Sunday, December 27, 2015

Fresh running legs for a fresh year

Bring on 2016! Firstly though, a summary of my running for 2015. I feel a little like 'You Had One Job' on Twitter (in that I had one goal for 2015 and missed it by 'that much'). My goal was to run 5k in 21:59 or faster and as the year ends, my best time remains the 22:31 I ran at the Tuggeranong Parkrun back in April. Despite this failure, I'm ignoring the pleas from my friends to find a new job. My goal for 2016 remains the same: break 22 minutes for 5 bloody k!

I'm excited about my prospects for achieving this singular goal and I'm about to tell you the reasons for my enthusiasm. Two things really. Firstly, a revelation from my holiday in the good old U S of A. During those six weeks I did minimal running (and no cycling) and as if by magic my legs recalled a feeling from long ago: freshness, youthfulness and springiness. I wrote a blog post back in 2011 about the undeniable value of having springy muscles. If you have springy muscles and tendons you travel further with each stride (a free ride if you will, that all young runners enjoy). Towards the end of the US trip my legs were feeling youthful again, even though my lungs began to feel old due to declining aerobic fitness. The second thing is a chat I had recently with a bloke in my age-group (55-59) who runs the Parkrun in the mid-18s (and is surely on his way to breaking 18). Paul told me he thought I had the ability to run 20 minutes for 5k and was very confident I'd easily break 22. He then told me about the minimal running he does; how he combines it with cycling and how he always races with 100% effort on fresh legs.

The deliciously exciting conundrum I'm now faced with is to figure out how to arrange my cycling and running training so as to always be racing with 100% effort on fresh legs. I've been reading The Time-Crunched Cyclist and wondering how to combine that type of cycling training (high intensity, low volume) with my running training. I'm unsure at the moment how to do this and can foresee some experimentation in the early part of next year. The temptation I'll be trying to resist will be to do more volume, as the other exciting news I have for you is my decision to continue my Professional Runner's Lifestyle experiment indefinitely! I'm retiring permanently from wage slavery on the 8th of January, 2016. I apologise to Mark and others for being a total prick in the jealousy-inducing stakes. The low stress and ample recovery time available to the professional runner IS all it's cracked up to be. It's been a very long time indeed since I've felt this relaxed.

I'd like to wish my readers all the best for 2016. May your running goals be challenging and achievable. I'll let you know how my training plan evolves in future posts. Now, back to my rest day!

Cycling beside the Murrumbidgee River at Wagga over Christmas

16 Comments:

Blogger AnnaG said...

That's great news about your upcoming retirement, Ewen! With less stress and more time, your sub 22 goal will soon be achieved! Wishing you a Happy New Year!

12:47 am  
Blogger trailblazer777 said...

high intensity cycling= higher leg speed and activation of fast twitch muscle fibres, so that may assist in the faster 5k. High cadence and 300m reps or ladder sessions 500/1k reps is what I would do for a faster 5k. Anyhow all the best with that, and will you be heading west for the World Masters in October/Nov after Melbourne?

1:24 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Anna. I reckon the two things you mention are the secret to a sub-22 (above the intricacies of any training program). All the best to you for the new year too!

TB, I'm hoping there's some crossover from fast twitch development in cycling to running. I'll find out soon enough! And yes, I'd like to get in some regular rep sessions at some stage - I'm way short of your speed/speed at lactate threshold. Can barely run one 4:10 k on the track.

3:49 pm  
Blogger Janene said...

Congratulations on your retirement, I'm very envious! It will be interesting to follow your 'experiment'. Running helps my cycling, cycling does not help my running. I hope it all works well for you. Go sub22!

8:27 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks J. I'm terribly sorry for making you envious ;-) That's interesting about your experience with running and cycling. I don't want the same. You've got me thinking more about how to arrange my cycling training... I'll let you know in future posts. If it works out, perhaps I'll no longer be trailing you by a minute in the Parkrun :-)

12:27 pm  
Blogger Jog Blog said...

Happy New Year Ewen & great news about retiring to the life of a professional athlete. Lucky you!

Let's get 2016 off to good start and reinstate the post long run coffee catch ups on Saturdays @ a central location (so as to accommodate the various long runners & Parkrunners among us). Perhaps Sat 23/1/16 could be our first one?

4:37 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Happy New Year to you too Liz. I'll try not to rub in how good being retired is at our next coffee catch-up ;-) I'm good for the 23rd :-) Central location sounds good - plenty of choice - I'm voting for you and Ruth to head the committee to find a suitable spot.

10:44 pm  
Blogger Mark Watson said...


You had to take it one step further eh Ewen. Couldn't just leave it at a ridiculously long protracted sabbatical. Oh no ... and just at that point when I was taking great delight at the thought of you finally returning to work, you had to stoop to this. I'd even prepared some well thought out one liners designed to twist the knife when you'd be at your lowest.
Mate, that's fantastic news. So much to do and so much time to do it in. I'm more than a little jealous you little prick! Happy New Year to you. Now get out there and smash that 22.

12:22 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Yeah Mark, I couldn't resist. Suck eggs mate! Seriously though, thanks for keeping an eye on my running during 2015 and hopefully in coming years. I'm looking forward to following your 'running career' via the blog. And wondering how the hell you manage to squeeze all those mileage numbers in around a full time job ;-)

9:39 pm  
Blogger Scott Brown said...

Have a great year Ewen. I reckon it is the year to break 22mins for 5K as it probably takes a few years of riding to see the full benefits. Fresh legs and a big engine sounds like the ticket.

1:11 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Scott. Yes, I feel I'm getting stronger and developing better endurance with the cycling and I guess it's like running in that it takes a few years for the benefits to show. Like you said to Grellan about having a long and consistent period of training (with no injuries) prior to your marathon PB. Sounds simple in theory!

10:23 pm  
OpenID canute1 said...

That is great news about your retirement. I hope you have a wonderful time as a pro athlete.
I agree that keeping your legs in good condition is crucial for sustaining running performance over the years. A relatively small volume of running together with cross-training is potentially a good strategy. However, it is crucial to maintain the neuromuscular coordination to achieve the optimum time on stance and to capture impact energy as elastic energy. I think that this can be facilitated by a modest amount of sprinting and by drills such as Change of Stance (or the Hundred-Up)

3:39 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Canute. I'm so enjoying being a pro athlete! The stress of work can gradually build up over the years such that you don't realise the negative effects until you stop. Thanks for that reminder about neuromuscular coordination. I plan to gradually reintroduce strides/sprinting over the summer months. Drills too! The grass track at Calwell beckons...

12:24 pm  
Blogger Karla Bruning said...

Congratulations on your retirement! How exciting! You sound like me with your goals. I know you'll get that 5K time like I know I'll get my half-marathon time. Now with retirement you can focus on it singularly. Cheers to 2016!

5:45 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Karla! I'm still blissfully excited every day when I wake up to the sounds of nature and not a 5.15AM alarm :) I'm backing you to get that HM goal time in 2016... I've put the garden shed on it ;-)

10:56 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

New post coming soon.

8:08 am  

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