Sunday, December 15, 2013

What difference does mileage make?

Once I recovered from the City2Sea I commenced a gradual return to regular running. After a few days I discovered that daily outings were reducing the level of pain in the left hamstring, and paradoxically, rest days had the opposite effect. I surmised that my gentle jogs were giving the cantankerous muscles and tendons a beneficial stretch while rest days caused them to tighten. On the eleventh day of training I was 20 minutes into an easy 8k run when I noticed a fairly sudden pain in the lower right calf. Instead of stopping and walking it in I continued jogging. The next day I had to limp just to walk — running was out of the question!

I took four days off, jogged (with only one brief twinge) the 2k race at Stromlo, then took another four days off. Last weekend I was visiting Urunga for an 80th birthday party and went body-surfing in the delightfully refreshing salty water. While doing this 'foreign exercise', I tweaked the calf again — how annoying! Another four days off were needed before I was able to jog 2k on the grass track and 2k at the Parkrun yesterday morning. The calf felt fine, so I plan to gradually increase my daily run distance over the coming weeks. I'll also try and improve my running form as I found (thanks Rick!) this great video showing miraculous improvements to chronic hamstring pain. Core engagement, pelvis position and hip mobility play key roles in solving hamstring issues.

Prior to the hamstring injury I'd been running around 64 kilometres per week. This mileage was all steady MAF heart-rate running apart from Parkrun 5k and YCRC races. A week after the 12k mountain run in early October I raced the Tuggers 5k Parkrun in 23:10 at an average heart-rate of 146 (close to my best 5000m track time for the year). Four days later the left ITB/hamstring started feeling niggly. Five weeks after the aforementioned good 5k I raced the same course again (flat out) and ran 25:32 at an average heart-rate of 149. Obviously my aerobic condition had fallen away with the dropping mileage. I'd averaged a little over 16 kilometres per week prior to the second 5k race. A gross simplification I know, but quadrupling my weekly mileage from 16 to 64 would appear to improve my 5k race time by 2:22. Mileage makes a difference to how fast I am in 5k races. Would doubling my mileage to 128 ks per week take another minute off my 5k time? Maybe, but I don't intend to try and run that many kilometres any time soon. Maybe when I retire! I'll let you know how long it takes me to get back to 64 kilometre weeks and sub-23-minute 5ks. I hope this will be a time measured in weeks rather than months.

My beach house at Urunga was air-conditioned but sandy

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Melbourne City2Sea Fun Run

This race was held last Sunday. It's a sister event of the Sydney City to Surf — same distance of 14k, but NOT the same crowd or hills. The field is limited to a very manageable 13,000 and the course is pretty much dead flat. My mate Jim encouraged me to enter after the City to Surf — he was going to 'do the double' of City 2 Sea followed by the Eureka Tower Run-Up. Mad bastard! Anyway, I'd entered and paid for everything prior to the hamstring injury so was committed to go, even though it looked like I may be a spectator.

In the end I was able to run (if in some discomfort) for part of the race. I decided early on to stop at 5k and walk the remaining 9k to the finish at St Kilda. It was a beautiful run — quite low-key compared to the City to Surf, but equally well organised. I started about 100 metres back in the 'Red Group' (for sub-75-minute runners). I would take a slightly embarrassing 1:52:10 to complete the 14k. I was pretty happy with my first 5k, keeping up with the people I was running with, clicking off ks of just over 5 minutes. Stopped at 5k in 25:42 (average HR was 144, the same that I recorded for the City to Surf!). Not fit!

Afterwards I easily met up with Jim (who'd run 71:08) and we caught a crowded tram back to the Arts Centre. We walked back to our hotel, then returned to the Eureka Tower. Jim then ran up the stairs, taking 14 minutes or so, exactly twice the time of the winner. Pretty impressive if you ask me!

Since then I've been doing short runs and the hamstring is responding well (to that, and stretching exercises). I think it's hamstring tendinitis. Anyway, yesterday I raced the Tuggers 5k Parkrun, finishing 53rd out of 161 in a time of 25:32. Average HR was 149, and more interestingly, maximum was 162 as I sprinted to the finish, successfully holding off an older lady. It's easy to get high maximum heart-rates when you're not fit!

Monday, November 04, 2013

Going fast, backwards

Over the last four weeks I ran 122 kilometres (30 and a bit ks per week); the four previous to that, 255. I'm injured, and rapidly losing fitness. I've done something to my left hamstring — I think probably related to the aftermath of the mountain race. I feel like the 23:10 5k, which at the time indicated a return to the 22-somethings (good for me at 56), was a dead-cat-bounce of a run. Now (if I could race) I wouldn't be confident of breaking 25. This injury has come at a bad time as I'm flying to Melbourne on the 16th with my mate Jim to race the 14k City2Sea fun run. I think I could be a spectator — hope it's a warm, sunny day!

I'm susceptible to hamstring niggles/injuries. A search back through my diaries since '04 reveals over 70 mentions of 'left hamstring', so there's something sinister going on there. I think the main cause is asymmetry. Few runners are perfectly symmetrical left to right — run blindfolded on a large flat field and you won't run in a straight line. We use our sight to keep running straight and make automatic adjustments to the stride to do this. Run on a flat sandy beach at low tide and measure your strides — one will be longer than the other, if only slightly. I'm right-handed (legged too — can't high-jump off my left leg) so I have a left hamstring weakness.

I think this hamstring strain is minor in nature. It's responding to rest. In the past I've been able to run through it, or at the most had a week or so off before resuming normal training. I had five days off last week but ran on Thursday and Saturday. Thursday I jogged 3k on the grass track and the hamstring was bearable. On Saturday I raced the Parkrun and the leg felt okay through the first kilometre. I actually ran my fastest first k split (4:43) and was gaining on Jim who ended up running a PB of 23:46. Running up the slight incline onto the bridge my leg started feeling sore and a few hundred metres later it was getting worse so I stopped running. A DNF! Well, after running 1.5k I walked the rest of the course so strictly not a DNF. I've run over 1000 races and had to DNF only five or six times. DNS is definitely preferable to DNF.

Running to a 23:25 in the Tuggeranong Parkrun on October 5 in my Brooks Racer STs

Sunday, October 20, 2013

I'm no Anton Krupicka

I've raced four times since the Sydney Half: two 5ks, a mountain race and another 5k. In the second of the Parkrun 5k races I ran a fairly pleasing 23:25 (similar to my form early in the year). There's a rather long Youtube video (26 minutes) of the first Parkrun in which I can be seen in a yellow shirt after the turn.

