Sunday, March 28, 2010

Unsure about Christchurch

I've been thinking about the Christchurch Marathon — it's on the 6th of June. That's ten weeks away — just enough time for a marathon preparation under normal circumstances. Trouble is, I've been struggling to recover from the Six Foot Track. The legs are feeling pretty normal now, but aerobically I'm not great. My heart-rate is much higher than usual for any given pace. I didn't start in the 5000 metre race last Thursday. I'll wait a few more weeks before deciding one way or the other about Christchurch.

Yesterday I ran 20 kilometres around the lake — quite slow at 6:23 per km (10:49 mile pace). I ran with Ruth and Jen, who were happy to jog easily on what was a typically perfect Autumn morning in Canberra. We saw many others doing the same thing, including Martin, running fast with a back-pack.

Something else I've been thinking about lately is the possibility of running better. That's "better" as in running with improved form. Would overhauling my form help me to run faster? Paul showed me a link to a fascinating video which shows a side-by-side comparison of a female runner using markedly different running form. The left half of the video shows her running with a heel landing while the right side shows her with a forefoot landing. The forefoot side certainly looks better, and if function follows form, one would have to say it's probably faster.

Three geese having a rest on the bridgeSelf portrait of three Geese on the wooden bridge

Monday, March 15, 2010

An email from Colin

I'm sitting here feeling a bit battered and bruised, licking my wounds while thinking about what was a fantastic weekend in the Blue Mountains. It started last Monday with an email from Colin Jeftha, Race Director of the Six Foot Track Marathon, offering ten guaranteed last-minute entries. There had been late withdrawals from the race and the committee wanted the event to start with "as close to the 850 race limit as possible." In a sliding doors moment of impetuousness I pulled out the credit card and entered.

My taper wasn't that scientific! I jogged shorter and easier with the Wednesday group, then had two days of no running. This didn't work! My legs felt ominously sore during the first slippery downhill 300 metres of the race. Once at the bottom of the Nellies Glen steps I continued to run easily hoping the legs would come good. They didn't. My official split at the Cox's River was 1:51:21, about 9 minutes slower than last year. I knew then it would be a long day!

From the Pluviometer (26k in 3:46:08) to the finish at Caves House there was much more walking than jogging. 2 hours 50 minutes is a long time to cover 19 kilometres! I was extremely happy when Finisher's Medal #7 was hung around my neck by a smiling volunteer after a 45 kilometre adventure. 749th place (out of 806 finishers) in 6:40:05. I'm not sure this over-distance run will have a positive effect on my 5000m race on 25 March, but right now I'm not too worried. It was a fun weekend.

Damper and tea prior to the startPre-race breakfast with Graeme (5:49:22), Steve (4:52:15) and my cousin Don (6:11:41)

Wondering what I'm doing here!John Harding's photo shortly after the Wave 3 start

Happy 6ft runners the day afterThe day after - Nick (4:58:28), Steve, Ewen, John (5:18:06), Graeme, Catherine (6:13:55), Michael (5:21:21) and Diana (6:35:37)

Monday, March 08, 2010

How do we run?

I've been reading some interesting blog posts from Steve Magness about running technique, shoes, barefoot running and the like. There was one about footplant and the role it plays in efficient/fast running. Apparently a mid-foot or forefoot landing is faster, due in part to the 'storage' of elastic energy in leg muscles and tendons. Mid or forefoot landings also produce shorter ground contact times. The one caveat is that changing your running form from a heel landing to a mid-foot landing needs to be done gradually if one is used to the cushioned shoes designed to touch the ground heel first.

Yesterday afternoon I did a session of running drills with Ruth and Jen on the grass near the Portrait Gallery. When we'd finished I took some slow-motion video of our running footplants. My camera is not the greatest for this as it only records video at 30 frames per second. A high speed video camera would be better. I've slowed the video down to 5 frames per second in the YouTube video at the end of this post.

On Saturday morning I ventured out with the Molonglo group — we started in light rain, which soon abated. The temperature throughout the run was about 19°C. Andy turned at the National Museum while Ruth and I continued around West Basin for a total of 30.5k. Ruth ran extra to make 31, but I'd had more than enough at 30.5 — that's close enough to a nice round 19 miles, so my obsession with round distances was amply satisfied.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Long runs are possible

I'm similar to Joe Garland (and Flo for that matter), in that I won't feel bereft if I never do a long training run again — once the marathon is over. The 30k on Saturday went well. It was one of those calm sunny mornings that Canberra prides itself on this time of the year. Hot-air balloons were floating high over the lake.

We were out for a bit over three and a half hours, but the running time was 3:06. Coming back through the Wetlands near the end of the run, the foot-bridge over the river was blocked for repairs. We ran down to a railway bridge and sheepishly made our way across, then bush-bashed through an old dump before climbing a few fences and rejoining the path. All good fun! Bronwyn's Garmin map below shows our anti-clockwise trip around the lake and the detour near the end. The run went so well that I'm planning a similar distance on Saturday. It's most likely that I'll aim for the Christchurch Marathon on 6 June.

The YouTube video below shows part of the warm-up run for the Speedygeese Monday session at Parliament House. Yesterday we ran 'relay sprints' on the soft grass in front of the house. 30 minutes in teams of 3 — it was challenging and fun!

A run around the lake + a slight detourFollow the yellow bitumen road (and a railway bridge)