22 December 2009

15k solo tempo run in HK

In line with the festive holiday season, my running is virtually also on 'holiday' mood.

After averaging 300+ ks for the last 9 months or so, I only managed to do around 200k month-to-date due to a combination of family visits, holiday and work. After the SCSM half, I averaged out running every second day or so.

Week of 7-13 Dec: 5 off days, 2 runs, total 26k
Week of 14-20 Dec: 2 off days, 5 runs, total 65k
Week of 21-27 Dec: 3 off days, 4 short runs, total 35k

Had a good Christmas break in Hong Kong with wife and son: doing lots of shopping, eating good food, and visiting Disneyland. Had a major scare as Sling Jr vomited a few times one night and we had to rush him to the hospital. The doc said it was probably gastritis. Thankfully, he seemed to be recovering quickly and is on the mend.

Had a good run whilst in Disneyland. Weather was cool at sub-10c with some wind chill here and there. Ran along 1.8k stretch of road between Lake Inspiration and Disneyland Hotel for 4 return trips. The cool conditions at about 1/3 of usual Singapore temperature made running so damn easy and effortless. My original intent was to do 10k tempo run at 4:00 pace. I duly passed the 5k in 19:58 and 10k at 40:08 and still felt strong. Consequently, I decided to continue the run, picked up the ante, and passed the 15k mark in 59:50 and covered 15.06k in 1 hour flat.

An unofficial PB since my last 15k race in 2005 was around 61:40s. My 15k splits from Melbourne HM was 61:12 and Singapore HM was 61:16.

The route was flat and in a straight line (no corners, no turns), hence I think the GPS distance should be pretty close to accurate. I also ran another 60 meters extra just to make sure some compensation of the u-turns :p Hmm...can I claim this as a PB?

I felt that I could continue at this pace for another few ks since I still had some gas in the tank. The good thing about running in cool temperature is that I sweated less and do not have to re-hydrate. Even for allowing sole slow down to around 4:10-4:15 for the next 6k, I think I could end up doing a 86 minute half-marathon that day if I continued. Or even could be 85-ish if I didn't run solo (aka race conditions).

Putting the 60-minute 15k in Jack Daniels chart suggests that I am in 54 VDOT shape: 38:40 10k, 1h:25m HM, and 2h:59m marathon. While McMillan predicts 38:40 10k, 1h:26m HM, and 3:01:42 marathon. Whilst the actual results will depend on the training and the runner itself, at least, these prediction calculators will give me some pace guidelines to shoot for.

On the negative side, the tempo run results re-affirm my view that I am a crap hot weather racer. I really admire local runners like Ronnie, Vivian, Tatz, Steven etc who can run 80-85m HMs in hot weather countries like Singapore and Cambodia. Due to my excessive sweating, both my heart and working muscles simply have to work hard to compete with the skin for blood under warm conditions. Also due to my insanely high sweat loss, I can never be able to keep up with the optimal hydration needs without doing a lot of stops at water stations.

20 December 2009

Tune-up races 2010

Doing my own training this month due to a myriad of things such as post 1/2 marathon recovery, family visits, and Christmas holiday. Will resume SW’s coaching in January to prepare for GCM.

Will be off to Hong Kong with wife + son next week yay :)

Below is my indicative race plan for 2010. Have not registered any of these yet, but these are what I have in mind:

14 March: North East Run 16k
A new race, hence I don't know much about the race route and organization qualities. Anyway, it's a good distance to race since it is virtually a lactate threshold test. One bummer is that the race venue is far from my place (1 hour train ride) and I need to go there twice to pick up the race bib and then for the run itself :(

11 April: 2XU Compression Run 12k
Also, a new race and it will be held in Sentosa Island. Most likely 2 loops of the island with some undulations.

22 May: Saucony Passion Run 25k
I've done the 10k for this event in 2008 & 2009 and hated it due 'human wall' formed by slower 15k runners who started earlier and general public who used the running path.

This year, they replaced the 15k with 25k. My initial thought would be to do the 25k at goal marathon pace or slightly faster. One bummer is that the race will start at 4pm which is still a bit warm for my liking.

