Sunday, December 16, 2007

One Fine Day

I have an optimistic attitude to life and running. It takes just one good thing to raise my enthusiasm to a new level. The 5k race at Stromlo was a better-than-good thing! It almost surpassed Mum's trifle! The coming months hold promise of further exciting (and fast) races.

Most runners would be about to review the past year. I'll do that in my training diary when the time comes. In Australia, running for many of us is seasonal. In winter we race cross country and road events, while in summer we compete on the track. The track season runs from October through to March, so at the moment, we're mid-season.

Due to a bout of flu in late October, I've so far only raced twice on the track - the 10,000 metres, and last Thursday, a 3,000 metre event. I ran 12:15.43 for the 3k, so a very encouraging result in my quest to get into the mid-elevens by season's end. Because of tiredness, I wasn't looking forward to the race, but it turned out quite well. With Hadd-training I've done almost no running at this speed (4:05/km), so perhaps it really is possible that training slower will make me faster! I just ran as hard as I could for as long as I could. It ended up being my fastest 3000 metre race since 2003, when I ran 12:02.7. In 2001 I ran 11:21, so this will be my optimistic target for the rest of the season.

I hope everyone's had a great year in matters running and otherwise. If not, try to look forward with optimism! If you get a chance, pop over and wish Scott the best for his marathon in Kakogawa. To my running friends who are injured, all the best – I hope to see you on the trails and track soon!

A small group on December 15 - where was everyone!About 4.5k into the Molonglo group's Saturday morning long run. Nadine, Brett, Barbara, Steve and myself pose while Chris takes a phone photo.

I often walk on this hill to smell the eucalyptus leavesOn the climb up to the Mount Ainslie saddle, Steve leads the way. This idyllic place for running is less than 5 kilometres from downtown Canberra.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Almost as good as it gets

Un-bloody-believable! How did I do that? On Tuesday afternoon I raced in the Cross Country Club's 5k event at Stromlo Forest Park. 20:54! I'm still somewhat stunned. Unfortunately the course is a little short (about 80 metres); but it's not exactly flat, and it's grass – lovely manicured grass. I ran barefoot. What I'm excited about is how good I felt. I was racing people I usually only see on the starting line, and ran the second lap 5 seconds faster than the first. I finished ahead of my long-time rival Jim W (we were both equally surprised) – the first time this has happened since 2004. We had a short conversation as I overtook him on the second lap: "What are you doing here?", he said. "I don't know!"

Some months ago when I first said I was going to experiment with Hadd-training, Steve enthused that I'd had an epiphany. Well, not exactly. I just wanted to try something different. My race on Tuesday however, was something close to epiphanic. To run that fast, and not feel under stress at any time, was almost surreal. Thankyou John Hadd. I'm now keen to continue with the experiment.

Last night I raced in the postponed track 10,000 metres. In contrast to Tuesday's 5k, this was hard work, and I have to admit, 44:54.57 was a little disappointing. A positive split this time, with 5000s of 22:08 and 22:47. Fastest kilometre was the second (4:17) and slowest, an Allrounder-like 9th (4:39). I'll put it down to the race being preceded by a 10-hour working day. As Forrest Gump once said, "It happens. Sometimes". Bring on the second half of the track season so I can show friends like Anonymous that I haven't had it!

Susan, Deek and me by JHSome say this is my best side (yellow singlet). In the first race at Stromlo on 18 November I was much slower, 22:25. Here I'm about to be overtaken by jogging Olympians Susan Hobson, Rob de Castella and friends.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Hadd Actually

Thanks all for your supportive comments about my nothing 10,000 metres. I've decided to target the January 10,000 as I can't see myself being as fresh as a daisy next week. December, work-wise, is a very busy and tiring month. I still plan to race next week, but my confidence level is somewhat less than spectacular. I feel as glum about it as John Howard packing boxes for his move from Kirribilli.

A few people have asked me when I'm going to stop the Hadd experiment and "do some real training". If I were a marathoner, I'd probably do Hadd-training forever. I believe it's possible to run a good marathon (even a PB), just off Hadd, and nothing else.

Hadd-training is a method of developing 'base' by using heart-rate to guide effort during a particular training run. Base was made famous by Arthur Lydiard, who had all his runners, from 800m specialists to marathoners, running 100 mile weeks during the base phase. The Lydiard method of training is often thought to mean lots of slow running. It's actually base training (aerobic running), followed by 4 weeks of hill training, 4 weeks of anaerobic (intervals) training, then speedwork (sprinting), tapering and racing.

I'm putting off doing any "real training" because I want to race a couple of 3000 metre events just off Hadd-training. I'm curious to see what simple aerobic conditioning will produce in the way of a 3000 metre time. After that, I may do some anaerobic running and speedwork. Or I may not. I'm actually enjoying the less frenetic and more contemplative aspects of aerobic running. I've also been able to run a lot, without becoming injured. I like running.

I don't recommend drinking Coke and eating sausage sandwiches as a way to win medals!
The correct diet (and big enough handicap) could result in winning a medal!

Thursday, November 22, 2007


The M50 10,000 metre PB will have to wait. I'd received a text message from Strewth before leaving home saying "are you still going to run in this?" It had been raining fairly steadily all afternoon. I replied that I was going to race and hoped to see her out there.

On the 40-minute drive to the track the rain was easing. The temperature was pleasantly cool – about 14°C (57°F), a relief from the 32°C (90°F) days we've been having lately. I was looking forward to the 25-lap race and had worked out a pacing plan of 1:47 per lap.

As I turned into the AIS carpark my heart sunk. Apart from one car, it was empty. The meeting had obviously been cancelled. I walked up to take a look at the track but the gate was locked. Roger and Maureen arrived. We had a chat for a while before going home. I was disappointed, but at least (touch wood) there's another race on 10 January.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Hoping for a good 10,000

In Canberra there aren't many opportunities to race 10k on the track. This season there's a race on November 22, and another on January 10. Ever since I started running I've wanted to run a good 10,000 metres. People always ask "What do you do for 10k?" Secretly, I was more desperate to run a good 3,000 metres. Sub-10 minutes was the goal, and it happened after many attempts. Practise makes perfect.

My first 10,000 was at the old Bruce Stadium track on 17 November 1984. I had a goal of 38 minutes. I was a little behind schedule at 5000 (19:07), and during the second half of the race, my lap-scorer became confused. Was it because I was being lapped umpteen times, or because she was mesmerised by my impeccable form? She gave me 'the bell' after 25 laps, so I ended up running an all-time PB of 39:54 for 10,400 metres.

So here we are, 23 years later, hoping for good 10,000 at the newly resurfaced AIS warm-up track. I haven't been travelling that well in training since the Melbourne Half. I've run 83k per week, but managed to catch a cold that's had the persistence of a swarm of bush flies. Only now am I feeling somewhat healthy. This recent fragility is why I haven't been racing 3000 and 5000 metres on the track. I'll have one more week of training followed by a 3-day taper.

Defining 'good' is best left to the experts. My old mate McMillan says that 45:18 for 10k is equivalent to my Melbourne half marathon time. Fair enough Greg, but I want to run quicker than the 44:53 I managed in January 2005. If it doesn't happen in 11 days' time I'll have another crack in January 2008.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Most people I know

My non-running friends are always saying things like: "it's your own fault", "all this running is not healthy", and "you're crazy to run so much". When I get sick, they say "I told you so".

