Sunday, December 27, 2015

Fresh running legs for a fresh year

Bring on 2016! Firstly though, a summary of my running for 2015. I feel a little like 'You Had One Job' on Twitter (in that I had one goal for 2015 and missed it by 'that much'). My goal was to run 5k in 21:59 or faster and as the year ends, my best time remains the 22:31 I ran at the Tuggeranong Parkrun back in April. Despite this failure, I'm ignoring the pleas from my friends to find a new job. My goal for 2016 remains the same: break 22 minutes for 5 bloody k!

I'm excited about my prospects for achieving this singular goal and I'm about to tell you the reasons for my enthusiasm. Two things really. Firstly, a revelation from my holiday in the good old U S of A. During those six weeks I did minimal running (and no cycling) and as if by magic my legs recalled a feeling from long ago: freshness, youthfulness and springiness. I wrote a blog post back in 2011 about the undeniable value of having springy muscles. If you have springy muscles and tendons you travel further with each stride (a free ride if you will, that all young runners enjoy). Towards the end of the US trip my legs were feeling youthful again, even though my lungs began to feel old due to declining aerobic fitness. The second thing is a chat I had recently with a bloke in my age-group (55-59) who runs the Parkrun in the mid-18s (and is surely on his way to breaking 18). Paul told me he thought I had the ability to run 20 minutes for 5k and was very confident I'd easily break 22. He then told me about the minimal running he does; how he combines it with cycling and how he always races with 100% effort on fresh legs.

The deliciously exciting conundrum I'm now faced with is to figure out how to arrange my cycling and running training so as to always be racing with 100% effort on fresh legs. I've been reading The Time-Crunched Cyclist and wondering how to combine that type of cycling training (high intensity, low volume) with my running training. I'm unsure at the moment how to do this and can foresee some experimentation in the early part of next year. The temptation I'll be trying to resist will be to do more volume, as the other exciting news I have for you is my decision to continue my Professional Runner's Lifestyle experiment indefinitely! I'm retiring permanently from wage slavery on the 8th of January, 2016. I apologise to Mark and others for being a total prick in the jealousy-inducing stakes. The low stress and ample recovery time available to the professional runner IS all it's cracked up to be. It's been a very long time indeed since I've felt this relaxed.

I'd like to wish my readers all the best for 2016. May your running goals be challenging and achievable. I'll let you know how my training plan evolves in future posts. Now, back to my rest day!

Cycling beside the Murrumbidgee River at Wagga over Christmas

Monday, December 07, 2015

Successfully avoiding the excesses of an American diet

I've been back in Australia since Thursday afternoon and feeling recovered enough now to get back into the running routine. We enjoyed a wonderful holiday (just short of six weeks), but man, the typical American food on offer was hard work. So much meat; so much cheese; so sweet and salty; so big! Possessing a sweet tooth, I also enjoyed more than my fair share of desserts, including the wonderful key lime pies of the south. I'm also taking a while to catch up on blog reading (computer time was limited in the U.S.), so please excuse my slackness in that area.

So, what is my physical state after such a long holiday with minimal running (and no cycling)? Not too bad is the short answer, but the actual statistics reveal the brutal truth: race fitness does decline, if ever so slowly, when one cuts back on training. The legs may feel fresh and your body energetic, but you run slower. 'Use it or lose it' is a true adage when it comes to running and a good bank of aerobic fitness only lasts so long.

What exercise did I do? Well, over 41 days I ran on 22 occasions — an average of 23k per week (supplemented by lots of easy walking). Prior to the holiday my 'normal' training routine was around 50k per week of running and 160 to 200k per week of cycling. Leading up to my good 10k in Melbourne I raced the Tuggeranong Parkrun in 22:41 at an average heart rate of 144, feeling pretty happy with my race. On Saturday 5 December I raced the same course (similar conditions) in 24:12 at an average heart rate of 148 (maximum of 158 — very close to my actual maximum of 162). Ouch! My legs felt good and fresh but I was huffing and puffing like the Chattanooga Choo Choo pulling out of Baltimore Station.

As the year draws to an end, I hope the few readers of this blog are doing well. Enjoy your running and don't over indulge in key lime pies! See ya'all in 2016.
Unusually mild (14C) for my run in Central Park on 26 November. Way too hot for ice skating!
Central Park NYC as the sun sets. Love it!
Walking over the Brooklyn Bridge the previous afternoon. Beautiful!