Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Fistful of Running

My first week of the Hosaka-Hadd Training Plan is behind me — 125 kilometres of running in eleven sessions. My shower is starting to go mouldy! For the future, this volume of training seems doable, but not something that will be despatched with the certainty of my mate Scott demolishing a personal-best time whenever he finishes a race.

Speaking of the 3:00:08 marathon man, he recently wrote a post that caused me to spray a mouthful of Twinings Earl Grey all over my keyboard. Scott reckons I could pass for Clint Eastwood's better looking younger twin brother. Do you really think so punks? Go ahead, make my day! If you don't think so amigos, I'll order three — no four — coffins.

Avid Six Footer and ultra runner Two Fruits is wondering how I'll hold up to the double running and high mileage. It's too early to say, but I hope I have the miles/recovery/sleep balance right. Runner Susan wants to know if I was stuck for a blog idea. Not stuck Susan, just falling asleep on the couch when I'd normally be typing! One thing I can say already is that my aerobic fitness signs are promising.

I'm a big fan of the Robert Song Scale for tracking how aerobic improvement is progressing. Robert Song multiplies average heart-rate by the average pace of a run on a particular course to come up with a number, which I call the RS result. For example, if I run my 12k course at 5:12 per km with an average heart-rate of 136, this equates to an RS number of 707. This happened to be the first run I did yesterday afternoon. The lower the RS number, the better. On January 22 I ran the same course at 5:25 per km with an average heart-rate of 134, giving an RS number of 726. To me, yesterday's run seems like a significant improvement, even though it was 21°C in January, and 9°C yesterday.

Seconds later I was flat on my back after a belly punch from TessoLike Clint Eastwood in A Fistful of Dollars, I wear black! [Tesso took this photo of Helen, Robbie and myself just prior to the start of the Canberra Marathon-Eve 10k — then she gave me a punch in the guts for good luck]

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Putting in the hours

I raced 10k yesterday afternoon. It was a spectacular day — the sky suitably blue and free of clouds. The gentlest of breezes disturbed the tall grasses in the paddock I have for a back yard. I was excited to be racing again and curious to discover how I'd react to 3 weeks of distance training. I've run weeks of 118, 112 and 108 kilometres. In the end, I had what I'd call an "okay with it" type of race. I ran 46:56 — 18 seconds slower than for last October's Melbourne 10k, but on a harder course. It was a 5-lap course — the first two laps included a short gradual hill, with the next three laps a long gradual hill. I had a fun race with JD (who caught me on the third lap) and an unknown girl in pink. It came down to a sprint finish. I managed to get the better of JD, but the UGIP came with a late rush and surprised the both of us!

I've been following what I like to call the Hosaka-Hadd Training Plan — running as many 'doubles' as I can — usually 6k in the early afternoon followed by 12k a couple of hours later. I've decided that a morning run at 4:30 a.m. isn't going to work for me through a Canberra winter. Running under a cool sun is a far more enjoyable prospect, so I've advanced my clock-on time at Tiny Global Corporation by an hour to 5:00 a.m. This means if I'm not working overtime I can be home by 1:15 p.m. and off for my first run of the day shortly thereafter.

I'm going to make a concerted effort to run what I consider to be "high mileage training" — at least for a number of months. For me that means running consistent weeks of 125 or more kilometres (78 miles). It's something I've never attempted before. Ever. In my wild youthful days there were some weeks of 110 to 130 kilometres, but never for weeks and months at a time. I want to do significantly more running than I'm used to in order to see if it has any positive effect on my aerobic fitness. There will be races during this period, but I'm not planning on tapering for these races.

I don't expect the Hosaka-Hadd Training Plan will be easy, but as Bryan Brown said in the following song by Karma County: "You've got to want, you've got to need. But most of all, you've got to put in the hours". I like this video-clip because it's quintessentially Australian — there's the Hills Hoist and the BBQ; and just like at the home of my youth, the car gently scrapes it's exhaust as it's driven into the driveway.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Hosaka is my new Hippie Steve

I decided not to race on Thursday night. I was tempted by the final 3000 metre event of the season, but lethargy got the better of me and I stayed down south and ran on the sumptuous grass at Calwell. There will be plenty of opportunities to race on the track during winter in the "High Noon" meetings. I've commenced base training, running 118 kilometres last week and what looks like being 115 this week if I manage to do the 16k run planned for Sunday.

My favourite running heroes are what I like to call "blue-collar runners". They work in ordinary jobs, fit in their running when they can, and often do amazing things with modest talent. In the 1980s I admired Hippie Steve, who ran with our group in Sydney's Lane Cove River Park [number 8 in the photo on this page]. Steve was a great enthusiast and I was forever impressed by the way he could run 35 to 36 minutes for 10k at Lane Cove without even thinking about it, and also be happy enough to jog the bush track on Fridays with snails like myself.

Now I have a new hero, although I'll never get to run with him, and his talent may be slightly superior to Hippie Steve's. Thanks to Bob, I've become fascinated by Yoshihisa Hosaka — the 60-year-old Japanese runner who in February ran 2:36:30 for the marathon. Yes, Hosaka is even quicker than my other hero — that connoisseur of black fish and huge exotic marathon PBs — Scott Brown. Apparently Hosaka tries to average 30 kilometres per day when training for marathons — 10k in the morning before work and 20k in the evening.

I've tried to emulate Hosaka by running 6k in the morning and 12k in the evening on eight days in the past fortnight. Now before all you brilliant mathematicians jump in and say that only adds up to 18k, I'll quickly add that I'm a much slower runner than Hosaka, and my kilometres take longer to run. A hard 6k for me takes around 33 minutes to complete, whereas a hard 10k for Hosaka would have him on the road for perhaps only 35 minutes. My 6k course follows a 2k loop through and around the suburb where I live. About half the course is on a lovely dirt track and it climbs about 50 metres in the first kilometre of each lap.

One interesting thing I've noticed on these "double" runs is that my resting heart-rate prior to the afternoon run isn't as low as it would be if I'd had a normal break of 23 hours between outings. It's been about 4 beats higher and consequently has remained high during the second run, even when my legs are telling me I'm running easily. I'm not quite sure what to make of this. Is it a good training effect, or am I overdoing things?

Anyway, good luck to all who are racing this weekend. Run like Hosaka!

View from space of my 2k loop near home

It's not exactly flat!