5k at 4.20 pace. Another pleasant but windy lunch time greeted me for this one with my legs still iffy after Monday. My pacing was pretty good and I was into the target zone from early on into the main effort.

I must be getting old(er) and forgot how far the effort was, cutting it short at only 6k, 500m less than planned. Aargh! But at least it was just under target pace so a good run. Not as easy as I'd hope, but a nice effort.

Saturday 25 July

I had once again altered my run schedule so that the long run would be on a Saturday. I'm hoping this will give me the chance to squeeze in another (easy) run each Monday. Today was the first of the really long runs at 32k. That said, it was also the slowest, with a target pace of 5.14 m/k (which unfortunately in my head was 5.12). The morning was pretty windy and i decided to do a big lap into the city then along the Yarra and back home. That would give me the hardest part first, with a tailwind for most of the return journey.

My legs were still not 100% after the track session on Monday, but I knew they'd be good enough at this pace. I had one gel before I started then planned to take one after one hour and two hours. My pace was reasonably good right away and I remained a few seconds ahead of plan all the way into the city and down to the Yarra at the Tan Track. At just after 14k it was a right turn onto the Yarra trail and a path which I run a lot during the week.

I didn't plan to pick up the pace here, but hoped that it might feel a bit easier with the wind over my shoulder. As it turned out, the next 5k were all pretty similar to those which had preceded them and I was starting to feel fatigued. It was only after I crossed Glenferrie Road that the pace quickened. Not sure how (or why) but the next 4k were all under 5m/k. Weird! Then it got hard. I ran 5k through to 28k where the path finishes and I cross a footbridge up to Belgrave Rd at 5.16 pace. Admittedly, this does include the grind up a hill, but I was definitely feeling tired.

Of course, with the sniff of home, I tried to run strong and completed the last 4.8k or so at about 5.01 pace, finishing 32.8k at 5.08 pace. This is too far under plan - like last week - for me to call this a well paced run, but I have aspirations above my training paces this year and so wish to see how realistic they are by running just a little bit quicker in training. All in all, very happy with this run. Just very tired!

Training Program:
Full session details for my whole training plan here.

Strava links for the week:
Monday - Mona Fartlek with Linc 8.1k @5.51; drills and Mona Fartlek 4.77km
Tuesday - Eaaaasy 4.6k @5.23; legs too sore to run
Wednesday - Nike Run Club 9.9k @4.58; magic mile, fartlek, solid going.
Thursday - 6 Fast in 10 10.3k @4.37; incl. 6k @4.18.
Saturday - The Grand Boucle 32.8k @5.08; big, long run - windy and hard.

Week 4 of 16 (this week): 5 runs, 65.8 km, 5 hrs 38 mins
Week 3 of 16: 4 runs, 58.3 km, 4 hrs 46 mins
Week 2 of 16: 4 runs, 52.4 km, 4 hrs 30 mins
Week 1 of 16: 4 runs, 50.1 km, 4 hrs 11 mins
Total: 17 runs, 226.5 km, 19 hrs 5 mins

Friday, July 17, 2015

3 of 16: Long and Strong

Melbourne Marathon 2015 - Week 3 of 16

Marathon training week three and I am really into the swing now. The routine is there, I am (gradually) getting used to doing the sprint sessions again and my distance is building up. My main objective this week is to have a good long run on the weekend. The plan is for 27.5k and I want to run this feeling strong, something which I have struggled to do in the first two weeks. I feel that really nailing these long runs is the key for me and I aim to do these better than last year (and I was pretty happy with those!)

Tuesday 14 July

This week began with a descending interval set of 1200m, 1000m, 800m, 600m and 400m; each with a 200m recovery. The target times for these were way quick and, to be honest, I kind of set them out of my mind as I ran. Which is to say I just ran each as hard as I could, knowing that I was unlikely to make any of the times. I find that the target times up to 800m intervals seem ok, but above that I struggle.

Like so many of my runs these days, I incorporated the set into a loop along the Yarra totalling just over 10k. This means that I get some headwind, some tail, some inclines and some downhill. Which is pretty fine for a tempo set, but for intervals means that you can be out a bit just from variations in the terrain and conditions.