I have a cold. It started on Thursday as a sore throat. The previous evening I'd enjoyed a lovely run with Strewth around the East Basin Wetlands. On Thursday I felt terrible and cut my run short. Obviously I'd caught a virus earlier in the week. Perhaps at the Speedygeese dinner! Was it due to running too much? I don't think so. Anybody can catch a cold.

I had a rest from running on Friday, and, feeling much better on Saturday, set off for a 16k run. Bad idea! I got through it, but my lungs felt like those of a 40-a-day smoker. Today, after 10 hours' sleep and lots of fluids, the cold seems to be on the back foot. Having today off running will leave the diary with a somewhat less than Lydiard-like 73 kilometres for the week.

I've been wondering about how much daily running I should be attempting. Hadd-training, and the base phase of Lydiard, depends on a certain volume of weekly running. Arthur Lydiard experimented on himself with weekly volumes of up to 200 miles, before settling on 100 miles as being optimal for his athletes. Fast runners could do 100 weekly miles by averaging 90 minutes per day. I've been trying to average 15 kilometres per day, which takes me about 90 minutes. Should I run less? More? I'm inclined to try and average 12 to 13 kilometres per day for a while, to see if that volume of running leaves me feeling less like an upturned wombat.

This warning sign on Aussie roads helps prevent wombats from becoming upturned

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Flyest Mudder Rudder

Finally, a Hadd-free post! No mention of running either. If Phil can do it, so can I. For my up-over readers, the following YouTube clip won't mean much. We have an election coming up on 24 November. Yes, all Australians 18 years of age or older must decide who rules!

I enjoy writers who use words creatively. I like good poetry. Is Rap the new poetry? I wonder what Henry Kendall would think? This video by the Axis of Awesome does brilliantly what we Australians love doing – cutting tall poppies down to size – doubly so if those tall poppies are politicians.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Totally Addicted to Base!

This afternoon I was bad. Not the badness that results from inhaling chocolate at KokoBlack like CJ and friends. The badness that results from venturing into anaerobic territory. Running without oxygen is not part of Hadd-training. I've been good for so long – 13 weeks with nary a sprint! Just a diet of upper and lower aerobic runs, fully with oxygen. 95 kilometres per week.

I got sucked in. It was the Monday Speedygeoff session at Parliament House. Usually I'm so damned disciplined, and happily run at the back of the group. This afternoon I was partnered in a continuous relay with Strewth. We were coming last and I impulsively decided to do something about it. I started running without oxygen. I ran four of my relay legs hard – on my final fast one I was chasing Katie and managed, more or less, to keep up! Katie is a fast middle distance runner. My heart-rate soared to 164 at the top of the hill, very close to my maximum.

It was fun, and we didn't come last! However, I won't be doing this again any time soon. I'm totally addicted to base. Arthur Lydiard suggests that aerobic training can go on and on with no negative consequences. Anaerobic training (running without oxygen), although necessary to reach peak racing form, takes "bricks" away from the base. I don't think I've laid all my bricks, so it's back to Hadd-training for another three months. Maybe more.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

My better Half in Melbourne

Me near 12k down by the Bay - photo by pastyboy
It just happened. Despite trying hard to sabotage my race, I finished the Asics Melbourne Half Marathon on Sunday with a new M50 PB. My chip time of 1:40:48 was over 4 minutes quicker than the Gold Coast Half. Hadd-training is working! I'm excited at the possibility of better things to come. Kerryn McCann is running the half next year, so I'll be back again with a goal of sub-95 minutes.

So... how did I almost stuff things up? It was a typical Melbourne "perfect weather for running" day. About 10C, rising to 15C at the finish, with just a zephyr blowing across Albert Park Lake. You'd think a runner of 26 years' experience would be immune to the rush of blood. Race starter Rob de Castella advised the field (the marathon and half started together) to "take it easy at the start" and "try to finish strongly". As soon as Deek sounded the air-horn I stampeded down the first hill with 8,000 others, past Katy (holding a "Not far to go now!" sign), and latched onto the 3hr 15min marathon pacing group.

After 4 kilometres at 4:30s, I belatedly realised I needed to switch to preservation mode. This tactic was surprisingly successful, and I spent the rest of the race trying to guess when I'd be caught by the 1hr 40min group. I survived for a fair way, feeling like the rabbit in that TV ad for the Yarra Valley, running past the brilliant CR cheer-squad for the second time, and back down St Kilda Road towards the city. I was finally captured at 15k, and managed to hang on for another kilometre before being unceremoniously spat out the back.

Pretty soon The G was in sight. It was a finish "to die for". Running 300 metres on the grass of that hallowed ground, then under the finish gantry, to be greeted and handed my medal by yet another smiling volunteer. Melbourne, you were good!

[5k splits: (31sec to start) 22:40, 23:46, 24:13, 24:52 + 1.1k in 5:17]

Sunday, September 30, 2007

I Hadd to confess

Lane 6 at the Calwell 400m grass track
I've just finished another week of lots of running. 103 kilometres. Sometimes I wonder if I'm about to slip off the knife-edge like Steve L. I think I'm surviving Hadd-training by sitting on a blunt knife-edge – doing more lower aerobic runs and trying for earlier nights. Last Sunday I ran in the Sunday Telegraph 9k Bridge Run, along with 8,500 others. It was a fun day. On the same delightful Sydney morning, LLs ran a surprisingly good half marathon – 2:29:10, not bad for a girl of three score and sweet eighteen! I bet John Hadd would be impressed. Next Sunday will be my second half marathon for the year, The Asics Melbourne Half.

One notorious part of Hadd-training is the 2,400 metre lactate test session. It's supposed to be run "periodically, bearing in mind the 6 week period needed for mitochondrial growth". John Hadd's pupil Joe ran it every four to five weeks. Last Tuesday down at Calwell, I bowed down and said: "Forgive me John, for I have sinned. It's been eight weeks since my last Hadd test". With trepidation, I started in my familiar lane six and ran the test – five repeats of 2,400 metres at set heart-rates. I dreaded the final two runs at heart-rates 144 and 152. Thankfully, only the final one was really hard, as I had to run with unfamiliar speed to push my heart-rate up to 152 (92% of maximum).

Hadd Test graphThe result was good! I was faster at all heart-rates, including the ones I hadn't trained at, just like John Hadd said I'd be. I found an online graphing website to produce a graph comparing the two tests I've done since starting Hadd-training. Earlier in the year I was racing 5000 metres at an average HR of 157 to 159, so I'm keen to see what time I can run now, even before starting speedwork.

I hope everyone has a great week!

HR (%)120 (72%)128 (77%)136 (82%)144 (87%)152 (91%)
31 July 07
25 Sept 07

Friday, September 21, 2007

Promise from a 10k race

Last Sunday I raced in The Canberra Times Fun Run, the biggest 10k in town. I had an odd sort of a race. In the week prior, I'd been flat out like a lizard drinking. Working long hours and doing long runs was wearing me out. By Friday I was feeling decidedly SteveLaceyish, so had a rest day from running.

On Saturday I went out to see how the pins (as 2P would say) were feeling. Not good. After 3k of shuffling, I decided my desire to run well on Sunday was overly ambitious, so changed a planned 6k easy jog into a 15k Hadd run (which strangely got better with the passing kilometres).

Sunday was a fragrantly delightful Spring day. Such was my lack of confidence about being able to run well (and addiction to Hadd mileage), that I decided to include the 10k race as part of a long run. Training shoes for this one, not the lighter Frees. I parked at Parliament house and 'warmed up' by running 6.4k back to the start, arriving with 10 minutes to spare.