4 July --- Gold Coast Marathon
Most likely will take a long holiday in the land of Oz late June to early July since I need to extend my permanent residency. Hopefully the family can join me to Gold Coast.

Other races:
I might also do the JP Morgan Corporate 5.6k run around April if my company sponsors its staff this year again. Currently not tempted to run Adidas Sundown 21k since I am now getting slower to recover from races (the 25k race is a week before)

That's basically all. No common race distances such as 5k, 10k, or 21k leading up to the marathon. If my marathon fitness indicates that I have a shot at sub-3 in GC, I could toe the start line with the slowest 10k and 21k PB among all runners in the sub-3 pacing bus. Can a wet dream become a reality? :)

13 December 2009

Secret Weapons for 2010

A slack week :) only did two runs (10k ez @ 5:10 & 16k ez @ 4:48)

Due to little training, I have some time to think about next year plans. No prize for guessing the goal lol. But I am really excited about next year as it will be my first ever attempting a sub-3 (of course subject to actual fitness level closer to the race day).

Presently, I haven't done anything to deserve a sub 3. My recent half-marathon (87 mins) only indicate around 3:03 marathon potential, so in that sense I haven't really earned the right to try sub-3. While there are still 6+ months plus to train, I doubt that I will be able to run 85 half which is typically used as a benchmark for sub-3 readiness. It took me 3 years to lower my half PB by 1 minute, hence to cut 2-3mins within the next 5-6 months seems to be a stretch target.

My only hope for an upside is that it will come from doing the right workouts during the marathon prep. In general, I am a better trainer than a racer. So doing the right workouts (long runs, long goal MP run etc), hitting targetted paces/effort, and training consistently will be key, and let's just hope everything will come together on race day and who knows I might be lucky :p

Anyway, I've identified 5 areas that can to help me to achieve my goal. They are not genetic-driven, so regardless of my limited talent, achieving these should contribute to running faster:

1) Lower weight

At 168cm and 68kg, my BMI is 24 which is a bit high. Earlier this week, I went to the gym and they measured my body fat percentage at 14% (not sure if accurate). Using an accepted rule of thumb that every extra pound of non-productive body weight (body fat) decreases running performance by around 1%, if I can reduce my (fat) weight by 3kg, in theory it can improve my peformance by around 5%.

This can come from better dietary regime, such as targeting low GI food and less fatty food items.

2) Upping the pace of easy runs and long runs

In the last few weeks, my average training pace (average of all sessions) is 4:50s, mainly due to doing long runs at moderate pace (around 4:40-4:50). If my average weekly training pace was 5:00 during GC prep could get me 3:04+, presumably a slightly faster average pace should get me somewhere close to 3 hour. I don't think this is not that hard to attain.

In addition, running at moderate pace also will lead to more fat burning. I read in a book that at low intensity (walking) of 25% VO2max, you burn 85% fat, 15% carb. At 65% VO2max, you burn 60% fat, 40% carb while at 85% VO2max (tempo pace) the mix is 30% fat, 70% carb. While these are percentages of fuel mix, but the key to reduce body fat is to actually lose the fat itself as TOTAL FAT CALORIES. At 25% VO2max, the fat burnt is only 0.8 kcal/kg/min (you burn 0.8 calories of fat per 1 kg of body weight every minute). But at 65% VO2max, you will actually burn fat at a rate of 1.2 kcal/kg/min. At 85% VO2max, the fat burnt is reduced again to 0.8 since the fat component is lower at 30%. Hence, upping the pace of aerobic runs to moderate level should assist in losing a couple of excess fat kgs.

3) Minimizing stoppages during runs

Last week Epi advised me to run continuously without a break in order to develop mental toughness and improve pace concentration. Some things that I can start to adopt in the next marathon prep include a) bringing fuel belt during long runs (avoid going to 7/11 to get drinks which could take 5 minutes); b) let the watch run while drinking or resting to give me incentive to ensure the break will be a quick one; and c) jogging during intervals breaks (even at 8-9 min/km) rather than standing breaks. I think a jog say at 130-140 bpm before starting the next interval should yield better fitness than starting the next one at HR of 100 bpm with standing break.

