Sunday, 28 April 2013

Marathon Training Week 3 of 10

Session 1 - Tuesday (1800hrs - 2000hrs)

16 Mile "Wave Run" - 8 x (1 mile moderate + 1 mile Marathon pace)

Compared to last weeks speed session of 4 x 2 miles @ HM pace the 8 miles at MP this week should be easier - it was billed as the easiest of all the speed sessions. How easy would depend on how hard I ran the moderate miles in between. To make it interesting I targeted 7:20 for the "moderate" miles and 6:40 for the MP miles so as to average 7:00 pace (or less) for the full 16 miles.

I decided to stay away from the track this week as I didn't fancy running 64 laps. I ran from home instead - 7.5 miles out and back and the last MP mile and a 1.1 mile cooldown around a 2.1 mile loop from home. The Garmin was low on power but I could only afford 10 minute of charging as I was already late heading out - hence the out and back, where I had a good idea of all the mile markers and if the Garmin died I'd run hard every second mile and check the overall time on the clock at home. 

The 6:40 pace for the first MP mile felt reasonably comfortable although I had a bit of a race with another guy as he increased his pace when I passed him out and he surged past me. Perhaps he had noticed my increase in pace after my opening mile and thought  I was putting it up to him. I let him off but was contemplating a game of cat and mouse if we were to share the same course but thankfully he pulled off into a cul de sac a quarter of a mile down the road and I was back on my own. While the change in pace was noticeable between the fast and slow miles the effort was very manageable, although by MP mile 5 I had to concentrate to keep the pace from slipping.

The Garmin died at mile 10 (5 miles from home) but I knew where the mile markers were and just ran every second mile fast - probably too fast as I was feeling the pressure a bit more. I made it home with 1 MP mile to do - popped in and checked the wall clock, switched the Garmin for a stopwatch and was out the door again within 30 seconds for a 2.1 mile loop, covering the first mile in about 6:30 before cooling down over the last 1.1 miles. 

My 5 blind miles (11 to 15) were covered in the same time as miles 1 to 5, so I just used the same splits. My average paces were 7:15/6:34 for the moderate/MP miles - a bit on the fast side, which explains why it was not as easy as it should have been, especially over the last few MP miles.

17.1 miles in 1:59:20 (6:58 pace @ 146 Hr for first 10 miles) with 16 alternate miles @ 7:15/6:34 pace.

Session 2 - Saturday (0800hrs - 1030hrs)

21 Mile easy with 3 miles @ MP from mile 12.

A beautiful sunny morning with a bit of a nip in the air. 8 of us headed out from UCC Farm for a 12.5 mile club run, with a pace in the  7:20's. Same route as two weeks ago - following the walkway along the the Curraheen River to the Straight Road for a 6 mile loop out to the Anglers Rest and in the Lee Road, then back along the river walk to the Farm, with a few eager beavers forging ahead over the closing stages to sharpen up on their racing tactics.

The last 8.5 miles on my run were on the grass circuit at the Farm - starting into my 3 mile MP section after 13 miles. The northerly wind was a bit off putting when running directly into it but my pace was consistently in the 6:30's (target 6:40) and even dropped into the 6:20s for a spell (with the wind at my back). I had felt a bit apprehensive about how these faster miles would go, given the fatigue in my legs from the first 13 miles and the fact that running fast on grass generally takes a bit more effort. But the increase in pace didn't feel too bad once I got into my stride, although by the time the 3 miles were up I was glad to ease back the pace, which had averaged 6:32.

I also pushed a bit over the closing 5 miles to complete the 21 miles in two and a half hours.

21 miles in 2:30:00 (7:09 pace @ 140 Hr) with miles 14/15/16 @ 6:32 pace & 153 Hr

Weekly mileage - 72 Miles
Avg Weight - 78.9 Kg
RHR - 38 bpm

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Marathon Training Week 2 of 10

Session 1 - Tuesday (1800hrs - 2000hrs)

4 x 2 miles @ HMP with 90 second recoveries between 4 mile warmup and cooldown.

