Sunday, March 28, 2010

Unsure about Christchurch

I've been thinking about the Christchurch Marathon — it's on the 6th of June. That's ten weeks away — just enough time for a marathon preparation under normal circumstances. Trouble is, I've been struggling to recover from the Six Foot Track. The legs are feeling pretty normal now, but aerobically I'm not great. My heart-rate is much higher than usual for any given pace. I didn't start in the 5000 metre race last Thursday. I'll wait a few more weeks before deciding one way or the other about Christchurch.

Yesterday I ran 20 kilometres around the lake — quite slow at 6:23 per km (10:49 mile pace). I ran with Ruth and Jen, who were happy to jog easily on what was a typically perfect Autumn morning in Canberra. We saw many others doing the same thing, including Martin, running fast with a back-pack.

Something else I've been thinking about lately is the possibility of running better. That's "better" as in running with improved form. Would overhauling my form help me to run faster? Paul showed me a link to a fascinating video which shows a side-by-side comparison of a female runner using markedly different running form. The left half of the video shows her running with a heel landing while the right side shows her with a forefoot landing. The forefoot side certainly looks better, and if function follows form, one would have to say it's probably faster.

Three geese having a rest on the bridgeSelf portrait of three Geese on the wooden bridge

27 Comments:

Blogger strewth said...

It was a very pleasant run and that photo turned out not too bad at all! You forgot to mention the cool new coffee spot by the lake - very scenic. Keep thinking about Chch but there's heaps of other options eg Melbourne, GC etc. I still think you can do it though - ten weeks is quite a while and it was only a couple of weeks ago you ran Six Foot remember!

8:44 pm  
Blogger Jog Blog said...

I think all marathon decisions should be made when you feel good and not when you wish you felt good. You have time up your sleeve to feel good about Christchurch. But, by the same token there are lots of other marathon options - here, there (NZ) and everywhere. Let the feel good decision come naturally.

8:57 pm  
Blogger Scott Brown said...

Ruth is totally right, plenty of other options. No use rushing things after six foot.

Ruth is partially right about that photo "but don't be sad cause two out of three aint bad."

8:57 pm  
Blogger Superflake said...

My flights booked. I'm doing the Marathon. Need a sub 3:20 at least to do Boston next year.

9:30 pm  
OpenID canute1 said...

Ewen, half the fun of being a ‘serious amateur’ (ie someone who is serious about something they love) is experimenting, and your exploration of different approaches and ideas in recent years has been an inspiration to many of us. You race reports are always great to read and they show that you have had some fun along the way, but sometimes I find myself just hoping that the next one will report a season’s best or maybe even an M50 best. After a patchy season last winter, your run in the Melbourne HM last October was solid and seemed to point towards a good HM or marathon in winter 2010. In January you increased the distance of the long runs to 20+Km and – and things were going well. You had a wonderful run in the vets 1 hour race at the end of January. You really seemed on course for a strong marathon in the coming winter. Then in February you increased the long runs to 30Km, and things became more effortful, even before six foot track. It is not unusual to suffer some cumulative tiredness in the early stages of a marathon program, but if the tiredness continues to accumulate, it is time to re-evaluate the situation. You said a few months ago that if you ran a marathon in 2010 you would want it to be fairly fast. It would require some fairly intense training at this stage if you plan to race fast in Christchurch. But I think the major priority in the next few weeks is dissipating the accumulated tiredness. So, if your goal is a fast marathon, am not sure Christchurch is the right event. Maybe the target for the next few weeks is getting the spring back into your stride.


I used to be a marathon runner and when I re-commenced running in middle age I initially thought I would only want to run marathons – I couldn’t imagine wasting my efforts on a HM. I still dream of a few more ‘good’ marathons sometime in the future, but for the time being, I have become quite engrossed with the challenge of running a good HM this year and a better one the following year.

As for changing running style, I think that the major reason for any substantial change is to minimize risk of injury, though for purposes of efficiency, it is worthwhile to make sure that you keep your cadence up and avoid over-striding.

9:41 pm  
Blogger Girl In Motion said...

Glad you have time to decide about the marathon, I agree about you feeling better before deciding. If you're going to do it, you should make it the most positive experience you can, and going into it at less than 100% will just leave a sour taste.

Interesting about the form video. It is possible that it would help but just a reminder, there are many elites that heelstrike (Science of Sport did a good piece on this). That said, I run like the left example and wish I looked like the example on the right!

