Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Year of Milk and Roses

Christmas this year was at Wagga Wagga – the town so nice they named it twice! It's also the town where I started running 27 years ago. This time I didn't run as my foot was complaining following the track session I did the previous Thursday.

I've been thinking about what happened in 2006. My racing wasn't good. In fact, it was impressively worse than the bad 2005. I had just 18 races – the best one a low-key 5k, finishing 46th in 22:30. There is more to racing than a finishing time, so there were some races that, with the wisdom of hindsight, were satisfying.

After an eternity of walking, I was very pleased to receive another finisher's medal (sub-7 hours) at the Six Foot Track. The Nail Can Hill Run was great fun on a mud-covered course in miserable weather. I was relieved to run fast enough in the Sydney City to Surf to retain an 'A1' start for next year, despite tearing my calf muscle in a finishing sprint, which triggered an endless string of clever cow puns on the blog.

Running is very much a 'now thing', and as of now, I'm quite excited. I'm able to run and also do the type of running I like - the long slow bush runs, the faster shorter runs and the grass track intervals in the Frees. I'm looking forward to more track racing in January and February.

2006 was also about my trip to America and Canada. This provided a rare chance to see, and run through, some stunning landscapes - Lone Pine, near the Sierra Nevada mountains, Stanley Park in Vancouver and the beach at San Francisco to name a few. This year was also about trying to help other runners, seeing them do well or deal with the lows of being injured. Good luck to you all in 2007. Finally, a sincere thanks to those who have read the blog and/or left comments during the past year. To those I haven't met, I hope we can have a run together one day.

Monday, December 11, 2006

In a league of their own

3 foot track training
Back in May I wrote down my training plan for the 5000 metres. I put this plan aside during my trip to America, returning with a sliding base of training and looking alarmingly like Morgan Spurlok's twin brother.

Then came the Don Juanesque calf tear in the City to Surf which kept me grazing in the back paddock until the cows came home. Finally, I'm back to regular training and starting to 'learn how to run faster'. Looking over my plan from May, I notice an omission, which was pointed out by 2P, even though Kathy considered I had 'enough endurance'.

I didn't include a regular long run in my plan (the longest was 60 minutes). I know I've benefited from long runs in the past, and reading the thoughts of Nic Bideau on middle distance training has reminded me of this. So, I've returned to doing long runs with the Molonglo group.

Last Saturday, I found myself following Steve, John, Chris, CJ and Carol up Mount Ainslie. This group is training for the Six Foot Track race in March. They are all much faster than myself. Steve has finished 9 Six Foots and hopes to once again run under four and a half hours. Steve, John and CJ edged ahead as we ran and walked (with me mainly walking) up the gnarly 'Trent's Grave' hill.

They were very kind to wait at various points until, after 13km, my 'shortcut' arrived at Majura Pines. "Thank goodness for that!" I thought. Steve, John and CJ continued on for a total of 3 hours 45 minutes. I was more than happy to take the cowardly way back to the river, missing out on two mountains and 1 hour 10 minutes of pain. 24 kilometres was more than enough for this wombat!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

How to run faster

In a response to my last post, Hilda asked me to reveal the secret to finding the 89 seconds. The following plan depends on being able to keep the calf grazing happily.

For the last month my training has been generally aerobic in nature, running an average of 64 kilometres per week. I've done a few 'Slow Race Tests' which have shown a trend of improving fitness. My times for these 3 kilometre tests have been 16:57, 16:51, 17:01, 16:35 and 16:17.

I want to increase my weekly kilometres to about 70 while working on improving my speed. It's quite amazing how you forget how to run fast if you don't practise this movement. I can't run at a decent pace in longer intervals yet, so I'm going to run 200 metre repeats. Last Tuesday I ran eight of these at an average speed of 43.2 seconds. This speed is equivalent to 3:36 per kilometre.

I'm hoping to bring my speed for the 200s down to 40 seconds, before increasing the distance to 300 metres. Then I'll add another session of longer intervals - 500 to 1000 metres. The speedy shorter repeats should enable my legs to run the longer intervals at a decent pace – hopefully about 1:50 for the 500s and 4 minutes for the 1000s.

Clairie asked how I ran my recent 13:28 3000 metre race. Did I run consistently or were some laps slow? I only timed the kilometres, and they did get slower – 4:21, 4:32 and 4:35. Even-lap pacing is definitely the best way to run all but the last one or two laps of 5k and 10k track races. With a 3k, it's possible to run less evenly and still run well, although it does help if the last km is speeding up and not slowing down, like my sad 4:35 from last week.