Before long I was racing back from whence I came, running not far behind Sonia from the Speedygeese. Curiously, I wasn't feeling too bad. The 1k mark came up in 4:29 (really 4:17, as it had taken 12 seconds to get to the start mat). The next two kilometres were 4:11 and 4:16! Wow – 12:44 for 3k. This is strange, I thought, I'm running quickly. Then came 'the hill' up to John's house at 5k. I couldn't push my heart-rate above 155. Normally on a hill it'd be 160ish. My 5k split was 22:34. I was being overtaken by young children and old men now, but thankfully, no grandmothers pushing prams.

For the next 5k I ran along as best I could, feeling a bit tired, but not terrible, and with the heart-rate now around 148-150. I felt good in the final kilometre, enjoying running the last 300 metres or so with a very talented young girl, who sprinted ahead under the timing clock. I was very surprised (and pleased) with a chip time of 45:43. Now I just had to run the 4.5k back to the car!

I've been thinking about what can be learned from this race. Robert Song's suggestion about having a "target 5k race", rather than just racing regularly through the summer season has merit. I'm thinking of a compromise – a target month – maybe February, where I can race two or three times seriously, therefore giving myself a chance of good weather conditions (no wind and not too hot). The 5k at the ACT Vets Championships is also tempting, but that race is usually held in late March, not long after my 45k bush walk/jog through the Blue Mountains.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Craig said the five is far enough

A mate of mine reckons I'm like the drummer in a band. You know – the person who can't read music but likes to hang out with musicians. This so-called mate says I run and coach because I like the company of athletes.

Running is similar to music in that anybody can have a go. Just as you don't need talent to pick up a guitar and start strumming away, nobody's stopping you from lacing up some shoes and running. Ours is a sport which accommodates people with different talents. Fast and not so fast. If you're fast, you sprint 100 or 200 metres. If you have natural endurance, you might run from Sydney to Melbourne. I'm not so fast, but I don't want to run that far. I'm a lazy drummer. I wish I had the talent of Joe Morello, then at least I'd have the reflexes to approach Speedygeoff's magical 180 strides per minute.

Photofinish of the 5000m final in Osaka
Athletes usually find a niche event. One to which they're best suited. Janeth Kipkoskei runs the 800 metres because she can win by running away from the best 800 metre runners in the world. Catherine Ndereba runs the marathon because she's physiologically suited to the event, and is too slow to win gold medals at 10,000 metres. Through trial and error, I've found my best event is somewhere between 800 metres and the marathon. I like the 5,000 metres because Craig Mottram said "the five is far enough".

This is a roundabout way of answering my blogging friends Bruce, R2B, and others who wonder where all this Hadd training is leading. The guess from Miners was very close. I want to use my theoretical higher lactate threshold from Hadd, to run a good 5,000 during the coming track and field season. How do I define a good 5,000 metres? I selected a goal of 20:46 at the beginning of the year, so that would be good. Robert Song's age calculator suggests this is equivalent to 18:29 were I not so crusty.

My first 5,000 will be some time in October. I'd like to maintain my current volume (100k per week) until the end of November. I don't have a particular target race. To practise running faster, I'll also do shorter track races during a long season which ends in March 2008.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Good and the Bad of Hadd

It's nine weeks since I embarked on the John Hadd training experiment. There are good and bad features of any training system. For instance, the 'jog 3k every second day system' is good because it's very easy. It's bad because in 10k races, you struggle to keep up with grandmothers pushing prams.

Here are some of the good features of Hadd, as I see them:

  • Every training session is doable. I've found that every single run is successful. The runs at lower aerobic heart-rates (70-75% of maximum HR) are very easy. The runs at upper aerobic heart-rates (80-83%) are nothing more than 'solid paced' runs, and considerably easier than tempo runs or interval sessions.

  • You recover well. My recovery from each day's running is better than with other methods of training. Why is this so? I'm not quite sure, but I think it's because there's no lactic acid produced in Hadd training. I'm enjoying getting out of bed in the morning and walking around like a normal person, and not like an old man in need of a Zimmer frame.

  • Improvement is measurable. I can see that I'm getting better by running at the same heart-rate over a particular course and comparing the pace of the run to that of a few weeks earlier. There's no need to race in order to test improvement. Actually, I'm not sure this is a good aspect of Hadd, as I like racing.

  • The schedule is easily adaptable. If I'm having a bad hair day, I simply go out for a 'lower aerobic' run, when I might have planned an 'upper aerobic' run. Both types of runs are productive.

  • Hadd training leads to eventual faster racing. John Hadd contends that the main limiting factor to performance in distance running is a low lactate threshold. Training using his methods should result in a high lactate threshold and faster racing. I'll get back to you on that one.

Now for the bad features of Hadd:

  • Infrequent racing. You don't get to race during the base-building period. I love racing, so this is a major sacrifice. However, if I end up racing faster and staying ahead of grandmothers pushing prams, it could be worth it.

  • It's addictive. I find myself looking forward running each day. Part of this anticipation is due to the improvement feedback of the heart-rate monitor, and part is because, although I like running 'fast', the pre-Hadd days when I used to run hard interval sessions were not anticipated with glee.

  • You run a lot, and you run slow. My shoes are wearing out faster. Luckily, I have some slow training partners or I'd be really experiencing the loneliness of the long distance runner. I have to go back to the ancient PB days to find a time when I ran more. I've run 607km in the last six weeks. Although this is quite modest compared to some Hadd and Lydiard disciples, it's a lot for a slow wombat such as myself. I take a long time to run my kilometres. Hey, this is not so bad. I like running!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

My 24th City to Surf

Photo by the cheersquad with just over 1km to run
Lulu has just asked "where's the C2S report?" – the greatest 'fun run' in Australia was held last Sunday. It was my 24th City to Surf. I was just a boy of 23 when I ran my first in 1980. Now, I'm just a boy of 50.

Travelling back on the bus to Canberra with the cross country club group, Trev asked if I was happy with my run. I said I was very happy. I'd run 14k from central Sydney to Bondi Beach, with 64,000 friends, over a few hills, feeling pretty good the whole way. I'd run 69:16 (although my place card said 69:37), 4 minutes quicker than last year, and fast enough to stay in the A1 group for 2008. At the beginning of the year I'd set a goal of 62 minutes, but that was never going to happen. I'm starting to see some signs that Hadd training is working, but it's a long process. Maybe next year I'll approach that 62-minute goal.

This year, race day started at 2.45am. I met a mate for the drive into Canberra to catch the bus at 4.30am. We arrived in Hyde Park, Sydney, a bit over 3 hours later. I jogged over to The Domain, our usual meeting place and warm-up spot. I bumped into legend Keith Mayhew, who has finished every City to Surf since 1971. After warming up, I joined my fellow sub-75 minute runners in the A1 coral, 30 minutes before the start, and passed the time chatting to Adam from Speedygeoff's group.

Our start was surprisingly good – losing only 5 to 10 seconds crossing the line, and being able to run quick enough to pass 3km (actually 2.86k according to Forerunner Man), in 13:38. I really enjoyed that flat section through Rose Bay, 5k in 23:56, before changing down a gear or two for the plod up Heartbreak. I caught up to Aki near the top, after following her ponytail for quite a while. She wasn't having a good day. The clock at 7k said 35:53, so something under 70 minutes was on, as the second half, with all the downhill, is about 2 minutes quicker.