Anyway, these are just my random thoughts on a few scopes for upside improvement which are independent of my limited talent. Anyone has other ideas?

Quote of the week:
"you can run a good half marathon off of marathon training, but you can’t run a good marathon off of half marathon training" - Renato Canova

06 December 2009

Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon and 1/2 Marathon 2009

87:34 chip time..

Distance was 21.3k by GPS, passing 21.1k in 86:5x. Quite sure the race distance is close to accurate since normally GPS overstates by 100-200m as runners will not take the shortest pathway as envisaged by the race measurer.

Not sure whether the result is better than my current PB in Melbourne which is 87:05. Today's timing is 30 seconds slower. Temperature was 24c with 95% humidity, while the race in Melbourne was around 10c and relatively dry conditions. Also I did a couple more drink stops to re-hydrate which cost 5-10 seconds each (sadly, I couldn’t drink on the run, hence I walked in order to drink properly). The course was also harder than Melbourne which included 500m-long steep hill (ECP).

But who knows…

But again self-conviction was probably the main culprit. I felt strong but just didn’t have the guts to push. Splits for 5k were: 19:48, 20:36, 20:52, 21:13, and 5:05 for the last 1.3k of whatever. (10k splits were 40:24, 42:05). The first 5k was probably a tad too fast in hindsight but there were 2 pretty long gradual downhill (av 3:58 for the 5k). Next 5k included a 500m hill and it broke me down, but pace wise was still okay averaging 4:07s for this segment. After that I was basically ‘locked’ into a cruising pace for the second half. Although, I wasn’t struggling but I just couldn’t find the guts to shift to a higher gear. Since the 21k was a side-event to the marathon, there were not many runners and I was virtually running alone the whole way. Ran the next 10k at around 4:10+ pace and was simply cruising until I picked it up a bit in the last k. As can be seen in the km splits below, my HR was hovering at 170s between km 3 – 20. I was simply locked into a twilight zone and felt afraid to fail. I felt that I still had a lot left in the tank at the finish, but what the heck, the race is already over.

All in all, I am pretty okay with the result, only 30secs slower than Melbourne (I am only good at cool weather runs) and beat my Singapore best timing for the distance by a full minute. So, I feel that I am on the improve fitness wise. Habing said that, I still need to work hard next year to do sub-3.

My lingering issue is just poor race execution. Probably started too fast (albeit downhill start), but the main problem is simply too much aversion towards pain. Perhaps I should do more races during the build-up to GCM in order to practice pacing, drinking on the run, and more importantly, to increase pain tolerance and the will to push myself.

On the elite level, today’s cool weather for Singapore standard (24c, 90+% humidity, wind) resulted in course record to be broken. Luke Kibet, defending champ and 2007 World Championship gold medalist (2:08 PB) won it in 2:11 and brought home US$35k + appearance fees.

Km splits according to GPS and HR:

3 50 158
4 0 167
3 47 170
4 1 171
4 10 169
4 3 170
4 12 170
4 5 170
4 7 171
4 9 171
4 9 172
4 14 171
4 7 173
4 11 174
4 11 173
4 14 175
4 16 174
4 16 176
4 12 177
4 15 177
4 6 181
59 183

Chip time: 87:34
Position: 19th overall out of 9794, 17th Men out of 6371, 7th AG 35-39 out of 1122

Results link

29 November 2009

1 week 2 go

Training this week:

Monday: 4k warm up with strides (5:12), 8 x 3 minutes intervals with 1 minute jog, a bit of self-improvisation by turning them to 800s, covered ~810m by GPS (normally overstates distance). Splits: 2:55/160, 3:04/166, 3:01/168, 3:04/169, 3:01/171, 3:05/174, 2:58/175, 2:59/177. Av for the interval was 3:01, surprisingly feeling fresh two days after 29k long run., 3k cool down (5:37), total 13k+ (av 4:37 pace excl breaks). Wondering how fast I would run Yasso 800 with 3 minutes steady jog instead of 1 minute slow jog?