Absolutely none of which bothers me. I just run hard!

How did it feel? Well, ok for the 1200 and 1000 - though when I check the times they were only run in 4.01 and 3.58 pace so slow-ish (vs target). The 800 was a bit better, the 600m a struggle (I ran a slower pace than for the 800) and the 400 I just pushed hard. It was a bit higgledy-piggledy but that's life. Unfortunately not my greatest session, but good to tick another one off!

Wednesday 15 July

Nike Run Club on Wednesday was week 2 of the "Find Your Fast" promotion and I led what has become my favourite group, the 10k 5.30m/k crew. It was just me leading the team around and we incorporated some faster sections with slower recovery parts, instead of the regular steady-paced effort. The crowning achievement was the 'magic mile' where we are encouraged to go for it, and I stayed with our slowest folks who still ran less than 5m/k which was fantastic. Lots of fun as always.

Thursday 16 July

Normally my second main session for the week is on a Friday, but I shuffled some things around this week so I could run on Thursday. (Oddly enough, this is the first Thursday I have done any exercise in six months!) This week's tempo was 8k - just like last week - but at 4.29m/k which was 8sec/km faster than last time. After my warm up km it was into the work and I set a pretty steady pace the whole way round, never really deviating too much from the plan. I covered the 8k at 4.27m/k so a few seconds ahead of plan and feeling good. I tend to enjoy these runs more and find them way more manageable than the sprints. I'm thinking of changing my long run to Saturday this week so the Thursday tempo will work for that too!

Saturday 18 July

I have been looking forward to this long run all week and after some ordinary weather for much of the last fortnight Melbourne turned on a cracking morning for this one. It was a beautiful winter's day - cool and sunny with a light breeze which would be behind me for most of my run.

This week "long and strong" was my focus so I had placed a special emphasis on having a great run today. My first two long runs had not left me feeling energised and I wanted this one to feel great. I decided to run down to the beach at Elwood, then along the last 16k or so of the Melbourne Marathon course. The target pace was 5.04m/k so the same as last week and not something which should feel particularly hard.

I headed down South Rd and was immediately into a bit of a groove at just under 5.00 pace. Turning right onto the beach path and I felt good. My pace remained fairly even and I reached Elwood (12k) averaging 4.56m/k. I stopped here briefly for a drink of water and a High 5 gel before kicking on again. So far so good and I was well ahead of schedule. I figured that I'd slow a little around the back of the Tan so wanted a 30 sec buffer, but was travelling well ahead of that pace so kept going.

I followed the beach path all the way into St Kilda at which point, after a short loo stop, I headed over the road and joined the 'course proper' at Fitzroy Street. As I headed up the slight incline I thought of all the folks who complain about the "hill" here when, in fact, it is only a gentle and short rise. Or at least it is when you are feeling good as I was.

Turning left on St Kilda Road and though it feels like you are on the home stretch, in reality there is still 12k to go. My pace definitely quickened along here and I ran the next 8 km's in sub-4.50 pace. At the Arts Centre while I waited to cross the road I watched as a tram driver slowly and deliberately demolished the back half of a car which had made the mistake of sitting across the tracks. Amazing!

I reached the Tan Track and with 7k to go I had my second gel. The rise up to the Shrine felt really hard but was still a 4.58 so I guess it was more in my head than anything. By 22.5k I had reached the turn at Domain Road and proceeded to run freely up to Federation Square. The next four km got quicker and quicker down to a 4.42, probably getting carried away by running through the lunchtime crowd!

I rounded the bend to the MCG and ran all the way up to Punt Road where I stopped my watch in some kind of amazement as I had averaged a 4.52m/k pace for this run. And whilst I had an absolute buzz running this fast today and it felt great, I know I need to be careful to run more closely to plan, lest I leave my best efforts out on the training track. But I am really happy with this long and feel pumped for the weeks ahead!!

Training Program:
Full session details for my whole training plan here.