This was by far the toughest session of the week. The 4 mile warmup was from work to the track @ about 7:40 pace. A few stretches and I was off on the first 8 lap section (lane 3 = 2.07 miles). My plan was to run slightly slower than last weeks sub 6:20 pace, using 1:37.5 (6:30 for 4 laps = 6:17 pace) as my guide. The challenge was to keep the pace

  • Manageable enough so that I would not only last the 8 laps but recover sufficiently during the brief 90 second walking recoveries to last the full 32 laps - all at the same pace and
  • Challenging enough so that I was running HMP. While my eye was on my PB pace of 6:18, I knew I wasn't in that shape, yet! so I was looking for a pace that somewhere between that and 6:25.

The first 8 laps came in at 13:05 a few seconds over my 13 minute reference point giving me a 6:20  average pace. I walked the 100m to the next 1/4 point on the track and while my Hr had come down from the low 160s into the mid 120s I didn't feel recovered enough to cover another 2 miles @ 6:20 pace, let alone another 4 miles after that. I had to push these negative thoughts to the back of my mind and concentrate on the current lap and trust in my body's ability to complete the session.

It was a struggle at times to keep the pace as the headwind down the home straight didn't help my concentration, coming as it did every 1/4 mile, but the laps passed by and despite the brief recoveries my legs and body held up pretty well to deliver a consistent pace of 6:19 for the remaining 2 mile repeats. I paced myself over the last mile with clubmates, Keith, James and Pat, who had just started one of their mile repeats 10 yards ahead of me. This helped greatly in pulling me along and taking my mind off the rising fatigue.

The 4 mile cooldown back to work @ 7:30 pace completed the workout, with the effects of depleted fuel reserves (carbs) beginning to show over the last mile - a good overall test to see how much fuel I actually need to run hard, as my sole food intake since rising at 7 was a banana, plum and 2 apples about an hour and a half before the session.

16.79 miles in 2:00:12 (7:09 pace @ 148 Hr) with 4 x 2 Miles @ 6:20/19/19/19 pace.

Session 2 - Saturday (0730hrs - 1000hrs)

20 Mile easy long run on grass.

The programme was quite specific that this run be on grass (the only one of the programme?) I opted for the 2.3 mile grass circuit at UCC Farm, running 9 laps to give me 20.7 miles. The opening laps were a bit slower than my planned 7:20/30 pace although I wasn't too concerned as all the programme called for was "easy" running.

I had the company of clubmate, Vivian for the first 6 laps, with Ronan joining me from laps 2 to 7, with the average pace coming down from the initial 7:38 to 7:30 and below. The pace increased for lap 7 and before Ronan left we were joined by Clubmate Pat, who stayed with me to the end taking the pace for the last 2 laps below 7:10 and 7:00 - perhaps not "easy" running but finishing strong is always a good mentally.

20.7 miles in 2:31:40 (7:18 pace @ 133Hr)

The remaining weekly mileage consisted of 4 short easy runs.

Weekly mileage - 63 Miles
Avg Weight - 79.4 Kg

Sunday, 14 April 2013

New Era

The Plan

It’s been a long time since I followed any sort of training programme. In 2011 I had a loose adhoc programme for my Sub 3 hour marathon in Dublin all based around a weekly tempo run and a couple of marathon pace long runs. This week I started a slightly more structured 10 week programme for the Portumna Marathon on 15th June – more like the skeleton of a programme with 6 weeks of 2 quality sessions per week (speedwork & long run) culminating in a half Marathon Race – the Bandon Half on 11th May fits in perfectly – although I heard it’s not the fastest of courses. I’ll have to fill in the rest of the programme with 1 hour to 90 minute easy/steady/recovery runs depending on how I feel and when my next quality session is.

A week after the HM is the key workout of the programme – 3 x 4 miles @ MP with 3 miles easy between each MP effort all between 2 miles warmup and cooldown. It is only 12 miles @ MP but the quality of the session will all depend on how hard I run the “recoveries”. The last 22 days of the programme are pretty specific and no easy ride either - starting with a 22 mile long run and including a 15 mile MP run and mile repeats @ 10k pace – so interesting times ahead, something to keep me focussed.