Tuesday: 46 minutes easy including 1 set of drills & strides, warm and humid, lucky I tweaked Sean’s schedule as otherwise I would struggle to do the intervals today, total 9k+ (av 5:10)

Wednesday: 80 minutes at easy pace, but it wasn’t easy effort-wise, heat index 40+, took a couple of lengthy breaks to stay under shades, total 16k (av 5:04 excl breaks)

Thursday: 42 minutes easy on treadmill, 120 abs crunches, myrtle hip exercise, core work, one-legged squats, lunges, total 8k (av 5:15)

Friday: 4k warm up with strides (5:20), 6k sustained run in 23:48 (av 3:58 pace). Splits: 3:56, 4:01, 3:58, 4:00, 4:01, 3:52. Av HR was 165 bpm (high 172) which was better than the same workout a month ago at av 4:01 pace, 170 bpm (high 183), short jog, 10 minutes up and down 100m hill at steady effort, 3k down (5:10), total 15k+ (av 4:40)

Saturday: off

Sunday: 90 minutes long run with a bit of self improvisation, first 30mins easy pace (5:05), next 30mins moderate pace (4:40), last 30mins steady pace (4:28), total 19k (av 4:45)

Total 81k for the week

Week in Summary:

A decent week with a couple of solid workouts. Good 800s on Monday at around 5k pace, while Friday's 6k tempo run was 3 secs/km faster with 5bpm lower HR compared to the same session one month ago. Comparing the 6-week training blocks between Melbourne ½ (87 min) and Singapore ½, this time I am doing more mileage (15% more over 6 weeks total) and longer long runs (3 runs between 29-32k vs a single 29k for Melbourne). Hence, it looks like my endurance is better. For Melbourne, I did 2 race pace sessions, a 9k and 10k sustained runs averaging 4:05 pace, while this time my most specific run was 2x6k at 4:08 pace (on tired legs). All in all, I am not sure of my chance to get a PB next week and certainly the conditions (300% higher temperature than Melbourne on heat index basis) will make it a challenging task.

Will be interested to see the marathon results and whether the course records will be broken this year. The SCSM organizer has invited 8 sub 2:10 African male runners and 8 sub 2:30 female runners to battle for the glory. I’d say the Singapore Marathon has the deepest field of all marathons in Asia excluding Japan & Korea and is definitely stronger than any Australian marathons.

21 November 2009

Too many modifications ?

There is good article on Kara Goucher about running by feel. It is interesting to note that Kara only knows what session to do (either intervals, tempo, easy runs) the night before and her coach, Alberto Salazar only told her the actual workout contents when she shows up on track in the morning. Even then, the session could be modified depending how she handles the beginning of the session or even during the warm up.

see here


I have a confession that I frequently modify Coach's schedules to my liking. But rather than changing them depending on how I feel, I do them based on life' schedules and weather conditions. If I feel that I will be time pressed on day x, then I will swap a scheduled workout A with an impromptu easy short run. Also, if weather looks decent (cloudy or after a long rain), I would do a workout instead of a scheduled easy run.

For instance, Coach schedules the following for this week:
Mon ez, Tue Workout, Wed ez, Thu Workout. Fri ez, Sat Long

Instead, this is how I did the week:
Mon Workout, Tue ez, Wed Workout, Thu ez, Fri sort of Workout, Sat Long

All in all, only one session matched the original schedule, which is Saturday's long run. This happens almost every week, ranging from 1-2 tweaks to 6 tweaks just like this week.

I am pretty sure the program is designed for a reason. While sometimes I told Coach about the change, most of the time I didn't tell because I only can decide which session to do after seeing the day's schedule or weather.

This makes me a bad trainee. Is this good or bad??

