Sunday, 22 February 2015

Marathon Training Week 6 of 9

This week was all about nailing the key workout of the training programme - 3 x 4 miles @ MP with 3 mile moderate recoveries. I managed to complete it at the target paces but was a few minutes behind where I was in 2013. So while i'm still not in the same shape as I was then, I should be capable of a sub-3 hour marathon in Barcelona. As I am about 3 kg heavier than I was at this stage of my training in 2013 I reckon that is where the difference in pace is coming from.
The rest of my training programme should be relatively straightforward to complete, although next weeks 5, 4, 3, 2 & 1 mile @ MP with 2 minute recoveries looks even more daunting than this weeks session - back in 2013 I avoided this session by incorporating it in the Cork City Marathon, where I managed to cover 26.22 miles @ MP ;-)
Swim - 2 km
Bike - 38 miles
Run - 64 miles
February 2015  - Week 6 of 9
May 2013  - Week 6 & 7 of 10
Session # 1 – Nothing Scheduled
Because I cut a week from my training programme I was going to be missing out on a 22 mile long run so I decided to run an easy mid-week long run covering
20.16 miles in 2:48:49 (8:23 pace @ 116Hr = 605 Hb/Km)
I may do a MAF evaluation next week to see where I am in terms of aerobic efficiency.
Week 6
With no specific speed session in the programme I used my Tuesday track session to complete the 5 mile evaluation run, the results of which I covered in my pervious post.
15.66 miles in 1:58:28 (7:33 pace @ 128 Hr = 601 Hb/Km) with 5 mile Evaluation in 34:18 (6:52 pace @ 138.4 Hr = 590 Hb/Km).
I paced the Killarney Lakeside Marathon for a 3:15 finish (7:23 pace & No HRM) – deferring my key training session until Week 7.
Session # 2 - 2 mile warmup followed by 3 x 4 mile @ MP with 3 mile recoveries
Today was the day - the key session in my marathon training programme - 2 mile warm up followed by 3 x 4 miles @ MP with 3 mile moderate recoveries and 1 mile cool down. I had originally planned to run this on the grass at the Farm (as I had done back in 2013 for my PB marathon(s)) but the overnight rain was sure to make conditions tricky underfoot so I stuck to the roads, running from home doing loops of the Model Farm Road / Straight Road and Ballincollig. Conditions were almost perfect for running - cool sunshine with a light north-westerly breeze (still a bit of a head wrecker when running hard into it). The downside of keeping away from the Farm was that I had to carry my water (500ml) and gel (homemade with honey, molasses & a pinch of salt) - using my Salomon race vest (great piece of kit).
The plan was to run MP @ 6:45 or less and the recoveries @ 7:30 or less (Ideally MP @ sub-6:40 and recoveries @ sub7:20 - which was my target the last time I did this session)
Warmup miles @ 7:32 & 7:13 pace were followed by 4 miles @ 6:34 pace (comfortably hard), 3 miles @ 7:15 pace, all well under control. The second 4 miles were a tad slower @ 6:37 pace but still under control. I had to concentrate a bit more to keep the sub 7:20 pace for the second 3 mile recovery @ 7:17 pace average ( I took the one and only swig of my gel and water here) before launching into the final 4 miles which proved much tougher (more drags) @ 6:39 pace - certainly feeling the pressure towards the end. A 1 mile cool down and I was done. Session nailed. A few minutes slower than in 2013 so I reckon I should be in 2:57/58 shape. Avg Hr 146 (628 HbKm)
21 Miles in 2:25:37 (6:56 pace @ Avg 146 Hr (628 Hb/Km) Max 160) with 3 x 4 miles @ 6:34/37/39 pace.
Week 7
The day of reckoning had finally arrived.
I had asked Joe about this session when he gave me the programme as he had said that it was the toughest session of the programme -  tougher than the 15 miles @ MP next week (5, 4, 3, 2 & 1 miles @ MP with 2 minute recoveries)? - "that will be no bother to you if you nail this session" he had assured me. I remember joining Joe for this session when he was training for Berlin in 2010 - although then the 3 mile recoveries were cut back to 1 mile (to save time). I used the same venue - the grass of UCC Farm.
I selected a MP pace of  < 6:40 and the plan for the recoveries < 7:20 pace) was to keep them pretty steady so as to maintain a reasonable level of stress - there's no point in finishing fresh ;-)
I was using the run to trial a homemade gel receipe (honey, with a dash of black strap molasses and a pinch of salt, watered down to fill a borrowed gel flask - looked like a minature Guinness)
The 2 warmup miles took me from 7:20 to 7:00 pace before launching into the first 4 MP miles which were covered in a reasonably comfortable 26:15 (6:34 pace average). The 3 recovery miles were also covered in a comfortable pace although faster than planned (7:03 pace).
The next 4 miles were a bit more stressful, particularly at the start where I had to concentrate on the pace. The increase in effort paid off with a 26:23 second 4 miler (6:36 pace). The start of my second recovery 3 miler was around 7:20 pace but, once recovered, increased to give an average 7:07 pace. I took a swig or two from my gel flask and a drop of water at mile 15 (1:42:17) before launching into my final 4 miler after 16 miles.
This time it required all my concentration to keep on pace with the effort like that of a 20 minute tempo run. I could afford to push harder over the last mile and a half as I knew the stress would soon be over. It was a long countdown though - 26:11 for the last 4 (avg 6:33 pace) and Mile 20 in 2:15:39 (marginally faster than my fastest 20 miler - 2:16:00). A slow achy cooldown mile gave me 21 for the session. Legs well and truly smashed - so I suppose job well done and key session nailed.
21 Miles in 2:23:39 (6:50 pace @ Avg 144 Hr (611 Hb/Km) Max 161) with 3 x 4 miles @ 6:34/36/33 pace.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Marathon Training Week 5 of 9