10:37 pm  
Blogger trailblazer777 said...

10 weeks is perfect. I intend following a 10 week program for Perth and Melbourne this year again. I'd recommend you go after it, but go easy on the high intensity parts until you feel you have recovered from 6 foot, which should occur in 2 weeks at the longest. so its a yes from me for the christchurch plans I say go for it!
that forefoot running sounds good...at the Mona camp they were talking about better moire efficient running style being a product of good core stability and strength...i.e. if your core stability is stronger and more stable, you run in a more efficient manner biomechanically, so times drop dramatically...

3:18 am  
Blogger trailblazer777 said...

I think youd do well to take note of canutes wise words as well, but I still think Christchurch could be a good one for you, still reckon go for it on that score, but maybe have a few very easy weeks first, but keep the long runs ticking over.....

3:23 am  
Blogger Love2Run said...

Always lots of great comments here. My 2cents would be how will it fit in with your overall goals for the year? Will it be a 'fun' run or something more? Good luck in reaching your goals!

6:59 am  
Blogger Chad in the AZ Desert said...

It sounds like a wise decision to give it a couple of weeks before you commit to the marathon training. By then you should know whether or not this is a blip or something that requires more attention.

1:10 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wannabecoach said:

Canberra is a great place to train for a winter marathon. Christchurch is colder than Canberra. I spent 10 very cold July days there waiting for skatable lakes to freeze. Can you or do you really want to suffer the training and race? Perhaps Strewth can add some insight, knowing both you and NZ very well.

2:11 pm  
Blogger Sling Runner said...

How about doing a spec-test run in order to evaluate your readiness? such as 16-21k at MP, followed by a long jog cool down to make it a long run

5:18 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Strewth, you're good at finding new coffee spots! Sometimes it feels like Six Foot was a couple of days ago.

Liz, that's good advice. I hope it's not another month before I'm feeling good.

Scott, you're right. I only put myself in that photo to make Jen and Ruth look good.

Flake, you'll be at least 15 minutes under 3:20. I need 3:35 to qualify for Boston.

Canute, that's a pretty much spot-on assessment of my situation. I needed a shorter long run after the two 30k Saturdays rather than Six Foot. That was a sliding door that's left me hanging onto the balcony with one hand. Like you, I'd like to run a good HM.

Flo, I definitely don't want a sour taste about it! I remember that Science of Sport article. I agree there are a lot of elite runners who heel strike (esp marathoners), but the very fastest runners tend to forefoot/midfoot strike according to Steve Magness in this blog post. Whether this means non-elite runners should change their form is a good subject for discussion.

Jonathon, 10 weeks would be enough if I was feeling fine, but it might be a few more weeks before that happens. I agree totally with those at the Mona camp about core stability.

Mike, a marathon doesn't fit that well with my overall goals, which are to run M50 track PBs and a 'fast' road 10k and half marathon. I wouldn't run a marathon if I didn't think I could run 3:40.

Chad, I'm hoping my current malaise is just a hangover from Six Foot.

Wannabe, I need a cold race as I'm hopeless in warm weather, so Christchurch would be perfect.

Sling, that's a good idea. At the moment I'm not feeling good enough to try such a test. Might try it in a half marathon race...

8:46 pm  
Blogger Kelley Flood said...

Hi Ewen,

I think we all get caught up in what other people are doing and training. I think you have to do what is best for you and what has worked for you all your running years. Some of us would love change to make us run better, faster and wiser. Enjoy your recovery, take time and assess the situation when you feel the time is right.

9:07 pm  
Anonymous Joe Garland said...

I'm no fan of doing a marathon unless you're ready to race it and that means a good solid base. Some would say I'm not a big fan of doing marathon period. Plus much of what Canute says on HMs and other races makes sense.

As to form, I wouldn't mess with it unless I had major injury issues. Like Flo, I'm the runner on the left. Thanks for the Magness link again, but note that he says 31 of the top 50, chiefly Japanese, runners were heelstrikers. In this I am of the let-sleeping-dogs-lie/if-it-ain't-broke school.

12:54 am  
Blogger Ali said...

I think you are at that stage in marathon training known as the middle, where you question the whole idea. Or at least that is what happens with me.

I agree with all your wise commenters wait til you fee better. And you will feel better.

3:38 am  
Anonymous Robert said...

Well, if you start training now, you can always back out later. It's tougher to go the other way, though. So, I'd start up and tentatively plan it, then see how your body's feeling closer to the potential race day.

