Sunday, May 30, 2010

Reasons not to race a marathon

First up, a confession. I haven't followed my simple plan to perfection. Running last weekend was the second thing on my mind. I had a couple of days in sunny Melbourne with my non-running friends Joy and Mal. The primary purpose of our visit was to see the Blues thrash the Hawks in an AFL game Sunday afternoon (Mal is a huge Blues supporter). Sadly, "our team" lost — badly! We slunk out of the ground before the final siren.

I managed two runs — 7.5k on the hotel treadmill (finishing in a lather of sweat), then on Sunday morning a lovely 8.3k run up the south bank of the Yarra River to the famous Tan track. While in Melbourne we also shopped (Joy for shoes, us boys for motorcycle accessories), visited Mali at the Melbourne Zoo, and won/lost money at the Casino. It was a good weekend.

Back in cool Canberra I ran 4 x 500 metres on Friday afternoon, then a solo 15k in the rain Saturday morning, before catching up with serial marathoner Liz for a coffee. The 500s weren't that quick (2:07.5 average — 6:50 mile pace), but what was amazing was how they seemed to transform Saturday's easy run. My stride felt easier, longer and bouncier than it's usual slow-run shuffle. A friend of Flo's linked to her blog an article in Running Times where coach Greg McMillan talks about changing the stride of Paige Higgins. According to Greg, Paige is a "super shuffler", who needs to improve her stride in order to make the US team for the London Olympics. I'd like to improve my stride so I can run a faster 5k. That's the distance I'd like to improve the most. After listening to Joe, Flo and friends at the Runners Round Table, I now have a couple of extra reasons not to rush into another marathon.

Bikers and the BeachMy mate Mal (blue T-shirt) in April 1983. We were having a 4-Owners motorcycle club weekend at Narooma Beach

Friday, May 14, 2010

A simple plan for a simple man

I've devised a training plan to (hopefully) carry me through this busy period of wage-slavery and emerge from the darkness as (perhaps) a better runner than I am now. An admission here: I like backing sure things, and it wouldn't take much to improve from being a 24:02 5k runner!

My plan borrows from Yoshihisa Hosaka — the World's best M60 marathoner, who repeats the same training day ad infinitum. In my plan, I repeat the same two training days. The first day calls for a longish easy run — 90 minutes to an hour 45, which is around 14 to 16 kilometres at my pace. The second day is short — 7 or 8 ks, run as some sort of workout. This could be as simple as a sustained upper aerobic run, to as complicated as 8 x 400 metres with 200 metre jog recoveries preceded by a set of Pete Magill drills. I'll decide on the day what I think I need/can cope with/would enjoy.

Every eighth day will be a rest day. That bit is borrowed from the training of Paula Radcliffe and Mara Yamauchi. The diary will look something like: 16, 7, 14, 8, 16, 7, 16, Rest. What is the thought process behind my simple plan? Day one is for cardiovascular endurance but is gentle running, so easy on the legs. Day two is for running at efforts somewhat slower than (or faster than) 5k race-pace, and using race-pace form. I think this modest plan will help me hit a sweet spot of training that produces improvement. On the weekends I'll run on soft trails through local bushland with friends and curious kangaroos.

Three kangaroos watch us runWe often see kangaroos on runs around Canberra

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Zen and the Art of the CRRF 5k

I talked in my last post about the idea of planning a strategy to beat an opponent in a race. This presumes one is capable of running with the opponent in the first place — just as Marty Liquori was capable of running with Jim Ryun in 1971. On Saturday afternoon in the CRRF 5k I was no Marty Liquori. After 1k I was already 30 seconds behind my rival, Jim White. I was having the Dave Moorcroft dream — racing in the 5000 metres at the '84 LA Olympics; losing contact early; being lapped by the winner; eventually finishing 14th, a minute outside my PB (which happens to be the world record).

I'm not running well. Maybe I've caught the Scott Brown or Steve Lacey virus? I've been working unavoidable longer hours recently — 10 hours or more some days. Training at the end of a long work day isn't something I look forward to. Maybe I should employ a Zen attitude and pretend that swinging a sledge hammer on a railroad gang, knocking down them cross ties in the rain, is a pastime of beauty and empowerment?

The ugly splits: 4:30 (147), 4:41 (153), 4:58 (156), 4:47 (153), 5:07 (153) = 24:03. Jim ran 21:49.

Me trying to race 5kNadine snapped this photo and posted it on Facebook. I'm running through the park up the hill (well, it felt like a hill!) — I think I look suitably tired but not totally ugly.