I felt really good running the flat/undulating bit (10k in 50:44), and continued to do so on the downhill, and the seemingly endless run to the finish. A highlight was seeing the CR cheersquad, doing a great job, near the bottom of the hill. I spotted Jen_runs, Tiger Angel, Don Juan (having a cow of a time) and a number of other CRs. The final 300 metres down Queen Elizabeth Drive is always a buzz. I refrained from sprinting, wary of creaky calves and such.

All in all, it was a brilliant day! I love this race. Sorry I wasn't able to catch up with many people afterwards. I might see you in Sydney for the Harbour Bridge run or at the MCG for the Melbourne Half.

1981DNSKnee injury
1982DNSMotorcycle trip
1993DNSMotorcycle accident
1998DNSTrip to US/Canada

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Hadd for Queenslanders

I've set myself something of a task here... to explain Hadd-training in simple terms, within the confines of a blog post. John Hadd's original document is 25 pages. It's worth printing and reading through a few times if you're interested in trying this type of training (or if you're a coach who wishes to use it).

Is it too technical? Is it at odds with the pleasure of running 'naturally'? As I said in Hadd, Lydiard and Individualisation, there are many different training methods for running. You need to find out what suits your own personality and physiology. I wouldn't recommend Hadd-training for younger teenagers, or runners who are happier on low weekly mileage. The only technical aspects are the need for a heart-rate monitor and a stopwatch. My own enjoyment of running hasn't suffered at all. In fact, I can't wait for work to finish, so I can get out and run.

Who is John Hadd? Nobody knows. He's a coach of distance runners – from older teenagers to adults. His online fame comes from the document "Hadd's Approach to Distance Training". According to Hadd, the main thing preventing a person from running fast over long distances, is a low lactate threshold. A person might be able to run fast (or at a certain speed) for a short distance, but they can't keep their speed going. Low lactate threshold (LT) forces them to slow down in longer races.

Why does this runner have a low LT? Hadd suggests they run too few miles in training, and whatever mileage they do is run too fast. The runner needs to improve their lactate threshold so the speed at which they can run comfortably (without lactic acid accumulation) becomes faster. How is this done? Initially, by training at two paces. These paces are not fixed at minutes per kilometre, but at percentages of maximum heart-rate. So, the runner needs to know their maximum heart-rate. Hadd explains that you can do this by running an all-out 800 metres, resting two minutes, then running an all-out 400 metres. Your heart-rate at the end of the 400 is your maximum.

The two paces used are 'lower aerobic' (70 to 75% of HR maximum) and 'upper aerobic' (80 to 83% of HR maximum). The 'upper aerobic' level will be comfortably under your current lactate threshold. Using these two paces, mileage is increased to a level you can maintain. How much weekly mileage is needed? Eblues reported success off 65 to 80 kilometres per week during his 2006/07 season. Hadd's famous pupil Joe, averaged 148 kilometres per week over a 16-week period. During week 14, he ran a 15:58 5k with an average HR of 186 (96%). Joe had done no anaerobic training, with his only speedwork being 3 sessions of 200/200 fartlek to get him used to "moving faster biomechanically without incurring high lactate". During week 19 he ran a half marathon in 71:43 with an average HR of 181. For my experiment, I'm planning to run 90 to 100 kilometres per week.

At certain points during the Hadd plan, the 'upper aerobic' heart-rate is edged up by 5 beats per minute. This is done when you can run 16km sitting on your current upper aerobic heart-rate, and your pace stays steady during the whole run. The 2400m tests I mentioned in my previous post aren't a necessary part of the plan. They are just a way of monitoring improvement and giving you a guide as to what pace might be maintained during a race. Over time, your running speed at all heart-rates will get faster. This indicates an improved lactate threshold - the key to success in distance running.

If you still don't understand Hadd, Stephen Lacey might be able to help. Just say "please explain". I need an early night. I'm catching a 4.30am bus to Sydney in the morning to run my 24th City to Surf!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Hadd 2,400 metre test

I'm still calm. Unlike Susan, I haven't managed to get lost. Another week of Hadd training has passed beneath the Asics/Frees and all is well. 106 kilometres, including a 'long' run of 19.7k, and the famous Hadd 2,400 metre test session. I ran this on Tuesday 31 July down at the homely, freshly re-marked 400m grass track at Calwell...

John Hadd recommends running this test "rested, as if for a race". Now I know why. I was tired in the final two runs, and in the last, really struggled to get the heart-rate up to my target of 152. The test calls for running five 2,400 metre repeats at steady heart-rates, which increase with each run. The rest between each run is 90 seconds.

I decided on heart-rates 8 beats apart, starting with a paint-dryingly slow 120 and finishing with a hot-blooded 152. It wasn't an easy session, and I can't say I'm looking forward to repeating it every six weeks. If Hadd training is working, subsequent tests should show faster paces for each heart-rate. Even the higher HRs, which haven't been used in training. Does this work for average runners? I've already mentioned Robert Song. Then of course, there's Stephen Lacey. On the other side of the Pacific, Eblues has documented a season of Hadd training, which saw him run a 50+ PB for 10k and qualify for the Boston Marathon (3:41:48). I've also received a comment from Grellen, who is doing well on Hadd training.

I ran the 2,400m repeats using lane 6 for five and a half laps, so the actual distance was 2,407 metres! I timed the total run to get the average pace, but did as Hadd recommended, edging the heart-rate up gradually to the target HR. The column of interest to marathoners (not me), is the 87% one. This is the average pace you should be able to run a marathon, if fully trained – which I presume means completing the necessary long runs.

HR (%)120 (72%)128 (77%)136 (82%)144 (87%)152 (91%)
31 July 07

Sunday, July 29, 2007

101 kilometres of Hadd

I need to stay calm. Objective. I've just finished two solid weeks of Lydiard-style training. The week finishing today totalled 101 kilometres. That's on top of 96 kilometres the previous week. Is training slower making me faster? It's too early to say.

Since the Gold Coast Half, I've been restraining myself in races, running them as 'upper aerobic' sessions in order to keep lactate out of the muscles. Lactic acid is supposedly an evil potion, to be avoided at all costs during base training. At times on my dilly-dallying runs, I wonder if I'm destined to become the slowest 100 kilometre-per-week runner in Australia. Just like Thomas – the self-proclaimed slowest 100 mile-per-week runner in the world.

At this stage, I intend to race hard in the Canberra Times 10k Fun Run on September 16. What happens on that day will be interesting. Before then I should do one of John Hadd's famous 2,400 metre sessions to test my current fitness.

Thus far, Hadd training has been quite enjoyable. Most of my running would be described by Steve as 'lower aerobic'. Heart-rates have been mainly between 125 and 136. For me, this is 75 to 82% of my 166 maximum. It produces rather gentle speeds of around 6:15, down to 5:33 per kilometre. I really should do more running at HRs of 120 (72%) or lower, but this is easier said than done. It means dawdling along at warm-up pace – about 6:35 per kilometre (10:36 miles). At that speed I could be mistaken for one of those living statues and be daubed in graffiti.