I entered the AMRA One Peak Challenge race as a substitute for my weekly long run. The course was 12k and included some lovely familiar trails and an early climb to the summit of Mt Majura. My mate Jim was running so I thought I'd run along with him for a while and see how the race unfolded. Jim bolted at the start so I let him go and settled in for the hike up Majura. I caught him fairly easily once we turned onto the bitumen service road. My undoing after that was catching a glimpse of Leonie's alluring blue and lemon striped shorts in the far distance. She reached the downhill trail with about a 45-second lead. I charged after her like the man from Snowy River, "down the hillside at a racing pace, striking firelight from flying flint stones and never drawing the bridle till I landed at the bottom of that terrible descent."

After another 4k of desperate pursuit I finally drew abreast of Leonie on the 'easy' climb to the drink station (around 9k) and ran scared down the next steep descent. Especially fearful when I glanced back at an uphill turn and spotted her less than 100 metres behind. "Bloody hell — I'm going to have to keep running hard!" And I did, all the way to the finish at Mount Majura Vineyard. Victory (11th place actually) by a mere 31 seconds. A costly victory though — for the next four days my quads were too sore to run. I'm no Anton Krupicka when it comes to racing up and down mountains. Training on relatively flat trails isn't good preparation for mountain racing.

Funnily enough, after a week of no running I raced the Tuggers Parkrun yesterday and ran just outside my year's best (23:07 on the track back in March), recording 23:10 for the 5k course. I wore the Brooks Racer STs and ran pretty even 5k splits: 4:51, 4:38, 4:32, 4:38 and 4:31. Had a good race with Adam early on and was closing on a young girl until 500m to go — gee kids can sprint at the end of races!

Sending flint stones flying on the descent of Mount Majura [John Harding photo]

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Blackmores Sydney Half Marathon

Another good race! I last ran the 'Blackmores Half' in 2009 as a preparatory run for the Melbourne Half. I ran 1:46:10 back then and three weeks later in Melbourne, 1:43:00. Sydney is a great course — all the races (including the marathon) start at Milsons Point, run over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, then meander through the city before finishing at the Opera House. This year I was also planning to run Melbourne as a goal race but unfortunately failed to get my entry in on time. Melbourne was to be a 'time challenge' against Canute, who is running the Robin Hood Half this weekend with the challenging goal of sub-1:40.

My preparation was less than ideal. A week after the Wagga Trail Half I came down with a bad case of flu — I was off work (and running) for five days. Jogged 45k the following week, culminating in a quite satisfying 'run by feel' Canberra Times 5k — 23:56 and 4th M50-59. The next week totalled 59k with a 13k 'long' run which ended up being quite a struggle. My goal for the Blackmores Half was to run with a similar strategy used for the Wagga Trail Half: start easy and finish strongly. I wanted the race to be an enjoyable hard training run rather than a desperate all-out effort that left me with a 3-week recovery period.

After catching the bus to Sydney I checked in at the Vibe, picked up my race pack and caught up with Fiona (Half) and Jarrod (Marathon) for a late lunch/coffee at the Metro Cafe in Hyde Park. It was a lovely afternoon! I wandered down to Chinatown in the early evening for a feed of rice and vegetables. Watched a little footy back at the hotel and set the alarms for the ungodly hour of 4:00 A.M. (the race start was 6:15). Caught a very crowded train from Town Hall and arrived at Milsons Point just before six. I queued up at the porta-loos, not too worried if I missed the start. I didn't think I'd miss it by 13 minutes! I was caught up in the 'C-corral' group so the first 600 metres before we turned onto the bridge were quite crowded.

I was running by feel and once over the 'hill' of the bridge was actually feeling quite smooth. Passing lots of slower runners is good fun! The course was crowded but I was never badly impeded and happy to run wide on some of the turns to find some vacant pavement. It was a beautiful cool, sunny Sydney morning — superb views in all directions. At 9k near the NSW Art Gallery I caught up to the 2:10 pacing group. I was wearing the cushioned Hokas and they felt great — especially on the downhills where I slipped it into the angel gear and let the shoes cushion the impact. I kept telling myself to hold back until 15k. Running a half marathon off insufficient long runs is rather daunting! There was a testing little hill running back onto the freeway following the turn in Ultimo but after that the last 5k was nice and flat. I actually felt a little stronger in the last 3k than I did at Wagga (no doubt due to the easier course). It was a fantastic sight running beneath the bridge, looking across Circular Quay to the Opera House. Finally a little ramp up to the forecourt and a modest sprint to the finish arch. 1:52:23. Fun race! My 5k splits were quite even (26:18, 26:41, 26:38, 26:51, 5:23 + 32) and after a week I've recovered well. If you get a chance, run this race — it's a good one.

Under the Sydney Harbour Bridge with 1k to go!
Sprinting to the Opera House. I may have lost in a photo to #4267

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Wagga Wagga Trail Half Marathon

 My new favourite trail race!

A week after the City to Surf I drove down to Wagga for a small family gathering. As luck would have it, the Wagga Wagga Trail Half Marathon was being held on the Sunday so I entered with the thought of using the race as my weekly long run. This turned out to be one of my best ideas ever! What a fantastic race. Loved it!

In my early running days (1980s) I ran during the week with a small Sydney group in the Lane Cove River Park. On Tuesdays we ran the road, out and back to the top gate from Fullers Bridge. Friday afternoons in summer we'd run 'both sides of the river' using an old timber footbridge to cross it at the northern end of the park. The trail was mostly single-tracks, broken by occasional grassy picnic areas (BBQ smells in the air as we ran past, with calls of "want a beer or snag?" from friendly locals). Al would manoeuvre himself to lead on the narrow rocky section, slowing things down before Steve would push ahead down by the river. Jenny would then scamper ahead over the sandstone outcrops. After an hour or so we were back at the bottom carpark. It was fun running!

The course at Wagga (from 4.5k to 9k) brought back vivid memories of Lane Cove. We were on well formed single-track mountain bike trails, zig-zagging through the woodland, up and down gullies, along contour banks, having a great time. All the runners were courteous, stepping aside momentarily to let us overtake (if we were faster). I was generally catching people and eventually fell in behind a group of two ladies and one bloke who encouraged each other along the tricky course. I followed them over the top of the hill, down along the edge of the golf course to the flat dirt roads on the outskirts of town. My steady pace took me ahead of this group (the bloke came flying back past at 17k) and up to other single runners. I was enjoying the flatter going, which at 13k switched from roads back to single-tracks beside the river. There were about five fence stiles to negotiate and one memorable section of soft sand (thankfully only 100 metres or so). My Hoka Bondis were performing brilliantly — legs were feeling good! I can only recall being passed by one runner in the last 5k — a young woman in black who said from behind "sorry, I'm a slow overtaker."

