Saturday, November 27, 2021

Finally, we're back racing again!

Hopefully for good! Various states of Australia were in Covid-19 lockdown in the middle of the year, which meant it was impossible to plan with certainty for running in 'big' fun runs. At the beginning of August the ACT also went into lockdown (getting around 20-40 cases per day) for three months. In the early stages we were able to exercise with one other person for 60 minutes per day and had to wear masks outdoors. Gradually restrictions were eased and in early November smaller local races resumed with parkrun commencing on 13 November.

I've enjoyed this freedom, racing twice per week. On Tuesday evenings in the Canberra Runners 'Spring Series' and on Fridays at lunch time in the Customs Joggers 5k Handicap run. The other days of the week are easy 'MAF' effort runs or Easy Interval Method runs for around 70 kilometres per week. My fitness is slowly improving.

The 'Spring Series' races have been particularly enjoyable (this event has been held continuously since the late 1980s). I've varied my participation between the 5k and 2k races. The short race is quite challenging as the fields mostly contain younger fast-starting children and slower 'broken down' masters. The 5k Barrenjoey cross country race was sandwiched between two 2k road races. In both the 2k races I battled to catch youngsters, ran with them for a brief time, before finishing with a sprint. Good fun! My times were pleasing, a 9:47 and a 9:40. In the 5k race I started conservatively, catching my rival Jim at the end of the first of 3 laps. I then chased a few other runners (feeling like 5k was a long way), finally placing 32nd from 44 in a time of 26:17. The variety of participants evident in that the winning time was 16:49, first female 21:20 in 14th, last place 34:19, with runners aged 10 to 71 taking part.

This will be my last post for the year, so all the best to readers for the season, holidays and 2022.


Runners in the Black Mountain Peninsula 'Spring Series' 5k


Lush grass showing the wet and cool weather we've been experiencing

Monday, May 10, 2021

Canberra Marathon Festival 5.45k Fun Run

This race was held on 11 April and to fit the course in with the half marathon and 10k events we raced over 5.45 kilometres. It was sure to be a PB as I've never raced that distance before! There were large fields for all events, these being the first 'mass start' races since Covid-19 restrictions started in March last year. There were 702 runners in the 5.45k race.


My start position was good, about 10 metres back from the line. After the initial rush I settled in behind my rival Jim, following him around the first bend before easing ahead. I was more or less maintaining position on the gradual climb up to Parliament House (first kilometre in 5:26). Around the back of PH I passed a few of the fast starters and was feeling fairly comfortable with the pace. The second km (a bit of up, then flat) took 5:20 then we enjoyed the downhill from the other side of Parliament House — 5:06 for that split. There was plenty of space to run now as we headed towards Lake Burley Griffin. I was sticking with the nearby runners pretty well and feeling good. The next two kilometres passed in 5:01 and 5:13, then 2:13 for the 450m to the finish.


I was pleased with the result, 65th place and 1st in the M60-69 group, and how I felt during the race. Average pace was 5:12 per km, so a better result than the 26:04 track 5000m, considering the hill early in the course. I'm looking forward to the Autumn/Winter races with their typically calm and sunny conditions.


Races are back! With Jim (red singlet) for the Sri Chinmoy Cooleman Clip 5k trail race.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

A 5000 metre race on the track

I have a soft spot for the track 5k — 100% accurate course, 100% flat, not having to deal with the crush of 300 people at a parkrun. On Thursday evening, 11 March, I raced in the ACT Masters' 5000m Championship race at Woden Field. The conditions were good for fast times, calm and around 17 degrees. I was hoping to run '25-something' as a stepping stone towards breaking 25 later this year.

With a field of just eighteen, I was able to start with my toe behind the curved start line, so no metres lost at all! At the gun, I settled in with Angel, Sue and Roger, Jim ahead and intent on also running "a 25" having been in the 26s at 5k parkruns. We were right behind Jim through the first 1000, 5:03 the split so perfect pacing. Jim started slowing after another two laps so Roger, Sue and myself went past, my watch showing 10:10 through 2k. I was finding the going tough, Roger forged ahead with Sue also stretching out 3 or 4 metres. I passed the 3k mark in 15:23, so 5:13 for that kilometre, not good! Roger was gone but I managed to hold the gap to Sue at around 10 metres. The fourth kilometre was covered in 5:20, slowing further! I rallied in the last lap, catching and passing Sue to finish 14th in 26:04.67. Roger ran a great race to run 25:14. At the pointy end, an excellent run by Bruce Graham (16:59.93 at age 59!) from Jacob (17:06) and Alistair (17:39).