Running slowly is interesting. It takes a long time to get anywhere. This week I ran for 10 hours and 30 minutes to cover 101 kilometres. I think this is good value. If I were faster I'd have to run 140-plus kilometres in order to be moving for that length of time. Slow has advantages. I hope I don't get too fast. I might have to run further. Down to Michelago maybe. My shoes will wear out. I could get lost.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Hadd, Lydiard and Individualisation

In training for running, I'm prone to try different things. Just to see what happens. In July 2005, I tried running to and from school – like Eliud Kipchoge. It was a short experiment. Sometimes, at the end of a hard working day, I was too buggered to run home again. I didn't enjoy sleeping at school.

In December last year I wrote about running faster by improving my speed over 200 metres. My short speed was improving, but with the end of the track season, and snowy winds blowing in from the south, I've become fascinated once again by Arthur Lydiard. Running fast 150s and 200s on the icy grass at Calwell isn't much fun in the depth of a Canberra winter.

The training ideas of Nic Bideau have also intrigued me since reading his article in Modern Athlete and Coach. I mean, Craig Mottram is running pretty well these days, isn't he? For crying out loud – 8:03.50 for 2 miles! Mottram runs a Lydiard-like 170 to 180 kilometres per week, more or less year-round, using five different types of running sessions. His recovery runs are extremely easy (white), with other sessions being hard (black).

Just recently I came across a blog article by Steve Magness (4:01 for the mile in high school) called 'Catering to the Individual'. He talks about how a training system needs to suit an athlete's individual physiology. One part of individual physiology is the way fast, intermediate and slow twitch muscle fibres react to different training stimulus. This explains in part, how two athletes, such as Ralph Doubell and Peter Snell, can win Olympic Gold in the same event (800 metres), using two contrasting training systems. Doubell, coached by Franz Stampfl ran intervals every day of the week, while Snell, coached by Arthur Lydiard, used base training (100 miles per week) followed by hills, anaerobic training, then tapering.

I'm fascinated by Lydiard, after reading once again, the document authored by mysterious coach John Hadd. He explains how to build a Lydiard-style base with controlled running at various low heart-rate percentages ranging from 72% to 83% of maximum. These heart-rates are purported to maximise mitochondrial adaptation in slow twitch muscle fibres as well as improving capillary density, resulting in an improved lactate threshold. This is very easy paced running. His famous pupil Joe, after 19 weeks of such training (nothing anaerobic), ran a half marathon in 71:43. Closer to home, another Hadd pupil, Robert Song, recently ran 3:18:26 in the Gold Coast Marathon - his fastest time since turning fifty.

I don't have any current plans to run marathons, but I think this type of running could suit my physiology, and wombat-like gleefulness to run slow and long – especially during a bone-chilling Canberra winter. I've been doing it since early June. In due course, I'll find out, and let you know.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Gold Coast Half, 2007

Myself and Plu outside the Expo on Saturday Yes, I did manage to drag myself out of bed at 5.00am on Sunday to run in the 29th Gold Coast Half Marathon. It's not easy to summarise such a big weekend in a few paragraphs. My mood was a little subdued after hearing from Norma on Friday that her flight out of Sydney had been cancelled and she'd decided to return to Mittagong.

On Sunday morning I walked from Main Beach to the start with Chris from Calwell who was hoping to run 75 minutes (he had a bad patch in the middle of the race and eventually ran 77:08 to place 55th). I made a bit of a tactical blunder by not lining up until 10 minutes before the start. The best I could do was to squeeze in close to the 2 hour pacer, near Ellie and Uncle Dave, well behind the green balloons which indicated the 1 hour 40 minute group.

Needless to say, the start was a bit frustrating. It was a 3 minute walk until we reached the timing mats. Thank goodness for chip times! After that, forward progress required quite a bit of dodging and occasional taking to the footpath in order to get a clear run. The green balloons had totally disappeared, so I worked on gradually catching the red balloons of the 1 hour 50 minute pacers. I managed this at 7k, then moved ahead.

The rest of the race went surprisingly well. I tried to maintain a heart-rate of around 150, which early on equated to kilometres in the mid-4:50s. These slipped out to 5:00 and slower in the second half. From 16k to the finish I was still feeling calm but there was nothing I could do about my slowing pace. I tried to keep a few people in sight – triathlete man, green jumper girl (running with a jumper tied around her waist) and Japanese neat long pants lady.

The view north towards Southport from the the Q1 building in Surfers ParadiseWith about 500 metres to run, the famous CR Cheer Squad came into view. What a lift. Thanks Coolrunners – you were brilliant! Around the corner and down the long finish chute I raced, seeing the clock tick over to 1:48:10, which resulted in a chip time of 1:45:11! I think I'll take the latter for my 50+ PB. I was very pleased to finish feeling happy and well, four minutes quicker than the SMH Half and with an average km rate of 4:59.1!

Later that afternoon, I walked down to the Southport Surf Life Saving Club for the CR 'after event drinks'. It was a very pleasant afternoon hearing how people had enjoyed the day, over a few quiet ales, while soaking up that superb view of the Pacific Ocean. I also managed to pass on a few 'CR gut punches' from absent friends.

[5k splits: 24:16, 24:39, 24:49, 25:29 + 1.1k in 5:58]

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Al, Ron, Steve and myself prior to the KOM 20 milesI have this habit of keeping training diaries. The first one is from 1981, but it's pretty boring. I didn't run much that year. I was stopped by a sore knee after my second marathon (3:28:28). How silly was that? I mean, I only started running in 1979!

My diary from 1988 was falling apart, so I made it into a web page. I managed to run some PBs that year, in spite of training like a novice. Reading it now is a little embarrassing. Who cares. Susan and Katy are happy to put embarrassing photos on their blogs. I'll publish embarrassing words.

I was living in Sydney, and did a lot of running in the sublimely delightful Lane Cove National Park. Years earlier I'd met a group called the River Runners, who ran twice a week in 'The Park'. The trouble is, they ran fast! 4:30 kilometres (7:15 miles) were needed to stay in the group. In hindsight, for me, this was much too fast for general aerobic conditioning.

Anyway, it was good fun at the time. I was fortunate to run with some great people. I miss 'The Park'.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The next big thing

Gnomey's photo of me in the SMH Half MarathonFour weeks from today I'll be dragging myself out of bed at some ungodly hour of the morning to race 21.1 kilometres through the streets of Surfers Paradise.

I guess this race is my next big thing. My indecisiveness is due to never having been a 'big thing' runner. Although I've run marathons, and more recently, the Six Foot Track, I don't train for such events with the purpose of running as fast as possible on the day. I just want to survive these adventures in one piece, so as to resume normal everyday running.

I'm not a marathoner. I used to be a 1500m to half marathon runner. These days I prefer 3k to 5k races. Am I a wimp for not having 'big thing' goals? I blame my even temperament. Do I lack commitment? Part of my reserve comes from many years of involvement with teenage runners. Some of them started out with 'big thing' goals such as running in the Olympics or the Melbourne Commonwealth Games. These were very talented athletes who had the ability to achieve these goals.

On a smaller scale, there are runners like Stu, who had two 'big thing' goals this year, one to run a sub-40 10k at Sandown. He missed by just over a minute, but does that make his year a failure? When I was in my thirties my 'big thing' was just to try and improve. There was always another race.

I had a goal at the beginning of this year of running 95:29 at the Gold Coast Half Marathon. McMillan reckons I might run 1:40:32 which is probably closer to the mark. Whatever happens, I intend to enjoy the day, because afterwards, there will be another race, and another.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The everlasting stars

I was well into the second lap of the Sydney Half Marathon, running through the lovely park called The Domain, thinking to myself 'this is going quite well'. I'd passed the 15 kilometre marker in 79:06 and realised a time of 1 hour 50 minutes was possible. I waved to Beki and BB, who were running side-by-side down to Mrs Macquarie's Chair.