The half marathon distance is a slight stretch for me (especially on a hilly trail course), so I was happy to be back near the familiar part of the river, not far from the finish at the Wagga Beach. I heard a cheery "Go Ewen!" from Speedygoose Sarah-Jayne, who'd won the half in an incredible 1:32:38 (8th overall) as I 'sprinted' up the final bank to the finish arch. My time was 2:00:16 for 50th place in the field of 120. I'll be back next year for sure — see you there!

 Sarah-Jayne: all smiles before the start

 Half course is the second half of the marathon. Start bottom left, finish top right. My friend Rachel's full marathon report is a good read.

 Top of the hill, with most of the single-track running nearly over. What a beautiful day!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Desperate measures at the City to Surf

I raced my 29th Sydney City to Surf on 11 August. My goal was to break 70 minutes — the time required to start in the 'Red' first group of about 9,000 runners. My training indicated I could do this, especially after my good race at Dunrossil Drive. I decided beforehand to run using effort as a guide (usually the best method on such an undulating course) and hope that would produce sufficient speed. From previous experience (especially last year's race), I knew the split times I'd need at 5, 7 and 10k in order to break 70. I could be 50:30 at 10k.

Race morning was sunny and calm — perfect I thought, until I started to warm up. I was sweating! Training in a Canberra winter doesn't prepare one well for a warm Sydney day. I started in my usual spot on the left side of William Street, about half way back in the 'Red' group. I only took about 40 seconds to reach the start mats, then it was the usual scary rush, trying to avoid zig-zagging runners up to the Kings Cross tunnel. The crowd never thins out in the City to Surf (unless you're running 3:45 ks or better). By the other side of Edgecliffe (3k) I was no longer worried about getting carved up by anxious speedsters. Running along the flat section approaching 5k I was feeling okay (if warm) and moving well. Glanced at my watch and saw 24:22. A little slow! Didn't panic though as I was maintaining position and continued to do so on the run up Heartbreak Hill. The clock at 7k was showing high 35s (which I thought to be on schedule as the second half of C2S is at least a minute quicker than the first).

Along Old South Head Rd and into Military Road I was feeling the strain, but still moving with the crowd — keeping an eye on unusual runners: Spiderman, a young girl in Little A's uniform, grey-haired blokes and ladies in tights (way over-dressed). 10k was passed in 50:28 — hmm, should be able to run 19 for the last 4k, with the 13th being downhill. I was starting to tire, so used the downs to recover, saving something for the last kilometre. Got a bit of a shock at 13, with the watch showing 64:46. Geez, 5 minutes to get to the finish and it's a long drag along Campbell Parade! I increased the effort, tried to follow people who were moving fast and avoid those who were slowing. Not easy! Finally around the U-turn, space opened a bit left side near the crowd and I sprinted for all I was worth. Under the clock, stopped the Garmin and saw 69:45. Yes! That was close — I hate having to sprint like that! Official time was 69:39 for 7,908th place.

This year's City to Surf was one of my most satisfying. Back in May when I had the DVT problem I wondered if I'd make the start this year, let alone break 70 and maintain that Red-group status. Interestingly, my average heart-rate for this year was the same as last (144). I ran 67:54 last year on a much cooler day and wearing the lighter Kinvaras. This year I was training with a slight achilles niggle so wore the Brooks Racer STs as they have a more substantial heel. I've pulled up well from the race and actually ran (not raced) a trail half marathon in Wagga Wagga on Sunday — 2:00:16 on one of the best trail courses I've ever run. I'll tell you about it next post...

In the Domain with 'Legend' Keith Mayhew, who has run all 43 City to Surfs (first 20 in under 50 minutes)

Sunday, August 04, 2013

A surprisingly good race

I had a good race yesterday — the Dunrossil Drive 4.2k cross country event (one of the rare local courses which dates back to the '80s). On a sunny day (cool headwind for the 200 metres prior to the far turn), I finished 16th in 18:48. That's an average of 4:29 per kilometre for a course that has its fair share of soft going, exposed tree roots, turns and undulations. There were 31 finishers.

I wore the Saucony Kinvaras for this race and was pretty psyched up to run hard after a poor result last Saturday (49:53 for 10k on a flat road course). My warm-up was a 2k jog followed by a good number of strides on the gentle grass downhill near the start. After 300 metres or so I found myself in a group of runners I knew well: Hugh (48 sec 400m in the day, fast finisher!), Charlie (first 30 Canberra Times 10k races under 40 minutes), Brian (barefoot runner and 75-minute half in the old days), Jim (broke 40 for 10k once) and Thommo (closing in on 20 for 5k as a 50-54 runner). Robbie was about 40 metres ahead of our group.

Jim was setting the pace down the first hill and it took a while before Brian and I drew abreast. Thommo pushed on and made a gap of 10 metres,  then Brian loosely covered this move. I followed these two around the far turn near the Governor General's front gate. On the run back up to the hill I caught Brian and ran with him as Thommo pulled us both towards Robbie. Soon after, Brian dropped off my shoulder — I could see Thommo was gaining on Robbie, so I tried to keep the ocky-strap from stretching too far. Just prior to the half-way turn we passed Robbie. For the second half of the race I ran hard, in fear of being caught by Brian or Charlie. I knew I was slowing as Thommo gradually pulled away (my lap splits were 9:18 and 9:30). He finished 13 seconds ahead.

Although it was a cross country race, I think this course relates well to a flat 5k. Back in 1989 I ran 15:05 as a 32-year-old and was racing track 5000s in just under 18 minutes. Adding 18-19% to a Dunrossil Drive time would appear to show 5k flat potential. If so, I'm pretty happy to be in 22:11 to 22:22 form for 5k right now. The MAF training is working. One rather sad thing about yesterday's race was how few runners were competing in what was once a premier event on the calendar. In 1989 I was 63rd in a field of 195. Where are all the runners these days?

Dunrossil Drive cross country starts near the 'green balloon' and runs on the southern side of the drive towards the Governor General's residence. Two laps. Scrivener Dam and the National Arboretum in the background.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Hoka Bondi and the Bush Capital 16k

I'm back in Canberra following a brief holiday in my old home town of Wagga Wagga (the city so beautiful they had to name it twice). While I was there I lashed out (over $200) and bought a pair of Hoka One One Bondi B shoes. I've been wanting to try a pair of these after reading many online reviews (including this one from Peter Larson), and hearing good reports from friends. Amazingly, these shoes aren't sold in Canberra!