The Form

Given the shortness of the programme I needed to be in reasonable shape from both an endurance and speed perspective. With 6 marathons/ultras under my belt so far this year my endurance base is pretty good. It was my speed that needed (and still does need) a little work. I had completed mile repeats at 6:20 to 6:40 pace at the track on and off since the start of the year but the real test would be an evaluation run. Two week ago I ran a 20 minute tempo run with the Club and managed to get over 5k (6:16 Garmin pace). I hoped to double this to a sub 40 minute 10K at last weekend’s UCC 10k. I had missed this race for the last 3 years as I was away racing the Connemara Ultra the same weekend.

I knew I wasn’t in PB shape - 38:15 on the same course 5 years ago! Funnily enough back then my Marathon PB was 3:22, which I dropped to 3:17 in Cork two months later – still way off 3 hours and yet up to speed on the shorter races. The race doubled as a long run with my neighbour Ian, who wanted to get an 18 mile training run in for his first marathon - so the plan was to run 6 miles in, register for the race, run it and cooldown over the 6 miles home. The strong easterly wind was going to make the second half of the race challenging.

The opening mile and a half was a bit of a head-wrecker as the world and its father were passing me out. I guess I’m not used to fast starts and was in energy preservation mode. I managed to steady my place in the field and reel a few in - passing the 2 mile mark a few seconds under 13 minutes, already short of the 6:24 pace I'd need for the sub-40. Top of the hill at mile 2.5 and I was able to open up my stride a little along with Clubmate Keith - reeling in a group in front, passing the 3 mile mark in about 19:08 (6:23 avg) - just about on target. Left past the Anglers Rest and left again onto the straight road past the 4 mile mark - 25:24 (6:21 avg). Into a headwind for the last 2.2. Over the next half mile I managed to reel in a group of five in front and tucked in at the back to get pulled along. The Garmin was showing an average 6:19 pace, which told me I was on target, even allowing a few seconds for error. The effort was much more manageable tucked in behind the group and with half a mile to go I prematurely left the relative comfort of the group as they were going a bit slower than I wanted and I forged ahead on my own - much tougher now. Mile 6 in 38:08 keeping the pace steady but no kick to hold back the three guys who went surging past before I crossed the line in 39:33. Job done, well off my PB but on target.

The First Steps

The race kind of scuppered the first speed session of my training programme 2 days later (too close but I had no other opportunity to get it in) – 8 mile warmup up followed by 6 x 1 mile @ HMP with 1 minute recoveries and 2 mile warmdown. I converted the 6 x 1 to 4 x 1.5 (90 second recoveries) and managed to complete 3 @ 6:14/17/23 pace before calling it a day as I was progressively slowing down during the 3rd rep and the 4th would not have been worth the pain and effort – anyway 6.2 straight miles @ 6:21 pace 2 days beforehand was enough of a training benefit.

My first scheduled long run on Saturday went a bit better – 18 miles with the last 2 at MP. I integrated it with a 13 mile club run at 7:20/30 pace, getting 3 miles in beforehand and heading off on my own for the last 2, for which I had targeted a 6:40 pace, to see how I’d get on after 16 miles of steady running. I ran them a little faster and certainly harder than marathon pace/effort in 6:32/34 – it certainly felt more like a tempo run than a pace I could sustain for more than 20 minutes. All good training. 1 week down – 9 to go.

The Experiment

I’m 5 weeks into my intermittent fasting regime and on balance it appears to be delivering on my main goal of shedding a few pounds without serious food withdrawal symptoms. It does take a bit of getting used to, not eating every day until 5 in the evening, but it is very simple to follow – there’s a time for eating and a time for not eating – no counting calories, weighing out food or such nonsense - I would never be any good at that sort of control anyway – too much thinking for my likening .

I still managed to down a pound of black magic chocolates the week after Easter and generally have included more fat and protein in my diet and cut back on carbs (particularly in the form of grains) – I haven’t seen a bowl of porridge in over a month – doesn’t seem right eating porridge after dinner in the evening ;-) I was a little worried about cutting back on carbs and how it would impact on my hard runs but have not seen a noticeable impact yet (early days perhaps), although running back from last weekends 10k (with all my Glycogen reserves gone) both Ian and I felt a bonk coming on and we stopped 2 miles from home so that Ian could refuel on a Granola bar while I looked on, wondering how I was going to pass the following 4 hours..…….pain is temporary – how may times have I heard that since I started running.

The First Steps Are Always The Easiest.