Strava links for the week:
Tuesday - Descending 10.3k @4.44; 12/10/8/6/4 aargh!
Wednesday - Nike+ Run Club 10.0k @5.37; fartlek style easy run
Thursday - 5 Miles of Tempo Goodness 10.4k @4.35; incl 8k @4.27
Saturday - Cracking Day for a Run 27.6k @4.52; a bit fast, but beautiful

Week 3 of 16 (this week): 4 runs, 58.3km, 4 hrs 46 mins
Week 2 of 16: 4 runs, 52.4km, 4 hrs 30 mins
Week 1 of 16: 4 runs, 50.0km, 4 hrs 11 mins
Total: 12 runs, 160.7 km, 13 hrs 27 mins

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

2 of 16: Firing Up

Melbourne Marathon 2015 - Week 2 of 16

It's now the second week of my Melbourne Marathon training program and it's time to start firing up my legs. After a difficult first week I really want to have some successful runs. I know from experience that it can take a few weeks for me to start feeling good with this program, but the sooner the better I say! 

Tuesday 7 July

The first session of the week was a relatively easy speed session of 4x 800m with a 2min RI. Today, with beautiful weather at lunch time I decided to head down to the Olympic Park track (Westpac Centre) and run there. Of course, this track is a little odd distance, I think it is ~520m around; which means using the track markers that I do equates to ~840m per rep. And I feel every one of those extra 40m! And instead of a 2min rest between reps I just walk back easily to the start point so ~200m before running hard again. Sounds complicated but is pretty simple!

The target pace was 2.57min per 800m and, of course, I had not worked out what this equated to, so it is only now that I can see that this means a 3.06min time for the 840m I did.

I started on the first rep and went out way too hard. I think I got a bit carried away and found the last few hundred metres a struggle. I completed this in 3.08 - which I now know is just a bit behind plan, but at the time I thought it was way slow. I took the next three reps more sedately at the start and finished stronger, doing these in 3.06, 3.07 and 3.07. In retrospect I am very happy with these times. 

When pushing hard and breathing deeply I can feel my chest wheezing just a little so I know I am still not 100%, so to run strong is great and gives me some confidence! Nice :-)

Wednesday 8 July

This week was the start of a new season of Nike+ Run Club, with the theme of "Find Your Fast" where, over an eight-week period, we will be encouraging runners to improve their time over the mile distance. It's pretty cool, with a measured mile each week, some new courses, an extra run each week on the track and some cool guest coaches. The "Zoom Boom" will be in full swing.

I led the 6m/k 10k group by myself tonight as we were short of leaders. A small group of gazelles were keen to run off the front, but most of us stayed together until the mile where we spread apart. I tried to run at ~5.30 pace here so a bit quicker than our overall average. Lots of fun!

Friday 10 July

To Friday and the second fast run for the week. On paper it looked pretty easy to be honest. 8k @4.37m/k with a warm up and cool down attached to it. I'd run on my normal Yarra River loop where I can average 4.30's for the whole run with only moderate effort. So I thought this would not trouble me. As it turned out the day was a bit windy and my legs are not feeling very zippy. In fact, they feel heavy and sluggish. So what should have been a comfortable run actually required some effort in the back half to bring it in on schedule.

I think I need to get a massage or something (stretching??? foam rolling!!!!!) to help here. And I can feel some visits to my trust physio Rob O'Donnell at Southern Suburbs coming on too.

Sunday 12 July

Some days are just plain hard. This weekend a cold front has descended on Melbourne bringing low temperatures, wind and rain. It is decidedly ordinary and if not for commitment to "the plan" I would definitely have stayed at home today. But the plan called for a 24k long run and so out into the rain I went to get the job done.

I headed down South Rd to begin, knowing that I would pick up the north-west wind for the section along the beach. I felt ok to start with, except a little tight in my right hamstring. Target pace was 5.04m/k so about 5 sec/km slower than I ran last Sunday for only a few km longer. I planned to run at ~5m/k to start with, knowing that the last 6-7km back from the beach up to home would slow me down a little.

I went through 6k @4.55 average and turned onto the beach path where I could definitely feel the tailwind. When I reached the Black Rock clock tower at just over 12k I was still averaging under 5 m/k so was happy though feeling cold. My cool new Nike Vapor jacket was keeping out the wind but was not designed to keep out rain for an hour so I was wet through.