I've only run in them twice: on my relatively flat, lakeside bikepath course in Wagga and in yesterday's hilly off-road Bush Capital 16k. The first run in Wagga was a revelation. I couldn't believe how soft the Hokas made running on concrete feel. It's the first time I've not sought out the softer dirt verge while running on a bike-path. I'd run the same course two days prior in my Nike Frees at a heart-beats per km cost of 697 (very good for me on that course). In the Hokas that number was a slightly inferior 717, however I had run a hilly 15k the previous day and on the day I wore the Hokas I was pushing into a headwind for the second 5k (it had been calm when I ran in the Frees).

My Hoka Bondi Bs weigh 392 grams (size US13), while my Free 5.0s are 310 grams. The extra weight of the Hokas isn't that noticeable (apparently the Hoka Bondi Speed is lighter). My Saucony Kinvaras are 246 grams and are a great racing shoe. The Hokas have a 4.5mm heel-toe drop, so similar to the 4mm of the Kinvaras. While I was running in them I didn't feel like my form or movement was different to when using any of my other shoes. I was happy to 'land hard', both on the flats and downhills due to the ample cushioning, so perhaps muscular elastic recoil was cancelling out the softness of what you'd think would be an energy absorbing shoe.

I enjoyed the Bush Capital 16k yesterday. I ran the first uphill easily (as can be seen by the splits), with Leonie way off in the distance. Once on the flatter parts of the trail I worked on slowly bridging that gap. I was about to catch her just after 5k when she stepped off the trail for an unscheduled pit-stop. After that I ran with various runners, to-and-fro depending on the trail's gradient (I was slow on the ups). Legendary local veteran Trevor Jacobs jogged past on the climb to near the grave of Trent North as I walked. On the smooth part of the downhill I got back 'in the lead' with a 4:38 km split. I was running next to a girl in a purple singlet at this stage — our pace/energy levels being very similar. We ran the next 4 kilometres together until the final (downhill) one. I sprinted off, with the target of Lucia (pigtail flying) up ahead. Passed her just before the gate, only to have Trevor surge past me just afterwards (bastard!). To add salt to the wounds, the girl in purple had the audacity to out-kick me! The Hokas worked well (and I'm not stiff walking around this morning, a good sign they may help recovery). My time was slightly slower than last year — 1:28:13 vrs 1:26:14, however we had headwinds to contend with this year and the ground was softer after recent rains. My average heart-rate was 140 this year and 139 last year. I think the Hokas will help my pavement sensitive legs do the long runs needed for half-marathon training (while helping recovery). I'll let you know.

My km splits & profile of the Bush Capital 16k

Hoka One One Bondi B improves my view

Hokas decide it's time to fly, running a 4:38 11th k next to the girl with the purple singlet

Monday, July 08, 2013

Personal Best

How long has it been since you've run a 'PB' (PR for my American friends)? A month? A year or two maybe? For myself it's been a very long time — 22 years! My last Personal Best was run as a 34-year-old. Haven't double-checked, but I'm sure it was the track 10,000 — 36:33.8 on a warm, calm night at the AIS Warm-up Track. I was pretty excited to say the least — even though I lost contact with my club-mate David mid-race (he ran 36:10 from memory). It's funny, but at the time (although happy), I didn't think that's where my 10k PB would remain. I hadn't executed the perfect race and was confident of at least running 'in the 35s' — but it didn't happen. These days I'm chasing M50 Personal Bests, even though at 56, I'm "pushin' sixty" as Ken likes to say. My main target is the 5000 metres, which at 21:29 seems doable after a 22:14 last year.

Even though my last PB was two decades ago I relived that euphoric feeling just last Friday. I rowed a 2000 metre PB on the Concept2 erg — 8:05.5, just over 10 seconds faster than my previous best. I was excited! This was a 'lifetime PB', not an age-group one. Achieving something you never have before is, well, different. When indoor rowing you're looking at a 'speedo' with various readings, one of which is a constantly changing estimated finish time. Half way through the row this pesky number had dropped back to 8:12, so I was very pleased to finish fast and log a number close to my sub-8-minute goal.

My running is also going well. All training runs are steady MAF efforts (HR under 130 for me) and last Monday Cathy dragged me around the Speedygeese 8k warm-up course at 5:32 per k (ave HR 126). This compares well with runs I was doing prior to last year's City to Surf, so I'm happy about that. I raced an 8k cross country event on Saturday and felt good. The distance was about 400m short so 39:20 works out at 5:11 per k on a rough course and my heart was doing it pretty easy at an average of 139. I have one major 'tune-up' race prior to the City to Surf — the Bush Capital 16k. That's the big test to see how easy or hard a sub-70 C2S will be on August 11.

 Garmin HR data for a 2000 metre rowing PB
Four laps of 1.9k. It was green and wet, not brown!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Bookend Runs

Last Monday was a public holiday (Queen Liz's birthday), so I drove to the War Memorial to do the short version of one of my favourite long-run loops. The distance was 12.5k — I'd run this same course just prior to the DVT diagnosis. That run took me 1:13:40 to complete, at an average heart-rate of 129 (right at my MAF HR). On Monday I ran 1:13:22 at 128. So it looks like I'm back to where I was (in terms of fitness) before the time off. Or near enough — I'd observed it was windy for parts of the run in April.

After the diagnosis I had 24 days off from running (or any form of exercise more strenuous than vacuuming). On the 25th day I resumed running — jogging actually. All runs since then have been at MAF heart-rate (except for a weekly 2.5k cross country 'race' were the last kilometre would be over MAF — I'm not going 'all-out' in these). I've gradually built my weekly kilometres: 9, 28, 40, 49 and 56 this past week. I'm on 20 mg of Rivaroxaban per day until August at least. I see the specialist then to have another ultra-sound and blood test.

My running is going well and I'm hopeful of being fit enough to run under 70 minutes at the City to Surf in August. I've been running a hilly trail course — letting myself go a bit on the downhills (as recommended by Phil Maffetone in his book as a way of introducing speed while staying under MAF heart-rate). The short 'downs' of these runs would be around 5-minute k pace, while the 'ups' would be over 6-minute pace. I can also feel some benefit coming in from the Concept2 rowing — still not doing a lot of weekly metres, but my technique is improving. I rowed 5k in 21:39.7 recently, which ranks me 53 out of 70 in the world for 2014 season of the 50-59 age-group. I can feel that the rowing is strengthening my quads/core and also benefiting me aerobically. Haven't been doing too much Xootring though, mainly on account of how bloody cold it's been! That'll be a Spring to Autumn sport. Yes, I'm soft.