8:01 am  
Blogger Effin' J said...

Ewen, I would hold off on the marathon plans if you don't feel it in your belly.

While I'm inclined to agree that we each have our own unique form that, if tweaked, could lead to trouble, I also think that minor changes via form drills and strength training can help prevent injuries down the line if there's reason to believe your current form is causing problems. So, yes. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. But verify that it ain't broke.

3:27 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Kelley, I think it's good for runners to be adaptable and willing to change, especially as we get older.

Thanks Joe, I'm not ready to race a marathon now, that's for sure! I'm of the if-it-ain't-broke/doesn't-mean-it-can't-be-improved school. I think the gains for myself might be significant as I used to run more like the runner on the right when I was younger. I think lots of slow running over the years has switched me to a heel striker.

Ali, you're right. Marathon training is a very questioning process.

Robert, I agree, but I'd rather have a longer build-up than 8 weeks if I were to try and race a marathon.

Jaymee, I don't feel it at the moment!
I think the problem with my heel-striking form is that I'm naturally slow footed and a heel strike means a longer time on stance than for a forefoot or midfoot strike. I want to get out of plodding mode.

4:29 pm  
Blogger Paul said...

Ewen, do you think you are feeling a bit 'blah' at the moment because your participation at Six Foot was - essentially - last minute? Even though you were in reasonable running shape I reckon you need to have your head in the right spot as it were for such taxing events. I am a big believer in body following mind and I suspect that you have taken your body a bit by surprise and it is just taking a little longer than normal to recalibrate itself. Hope you come good soon. PB :-)

9:15 pm  
Blogger Paul said...

And what a sensational group of comments here too. You have very insightful readers mate!

9:16 pm  
Blogger Runner Susan said...

Great photo Ewen! Maybe you are like me and your attention span isn't long enough for marathon training??? My new rule is fun lasts longer than fast and when the longer isn't fun then you need to focus on fast but only until it isn't fun! But that really doesn't make sense, so don't pay any attention to me.

And you must got get the book BORN TO RUN . . . especially after watching that video! Evolution of the body and foot is very exciting stuff! It comes in an audio book too, but you might not be able to hear it on a motorcycle.

I really like exclamation points!

10:14 pm  
Blogger rinusrunning said...

Thanks for your good respand on my blog and i like that.
About the marathon!.
You can do it, i can do it i can run a ultra, so you can do it.
But when you have no fun on the run, do not do the marathon.
But i think that things about 20 years a go about the marathon is not this time.
So i think you can run the marathon whit fun, no problem..
have a nice weekend.
Rnus..
www.rinusrunning.nl

9:23 am  
Blogger Robert Song said...

Ewen on reading your blog over the years I sometimes worry that I don't worry enough about all the various facets of running as you do. When I get that feeling I just go on a run with some good music and it seems to solve it.

And yes you'd better get your act together quickly if you want to take advantage of my current situation and beat me in a race. What are you thinking of doing at the GC? I'd love to be the motivation for you doing a good time there whilst kicking your arse in the process ;-)

10:00 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Paul, I think you've hit it in one - I gave my body (and mind) a hell of a surprise at 6'. And I only have insightful readers because I pay them at the rate of $10 per insightful comment... that's why Scott Brown is broke.

Susan, Ruth and Jen are very photogenic - that's why it's only a great photo and not Pulitzer Prize winning. Yes, we have the same attention spans! I need to channel my shopping attention span into my running attention span ;) I'll get BORN TO RUN - if the book's as good as the website it's sure to be brilliant!

Rinus, thanks for your confidence. A Susan/Rinus style 'fun' marathon sounds alluring. But I might have to come to the Netherlands as all marathons are so serious down here!

Robert Song, good tip - I'll put "The Tower Of Robert Song" on the iPod for my next interval session. Yes, I'm worried about your improving form, but I love a challenge. I'll run what you are at GC, as long as it's not the marathon or the 4.8k walk. I can't wait to kick your arse all the way back to Brisbane!

10:51 am  
Blogger Scott Brown said...

Where are you Ewen???

Haven't heard from you since before "Good Friday"!

I hope you'll "rise again" like our friend JC and make an appearance soon!

11:25 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Scott the penance for my sins has been silence. Actually, I was in outback NSW over Easter with no computer or internet access so I'm just catching up on things now.

2:44 pm  

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