Anyway, two weeks left before the SCSM Half. My 'modified from the original schedule' training this week:

Monday 3.5k ez/strides (5:05), 15-10-5 minutes intervals > HM pace with 4-3 minutes rest, av pace & HR: 3:59/169 for the 15, 3:58/174 for the 10, 3:49/175 for the 5, lost concentration in the middle segment but overall legs a bit tired from 32k long run two days earlier, 2.7k ez (5:30), total ~14k

Pace & HR data for the same 15-10-5 workout in the last 11 days. It seems the good result on 10 Nov was simply a function of temperature and not fitness.
5 Nov 3:59/168, 3:55/174, 3:49/176 (arvo, rain)
10 Nov 3:59/164, 3:53/169, 3:45/172 (morning, cool)
16 Nov 3:39/169, 3:58/174, 3:49/175 (arvo)

Tuesday 40 minutes easy on treadmill (5:20), 100 abs crunches, myrtle hip exercise, total 7k+

Wednesday 4k ez/strides (5:10), 2 x 6k at HM pace, First 6k in 24:44, av pace 4:08 pace, HR 165 bpm, splits 4:10, 4:12, 4:09, 4:05, 4:07. Second 6k in 24:37, av pac 4:06, HR 172, splits: 4:06, 4:06, 4:08, 4:13, 4:06, 3:58, I expected low 4s on average so a bit disappointed, thought of aborting at 4k mark in the 2nd segment but decided to be mentally disciplined and carried on, 3k ez with 4 short hill sprints (5:20), total 19k

Thursday 50mins easy in the driving rain (5:13), total 9k+

Friday 2.4k ez, 2.84k in 10:33, 3rd (av 3:44, 174 bpm), supposedly 3.2k but well short, a waste of time and effort, 2.4k ez, total 7k+

Saturday the schedule calls for 32k but short on time, planned to get up at 4.30 and start at 5, but only ran at 6am, home-tanglin rd-holland rd-sixth ave-dunearn rd-rifles range and back, first half at 5:05-4:50, second half <4:50, total 29k+ (av 4:53)

Sunday off

Total 87k for the week

14 November 2009

Ok week

Attended a 3-day conference, hence running took a back seat this week. Most runs were short and easy since I had to fit them during the lunch time break. With the exception of one decent session and a long run, everything else was so-so.

Singapore now officially enters the monsoon/rainy season. I actually like the rainy season since the morning is normally very cool (24-25c), especially after an overnight’s rain.

Had a good 15-10-5 minutes session which have become my favorite of late. Did the workout in the morning, which led to faster pace and lower heart rate. Average pace were 3:59/164, 3:53/169, 3:45/172 versus a similar session done last week in the afternoon under rainy conditions with av paces of 4:00/168, 3:55/174, 3:49/176. Therefore, av HR during the intervals were 4bpm lower, but average paces were a couple of seconds faster, which is always a good sign. I think this is underpinned by the favorable weather conditions as well as the recently introduced moderate-paced long runs which gave that slightly extra endurance stimulus.

Three weeks to go to the SCSM 21k!

Anyway, training this week:

Monday: one hour easy including 5 long hill sprints, total 11k+ (av 5:00), 100 abs crunches, 2x15 lat pull, deltoid row, fly, rotary calf, leg curl, leg extension

Tuesday: 15mins warm up with strides, 15-10-5 minutes intervals with 4-3 mins walk/jog recovery, average pace: 3:59/164, 3:53/169, 3:45/172, 10mins cool down including 2x200m, total 12k+ (av 4:28 excl rests; pm 5k slow (av 5:40), Myrtle hip exercise

Wednesday: Felt crap after yesterday’s session, 50mins easy with stops here and there, total 9k+ (av 5:13)

Thursday: 4k up, 10 x ~200m hill, up in 55secs, down in 65sec down, 5x100m hill sprints, walk rec, 1 set of drills and strides (high skipping, high knees, butt kicks, carioca, bounding), 4k cool down, total 12k (av 5:03 excl breaks).

Friday: 35mins relaxed run on treadmill, 6k+ (av 5:25)

Saturday: Nice running on a great route (Rifles Range) in cool conditions (24c), first hour 5:00-4:50 pace, second hour 4:40 pace, finished up with 8 x 30secs on/90secs off and a couple ks cool down, total 32k (av 4:50 excl breaks)

Sunday: off

Total 89k for the week

07 November 2009

Self Improvisations

Good week. Probably the first time I came close to completing Sean’s written program since I engaged him to be my coach a couple of months ago.