Up until now I was just about managing to keep on track with my marathon train(ing) but this week it got  derailed good and proper - all down to the application of too much speed. I should have known that the paces I was targeting were causing a bit more stress than the body could take and I paid the price (although not too costly as it turns out) at the track on Tuesday when I lined up for my weekly speed session (4 x 1 mile @ 10k pace). After my 2 miles warm-up (programme said 5 - ops!) I started a few strides to get the blood flowing and immediately I felt a sharp pain in my right hammy and knew immediately that fast running was out of the question. The good news was that I was able to continue on and run at an easy pace without aggravating the hammy and the longer I went the less noticeable the niggle.
With no speed work for a week to 10 days my second session of the week, a HM race, was also out. This was no harm really as the closest (only) HM I could find was in Mount Julliet in Kilkenny (2 hours+ away) and with our own Eagle 5 mile club race to help out with on Sunday, I didn't want to be AWOL two days running. Instead I replaced the hard race with a steady longer run, which went quite well, with not a peep out of my hammy, despite pushing the pace down to 6:14 (downhill) at one stage - the secret being that I was well warmed up. The analogy of a "slow roast" in the oven comes to mind, where it takes quite a while for the heat to penetrate to the centre of the joint (muscle). So i'll keep that in mind when I want to push the pace next time out. Actually the next scheduled quality session, next weekend, is the mother of all sessions - the one, that if you nail it, your marathon is in the bag - 2 miles warm-up followed by 3 x 4 miles @ MP with 3 mile moderate recoveries. At least the paces from here on in will primarily be MP or slower.

I will keep the comparison with my previous training programme to see where the next few weeks lead me compared to 2 years ago.

Swim - 2 Km (Nose clip worked a treat)
Bike - 0 miles (Eagle AC 5 Mile Race duties intervened - i'll call this a cutback week)
Run - 60 miles (3 days rest - certainly a cutback week)