Yesterday I watched the ACT Cross Country Championships at Stromlo — it was cool and sunny — perfect weather to watch people race!

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Jogging, Rowing and Xootring

My arm is slowly returning to it's wimpy good looks. Must admit, it's taken much longer than I expected for the swelling to go down. The haematologist was happy with my progress when I saw her last Monday. The Ct-scan was good — showing no underlying abnormality. The blood test was also good, although my haemoglobin was low at 131g/L (historically, it's always been between 125 and 145 so I guess my body isn't keen on iron). The weekly volume of jogging is slowly increasing (40 kilometres this past week). I haven't been doing a lot of rowing on the Concept2 as I want to wait until the arm is feeling 100% before ramping up the volume.

I'm interested in the relationship between rowing and running — how 'good' rowers compare to runners. Some rowers say there's no relationship! You're either a good rower or a good runner. With rowing, it's an advantage to be heavier (up to a point) with elite male scullers being around the 90kg mark. For indoor rowing records there are two classes, with the lightweight class being for males under 75kg (I scrape in at 74.1) and females under 61.5kg. Records for masters rowers are much closer to rowing world records than similarly aged runners are to running world records. For example, the indoor rowing world record for 5000m is 14:58 (set by Rob Waddell, the Sydney Olympic gold medallist), while the M50 record is 16:24 (a difference of 1:26). The 5000m running world record of 12:37 is 2:16 slower than the 14:53 M50 world record. Running is faster than rowing, but at the moment I'd run 5k in about 24 minutes and can row it in 22:27. Think that means I'm more suited to rowing than running. Perhaps I chose the wrong sport 33 years ago!

As well as rowing, I've also taken up scootering for cross-training (and for fun!). I decided to purchase an 'adult sized' small wheeled scooter (rather than a kick-bike) — mainly due to the portability (it folds up and you can carry it with a strap over your shoulder). The "ultra-low-resistance polyurethane" tyres don't get flats! I can scoot on Canberra's bike paths and never have to stop to fix a flat tyre. See this short video of my first attempt — a bit wobbly, but I didn't stack so all good. My technique has improved and I can now scoot with either leg (and switch legs on the fly). Out of interest, the following graphs show my heart-rates for the three activities — a hard 5000m track race, a hard row and an easy scoot.

A 5000m race from last November (when I was fit!), a 5000m 'novice' hard row and a 5k 'easy' Xootr

Sunday, May 26, 2013

It's Been A Long Time

Yesterday I ran. It's been a long time since I did the stroll — been a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time. It was good! Ran in the Tuggers Parkrun, trying to jog at MAF heart-rate (130 for me) — ended up averaging 132 with my underused heart soaring into the high 130s on every miniscule incline of the 'dead flat' course. Time was 31:09 and heart-beats per km 822 (an all-time PW for a race).

My legs felt okay and more importantly my arm wasn't throbbing (like it was in the last couple of runs before the DVT was discovered). I'm now on a reduced dose of 20mg of Rivaroxaban per day for the next 3 months. The swelling has reduced but it has a way to go before every would-be arm wrestling challenger I approach stops crossing to the other side of the street. I haven't gone back through my diaries but I'm pretty sure 24 days off running is the longest streak I've had since a plantar fasciitis injury in the early 1990s.

Whilst I've been off work I investigated rowing ergometers with the view to purchasing one — as a cross-training tool primarily, and also to race in competition. Local veteran runner Bryan Thomas has one — he and wife Trish are very keen indoor rowers. I had a go and was convinced I'd enjoy rowing so lashed out and now have a Concept2 Model D set up in the spare room. Clearly from the video below my technique needs polishing! If you'd like to see how to row well on an ergometer, the lady on this video can show you how it's done.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

I've been told not to run

My running came to a sudden, unforeseen stop last Wednesday. The doctor told me not to run until my arm had "settled down" — at the moment, it's settled, but settled up! On the Monday prior, I'd noticed significant swelling in the arm, which came on abruptly. A visit to the E.D. and an ultrasound showed numerous blood clots. Turns out I have DVT in the arm — unusual, as when we think of DVT the legs come to mind. The cause in my case is uncertain. It could be due to a trauma (I vaguely recall bashing my wrist into a door a while back), or some underlying 'mechanical' cause. Further blood tests and a ct-scan later this month may shed further light on the mystery.

I'm on a 3-week course of Rivaroxaban (2 tablets per day), followed by a further 3 months of 1 tablet per day. This drug thins the blood and prevents further clotting, but from what I've read, it's the body's own systems that either break down the clots or divert blood around the damaged veins. The danger of running while I'm in this acute phase is that more rapid blood movement may dislodge a clot and move it to the lungs. The doctor said "unlikely now" [that I'm on Rivaroxaban], but that I should be careful. She said light (lower HR?) exercise is okay and encouraged, such as walking but running is out until the swelling has reduced. Apparently this could take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a month or more.

So, my immediate running and racing plans are on hold. No dicing with Janene in the Mother's Day 5k Classic this Sunday! I'm hopeful of being able to race in the City to Surf in August. I think July's Gold Coast 10k could be too soon. In the meantime, I've commenced a streak of not running — now up to 7 days and counting. Go me!

 Left 'normal' arm and right 'Popeye' arm (with skin graft)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Grey is Okay

Does anaerobic running erode aerobic fitness?

Back in 2007 I wrote 'Guilty of being grey' — I confessed to being a 'grey runner' who didn't run black and white workouts (either very hard or very easy). Maffetone training is grey running, so how can it be superior to black and white training? I think, for 80% of the population, Maffetone training is the best method to improve (run faster) and stay healthy.

Many elite runners swear by black and white training, so why wouldn't a 'cut-down' version of this work for the average weekend warrior? I think the answer lies in the theory that regular lactic acid production (over time) somehow erodes aerobic fitness. There's a lot of anecdotal evidence of this — one famous 13-page thread on had many examples of runners who were successful because they didn't do anaerobic interval training. Bob Hodge (2:12 marathoner) said "Most folk's never approach the pinnacle of consistent running that they can handle, therefore the intervals become 'premature withdrawals' from the bank of mileage base they try to build." Other runners reported early season PBs after a winter of steady base-building, then becoming excited and introducing interval training (to further improve their speed), only to have performances paradoxically tail off over the racing season.