I also made some self-improvisations to my training by introducing a few extra things here and there, such as barefoot strides, technique drills, and short hill sprints which are not in the Coach’s program. I think it’s a good time to introduce them now, and if I do them diligently, I might reap the benefits (e.g. better running economy) in time for 2010 GC marathon build-up.

Another new thing that I introduce is a fartlek-esque long run. Coach only prescribes me to do my long run at 4:50 pace, which can either be a flat 4:50 pace for the whole duration or a progression-style, something like 5:00 in the first half and 4:40 in the second half or a real progression from 5:00-4:15 pace. Due to Singapore conditions and the fact that I am a heavy sweater, it’s hard for me to do progression-type run over here. After 60-90 minutes or so, I would experience a huge sweat loss and hydration-deficit (I could drink more, but that would make the stomach sloshing with water). In light of this, what I did this week was to run the faster stuff in the first half while I am still fully-hydrated and the temperature is still cool. Maybe I should call it a reverse-progression run haha? As the main purpose of progression run is to teach the body running at faster pace while tired, I did a short fartlek at the back end in order to replicate the stress. For example, today I did 5k warm up, 12k solid at goal MP less 20secs, 3k easy, 5k of alternating 1min on/off, 4k cool down. Not so sure, whether this would have the same effect as a normal progression run, but I guess I’ll give it a try. Furthermore, this also makes the long run more interesting due to the pace variation.

Anyway, training this week:

Monday: 3k up, 7 x 800m hilly loop (splits 3:00, 3:01, 3:02, 3:04, 3:02, 3:05, 3:07 with 1:40 rest), the loop wasn't difficult, but I still struggled. Clockwise, 1min moderate slope, 2min gradual downhill (acts like recovery), anti-clockwise 2mins gradual rise (not challenging), 1mins steep downhill. Need to find a better loop with more ups and downs. 3k down with 6 x 20secs barefoot strides on grass, Myrtle hip exercise, total 12k+ (av 4:35 excl breaks)

Tuesday: 100 abs, 8k easy on treadmill to minimize leg pounding (5:12), 1k jog to grassy area, 1 set of drills and strides, 1k down, total 11k+ (av 5:10)

Wednesday: 1 hour easy moderate (15mins @ 5:10, 5:00, 4:50, 4:40), then 20mins easy, the original plan was to finish last 20mins at 4:20-4:30 but legs didn’t want to go. Super humid morning, 5 x 10secs hill sprints to hopefully oust the staleness for tomorrow’s session, total 16k+ (av 4:56)

Thursday: 3k up, 15-10-5 minutes intervals (av pace 4:00, 3:55, 3:49). Recovery 4mins and 3mins, had bowel problems and had to poo during the recovery. 3k down, total 13.6k (av 4:27 excl breaks). Did 10mins of light upper/lower weights. Sean schedules this workout for the next 2 weeks, so will be interested to see the progress.

Friday: 35mins relaxed run on treadmill, 100 abs, Myrtle hip exercise, lunges, total 6k+ (av 5:30)

Saturday: 5k easy (5:10), 12k solid undulating terrain(4:35), 3k easy (5:20), 5k of 1min HM pace/ez (av 4:35), 4k easy (5:10). Warm morning, dehydrated. Had to stop a few times, total 29k (av 4:50 excl breaks)

Sunday: off

Total 89k for the week

01 November 2009

Season ain't over yet

Really envious of Clown & Epi who have finished their running seasons and are heading to Everest Base Camp.

My running season is not finished yet, with SCSM half marathon in 5 weeks time.

Did 280k in October – lowest monthly mileage in a while. This was a function of doing 3 races (3k, 21k, 10k) within a span of 20 days and the associated pre-race taper and post-race recovery. My monthly average between April and September was 350k+, hence this month was 70k short. I do feel that I have lost some ‘oomph’ from the drop in mileage (presumably endurance). Note that these races are my personal choices, and the coach just wrote the program around these events.

Hence, I am quite happy to see the training ramping up back to my usual 80-90k range over the next few weeks. The Coach’s plan is a bit different to the prep for Melbourne HM, emphasizing more on endurance this time around. Will be doing mostly 90ks a week and only taper in the last several days. Long runs have now been extended to 32k.