February 2015  - Week 5 of 9
May 2013  - Week 5 of 10
Session # 1 – 4 x 1 mile @ 10k Pace with 2 minute recoveries.
The plan this week called for 4 x 1 mile @ 10k pace with 2 minute recoveries between 5 mile warmup and 5-6 mile moderate cooldown.
I remembered the middle bit but forgot the length of the warmup/cooldown. It was a bit irrelevant in any event as after 2 miles warmup I started a few strides and the niggle in my right hammy reared its ugly head and stopped any fast running in its track.
So my only option was to pick up the head torch from the car and revert to an easy run on the walkway along the Curaheen River to get a double digit run in - disappointed with the absence of speedwork but delighted that I had no issue with easy running. Looks like i'll have to suspend the marathon training programme for a week to 10 days as speedwork is out.
12.18 miles in 1:38:43 (8:06 pace @ 119 Hr = 599 Hb/Km).
I wasn't worried about this session too much as I was coming down from last weeks 4 x 8 laps of the track to 4 x 4 laps this week with 30 second more recovery - ok the pace was going to be 10 to 15 seconds per mile faster, but how tough could that be. Quite a bit as I found out.
While last months UCC 10k race was @ 6:21 pace average, I had already completed last weeks 4 x 2 miles @ HMP in 6:16/17 pace so I set my minimum target at my 10k PB pace of 6:09. With lane 1 open I had 6 minutes 1,600s in mind (90 second laps - 6:02 pace). Ok a bit faster that 10k pace, but surely i'm capable of churning out 6 minute mile repeats - not quite as it turned out - hitting repeats in 6:03/05/06/04 close enough but mildly dissappointing - it's a fine line between the 2 mile repeats @ 6:16 pace last week and mile repeats at 6:02 pace. Perhaps if I had an additional days rest after Sunday's marathon I might have done better. Then again I wanted to maximise the number of easy/rest days before my second session of the week.
15.97 miles in 1:55:44 (7:14 pace @ 136 Hr = 611 Hb/Km) with 4 x 1 Mile @ 6:03/05/06/04 pace.
Session # 2 - Half Marathon Race.
The plan called for a HM race but since hard running is out for the time being I decided to replace it with a long steady run. I turned up an hour early for the club 11.3 mile "Coffee Run".
I warmed up over the first 4 miles and pushed a 6:39 5th mile, with no issues, so I kept a reasonably steady high aerobic effort between 7:00 and 7:30 pace for the remainder of the session, turning up deliberately late for the club run (fastest pace group was 8:00) so that I could play catch up with the various pace groups.
I caught the 8:00 group at the bottom of Rafeen Hill and was dragged up the 1.73 mile climb @ 7:45 pace average (certainly anaerobic @ 153 Avg Hr) and down the other side to the Rochestown Inn (1.54 miles @ 6:16 pace) with the last 4 miles @ 7:18 pace.
I felt reasonably strong throughout with not a sign of the niggle in my right hammy. With the absence of (and associated injury risk with) pure speed i'll have to approach the remainder of my marathon training (now 4 weeks away) from the endurance side - marathon pace and up.
23.19 Miles in 2:47:43 (7:13 pace @ 137 Hr - 614 Hb/Km)
This is the only scheduled race in the programme and therefore took on a significance all of it's own - the only real test of how my training has gone and what i'm capable of. The timing was perfect for the Bandon Half Marathon (& 10k). The only issue is that it's a hilly half and I couldn't shouldn't compare the result against my HM PB of 1:22:32.
 My baseline target was 1:25 (6:30 pace) with an eye on getting under 1:24 if things went well. Although the plan was to average 6:30 pace to the top of the hill at mile 6.
I headed out with Clubmates John and Tony, with John also planning on 6:30 pace (but more as a hard training run than a race) and Tony fresh from his 2:56 marathon PB in Limerick on Sunday.
We stayed more or less together until Mile 6 (39:08), just 8 seconds off target 6:30 pace average - although mile 6 was @ 7:04 pace (slowest of the day). I opened up the throttle on the downhill Miles 7 (5:56 - my fastest of the day) and 8 (6:04) and kept a pretty good 6:15 pace for the next 2 miles, passing Mile 10 in 1:03:37 - 6:22 pace (about a minute down on my HM PB  - 1:02:46 @ Mile 10). The going got tough on the long rise between miles 10 and 11 (6:50) as I passed Carmel Crowley (leading female) with my legs turning to jelly, but thankfully turning back towards normal as the road levelled out and dropped steeply to give me a pretty decent mile 12 (6:15). The drop gives way to an energy zapping short but jelly leg climb, where I get passed by a 10k runner (I could hear him coming for a while and had assumed he was a HM runner). The 10k started 45 minutes after the HM - so if I was finishing in 1:25 say (6:30 pace), I should be in the company of 40 minute 10k runners (6:26 pace). Great Idea because a flagging HM runner could get pulled along by the 10k runners - although he was the only 10k runner that I saw (not many sub-40s today).
The last half mile was a steady drop to the finish line where I could open up the pace a little - Mile 13 in 6:11 and a final push to the finish - 1:23:30 for a 15th place finish and first M45 (worth €50). Delighted. John was just behind me with Tony a few seconds over 1:24 (and 2nd M45 - lucky for me he had a 2:56 marathon in his legs). Just under a minute (58s) outside my PB, but that was never going to be challenged on todays hilly course.
17.7 miles in 2:01:12, with HM race in 1:23:30 - 6:22 pace @ 160Hr - 633 Hb/Km (Max 167)