For myself, it was a somewhat disappointing result — under 25 is still over a minute away. My recent form is showing improvement though which gives me confidence a '25-something' will be run soon. The photo below was taken at the Coombs parkrun last Saturday, demonstrating good running form, both feet in the air at the same time!

You are not walking if both feet are in the air


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

The RunACT Stromlo 5k Road Race

It's been a while! There wasn't much to report during the final two months of 2020. I was happy to be able to run consistently throughout the year, averaging 49 kilometres per week. My goal for the year was to break 25 minutes in a 5k race, so a fail there — my fastest 5k was back in July, 25:38 for the Runners Shop race.

For 2021 my goal remains the same, under 25 minutes for a 5k race. In my current form, that seems quite a difficult goal! The first test was at the RunACT Stromlo 5k Road Race, held last Saturday evening. The course was 5 laps of a 'AA-Certified' accurate 1k loop on the smooth bitumen of the criterium circuit. It was a relatively flat course, just a short rise into the U-turn at the northern end of the course.

I started out at what I estimated was 5-minute per km pace — my 'opposition' (Jimmy and Zoe), not far ahead. My first lap, in retrospect, was too fast for my fitness level, 4:57. I was already slowing, but still going fast enough to pass Jim and gradually catch Zoe. I moved ahead going into the third lap (5:09 for the second) but it was feeling hard already, far too early! There were around 65 runners in the race and there were a couple I slowly pulled in during the third lap (5:19). For the last two laps I tried to maintain pace but was getting slower, eventually crossing the line in 52nd (5:29 and 5:20) for a time of 26:14. A long way from 25 minutes, but I'm looking forward to the challenge of chipping away at that time during the course of 2021. I hope you are all well, and looking forward to more running events than were available last year.

Start of the Community 5k race at Stromlo, myself in yellow, Jim in blue singlet

Thursday, October 08, 2020

The Easy Interval Method

Back in July of 2017 I wrote a blog post about my discovery of the Verheul method of training for running, following up with further posts about my experiences training this way. Last Christmas I received a book — Easy Interval Method by Klaas Lok (one of Verheul's original pupils). I was excited to read the book and find out if I'd been doing Verheul training correctly back in 2017.

The book has many examples of runners who improved and ran successfully using the Easy Interval Method, from 'average' club runners to Olympic and World Champions. An example of the former is Bertrand Maas who improved his 10k from 52 minutes to 44:21 and half marathon from 2 hours to 1:47 — of the latter there is Faith Kipyegon (gold in the 1500m at Rio) and Geoffrey Kirui (26:55 10k and World Marathon Champion in 2017), both coached by Piet de Peuter in Kenya. There are examples of Masters runners such as John van der Wansem who switched from high mileage (Lydiard style) training to the Easy Interval Method at the age of 35. John ran 14:21.6 for 5000m as a 40+ runner and 31:49 for 10k at the age of 51.

For ACT Masters runners, track racing has commenced again (there have been no Covid-19 cases in the ACT for a number of weeks). Last Thursday night I ran the 3000m with no expectations besides putting in a solid effort. I found myself racing Roger and Thea in the early laps. After 1k I passed Rog and tried to keep the gap to Helen ahead from growing larger. This was a successful strategy and I placed 10th in 14:52.16, with Helen running 14:36.58. The winner (M30) Adrian ran 9:22! I will continue to race on the track for the remainder of 2020 with perhaps a parkrun 5k if we get started again (Tasmania is starting on October 17 so it's likely we won't be far behind).


Easy Interval Method book by Klaas Lok (available on Amazon)

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

The ball is still rolling

 Is anybody out there? The title for this blog post comes from the coaching philosophy of Tom 'Tinman' Schwartz. Tom tells a story about building a snowman as a boy and rolling a ball of snow for the base of the snowman. His mum calls him in for lunch; he returns and is disappointed that his ball won't budge from the frozen ground. The first 'rule' of good distance running training is to 'keep the ball rolling' — avoid superman workouts that might leave you too sore to complete the following day's training. Build day upon day, week upon week, year upon year and your running will improve. Interruptions from injury and illness will be minimized.
My ball of snow has been carefully rolling since the hamstring injury which followed the City to Surf last August. Weekly distance has been hovering between 50 and 60 kilometres. Races have been few and far between with large fun runs cancelled although there are plenty of local events (limited to 100 starters at the moment). No parkrun 5k runs which is a bit sad.
The racing goal this year is to run as much under 25 minutes for 5k as I can. The one 5k I've raced was the YCRC Runners Shop 5k (road) on 18 July, finishing 50th in 25:38. The field was composed of mainly fast juniors (the winning times were 14:52 and 18:32). I was running alone very early on, with Speedygeoff disappearing in the distance to run a good 24:12 at the age of 72. It looks like parkruns won't start up again until next year so my 5k races will be on the track from October or on the road at the weekly 5k Customs Joggers run. I hope you are all well — I'll catch up on blog reading over the coming weeks.