Another change from the last prep was shorter fast-sustained runs (tempos). Last time, I did a couple of 10k sustained run at HM pace – which took me around 40-41mins. In general, I think they were useful sessions and I was able to run at this pace during the race (unfortunately, the pace slowed in the second half, hence the reason for adding mileage and longer long runs) This time around, most speed workouts are 20-30mins in total duration and they will be in long intervals format with long breaks in between.

Therefore, some new tweaks in training (more mileage, short tempos). Let’s see what happens on Dec 6!

M: 18k easy (4:53)
T: 12k easy (5:00)
W: 2.5k wu, 6k sustained run @ 4:01 pace, 5x100m hills, 2k cd
T: 7k very easy (5:30) + core strength
F: 12k easy (5:00)
S: 5k easy (5:10), 21k moderate(4:40), total 26k
S: off

Total 86k for the week

25 October 2009

Need mental toughness

Just wasn't mentally switched on to run the Nike 10k yesterday. Hence, I bagged another DNF in my running CV.

Work has been busy & stressful for the whole week, so it zapped a lot of of my brain energy and focus. At the start of the race, I wasn't feeling that flashy anyway since this is my 3rd race in 20 days (after 3k and 21k). Again, to make sure I got good starting position among the 10,000 runners, I waited at the start line for a good 40 minutes and probably lost all of the warm up benefit. Ran pretty consistent splits for the first few ks and passed the 5k mark in 19:36. So I was still on track for a small PB. However, for some reasons, I then got switched off mentally, lost concentration, and went wayward. Before I knew it, I passed the next 2ks at 4:10 and 4:20 pace. At this juncture, I began to have side stitch and I realized around 41mins was the best I could hope for - which is slower than my 10k split during the half marathon a couple of weeks ago. Felt very de-motivated and I decided to quit at 7k, walked and cheered other runners. Maybe I just didn't care about the race enough.

I used to like 10k a lot, but now I think it is the hardest event for me to PB. For HM and marathon, you are more or less forgiven even if the pace slows down by 20secs for 1-2k since you have chance later on (later kms) to recoup. For 5k or below, the race is very short, you don't need to concentrate for a long time and you'll finish the race before your brain starts to play tricks. 10k for me is very tough, even after running had for 5k, you still have 50% of race distance to go. And once, your pace drifted downwards at km 6-8, mentally it's hard to tell yourself that you can recoup the time lost.

Six weeks to go before the SCSM Half Marathon. Let's hope this one won't turn out as another DNF.

18 October 2009

Very light week

Most likely I won't be running Seoul next March. For my next marathon, I really wanna have a good attempt at sub-3, rather than training specificaly and aiming for something like 3:02-3:03. Since Seoul is 5 months away, I think sub 3 will be a big stretch. In addition, Seoul is gonna be really cold (it was <0 in 2007) around that time.

Quite keen to run Gold Coast again in July. Weather is typically pretty good, 10c and calm. Good organization with pacing group led by Mona or Pat Carroll. Also we can combine with a family trip again to my wife's place in Melbourne. Don't mind running Perth if the timing is right.

This leaves a good 8 months to train. Not sure what Sean has in mind to fill that period. It could be base building or even focusing on shorter distances to increase overall speed. Will have an in-depth discussion after Singapore Half Marathon on Dec 6.

Training wise, this week is very light with three rest days to recover from last week HM. 51k total, mostly easy runs.

Next week will run the Nike Human Race 10k. No expectation on finishing time as my training was geared towards last week's HM. Have not been doing intervals for a month, as training in recent weeks mainly consisted of HM pace and lots of easy running.

Oh ya, I am 38 years old today. Hopefully I will be wiser and faster!

11 October 2009

Under-performance (again)

Did the Melbourne Half Marathon 2009 today in 87:05.

A small PB - feeling slightly more disappointed than happy.