I think we hobby joggers need to remember that elite distance runners are typically doing a LOT of aerobic running. Those on mixed running programmes of the type popularised by Pat Clohessy and Chris Wardlaw are running upwards of 160 kilometres per week. Less than 5% of this mileage would be lactic acid producing anaerobic running. I have a theory that the large amount of aerobic running they do is sufficient support to ward off any erosion of aerobic fitness. A 'cut down' version of this mixed training would have me doing less than 3k of interval-type training each week. Even so, would the other 57k of aerobic running be sufficient support for this breathless pain? More to the point, if all my weekly running was aerobic, as it is now (with some very short sprints and drills), would my improved fitness produce faster racing? Distance races of 5k or more, after all, are mostly reliant on aerobic energy. I found another page that takes the view that traditional 'hard/easy' training is not the best method — Re-Thinking The Hard-Easy Myth, which promotes the idea that regular repeatable daily running is the best way to develop an athlete's oxygen uptake. Pretty much Maffetone heart-rate training, but running by feel. Heart-rate monitors would come in handy to stop these kids from turning some workouts into races! In the Letsrun thread I mentioned earlier, 'dwayne pipe' recalled seeing the Lasse Viren documentary 'Running is Your Life' (on Youtube in Finnish!), in which Viren ran much of his 200 miles per week "with a heart rate in the 120's, very very slow, and he would run progressively slower if his rate continued to rise." A predecessor of Maffetone?

 10k trail ends at the grass track for short sprints on grass

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Taking a look at Maffetone Training

I'm not long home from cheering on runners in the Canberra Marathon / Half / 50k races. Yesterday I raced in the feature event of the weekend — the Adidas 5k Fun Run. I had a good race! Ran strongly all the way, enjoyed some one-on-one racing with various people (mainly youngsters), caught a fast-starting Janene inside the last kilometre and recorded a respectable time — 22:46. One memorable duel was with an 8-year-old girl in pink. Caught her with about 500m to run, settled for a bit then threw in a strong surge. Thought she'd been despatched but then she came flying past with an impressive kick over the last 100 metres. All good fun!

My sister gave me a Kindle for Christmas and I've downloaded a few books, the latest being 'The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing' by Dr. Philip Maffetone. I was impressed by Mark Cucuzzella's enthusiastic review on Amazon, summing up the book as 'The best holistic approach to endurance for life.' Mark follows Maffetone's training methods and has an impressive list of running achievements, including winning the Air Force Marathon in 2:38 at the age of 44.

I've only read 7% of the book (according to Kindle) but I'm enjoying it and think it'll serve as a good reference to guide my training. Phil Maffetone is well known for using heart-rate monitors to coach athletes. What I didn't know about is the emphasis he places on the 'holistic approach' to training. Running needs to fit into one's life in a balanced way. Stressful work and home time plus stressful training (hard interval sessions and high mileage for example) doesn't produce successful racing. The Maffetone heart-rate 'zone' is the 'fat-burning' zone and running in it is usually relaxing and not stressful. My MAF (maximum aerobic function) heart rate is calculated to be 130 (180 - my age of 55 + 5 for running history) and by feel I can tell that 130 is a good number for me. Phil Maffetone recommends that as much running as possible be done in a 10 heart-beat range up to MAF heart-rate, so my range is 120 to 130. This quite suits my 'run by feel' philosophy — 130 on flat ground equates to a pace (at the moment) of about 5:30 per kilometre. As my aerobic condition improves, my pace at HR 130 will get faster. I can run well by feel on a day to day basis too — if I've had a stressful day at work I'll do a shorter run, closer to 120 HR; if I feel good and fresh, I can run longer and/or faster and/or over a hillier course. I have a 12k 'rolling hills' trail course which seems to be ideal for building leg strength. Anyway, I'll expand on my thoughts once I've finished the book and with a few months of training in the diary.

My palindromic number for the Adidas 5k

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Now that's why I like racing!

I'm still thinking about the race I ran last Tuesday — 5k on the cross-country course at Stromlo. It was the final event in the YCRC 'Summer Series' of races. For once my legs felt okay during the warm-up — they weren't springy and raring to race, but just as importantly, they weren't dead tired and lifeless. After five or six strides I lined up a couple of rows back in the field of 58 runners. Weather was about as good as it gets for summer racing in Canberra, about 14C with a light breeze.

I started my Garmin (didn't look at it during the race) and ran up the first gentle hill at what I guessed was the appropriate effort, ignoring my 'competition'. After 100 metres I noticed that Speedygeoff had bolted (an unusual tactic), keeping pace with Maria and Helen. Brian was running barefoot a few metres ahead with Phil, Charlie was behind (already) and Janene was about 20 metres up the course with Miriam. Brian was despatched after 500 metres, then I ran down the first hill in the company of Phil and Greg. At this stage (1k in) I felt like I was in control, but close to my limit. On the next uphill section Phil dropped back, followed by Greg. I wanted to race Miriam and Janene, but they were 30 metres away. Miriam is an old rival (38 for 10k as a pup and 90 for the half as a Master), while Janene is a new rival. I  gradually clawed back metre after metre during the first 2.5k lap and noticed the digital clock reading 11:18 at half way. Now that's a good split! Can I catch the two ladies?

Janene seemed to tire a little on the next hill and I managed to catch up. Miriam was a few metres ahead. On the next downhill stretch the speed came on again. I was breathing hard, pretty much at my limit, so sat behind Janene down the next hill and along the bottom of the course. I needed a rest! Would have liked to 'help out' with the pace if I could, but that would have put me into anaerobic territory. Anyway, as we raced up the next hill I managed to pass Janene, then Miriam on the flat part after the crest of the hill. After that I ran as hard as I could beside the dam for the last 700 metres to the finish. Caught Daniel with 500 to go, ran with him, but his finishing kick was stronger. Don't know what it looked like, but I felt like I was sprinting! Finished 34th in 22:41, thinking to myself "now that's why I like racing!"

Criterium and cross country course at Stromlo Forest Park

Sunday, March 17, 2013

An ordinary 5000 metre race

I raced in the ACT Veterans' 5000m Championships last Thursday evening. Must say that it was exciting to line up for a 5k track race which had 22 starters. Usually 5000s are combined with a 3000 and most runners 'bail out' after seven and a half laps. My race was pretty ordinary — finished 19th in 23:07.27 — quite a bit slower than the 22:17 I ran last November. Back then I was hoping to be in 21:45 form by March, but it hasn't happened. I'm not exactly sure why. I suspect it's down to two things: My training needs to improve and my recovery needs to improve.