My cautious start was paying off. At 7:20am, I'd lined up with Luckylegs in the middle of the field and it took about a minute and a half to reach the start line. I was quite relaxed, as the chip timing would provide a net time for the race. The first 3k was a little hectic, weaving a bit to find vacant space in which to run. No wonder they limit the field to 5000 starters!

On various places on the course I was having fun trying to spot people I knew. On the sidelines... Gnomey, Lulu, Tasdevil and Pat Carroll (behind the microphone). In the race... Luckylegs, Aunty Jac, Superflake, Tiger Angel and Ellie80. Afterwards I caught up briefly with a happy Rachel49 (who broke 2 hours and beat Simlin), Wildthing and Gronk.

So, down Hunter Street, my race cut it's way towards Circular Quay. I spotted LLs running back up Pitt Street for the last time and thought once again of the Banjo Paterson poem:

In my wild erratic fancy, visions come to me of Blondie
Gone a-runnin' "down Range Road" where the Mittagong runners go;
A herd of cows slowly moving, Blondie takes photos of them mooing,
For the pointy end has pleasures that most runners never know.

I turned right after the Quay, ran strongly though The Rocks, then plodded up Argyle Street for the last time. I was still passing more runners than were passing me – a good feeling. The final long drag down Hickson Road found me starting to feel the missing miles in the legs. Even Pat's frenzied commentary to "get these runners under 1:50" was to no avail. I crossed the finish line in 1:50:47, but with a chip time of 1:49:10. On a perfect Sydney day, I was perfectly happy.

I walked back up the course, then joined Eagle and Horrie, who were Luckylegs' 'mobile guard of honour'. We three rather fancied we'd rather change with Blondie, and take a turn at running where the seasons come and go; leave behind the ceaseless tramp of feet, and run at night under the glory of the everlasting stars.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A vision splendid

This coming Sunday, I'll be running the Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon in a Susanesque state of preparedness. My panic is due to falling in love. Actually, that should be 'back in love' – with racing. Falling head over heels has led me to neglect the long training runs.

I've commenced a plan to race, pretty much weekly, over the winter. There have been three recent affairs: A 6km cross country run (28:54), the Nail Can Hill Run and a 5km road race last Saturday (22:34).

Nail Can Hill was on Sunday 6 May. I like that race. It's like a mini Six Foot. It has a great vibe at the start with 1200-plus runners setting out on an 11.3k point-to-point journey. It has a hill – 2km up instead of 8.5km. It has a great fire trail through the Aussie bush. It has a thrilling and fast descent to a long finish chute, well supported by spectators. I had a goal this year of running 56 minutes, but finished in 59:17. Nevertheless, it was a great fun day, helped by perfect weather.

On Sunday I'm hoping for a similarly enjoyable experience, this time, as Clancy would say; "in the gritty of the dusty dirty city, rather than with a vision splendid of sunlit plains extended". Good luck to my CoolRunning and blogging friends who are running. See you at the start!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Completely Inelastic

It comes as a shock when you unexpectedly see yourself on TV, or, in this case, YouTube. I was minding my own business crossing the road, looking for fresh pasture, and I end up in a rock video! Speaking of YouTube, I must be the last person in the world who has seen Jeong-Hyun Lim's virtuosic guitar playing. Simply amazing.

Thanks friends for your birthday wishes. It's a little overwhelming. Thanks Dave for the tip on canvas bags. It's tough, but I'm getting used to being really old. I wonder how I'll feel when I'm truly ancient? CJ, Geoff, and Strewth – your invitations weren't lost in the mail. I didn't have a party. On my birthday, I worked late, then fell asleep in my lounge chair while watching television.

My birthday didn't go uncelebrated, as last Saturday night, Joy and Mal took me out to dinner at Rocksalt. Also enjoying the lovely meal were Mal's sister Kath, better half Steve and another old motorcycle mate of mine, Jim (who currently rides an Aprilia SL1000 Falco). I also had a family celebration whilst in Wagga over Easter.

Tomorrow morning the alarm is set for 3.15am. My running rival Jim W is driving myself and Bob down to Albury to do the Nail Can Hill Run. Last year it poured cows and dogs. This year, settled dust is all we want. It should be fun.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


On Thursday, April 26, I turn fifty. I was supposed to be born on Anzac Day (April 25), but mum was slow. Yes, I missed the start, and I've been slow ever since.

I haven't been looking forward to fifty. It's so bloody old! In my mind, I still feel like I'm in my thirties, but my running says otherwise. I ran my last good 10k when I was forty – 38:51 in the Canberra Times Fun Run. Despite this, I remain the eternal optimist, and still enjoy running, training, and racing, albeit at a slower pace.

Last weekend we had the Canberra Marathon, in future to be known, thanks to Katy, as the Divine Bovine Cow-anberra. I had a ball watching the race, as well as catching up with so many CoolRunners and Bloggers. There were some brilliant performances and a few hard luck stories. I shouldn't single any out, but Eddie's 3:14:55 PB at 55 was something special and inspirational, as was Tesso's smiling 50k and Dave's first time under 2:30.

This blog is about running. The title says 'About a Ewen', but reading it doesn't tell you much about me, except the running part. If you read between the lines, you can probably work out I have a sense of humour. I'm a wage slave, and have to work more nine and ten hour days than I like. The overtime has enabled me to buy a house in the 'burbs and put a GSX1400 in the garage. I like that bike. It's so fast! Although friends, such as Joy, have been trying for years to line me up with a young heiress, I remain single. In this regard, I'm also an optimist.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

A season's best

I've just woken from a nap, after running the Cotter 18-mile. It was a spectacular morning. The sky was bluer than blue. At the top of Yellow Rabbit Road, the air had such clarity that the distant silhouette of Black Mountain Tower was etched sharply on the skyline.

Running with friends makes such mornings special. It was a select group – Steve (who happily jogs at whatever speed is going), CJ (who runs up hills like they're smooth concrete footpaths), Strewth (who waits patiently until a lazy wombat catches up), Chris (who makes sure nobody gets lost) and Jill (who never complains when we say "the hills are over, now it's flat").

I also had a friend who selflessly volunteered to pace me on Thursday night. This was the last track night of the season, the main event being the ACT Veteran's 5000 metre Championships. It was also my last track race as an M45. Next season I'll be joining the ranks of the really crusty and ancient M50s!

I was very keen to run faster than the 'Free Beer 5000', and set a goal of sub-22 minutes. Katie, a member of the Speedygeese, offered to pace me at laps of 1:45. She did a beautiful job – I didn't know she was capable of such precision. The 3000m split was 13:02.4, five seconds ahead of schedule. I slowed slightly in the fourth kilometre, but just concentrated on sticking with Katie. I managed to raise a modest sprint in the last lap to finish in 21:45.27, a season's best. Very happy with that! It had been a great night to end the season – thanks Katie, and thanks Geoff for encouraging the Speedygeese!

