Monday, January 26, 2015

The most exciting thing I've read about running in a long time

A very long time! I've been following the running career of American 2:14 marathoner Nate Jenkins for many years. He has kept 'training diary' style blogs on various websites (including Running Times online) and has recently resurrected his own blog. He tweeted two weeks ago about one of his blog posts titled 'Strides' — immediately I followed the link and my eyes widened; brain ticked over (slowly) as I read words that made so much sense, thinking to myself: Yes! Yes! Yes!

I expect you'll click the above link to read all about strides and return to this post later. That's okay. Do it!

Strides are very short runs. You jog into them, accelerate over a distance of 75 metres or so to 'near top speed' then ease off to a stop. You then walk until fully recovered (this depends on how fit you are) and repeat. Nate mentions the numerous benefits that come from running strides regularly and often —"every single day if you can." In the 'old days' I used to run strides prior to every track workout and race, which would be roughly three times per week. I've done six 'sessions' of strides (mainly following runs or races) over the past two weeks and am starting to feel some fluidity returning to my running movement.

Strides also fit in perfectly with my mostly steady MAF heart-rate zone training. Being so short (and untimed) they're not stressful in the least. Lactic acid isn't produced and my heart-rate during a stride (if recovery is sufficient) only just reaches the top end of MAF heart-rate (around 130 for me (about 80% of my 162 maximum). After 100 metres of walking between strides my heart-rate has recovered to around 94. My intention is to run strides following every run (and before races) if I can. I'll let you know how it goes.

Strangely alone during the last k (4:36 split) of the Tuggeranong Australia Day Parkrun 5k on a very warm and muggy morning.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

4th place at the Bowral Parkrun

Yesterday I raced the Bowral 5k Parkrun in the beautiful Southern Highlands of NSW. Seven runners from Canberra made the trip — Jim (driving), myself and Bryan leaving at 5AM for the 2-hour journey to Bowral. We'd had a lot of rain on the Friday and overnight but thankfully the day remained overcast and mild. In the carpark of the Briars Country Lodge and Inn (run venue) we met the famous Norma Wallett (W85) as well as Ruth and Marg, having already surveyed the notorious damp grassy 500 metre finish hill.

At the start, Jim took off like a man on a mission to break the M65 course record, vying for the lead of the race down the grassy slope towards the bikepath by the river. 'Go Jim!' I thought, 'he can't last at that pace!' I settled into a smooth rhythm once on the bikepath, running in step with a young girl for quite a while. Jim was a good 150 metres ahead, but starting to fall back through the field. I caught up to Jim well before the turn on the out/back course and then tried to catch other runners. Ran with a young bloke in a black shirt for quite a while (Luke I see from the results). On the run back towards the grassy hill we were slowly catching the first lady (Lorraine). Half way up the hill I overtook Luke, then Lorraine with a 'sprint' over the last 100 metres. 4th place! 24:13 was my time (ave HR 143), but the course was considerably harder than the Tuggeranong Parkrun!

Others in our group ran very well — Norma's time of 35:20 was just outside her W85 course record; Marg broke the W65 record; Bryan the M70 record and Ruth was within shouting distance of the W60 record. Before driving back to Canberra we celebrated with breakfast at Maccas in Mittagong.

I'm happy with how 2015 has kicked off. The previous week I ran 23:23 at the Tuggeranong Parkrun on a warm, humid morning. My running goal this year remains the same — to race 'a good 5k'. Yesterday was a good 5k, but the finishing time was less than good! I'm confident of running under 23 minutes soon, but the ultimate goal of a sub-22 Parkrun "isn't meant to be easy!" as my old running mate Malcolm Fraser once said. I'm very much looking forward to enjoying the process of trying to achieve that goal. After all, that's what it's all about.

 Jim finishing the Bowral Parkrun!
The amazing Norma Wallett races up the grassy finish hill at the Bowral Parkrun
Happy Canberra group after the Bowral Parkrun