Tuesday, August 18, 2015

8 of 16: Half Way

Melbourne Marathon 2015 - Week 8 of 16

This week marks half way in my marathon training program and by the end of this week I will have a really good sense of where I am placed and how realistic my goal looks. As is often the case for me I have found the first month a little hard as my body adapts to the rigours of sprints, intervals and tempo workouts. By now I am normally well into the swing of things and am looking to increase my target as my fitness improves. But, being a little more optimistic this time, I increased that a couple of weeks ago and so everything still feels pretty hard.

This and the next four weeks are the really big ones. I've got to make them a success!

Tuesday 18 August

I normally run at lunch time these days but my work schedule today meant that I did not get out as planned and so deferred my run until the evening. It was a good night in Melbourne, cool with hardly a breath of wind and so I went down to Olympic Park for my session of 400's. The plan was two sets of 6x 400m in 1.24-27 with 90 sec rest between each rep and 2.30min between sets. Given the odd distance of Olympic Park I would run the 400m then walk 120m during the recovery to complete a full lap.

From the start I felt pretty good. Each rep followed a similar pattern where I'd run strong for about 250m then hang tough for the last 150m. None of them were flat out and I quickly dialled in a pace of about 1.24 for each rep. The range between fastest and slowest was only 4 seconds which I am pretty pleased with.

Unfortunately my calves are still feeling tender and though they are not stopping or hindering me, I certainly know they are there. Would like to get these under control before very long.

Overall, quite pleased with tonights first session for the week, I certainly found the 400's to be far more manageable in pace than the longer 800-1660m reps I have been doing.

Wednesday 19 August

Nike Run Club tonight and another chance for me to lead with my now favourite - and mostly the only - group I run with, the 5.30 pace 10k group. This is a really great team and we normally have in excess of 20 people running with us. This week was the first chance for me to lead with one of our newer leaders, Claire Hodgart, a speedy track athlete; and so I dutifully pointed her to the front of our bunch and off we went!

In addition to our now standard magic mile we did 3x 1k efforts at about 5m/k pace. Most folks did really well with this pace, though a few struggled as we would expect. It has been great to see the general improvement in everyone over the last seven weeks and next week we bring the Zoom Boom campaign to a close with our 'fastest mile' run on Thursday.

Felt  good tonight, though legs still tired.

Thursday 20 August

When I looked out my window at work today I could see a mostly sunny day with a bit of cloud cover. A short time later when I got outside I discovered the rather nasty wind that was blowing and which would make my tempo run along the Yarra another blustery affair.

The prevailing north west wind is essentially behind me on the way out, unfortunately when I am mostly protected by the freeway and bridges, then right in my face when I have nothing but clear water beside me on the return leg. All of which is to say that when you have a crap run you reach into the grab-bag of excuses to help explain why you ran like rubbish!

My legs have not yet recovered fully from City to Surf and I am having good runs followed by bad runs. They are consistently sore, my calves especially. I am walking slowly and today running was a drag. But I was still optimistic of being able to meet my target pace of somewhere between 4.04 and 4.10 for the 5k. After a mile warmup down to Morell Bridge it was into my work.

The kilometre splits really tell the story: the first one was a 4.04 so not super-fast and right on target. I felt ok at this stage. The second was a 4.11, a bit slower, but not outrageously so. The third km takes in the small rises up to Macrobertson Bridge and I slowed here to a 4.20. Not wonderful and getting slower but this is a harder km so I thought I was still good to bring it home fast. Then it went south. Well, actually, I went west, but my times went south! Into varying levels of cross- and head-winds I began to struggle. I had no zip, no power, no nothing; and crawled the fourth km in 4.17; only to get worse and finish the last one in 4.32.

So where I'd hoped to complete 5k in 20.20 or so, I was a rather woeful 21.24. I jogged miserably back to the finish where I hoped I could just crawl into a hole.

What have I learned? I though about this a lot in the final few k's of my run today. I'm not really sure is the short answer. I am not certain what my body is telling me. Perhaps it is just tired and needs some rest and maybe a good massage on the legs to get them going again. Or maybe shifting up the target paces is too much. Maybe I am trying to 'force' my speed to this level, rather than letting it come to me. In any case, I need to monitor this very carefully. My long run on the weekend will tell me an important tale.

Sunday 23 August

My training at the moment is proving to be a real rollercoaster ride and today it was back to a high as I tackled a 29k long run. It was a beautiful day in Melbourne, sunny and hardly a breath of wind, and running was a real joy.

After Thursday's debacle I had left two full days of recovery with not even a bike ride to break the monotony. I slept a lot over those two days and just tried to get my legs into some kind of shape again. I was a little apprehensive when I headed out this morning as I was not sure how I'd feel, but within a km I could sense that I'd be ok. The course was the reverse version of one I did a few weeks ago down to mentone then back along the beach before returning up South Road.

When I look back to my training from years gone by I would rarely have selected a course like this do do my long runs on the basis that any inclines slow you down and the fewer of these the better as I am trying to target a specific pace. These days I'm not so worried and figure that the small undulations just help to make me stronger as I progress towards my goal.

And when it comes to pacing I now usually follow the "Weeks Method" (named after my good mate David who first showed me how successful this can be) and keep an even pace throughout rather than trying to 'bank' time for a late slowdown. On a course like this where the last 6k is reasonably challenging as it rolls steadily upwards it means dealing with both the mental and physical challenge of maintaining pace late in a run. I think this has served me well and should do so again.

I started off very easily with a first km in just 4.59 and gradually picked up the pace over the next 5k, turning onto the beach at Parkdale and passing 10k at a 4.51 average. This was the easy part of the run - feeling fresh and mostly downhill. I knew the next 13k along the beach to South Road would be the tester. I made a conscious effort to pick up the pace a little here even though the terrain is a bit up-and-down through Beaumaris. I did this section at 4.48 pace and so turned up South Road with 6k to go right on my target pace of 4.49.

Now the challenging bit! To run successfully up here I need to lift my effort so that my pace can stay even and on plan. When I look at the data I can see I did just that, upping the HR from 152 to 157 and logging a solid pace of 4.47 for the last 6k. I have rarely run under 30 min for this section and did so today whilst feeling very controlled. I arrived back home with 29k done right on 4.49m/km. I could not be happier with this run; a great end to what started as a good week and had a mid-stream blip just to thrown me off. Next week: consistency!

Training Program:

Full session details for my whole training plan here.

Strava links for the week:
Tuesday - 12x400 Chewy Mints 9.5k @5.35; 12x 400m
Wednesday - Nike Run Club 10.1k @5.29; incl 3x 1k and magic mile
Thursday - O Legs Why Have You Abandoned Me 10.3k @4.45; incl 5k tempo @4.17
Sunday - Sunny Days Are Here Again 29k @4.49; beautiful long run

Week 8 of 16 (this week): 4 runs, 59.0 km, 4 hrs 57 mins
Week 7 of 16: 5 runs, 55.9 km, 4 hrs 35 mins
Week 6 of 16: 4 runs, 44.1 km, 3 hrs 31 mins
Week 5 of 16: 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: 34 runs, 438.7 km, 36 hrs 31 mins


  1. 1:24 is good for 400s Paul. Plenty of speed in the old legs.

  2. Thanks Ewen. Just need to convert this into speed for the longer runs now too! Hope you are well :-)


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