Geoff with some of the lunchtime Speedygeese runners

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Injury and fitness recovery

Dear readers, I'm sorry for not producing a blog post since the City to Surf back in August! I suffered a hamstring injury (strain) shortly after that race, I think due to a combination of running that event off inadequate training, and sprinting at the end of a handicap run in the week following City to Surf (inadequate recovery). I eventually rested from running during September, substituting brisk walking and cycling, then resumed running at the beginning of October.

I started with light Verheul intervals, running with walking recoveries with a first continuous run of 3k on the treadmill on 6 October (5:55/km pace). My first 5k was on 11 October, 30:32 at an average heart-rate of 140. So slow, so hard! It was sobering how unfit I'd become. On 19 October I ran 28:17 for the Tuggeranong Parkrun at an average heart-rate of 144, so an improvement in speed but a very high heart-rate (my recent recorded maximum is 160). Prior to the injury, on 20 July, I raced 5k in 24:51 at an average heart-rate of 145. My last full effort race was in the Canberra Times 5k on 10 November (a hilly course), running 27:42 at an average heart-rate of 144. My fitness is returning, but very slowly.

My strategy for regaining fitness is to build mileage to 60 kilometres per week (or a little more), with adequate easy/rest days, and most of that running being low heart-rate (very easy, HR 125 or less for me), easy Verheul intervals, and short races (2k to 5k) being the only 'hard' running for the time being. My weekly mileage has progressed since the beginning of October: 23k, 29k, 31k, 33k, 41k, 50k and approximately 60k this past week. So far, so good! I hope you're all doing well and looking forward to good running and racing in 2020, year of the Tokyo Olympics!
Traditional ice-cream follows the Lake Stakes lunch run

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Sydney City to Surf #35

On Sunday I ran in my 35th City to Surf — it was the 49th running of Australia's biggest fun run. I had no goals or expectations for the run apart from enjoying it, not getting injured and recovering well from the effort. I wasn't expecting to 'run well' due to the missing long runs and hill training in my preparation. Since the Canberra Half Marathon in May my longest run has been 11 kilometres — weekly mileage has been 50-55 km, not enough to be at my best for racing 14 kilometres.

I travelled to Sydney with Jim on the Saturday and met up with Trevor and Roger on Sunday morning. Warm-up was a jog from the train station to the toilets then a little jogging in the 30 minutes remaining before the start. Trevor was in the 'Red' group (for sub-70 minute runners) and would run 67 minutes at age-67! Jim, Rog and myself were in the 'Green' group (2nd group to start, sub-90 minutes). We employed the same tactic as last year, starting near the back of the group and waiting as long as possible. This gave us a sparsely populated road for 3 kilometres which gradually filled as the race progressed — by 10 kilometres it became difficult to overtake runners.

I ran with Rog through the Kings Cross Tunnel then Edgecliffe and Rose Bay, passing 5k in 27:02. I was feeling pretty good at this early stage of the race. There were a few short walks on the steep corners going up Heartbreak Hill, that kilometre covered in 7:12. My legs and energy were still good and I was growing more confident about completing the race at the same effort. We were still overtaking runners with a few speedsters from the Blue group weaving past. Rog dropped back on the run to 10k, I passed that mark in 56:25. It's always a drag from 10k to 12k where the course finally drops away down to Bondi. I was happy to maintain position down the hill, still overtaking when possible. I caught up to Liz around the 13k mark, then we were on the 'flat' of Campbell Parade, the U-turn and the final gentle down slope before the last corner and 150m sprint to the finish.

My last 3 kilometres according to the Garmin were 4:58, 4:54 and 4:36. Finish time was 76:10 for 13,656th place out of 70,000+ finishers. Happy with that! I think this result shows that having no expectations prior to a race can be a good thing. I was happy with how I spread out my effort over the course, just running by feel. The weather had been good for running, less than 10 degrees and the blustery wind not a problem running in such a packed field. Roger finished in 77:05 and Jim in 86:18 to stay 'Green Group' qualified for 2020. See you there!

With Jim and Roger after running to Bondi Beach