I'm not hugely disappointed with the race because on the previous evening's 7k jog my legs had felt 'sore all over' — I seriously considered a DNS listing for the 5000. The race ended up being a bit of a solo time-trial. Kathy sprinted off to a 10 metre lead in the first lap (she would run 22:09) — my legs just weren't feeling good enough to go with her. She'd dropped from a faster group who were running about 21-minute pace. Weather conditions weren't ideal for solo running — it was cool enough, but there was a fresh southerly breeze to push into up the home straight. I tired pretty badly in the fourth kilometre and was caught by Pete with one k to go. He just went straight past! He ran 22:53. My splits were 4:26, 4:39, 4:43, 4:45 and 4:34.

On Saturday morning I jogged in the Ginninderra 5k Parkrun. If I can ever get used to racing hard early in the morning, this event (or the Tuggeranong version) could be worth lining up for a fast 5k attempt. After the race we walked around to the local retirement village's cafe and enjoyed a coffee, cake and chat. The perfect morning!

Great prices at the retirement village cafe!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

How bad do you want it?

My recent training has been okay — not exactly where I want it to be, but not too bad. I should say that the idea of taking one, two, or three rest days per week (that I talked about in Bob and Janene Recovery Days), is not one that I've taken up with fervour. I put it out there as an idea that may work well — my main problem with it is that it makes for some very large mileage days if I'm to hit the weekly and monthly kilometre totals I need to maintain (or improve) my aerobic base. I've been averaging 72k per week (45 miles), which is about my 'tipping point' — any less and my aerobic condition starts to fall away.

Recent training:
Monday - 15k of easy running with the Speedygeese.
Tuesday - 10k very easy (6:25/k) during and after the YCRC race.
Wednesday - 8k with 5k at tempo pace (5:11/k) on the grass track.
Thursday - Rest day.
Friday - 17k long run, easy effort (5:43/k).
Saturday - 10k slow Mt Ainslie trail run.
Sunday - 10k Stromlo 4 x 1k intervals: 4:55, 4:50, 4:38, 4:33.

My tempo and interval sessions have been moderate. I've been holding back quite a bit with the Stromlo intervals — my legs are too creaky early on a Sunday morning to run hard. I don't want to pull a hammy or calf. I've been running 4:30 to 5:00 for the kilometre repeats (10k to half marathon race pace), so they're not anaerobic at all.

I read an online Running Times article last week which made me think I should do more — especially in terms of mileage. It was about Sheri Piers, a 41-year-old runner from Massachusetts Maine who is training to run a sub-2:35 marathon (her PB is 2:36:59). What struck me about the story was the relentless way Piers attacks her training. She never misses a session, runs 145 to 209 kilometres per week, and fits it in around motherly duties and a full-time job. She also does some crazy-sounding sessions — like 10 x 1 mile with 1-minute rests, 22 miles on an indoor track (176 laps!) and a 24 mile long run on a treadmill. An amazing lady. However, I thought it a little sad that she intends to retire from competitive running once she can no longer improve. She said "I'm not going to be falling off the cliff. I don't want to go and run a 21-minute 5k."

Balloons at Stromlo distracted from the subject of my photo - the BMW R1200 GS

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Bob and Janene Recovery Days

I run most days. Unless I'm exceedingly tired or don't have the time (I'm an afternoon runner). I like running! I've always thought that rest days are overrated — have so since around 1984. Prior to then I'd always taken Friday off (we raced Saturdays) but when I switched to running seven days a week my running suddenly improved. My 5k race times went from 19 minutes down to low 18s, then high 17s. I thought that running every day had made me faster. Well, it sort of had. Really it was the consistently higher weekly volume — my aerobic ability had improved. By running on Fridays I'd added an extra 15k per week — 100k instead of 85. "Miles make champions" Arthur Lydiard had said, and while 60 miles a week was nowhere near Arthur's recommended 100, at the time it was suiting me quite well.

It's now 2013 and I'm a (slightly) older runner and (reluctantly) happy to take a rest day if I feel I need one. However I'm not quite sure that one day off does me any good! My running on the day that follows a rest day often feels creaky and rusty. So how about two consecutive days off? I'd read Janene's blog post where she reported having two days off followed by a day of easy jogging and strides. The next morning she raced 5k in 23:16, 67 seconds faster than what she'd managed 4 weeks earlier. Wow! In my training week of 11 to 17 February I took two days off and followed up with a weekend of 'good' training — 20k on the Saturday and 19k (including 1k intervals) on Sunday. That week I still ran 76 kilometres.

I think this method of training may work quite well. Days off (or very easy jogging/cross-training days) followed by 'hardish' days. These days would contain a decent number of kilometres (15 or more) — in that way, the weekly volume I need in order to be strong aerobically could be managed. I'm taking this idea from Bob's recent training. He's been running 4 days a week (3 days off) while still running around 80k per week. Yes, that's averaging 20k on his running days (which are all 'hard') — he runs interval sessions, hill repeats, tempo runs and long runs. He's also 65 years old and training to run a 3:04 marathon at Boston!

 Think outside the bubble to improve your running. Geoff and myself looking suitably stunned following Cookie's fun-run win this morning.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Still learning

Well, that was an interesting week of training. Learned a couple of things — yes, after more than 30 years of running, I'm still learning. Had a 5k race on Tuesday, which I ended up running at 'tempo' effort. That day followed a big Monday — a tempo effort 10k 'mountain' race in the morning and 8.4k of jogging at Speedygeese training in the afternoon. The day prior to that I'd run an interval session at Stromlo, which followed a 5k 'tempo' Parkrun on the Saturday. Four hard days in a row. Am I crazy, or what?!

I rested Wednesday, 'enjoyed' an ordinary run Thursday on the grass track, a great easy run Friday (it was cool), struggled on Saturday's long (13k) run and was looking forward to the Speedygeese interval session at Stromlo this morning (another cool day). During the warm-up I plodded around at 6:25 per km pace, legs as tight as piano wires (the thick ones). Man, I was not looking forward to this! Even contemplated continuing to jog around rather than attempt something which resembled fast running. We (two girls, three boys) lined up at the top of the hill for our session of 3 x 1000 metres (700m jog back the short way recoveries). I thought "I'll start easy and see how I go."