There was another runner who had a good race on Thursday night. I run with her on the grass track at Calwell – well, I do the warm-ups and warm-downs with her! Kathy is really old. She's been a W50 for ages. On Thursday, she demolished the ACT W50 record (held by none other than Rosemary Longstaff), by 1 minute 27 seconds, running 18:27.97. This was also 12 seconds under her ACT W45 record, and according to Robert Song's calculator, is equivalent to 16:02 for a 30-year-old. Well done Kathy!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Farewell to the Mountains and Valleys

The Mountains and Valleys from Echo Point
After Six Foot I took six days off running – there's something nice and symmetrical about that. The quads were sore until last Thursday. On Saturday I ran with the group from Molonglo – just a 'lap' of Mount Ainslie – 16.3km. Strewth made us run up the hills. How mean! She was also first back to the cars, and ran a further 18k around the lake! Steve seemed fairly happy to have run his fastest Six Foot for 3 years (4:50:00), and was looking forward to the Glasshouse 80k in May.

It's with some sadness that I bid farewell to the mountains and valleys. My next big thing will be May's SMH Half Marathon, in the city and alleys. I'll decide on a goal time closer to the event, but under 100 minutes would be a good step towards my stated Gold Coast goal of 95:29. Both these times seem bloody fast right now. Speaking of half marathons, there's a great video from Flotrack of Ryan Hall running 59:43 in the Houston Half. That's fast!

When I'm out doing the long runs for Sydney, I'll recite in my mind the words from Henry Kendall's poem, thus reminding myself of the uplifting challenge enticing me back to the mountains next year...

By the channels of coolness the echoes are calling,
And down the dim gorges I hear the creek falling;
It lives in the mountain where moss and the sedges
Touch with their beauty the banks and the ledges.
Through breaks of the cedar and sycamore bowers
Struggles the light that is love to the flowers;
And, softer than slumber, and sweeter than singing,
The notes of the bell-birds are running and ringing.

6.30am Saturday 'Before'

Saturday night at the RSL club. Me (6:24:55), Carol (5:37:50), John (5:30:18), Bobby (Carol's better half), Anita (5:00:53), Roger (5:17:52), Elsa (Mike's better half), Mike (6:09:54)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The 2P Crown Affair

Sipping on a hard earned cold Crown Lager at Jenolan Caves, the thought of blaming 2P for my current state of exhaustion briefly crossed my mind. His enthusiasm for this race is contagious – he often says he only runs to support his Six Foot habit. Being a rather curious wombat, I'm susceptible to catching the odd bug that's floating around the farmyard. I think I've caught Six Foot Fever.

My race went quite well for a very long time. Five hours is a very long time. Somewhere out on the Black Range I had a vision of Forrest Gump when he stopped running in Monument Valley, Utah and said: "I'm pretty tired... I think I'll go home now". To make it home, I still had to negotiate the Deviation, followed by the single track to the Binda Cabins.

Once past the cabins, my limited mathematical ability permitted me to calculate a possible sub-6:30 finish time... if I started running. I managed to do this, and surprisingly, didn't feel too bad. On the final downhill, a pale-faced Don Juan said my calves were looking good, so I took off and passed a dozen or so runners before the finish. 45 kilometres in 6 hours, 24 minutes and 55 seconds for 618th place! So, a comfortable finisher's medal, but the sub-6 hour goal survives for 2008.

One of the other highlights of Six Foot is meeting so many CoolRunners. I enjoyed long chats with Kevin Tiller, Fryer, CJ, IDW and Plu at the Edge Theatre. Then, on race day, there were far too many names for a poor wombat brain to remember... Horrie, Gnomey, Tiger Angel, Cirque, Kit, Owly, Don Juan, Wildthing, ORunner and Jen_runs. Thanks Jen for an enjoyable walk down Nellies! After the finish, so many more... R2B (great debut Adrian), Go Girl (next year), 2P (the best beer I've ever tasted mate), CJ (you looked too fresh), Spud, Lulu, Tim, Will, Colin, Awiseman and Superflake (bring on Canberra). Then, of course, a few of the members of my 2nd-placed team – "KoolACTrunners (Gramp's Army)"... Trev (legend), Velcro, Aunty, Stu, Scotty, DaveO, Hugh, Mario, Nick, Carol, Steve, Mike, John and Anita.

This was my 100th post. I made it to the other side of the river. I didn't fall, or do anything foolish (although I had two classic 'mid-air running' stumbles). My silly human pride survives intact. Bring on the 8th of March, 2008!

[Splits: Nellies - 29:43, Megalong Valley Rd - 1:06:20, Cox's - 1:57:01, Pluvio - 3:47:08, Deviation - 4:57:18, Finish - 6:24:55]

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Stand tall, don't you fall

Providing I don't "do a CJ" or "do a Tuggeranong Don" between now and March 10, this will be my last post before the Six Foot Track.

David Kilby played a song on the radio this afternoon. Some of the lyrics describe my state of mind a week out from what promises to be an exciting, arduous and very long day... "Stand tall, don't you fall - For God's sake don't go and do something foolish - All you're feeling right now is silly human pride".

This is not the original artist, but I think it suits my purpose better. 'Steve' used to be a half decent runner, just like a mate of mine. He mightn't have a recording contract, but he's out there doing something he loves. [If you have a slower connection, let it play, then click 'watch again' to hear Steve in all his glory] *

In a comment on my last post one of the Queensland contingent asked if I was going to do a 30+km run the Saturday before Six Foot. I was tempted to reply with "Folks are dumb where Clairie comes from", but I won't, as I don't want to be on the receiving end of a punch in the guts. My final long run was last Saturday (24 February), a successful 3 hours 37 minutes for 34.3 kilometres.

Tesso wondered if I'd fired up the Cow-culator yet to work out my race pace. The kids at Calwell are often told that a race will be 'successful' if it's executed well, or run according to plan. If this is done, the finishing time, or PB, will take care of itself.

My plan is to start near the back and run as easily as possible to the Cox's River in 1 hour 55 minutes (7:25/km pace). I want to arrive at the summit of the last big hill, the Pluviometer in 3 hours 51 minutes (11:00/km for 10.5k of hills). After that, I'm at the mercy of the course. If I'm able to run at more than a cow-amble along the Black Range, a time of around 6 hours is possible. If not, I'll be hanging out for Plu and the sub-7 hour finisher's medal.

Thanks everyone for your encouragement! See you on the other side of the river. :-)

* Sadly, the original youtube video has disappeared, so I've replaced it with a 2011 performance from Burton.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Strewth, Six Foot is almost here!

I did an udder long run on Saturday. By the way, that is Strewth's pun, so don't blame me! It was a beautiful run, helped in part by 'cool' weather and low humidity. Anything under 20C seems cool these days. A hot-air balloon floated high above the lake and the surrounding landscape was mirrored in the still water.

The first 11.5k of our run was around the green oasis of the Duntroon playing fields, then up into the inviting bush of Mount Ainslie. A mob of kangaroos joined our run for a time, bounding along the fence line. The cutest joey, just out of the pouch, watched our progress, nervously waiting for his mum to return.

The speedy runners left Strewth and myself behind, so we were surprised to catch Carol (walking with a dodgy ankle) just before the Ainslie summit trail. After filling the water bottles at the War Memorial, we ran down Anzac Parade to the lake. The rest of the run out to the Yacht Club and back was very pleasant. That is, until the Wetlands when I started spluttering for fuel. We ran this evil out and back section towards Fyshwick, thus ensuring we were close to 30 kilometres before reaching the cars. Thanks Strewth. You kept me going for those last couple of kilometres.

