Sunday, November 22, 2009

I'm no Herb Elliott

I raced in the 1500 metres at ACT Vets last Thursday night. I ran in heat 2 (slower runners), which was a good choice — I would have finished last by a long margin in the first heat. Prior to the race I was thinking a time of around 5:50 might be possible, but I was nowhere near that. Ran 6:01.36 for 4th place out of about 12 starters.

I enjoyed the racing aspects of the race. It felt like a 5:30 1500! I started on the very outside of the curved line and when I joined the inside runners found myself next to Bronwyn. Roger and Amanda were well ahead, followed by Kathy Sims. On the first curve I clipped Bronwyn's feet but thankfully she stayed upright — sorry about that Bron. At this time I think Helen got inside me so I followed her through the first lap in 94 seconds.

Up the back straight for the second time I managed overtake Helen. I focussed on trying to reduce the gap to Kathy, and could hear Helen following me closely. The second lap was 98 seconds. Heath then went decisively ahead, so I tracked him through the third lap — 99 seconds for that 400. With 200m to run I could sense Heath struggling, so I eased past and sprinted (figuratively) the last 100 metres. 70 seconds for the final 300m.

I want to improve in the 1500. As yet, I'm not feeling the benefit of the Pete Magill drills, but I still have faith that they'll help me become a better runner. I ran a good session of them this morning with Ruth on the lovely shaded grass opposite the National Portrait Gallery. Finished off with 5 x 10 second steep hill sprints back at Parliament House, followed by coffee and 'people-watching' down by the lake.

1. Roger Pilkington 5:31.30, 2. Amanda Walker 5:44.33, 3. Kathy Sims 5:58.40, 4. Ewen Thompson 6:01.36, 5. Heath Pearce 6:01.97, 6. Helen Larmour 6:02.64.

Running steep sandhills helped HerbWatch the video of Percy Cerutty and Herb Elliott running up steep sandhills

Friday, November 13, 2009

Counting down the laps

There are certain things I don't like hearing when racing 10,000 metres on the track. Things like, "Eighteen laps to go!" It's a long time from that point until the sweet sound of the clanging bell when there's one lap to go.

I ran the 10,000 last night mainly as a test of my fitness. I knew from the previous few days' training that my heart-rate wasn't where I'd like it to be for a race of this length. After my fight with the chicken last week my legs felt sprightly during the Speedygeese hill session on Monday, but while running I was wheezing like an old man walking up a steep flight of stairs. Good legs, not so good heart and lungs.

At the start of the race I slipped into 4:30 per kilometre pace — just in case the running gods were benevolent enough to allow me to run under my 50-plus PB of 44:54.57. I settled in behind Burkie and Roger for a couple of laps, then started to drop back — just as Speedygeoff cruised past. For the remainder of the race I was running alone — keeping alert by trying to guess the identity of lapping runners from the sound of their feet. The 5k split came up in 22:44. It was about this time that an unusually slow starting Pete Cullen overtook me and steadily drew ahead. He'd go on to run 44:54.42! I plodded a bit in kilometres 7, 8 and 9 before managing some semblance of a kick-down over the last two laps. Final time was 46:38.11 — not too bad under the circumstances, but it leaves me wanting more. Don't competitive runners always want more?

My plans for the rest of the summer are to "get into good shape" and race 1500, 3000 and 5000 metres on the track. Perhaps some 800s too — an M50 PB for that extended lung-burning sprint has to be doable!

Splits: 4:27, 4:29, 4:32, 4:35, 4:41 (22:44), 4:44, 4:50, 4:53, 4:49, 4:38 (23:54).

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Why did the Wombat cross the road?

I'll give you one possible answer to the title question of this post, but feel free to come up with something more humorous. Answer: I crossed the road to exorcise the chicken.

A bit of unintended drama this week. I should have listened to my mother when she told me to thoroughly chew my food before swallowing! On Wednesday evening I ran with friends around the Wetlands — somehow managing to miss out on some interesting conversations by running behind Chris and Andy but ahead of Jen and Ruth. I'm always missing out! On the way home I bought take-out roast chicken for dinner. I took a phone call during dinner, then was rushing to finish eating before bedtime. Long story short... I ended up in casualty at Canberra Hospital early Thursday morning — admitted for an operation that evening to remove the evil piece of chicken from my throat. All good now after being collected from hospital by Joy (my mate Mal's wife) on Friday afternoon.

Three days off running have left me feeling unfit. How can that be?! I ran a Pete Magill drills session this morning and finished with a trial run of three repeats up a 60 second hill (as recommended by Kathy in my last post). My legs felt good during the drills and semi-good for the hills, but the heart-rate was quite high for the whole session. I'll wait until Thursday before deciding whether or not to race the 10,000 metres.

Kathy's hillA good hill near home for 60-second hill repeats

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Which training plan is the best?

Robert Song wrote a comment on my last post (The Secret to Running Faster) which I thought worthy of discussion. Yes friends, there's not a lot happening in this Australian territory of running heaven. Spring has finally arrived — sunny days in the 20 to 30° C range have replaced the wet and windy ones of less than 10° C. I continue to train — weeks of 63, 71, 64 and 90 kilometres have included 3 sessions of Pete Magill drills. I sense a slight improvement in my stride, but it's a work in progress. Fingers are crossed that this particular work isn't of Sagrada Família proportions.

Anyway, back to Robert Song's comment: "Maybe if you shaved off your beard and hair, it could make all the difference to your performance ;-) You seemed to have tried every other plan going around."
This is true! The bit about trying every other plan, not the bit about running sans beard and hair — that's not going to happen! I like trying different training methods out of curiosity. I want to see what effect they have on my body. I'm not in a desperate quest to find the holy grail of training methods. I don't particularly mind if a training method produces slow racing. I spent the year of 1984 doing "high quality, low mileage" training (two track sessions, a race and other runs at a good clip), which produced unspectacular races. In that year, my 3000s were around 10:30, whereas when I ran with higher mileage I was usually in the 10:00 to 10:10 range. Such is my curiosity for experimentation.

Now I also know that "high quality, low mileage" works brilliantly for runners of a certain body-type and talent. So I don't dismiss this type of training out of hand. The drills sessions that I'm now doing would work well within any type of training plan. In a high mileage plan they'd have to be on a day/run when one's legs are feeling good, so that would need a little finessing. I'm finding myself waiting for such days even on my current moderate mileage. Doing drills with dead legs isn't a great idea!

The following photograph is from this year's Lake to Lagoon Fun Run. My sister Jane took it, and the location is just two blocks from the family home of my youth. I ran this race in the late '70s when it used to go in the opposite direction. I like the ever-so Australian EH Holden in the background. Our family car was a slightly newer HK Holden station wagon.

Racing on a sunny day in Wagga Wagga#1656 hangs with the mid-pack 3k into the 2009 Lake to Lagoon Fun Run