The next 4k are undulating around Beaumaris and by now my right hamstring (or popliteus) was starting to feel pretty tight and I could not stride out freely. Turning onto Charman Rd I had about 100 seconds "spare" so knew I could run 5.12's from here home and be on target pace. I tried to shorten my stride and keep the cadence up and ran pretty well up to and past Southland. By now I just wanted to get home and ran conservatively strong through the finish, completing 24.2km at 5.03m/k.

I am pretty pleased with this run on an ordinary day. When I reflect on this week I have hit my target pace for each session, but none of them have felt comfortable. I've certainly 'Fired Up' as was the plan, now to build on this and get to a point where the pace feels good instead of a struggle.

Training Program:
Full session details for my whole training plan here.

Strava links for the week:
Tuesday - Four 800-ish's 7.9k @5.00; 4x ~800m with 200m walk recovery
Wednesday - Nike+ Run Club 9.9k @5.59; easy run
Friday - Windy Tempo 10.3k @4.43; incl 8k @4.36
Sunday - Rule #9 24.2k @5.03; cold, wet & windy

Week 2 of 16 (this week): 4 runs, 52.4km, 4 hrs 30 mins
Week 1 of 16: 4 runs, 50.1km, 4 hrs 11 mins
Total: 8 runs, 102.4 km, 8 hrs 41 mins

Thursday, July 2, 2015

1 of 16: A New Start

Melbourne Marathon 2015 - Week 1 of 16

Well, here I am at the beginning of another marathon campaign. This time I am targeting the Melbourne Marathon on 18 October. I begin this build up in reasonable shape, but not quite where I had hoped to be. Through the start of 2015 and right up until March I was running really well and was doing some long runs on weekends in conjunction with the Nike+ Run Club Run for the Kids training sessions. By the end of March I had just under 500km in my legs vs less than 200km at this time last year.

Then came my shoulder surgery which set me back for a few weeks and it was only in the last week of April that I got going again. Into May and at the start of the month I did "the double" of Puffing Billy Great Train Race and Wings for Life World Run on one day. I was exhausted and did very little the following week before getting sick a week later. By mid-May I was in the doldrums, running a pedestrian Sri Chinmoy Half Marathon at Como Landing in my sick state.

Keen to start getting some decent weeks worth of kilometres back into my legs I again ramped it up, with my first 50km week in a month to start June. This was punctuated by an awful 8x 1km workout where everything was just super-hard. I had no zip. My body was just not responding. A somewhat shorter week followed, but this finished with perhaps my worst run so far, a "long" run where I could only manage 10k at 5.17m/k pace. Struggle Street it was and I was still not completely over the cold I had contracted a month earlier.

A very easy week followed in mid-June, my cold flared up again, and I became even more frustrated. Last week was just under 50k including a tempo 10k (hard but ok) and a 19k run to "Emerald City" in the Dandenongs with my run club friend Adam. I got through and did not feel bad, but was not good. Which brings me to this week and the official start of training. As I say, I am in ok shape, but frustratingly not where I expected to be at the start of July.

I am once again following the Furman Run Less, Run Faster program with my own tweaks. I plan to add an extra run or two each week into the mix and some of the longer runs will extend up to 3:15 hrs or so. I've read through the Jack Daniels book and had planned to adopt this but it is very hard to make a plan out of it. There are so many options and variables and it when I read it I realised that Furman adopts his main principles anyway, so why not just stick with something which has worked for me before.

And what am I aiming for? In reality, if I can run the same or slightly faster than Gold Coast last year then I will be very happy. So let's say a sub-3:15 is my goal for this year.

Tuesday 30 June

The first training session and straight into mile repeats. Not many, to be fair, just three with 400m recovery in between each. Like last year, most of my speed sessions will be run in 'natural' locations away from athletics tracks. Which can make pacing more interesting but that is what I want. For this session I chose to run at the Fitzroy Gardens near work. Three-quarters of a lap is ~1550m so I decided that would be good enough, with about 400m of recovery to complete the full lap before beginning again.