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Marathon Training Week 4 of 9

I'm nearly halfway through the marathon programme and it's taking it toll. My target paces are just a tad ambitious considering my form on week 1 - plenty of endurance but not near enough speed.
With the icy weather on Tuesday I had to abandon the track for another week and run my speed session on the road, which I find tougher mentally (there's a little more comfort in checking your splits every quarter mile on a consistent course) not to mind the fact that I struggled to hold the pace towards the end - unlike in 2013, when I could finish the session strong.

My weekend long run was at a slower pace than on previous weeks, primarily due to a niggle in my right hammy that I did not want to risk aggravating. My aerobic efficiency for the 24 miles @ 617 Hb/Km is similar to the 620 Hb/Km for the 26.2 mile run in 2013, despite the fact that I am still 2 to 3 Kg heavier than I was then - so not all bad.

My triathlon training continues to consist of a swim on a Saturday evening and a long cycle on Sunday morning (in the 100k range), all adding to the overall stress - and training benefit. The swim is affecting my sinuses with the chlorine causing a stuffy blocked nose and disrupting my sleep. It clears up on Sunday morning but the loss of sleep is tiring. I dug out my old nose clip today and will take it along to next weeks swim.

Swim - 2 Km
Bike  - 64 Miles
Run   - 70 Miles

February 2015  - Week 4 of 9
May 2013  - Week 4 of 10

Session # 1 - 4 mile warmup followed by 4 x 2 miles @ HM pace with 90 second active recoveries and 4 mile cooldown

The track was a bit icy so I ran to the straight road with club mate Keith to get the hard work done (2 miles in/2miles out) x 2. Keiths plan was to tag me for about 1.5 miles and take a longer recovery and join me as I passed on the way back. I thought it would be a bit easier than the same session I did two weeks ago but it felt just as hard, if not harder - in fact I had considered jacking it in approaching the halfway mark on the 4th 2 miler - my left calf was getting an bit tight my lap pace was creeping up and I had no sane response to the question "why am I voluntarily putting myself through so much pain and discomfort for what is essentially a pastime, there's got to be more comfortable ways to spend "me time", why the f#*k do I run at all". Nevertheless I pushed on through all this negativity (all good training in it's own right) and completed the session, albeit with a slower 4th 2 miler. The 90 second recoveries provided a bit more stress than the 2 minute recoveries two weeks ago. My interval paces were 6:18/22/17/32 giving an average of 6:22. A 4 mile 9:20ish pace cooldown with Keith completed the session, glad of the company.
While chatting away to Keith during the warm-down I came to the conclusion that I have selected ambitious paces for this training plan, based on PB's as opposed to current ability and if they were 5 to 10 seconds slower per mile i'd do better.
17.13 miles in 2:13.08 (7:48 pace – No HRM) with 4 x 2 Miles @ 6:18/22/17/32 pace.
A repeat of the session I did 2 weeks ago. It felt less stressful (relatively) this time out - the benefit of adaptation. Like 2 weeks ago my reference time was 13 minutes for 8 laps in lane 3 (equivalent to 6:17 pace). After the 4 mile warmup I was at the track,  ready for my first 8 laps, which went by in 13 minutes even. Following the 90 second walking recovery i was off for my 2nd 8 laps and while the pace was challenging, it was manageable. Long story short the remaining 3 intervals went by in 12:58/58/47 (6:16/16/11 pace) pushing the last one over the last few laps just to emulate the closing stages of a race. The 4 mile moderate warmdown was at a steady 7:10 pace (flat route compared to 2 weeks ago)
16.87 miles in 1:59:52 (7:02 pace @ 144 Hr) with 4 x 2 Miles @ 6:17/16/16/11 pace.