By the time we reached the cars, we had run 29.5km. I was buggered. For once I ignored my pedantic tendencies and stopped running at 3 hours 6 minutes and 21 seconds. Strewth however, continued on, covering 30.5k for the morning! So... one more 3 hour-plus run next Saturday and then it's taper time. Woohoo!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

My right foot

I'm wondering if I've developed an oversensitivity to potential injuries. The bovine kind have me especially worried – calf, hide, udder and hoof to name a few.

My right hoof was feeling strange on Thursday and Friday. I had an aching feeling on top of the foot which made me walk with a limp. I didn't run, hoping it would clear up before my long run on Saturday. The pain miraculously disappeared and it was all good.

We ran from the Molonglo River, towards Campbell Park and around the base of Mount Ainslie. From the War Memorial, I ran with Ruth down to the 'dead flat' of the lake. A very pleasant run continued around the Central Basin of LBG and 'home' via the Jerrabomberra Wetlands. I said 'arrivederci' to Ruth and ran an extra 7k around Duntroon to Campbell Park and return.

So... 30.2 kilometres in a bit under 3 hours 15 minutes. This is well short of the six to seven hours I'll need to finish the Six Foot Track. Still, the fact that I finished comfortably gives me confidence for the 45km journey on March 10. It was also my 4th run of over 3 hours since 1 January.

Afterwards, I caught up with fellow CoolRunners and bloggers Strewth, CJ and Jen_runs for lunch and a coffee at Valentino's in town. Jen is running her first Six Foot in March and has been hampered by a recent hip injury. Luckily it's not bovine in nature, so I'm sure she'll do well.

Friday, February 02, 2007

The free beer 5000

There's nothing like the incentive of a friendly wager to fire up the motivation. After my City-to-Surf induced calf injury I had a bet with 2P about who'd be first to run a sub-23 minute 5k. 2P needed to shed a bag of concrete, whilst I was out of shape and scared of farm animals.

On September 29, I raced the Customs Handicap in 27:13. In October, the calf started mooing again, but it finally settled down at the end of the month. Since then, I've been trying to get fit enough to attempt the sub-23.

On January 11 I raced the first 5k of the ACT 10,000m Championships. I tried forlornly to stay with CJ. She dropped me after 2k and went on to be first female in 45:25.08 and ACT Champion for 2007! When I stopped my watch after twelve and a half laps, it showed 23:09.3. Close, but no beer.

Last night at the ACT Vet's meeting I was quietly confident. It was unusually cool (although windy) when the 5000 metres started at 8.30pm – pretty good conditions. After the start, I fell in with a group which included Amanda (from Speedygeoff's farm). I somewhat guiltily followed Amanda as she led into the wind on each lap. She did a 'CJ' not long after 2k (8:43) and left me to my own devices. I imagined 2P was not far behind, near Allrounder (who said afterwards she enjoyed running in circles).

'Running scared' worked. I passed 3000m in 13:19 and knew I'd have to hit a 'Black Range' in the last 2k to miss the sub-23. The fourth kilometre dragged (as it does in a 5000), but I managed a bit of a gallop in the last lap to see a 'free beer' finishing time of 22:32.41. I was one very happy wombat!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Guilty of being grey

Last night I hiked up the hill behind my place and sat amongst a mob of Eastern Grey Kangaroos looking at Comet McNaught. It was so far away, yet flying brightly above the Brindabella Ranges. We live in a wonderful universe.

There was a forum topic on CoolRunning Australia recently about altitude training. One response caught my eye. It was from V02, who attended an elite training camp at Falls Creek:

"Probably the single piece of advice that had the greatest influence over how I train was Nic's [Nic Bideau] view that most training sessions should be either 'white' (easy recovery runs) or 'black' (hard workouts designed to maximise a specific training effect). Most runners spend too much time doing 'grey' workouts, so they get sub-optimal training and sub-optimal recovery. After seeing how slowly Mottram did his easy runs, and how unbelievably hard he pushed his quality sessions, I was convinced of the wisdom of what Nic was saying and tried to apply this to my own training."

Guilty as charged! I'm a grey runner (or have been). My hard sessions have been wimpy and my recovery runs have been 'pushing it'. I'm fixing the second problem by using a heart-rate monitor. For 'white' runs, I try to keep my heart rate as low as possible – currently between 120 and 129 (73 to 78% of my 165 maximum). For me, this is a pace of around 6 minutes per kilometre – about 40% slower than my 5k race pace.

At the moment, my 'black' training consists of two types of sessions:
1) A long run of 2 hours 30 minutes or more including some hills.
2) Track sessions at Calwell or a track race. For the track sessions, I'm still following the plan I talked about in 'How to run faster'. Yesterday my 200s were under 40 seconds (39.1 average and maximum heart rate of 160). To me, this feels fast, but I'm sure I look like a Mack truck lumbering over the grass. In time I hope to look like a Falcon GT. There are plenty of quicker cars, but the GT is fast enough.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

D is for Difficult

Yesterday I covered 30 kilometres around and over Canberra's northern hills. I say 'covered', instead of 'ran' because there was much walking involved. My time for the 30k was just under 3 hours 45 minutes, for a paint dryingly slow average pace of 7:27 per kilometre.

For the first 18k I had the company of Steve, CJ and John. Well, I caught them at the drink stops and used some extravagant downhill running to stay with CJ. As fate would have it, I eventually did a 'Tuggeranong Don', not on the rock-strewn descent of Trent's hill, but on the relatively smooth trail near the gun club. Embarrassingly, CJ was right behind to witness my dusty demise.

After the first lap, the others sprinted off towards the rollercoaster while I plodded up Mount Ainslie for the second time. In one way I'm glad I had to walk so much in the last hour because I'll be using that form of propulsion quite a bit at the Six Foot Track. 7:27/km (or 12 minute miles) is scary, because if I averaged that on March 10 I'd finish in 5 hours 35 minutes, a PB of 43 minutes. That is not going to happen. Six Foot will be difficult.

It was also difficult last Thursday night. Luckylegs was in town to race the 800 metres at the AIS track. At the time she ran, it was 35 degrees (95F). A gentle run in that temperature isn't easy, let alone running at maximum effort for 2 laps of the track. I'm still quite amazed that she ran a 15 second PB (4:16.54). For a 77-year-old lady to run at 5:21 per kilometre pace... Wow!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Wishing and Hoping

I've finally chosen some running goals for 2007. It wasn't easy. As I've been way short of achieving my goals for the past two years, I agonised over whether to make them moderate or challenging.

In the end, I've gone for challenging but realistic. In setting these goals, I've used the Age Equivalent Times Calculator to come up with some times comparable to those I regularly ran in my thirties. I haven't gone for PB times as I'm not as driven to achieve PBs as I was back then. I've gone for 'average good racing times'.

So... here are my goals for 2007:

1) Track times - 1500m in 5:27, 3000m in 11:40, 5000m in 20:46.
2) Road times - 10k in 43:33, Half Marathon in 95:29, City to Surf in 62 minutes.

In addition to these, I plan on running the Nail Can Hill Run and the Six Foot Track Marathon. This will be my fourth Six Foot and my plan this year is to enjoy it and finish comfortably under the 7-hour time limit. Secretly, I'd like to run under 6:30, however, I don't want to spoil my track season by doing ridiculously long, hilly runs in training. I plan on running with Steve's group on Saturdays, but doing the smallest long runs I think will get me to Jenolan Caves.

By the way, my new profile photo was taken in eastern California at the Imperial Sand Dunes. It's a self portrait as Joy and Mal didn't want to get out of the car. It was hot!