The plan called for each repeat to be in 6.11min which I knew would be pretty hard to do, even if it is a net downhill on the course I was running. The first rep took me 6.12 so the time was right on - even if it was a shorter distance. But boy did it hurt! The second rep felt harder and was slower :-( in 6.15. The final rep was to be a big struggle and I heaved and fought my way around in 6.26 so my pace was ~7sec/km slower for that one.

On my cool-down run back to the office I could barely lift my legs (I think I even stopped on one of the inclines). I felt pretty stuffed from this effort and I am hoping that these sessions don't all feel like this one did!

Wednesday 1 July

For over a year now I have been privileged to be a run leader with the Nike+ Run Club here in Melbourne and so Wednesday nights I run with the crew there. These are one of my 'bonus' runs each week as I could be running short or long, slow or fast - who knows! This week it was the 10k group at 5.30m/k pace. I really enjoy this group as there is a wonderful spirit in the team. This week alone there were accomplished half-marathoners through to people contemplating a first marathon. Lots of stories to hear and lots of good running chat to be had. Loved it. Felt good!

Friday 3 July

The end of the work week and my traditional lunch time run day. Today's session was my first tempo set. I generally find these comfortable if I am in good form and they fall into two categories - shorter/faster and longer/slower (duh!) Today was a shorter/faster variety which meant a 3k effort @4.10m/k with 3k before and 4k after.

On the Yarra River 10k loop I have there is only one challenging (read: undulating) bit and that comes at 4-4.5k so this would be right in the middle of my fast section. My form has been a lottery too, so I wasn't sure how I would go.

The first of the three 'hard' km's I did in just 4.17 and my reaction was 'uh-oh, here we go again.' Through the undulating section and over the bridge I picked up the pace and was pleased to knock out the second km in 4.10. From here I ramped up the effort even more and ran strong, completing the last km in 4.03 for a perfect on-target 3k effort @4.10 pace. Sure!

Was pretty pleased to run this well, a great workout to finish the working week!

Sunday 5 July

Today was time for my first long run of the program, a half marathon at what should be a pretty comfortable pace of 4.55m/k. And whilst nothing has been coming easily as of late, I was optimistic of getting this one done on plan. I set out a one-lap course which would follow the border of the parcel of land Henry Dendy acquired in 1841. Amazing to think that he bought these 5120 acres for just one pound per acre and, even though the true value was at least five times that, he was bankrupt just four years later! I tried to imagine what it must have been like all that time ago - probably a few more trees, swamp and snakes with less roads than now. Lol.

It was a little bit windy out so I expected the first part to be a little slower but to pick up time 'downwind' along the beach before the run up South Rd. As it turned out the first 5k was right on target pace but I felt like I was having to push a bit harder than expected. I could feel my chest wheezing just a little when I breathed deeply on this cold day. The long section along North Rd to the beach was ok with a crosswind and I turned onto the beach at 11.5k with an average pace of 4.55 so still spot on target.

As it turned out, even with the breeze behind me I could only muster 14 sec to the good of my plan in 4k. More concerning was the fact that I was starting to feel tired and I turned onto South Rd without the 'zip' I knew I'd need to get up home on my planned pace. I pushed through as best I could, but within 1500m I had to stop as I felt nauseous and like I was going to throw up. I didn't, but it was not good. (In retrospect, maybe the two bagels and banana I ate 45 min before heading out was not such a great idea!)

From here I just plodded along trying to limit the damage and at least stay at less than 5m/k pace. With a little push through the final kilometre I achieved this (just) but it was not nearly as good a run as the Sri Chinmoy Como Landing Half Mara six weeks prior where I had recorded the same time, despite being sick that day.

Let's hope next week is better!

Training Program:
Full session details for my whole training plan here.

Strava links for the week:
Tuesday - Park Speed: 3x Three Quarter Fitzy's 8.5k @4.55; 3x 1550m with 400m recovery
Wednesday - Nike Run Club 9.9k @5.29; easy run
Friday - Three Hard 10.4k @4.40; incl 3k @4.10
Sunday - Henry Dendy's Brighton 21.1k @4.59; definitely not comfortable

Week 1 of 16 (this week): 4 runs, 50.1km, 4 hrs 11 mins
Total: 4 runs, 50.1 km, 4 hrs 11 mins

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