Session # 2 – 22 Straight Long Run with strides.

I overshot the distance a bit but the pace was a little slower than previous weeks because within a few miles I could feel a twinge in my right hammy and dialled back on the effort. At one stage I thought i'd have to cut the run short but I persevered and the twinge became less noticeable.
24.1 Miles in 3:06:47 (7:45 pace @ 128 Hr – 617 Hb/Km
This is the longest run on the programme. My long runs to-date have averaged around 7:20 pace. This time out I decided to cut back on the pace and increase the mileage - so that I could head to Limerick and pace today's Marathon. Perhaps if I wanted to keep the pace similar to my previous long runs I should have headed out with the sole 3:15 pacer (7:25 pace) but instead decided to stay with clubmate John pulling a few along, including Kate, who was with us all the way from the start. We got a bit carried away over the last mile as Kate was gaining on two girls in front of her and with our encouragement (and injection of a bit of pace) she passed them both and hung on for a 3:28:xx finish, with John and I hanging back until the clock was counting down the last second to 3:30.
26.22 miles in 3:29:30 (7:59 pace @ 125Hr - 620 Hb/Km)


Sunday, 1 February 2015

Marathon Training Week 3 of 9

Another tough week with work travel and a few late nights, with poor diet choices contributing to the overall stress. Tuesdays speed session was supposed to be relatively easy but turned into a bit of a struggle. Saturday's long run was a bit better, but standing on the scales beforehand and seeing that I weighed 1.5 kg more than last week was not good for the confidence or the opening few miles. On the plus side I am a third of the way through the programme and still hitting the quality sessions, albeit missing a few recovery/easy runs. Although it only gets tougher from here on - so it's time to  man up and dig deep to get through the next few weeks. Cutting the crap from my diet will be a big part of this as I think my weight is the main reason that I am behind the training curve compared to where I was two years ago.

January 2015  - Week 3 of 9
April 2013  - Week 3 of 10
Session # 1 – 16 mile “wave run” with alternate miles at MP.
The plan called for a 16 mile "wave" run - alternate miles at a moderate and marathon pace. To make it a bit more "stressful" I aimed for a 7:20/6:40 moderate/marathon pace (7:00 average) so that the recoveries would not be "easy" - and they certainly weren't . As I was in Dublin for the evening I was a bit apprehensive about route selection as running fast requires enough concentration without having to think too much about where you're going. I opted for a loop from DunLaoighre (where the car was parked) to Blackrock along the sea front and back via Monkstown. It had a few short sharp drags that ordinarily wouldn't raise an eyebrow but turned my legs to jelly this evening, particularly towards the end of the session. My opening miles @ 7:46/6:50 were the slowest moderate/marathon paced miles as it does take me a while to get the engine fired up. Having said that the session turned into a bit of roller coaster ride having to push hard at times to keep the pace, even during the "moderate paced recovery miles".
Overall I averaged a "moderate" pace of 7:25 (more drags) and "marathon" pace of 6:37 (more descents) - so not too bad, but I certainly struggled to achieve it, with negative thoughts creeping in whenever the pace was not on target. Glad to get it done and this was supposed to be one of the easier sessions!!! Avg Hr 152.
16.37 miles @ 7:03 pace and 152 Avg Hr with with 16 alternate miles @ 7:25/6:37 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 - 21 Mile easy with 3 miles @ MP from mile 12.
The plan called for 21 miles with 3 miles @ MP from mile 12 and 6 x 100m @ 5k pace. I managed to cover the MP miles at an average of 6:37 pace and the remaining miles at an average of 7:28 pace - so while the numbers look reasonably good they mask some of the up and downs. After a few late nights and a busy work week my body was tired starting out, but after 5 or 6 miles I began to feel a bit more energetic as the average pace pushed towards and under 7:30 by mile 12. The MP miles were certainly tougher than MP effort, particularly the first mile and a half into a cross/head wind (6:44 pace) along the straight road. I had no HR monitor to gauge the actual effort. With the busy week I had two enforced rest days - so while i'm still getting the key workouts in, the overall mileage has been less than desired.
21 miles in 2:34:23 (7:21 pace – No HRM) with miles 13, 14 & 15 @ 6:37 pace.
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 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