For the first one I finished a few steps ahead of Miranda in 4:38. The rolling downhill (with some flats and ups) on the lovely spongy grass seemed to coax some life back into the legs. I ran the next kilometres in 4:15 and 4:10, followed by an unscheduled 'bonus' one in 4:29. As I jogged a slow warm-down with Geoff, Andy, Miranda and Kylie I was thinking to myself "that turned out amazingly well!" I'd completed the session more or less as planned in spite of tight legs. It was a 'gift run', as was my easy run on Friday — a day which I'd almost taken as another rest day. This week I've learned two things: interval sessions can turn out well even if the warm-up is shite, and don't do four hard training days in a row.

Kylie leads the way on the Stromlo warm-up

Keen spectators ready to observe the first 'down' of our 1k intervals

Monday, January 28, 2013

Running by feel and heart-rate monitors

I raced a disappointing 5k at the Gindy Parkrun on Saturday morning — 24:02 when I thought I could easily run a minute faster. The whole race was a struggle, so no fun at all! Training has been okay — good Speedygeese sprint relays on Monday, an introduction to 200 metre intervals on Friday and some fast (downhill) kilometre intervals on Sunday. Now those were fun — felt like I was running fast and smoothly for a change and the times backed that up: 4:12, 4:07 and 4:01. Maybe I've just been having an off week or two.

Anyone who reads my training diary will know that I habitually record a lot of data. For aerobic runs I'll record the course, time, pace, average/maximum heart-rate and the weather. Why? Well, it's useful to have a history of data for backwards comparison — I can see what sort of training I was doing when I was 'in good shape'. However, this doesn't mean (as an ageing runner) that repeating training blocks that resulted in PB times is the best way to train now.

I'm a huge advocate for running (and racing) by feel. I know how easy running should feel. The same for tempo running, intervals, sprinting, hill repeats, racing and long runs. One thing I don't do (these days) is 'heart-rate train'. When following Hadd training back in 2007 I used to stay strictly within the suggested zones for various training sessions. If my heart-rate went too high during an easy run I'd stop and walk! These days though, I'll start the Garmin prior to a run or race and not look at it until I've stopped. I run by feel and ignore the numbers. The only exception would be if I'm running a new out/back course and I'm looking for a kilometre point on the way out.

The main thing I like using post-run heart-rate data for is to work out my 'RS result' (for Robert Song who I got the idea from). The RS number is actually 'heart-beats per kilometre' — it's calculated by multiplying average heart-rate for the run by average kilometre rate (you can use heart-beats per mile too). Every week I'll do a steady run over a familiar course of 8 to 10k (often the Speedygeese warm-up) and afterwards calculate my RS number. I think it's a great way to keep an eye on one's aerobic fitness (besides racing a 10k or half marathon — which one doesn't want to be doing every week!). Each runner will have their own scale of what's great, average or below average in terms of aerobic fitness. For myself at age-55, below 690 h/beats per km is great, 715 is average and over 800 means I'm not fit!

The best place to finish a 1k interval — lowest point at Stromlo!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Assessing strengths and weaknesses

When I buy Running Times from the Erindale Newsagency I'll turn straight to the 'Masters Running' section. The website also has a good range of articles for older runners — recently I found a 'Web Exclusive' called 'Five Minutes with Malcolm Campbell'. The interview backgrounds Campbell's running history and finds out about his preparation to win the USATF National Club Cross Country title (10k in 32:47). One interesting thing about the preparation for that performance was that Campbell increased his yearly mileage to 4,000 (average of 124k per week) from the 2,500 to 3000 miles he had been running. He said that the higher level of mileage enabled him to recover faster from training and racing.

Another thing from the interview that really caught my eye was the way Campbell assesses his readiness for racing. He said "I work on improving four different systems to function as close to 100 percent as possible. These systems are endurance, recovery, speed endurance and finally speed — change of pace acceleration." I think that's a great basis for a self-assessment system for all distance runners. I'd probably add 'consistency' — the regularity of our training over weeks, months and years. I've assessed my current preparation as follows: Endurance 85%, recovery 70%, speed-endurance 75%, speed 50% and consistency 90%. How are you going? Probably better than myself in some, worse in others.

In JKK-style, my latest training:

Monday - 10.5k Speedygeese session (recovery run for me).
Tuesday - 8k, some on the grass track (easy day).
Wednesday - 10k, 3k 'easy tempo' on the grass track at 5:20/k.
Thursday - 10k long tempo run in 53:48 (warm and smoky).
Friday - 5k very easy, 3 on the grass track (recovery run).
Saturday - 15k long run progressing from 6:20 to mid 5:30 ks.
Sunday - 10.5k Speedygeeese Stromlo intervals - 4 x 1k.

 Chatting about the weather prior to Stromlo intervals

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

No rest days in 2012

I did something last year that I'm not sure I'll ever do again — ran every day for a minimum of 5k per day. Yes, a modest streak of running compared to 2:09 marathoner and Commonwealth Games champion Ron Hill's multi-decade running streak. I'll blame Karla and CJ for getting me started on the streak. It seemed like a fun thing to do back in November 2011! Then fellow streakers Geoff and Janene kept me honest in friendly competition.

Did I learn anything from this obsessive-compulsive-disordered craziness? Anything useful that is?! Well, a few things: It's possible to run every day and not get injured; one can run with a bad head-cold during a wet, cold winter (outdoors); a new appreciation for the secret Steve Moneghetti training session — when asked what was the best training session to improve one's running, Mona said "the 2 x 7 x 365" (run twice a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year).

With all that running (3,728 kilometres), my racing performances pretty much stayed the same throughout the year. My first 5k at Stromlo on 31 January was a 23:30 and my last on 4 December a 23:21. Between those races I ran a very pleasing road 10k at the Gold Coast — a 45:11, my fastest 10k since 2008. I didn't run the 5000m track race I think I was capable of — the 22:17.48 in November should have been 30 seconds faster. Similarly for the Melbourne Half — a 'pinched nerve' kept my finish time down to 1:44:30. I think a 1:40-41 went begging that day. Looking forward to this year, I'll continue to try and race "a good" 5k (time yet to be defined) and also chase a sub-1:40 time (and a 'victory' over Canute) for the Canberra Half in April.

Thanks all for reading and commenting on the blog over the past 12 months. I was snowed under with pre-Christmas work, followed by 'family time' during the holidays so I'm a little behind on reading and commenting on your blogs. All the best for 2013 and enjoy your running!

On boxing day the Wagga geese weren't that speedy. It was hot!