Sunday, June 28, 2009

Running again

I've had song lyrics going around in my head this week — lines from two songs in particular: From Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi, I've been singing "Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone"; and from Paul Simon's Slip Slidin' Away, "You know the nearer your destination, the more you're slip slidin' away".

I'm running again. Hallelujah! Okay, that's over the top — but I'm so happy to be running. Have I told you that I like running? Twelve weeks of averaging 112 kilometres per week have been followed by two weeks which included eight days of "nil" in the diary. I ventured out yesterday with great trepidation to huff and puff my way around the Kangaroos & Wombats course. Apart from the high heart-rate and particularly rusty form, it was all good.

Next Sunday I hope to be a starter in the Gold Coast Half Marathon. The nearer this race has come, the more my condition has been slip slidin' away. Nevertheless, I intend to thoroughly enjoy my brief few days in the blazing Queensland sun! I'll take a few Kodachromes while I'm there, and catch up with you all on the other side.

Me on the beach at Surfers Paradise, 2007On the Beach at Surfers Paradise, July '07

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Off the rails

You might have guessed correctly that my running has sailed into a bit of a lull this past week. At least I hope it's just temporarily becalmed. Last Sunday during my long run I noticed a slight niggle in the left shin. On Monday it was aching enough that I cut short my run with the Speedygeese. I rested Tuesday and Wednesday, then ran a not entirely comfortable 7k on my Fire Trail course on Thursday — 5:08 per km pace at 84% of maximum heart-rate.

On Friday I went for a walk, and made my first YouTube movie, Looking for Kangaroos and Wombats, which you can view below (if you have a spare 5 minutes) — I walk around my 7k course and manage to get some good film of the local wildlife. Yesterday I rested again (the shin was feeling better), and this afternoon I might test the leg with a short run at Fadden Pines.

I think my recent tiredness and higher heart-rate on the 7k runs was an indication that I was teetering dangerously on the Hosaka-training tightrope. I'm thinking of scaling back the volume for a while (to around 90-110 km per week) in order to regain my balance. I hope everyone is having a great weekend, and is doing better than me at staying balanced!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Racing tired

I raced 6k with the ACT Cross Country Club this afternoon. I didn't run that well! The race used the "old" Jogalong course in Stromlo Forest. It's a slightly slower course than the "original old" Jogalong course, due to the fact that the last kilometre of the race is uphill, whereas it used to be downhill.

It's one of the courses I ran in the old days — as a 32-year-old whipper snapper I placed 41st in 22:54, splitting sub-3-hour marathoners Carol Ey and Mary Silver. Today, 19 years later, I was a little over 6 minutes slower — 29:05 for 51st place.

As a race, it was good and bad. I felt I was running well during the first 3k, and actually closed to within 10 seconds of my habitually fast-starting rival Jim (who would finish just over a minute ahead). I was thinking 'gee, I'm going to catch him today!' before the wheels promptly fell off as I hit the rutted uphill bit. From then on it was a struggle. A woman in black passed me, as did Andrew G, and during the last long uphill kilometre, Burkie. Heidi would have been next, but thankfully the finish-line arrived in the nick of time.

I'm not enjoying racing tired. Two weeks ago my race at North Lyneham was pretty uninspiring. As for training, yesterday was another 7k + 10k Hosaka double. Now these training days have been going well! I'm enjoying them — even in the 2 degree temperatures we've had recently. I just about have the repeatable balance right. Not quite Zen days, as Scott suggests they should be, but getting close. Tomorrow will see another 120k for the week under the Frees/Asics, for a 4-week total of 480 kilometres. I'm thinking about racing the Canada Day 5k next Sunday, but with a week of easier running first! I'd like to feel fresh for a change.

The Jogalong course in Stromlo 'forest'Follow the yellow dirt road!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

A training day, repeated

I'd like you, my readers, to consider something which may at first seem absurd: What is the type of training day you could repeat ad infinitum, à la Yoshihisa Hosaka?

Why I ask, is that after doing quite a few Hosaka-style days, I'm learning something new about myself as a runner. You see, taking 24 hours and repeating it requires a certain tightrope-like balance. Get it wrong and you teeter to one side, and find yourself suddenly shifting weight to the skyward end of your flailing balance pole. Of course, under ideal circumstances, these adjustments would be subtle, and undetectable to gasping onlookers. You won't suddenly need a rest day from running to regain your balance.

Now some of you will be clever, and say something like "I could run 5k per day ad infinitum", or if you're a speedster like Jo, you might say "My repeatable training day would be a 5-lap warm-up and 5 x 200m sprints". That's the easy way out! I want you to think about a day that might be close to your limit. A day right on the edge of your comfort zone. Let me know, hypothetically, what this day might be.

For myself, I've zeroed in on about 17 kilometres per day. From Tuesday through to Friday I run this in two sessions: 7k after work, which I run on trails at mid to upper aerobic effort, then an hour or so later an easy 12k out and back towards Rose Cottage Inn. I've learned rather quickly to rein myself in during the 7k run, lest the 12k become an excruciatingly slow plod, and I find myself sleeping for 9 hours instead of 8 — not a good look when I stagger into work all bleary-eyed, half an hour late! I run the 7k at between 5:10 and 5:25 per km, although if my aerobic condition improves, these paces may become faster. On the weekends, although I could do the same, I usually run once per day for around 17 kilometres. On Monday afternoons I run an easy 14 or so with the Speedygeese.

Now is this a logical, sensible or effective training plan? To tell you the truth, I'm not sure. Perhaps you can offer an opinion? I'm doing it in essence, as an experiment. I'm trying to understand Hosaka, and what made him the fastest 60-year-old marathoner in the world. I don't have an overwhelming desire to break 21 minutes for 5k or 1:38 for the half marathon, although as a side-effect of this unusual training plan, that would be nice. I'm quite enjoying the simplicity of running the same amount and effort during 24 hours, for day after day.

My last training week went — 14, 7-12, 7-12, 7-12, 7-8, 18, 9-8. The last 7 weeks in kilometres have been — 126, 124, 123, 69, 113, 126 and 121 — so not quite the beautiful set of numbers that Hosaka records, but I'm working on it.

The 3 Amigos - David Appleby photoThe good, the bad, and the ugly. This photo proves bearded runners are faster. In this recent "race" at North Lyneham, both bearded runners finished well ahead of the clean-shaven one!