I failed to take advantage of a fine, calm Melbourne day (which is rare), a flat course, and a good field (164 runners finished ahead of moi)

Was hoping to run 85-86 - which I thought was doable given the conditions. Coach thinks that I had a good chance for 86:20 and asked me to go out at 4:05 pace. In the end, I averaged 4:05 according to Garmin. But as usual, Garmin always overshoot race distance, it measured 21.3 on a certified HM course. Actualy, the km markers were a bit disapointing for such a big run as some of them (especialy the so-called halfway point) were inaccurately placed. For future races, perhaps I should take into account GPS' typical 100-200m over-estimation (worth 20-40secs for my speed) into my pacing plan.

As mentioned previously, I pulled a hammy during last week's 3000m. Went to a physio (reputed to be the best sports physio in SG), but very disappointed with the visit. He used a deodorant roll-on to massage voltaren to my hammy which I could do by myself. He simply told me to rest and that was it. What a rip-off! Give me tennis ball and foam roller anytime!

On Friday, I did a 50mins run in Melbourne and the hammy was ok. Hence, I was in confident mood going into today's race. However, I aggravated the problem in a funny circumstance. With about 15mins before the start, I was still queueing at the port-a-loo. I (with a few other runners) decided to go to the Botanical Garden across the road from start point and ran hard up the hill to find a bush to pee. I pulled the hammy again during the uphill run and I knew that it wouldn't be an easy day.

In light of this, I ran very cautiously all the way to avoid the hammy blewing up. I didn't take any drink until the 13k mark because I didn't want to take a risk of stopping and resuming the run with pulled hamstring. In the second half, the hammy just got tighter and I also faded due to tiredness. Even in the last 1k, I didn't make any attempt to sprint pass people as I didn't want to risk sprinting on the slippery grass field inside MCG.

Average HR was 169 bpm - which I think is a bit on the low side. (my marathon HR from Gold Coast ws 165)

As expected, I had positive splits due to the tight hammy and fade. 5k splits: 20:10, 20:26, 20:36, 20:44 + 5:07, 10k splits 40:36, 41:20. Official Result: 87:05, Position 164, gender position 147, age group position 36

4:04/156, 3:59/166, 4:00/169, 4:03/167, 4:04/169, 4:06/168, 4:03/168, 4:05/169, 4:06/169, 4:06/168, 4:06/169, 4:05/169, 4:13/170, 4:06/171, 4:06/171, 4:10/171, 4:09/171, 4:03/171, 4:11/172, 4:11/175, 4:05/175, 1:02/179 (300m)

In the end, I managed a small PB for the Half Marathon. On the posive side, this is the first time in 3 years that I managed to get 2 PBs in one year.

Slightly disappointed as I felt that lack of self-belief is my weakness. I think I probably should have pushed the boundaries a bit today. McMillan predicts a 3:03:40 marathon based on today's timing, so I am still far from sub 3-hour shape.

Anyway, what's done is done.

Commiseration to Rob who pulled out at 12k due to injury. We had a few beers afterwards at the Young & Jacksons, and the yak pale ale was nice!

04 October 2009

Good one-two punches, now hamstrung !

Last week, I wrote that I was feeling like a boxer on the ropes. With the final bell about to ring (HM next week), I went out in a counter attacking mode and had a couple of punches (workouts):

1)10k at HM pace. I really don’t know what my HM pace is, so I decided to run at my usual tempo pace between 4:00-4:10 pace (last week did 9k averaging 4:06, so I think that range is reasonable.). Finished the run in 40:40, av 4:04 min/km. Splits: 4:02, 4:04, 4:03, 4:06, 4:04, 4:05, 4:04, 4:09, 4:07, 3:53. Average HR was 169 bpm with a high of 179.

Talking about race simulation, my 10k at HM pace as the last workout before the race is pale in comparison with Dathan Ritzehein. He is preparing for the World Half Champs next week and ran a 10 mile race pace run in training, unofficially breaking the American record. A 16k training run at 21k race pace, that’s what I call WOW.


2)3000m track race. This is my first ever 3000m race and my lack of experiences showed in terms of pacing. Splits: 40, 84, 86, 88, 90, 90, 90, 81 = 10:51. In terms of per km, the split was 3:31, 3:44, 3:36 (av HR 178, high 188), crossing the 2400m in 8:45 (Singaporeans are always interested in 2.4k timing 'cos it's a fitness test for national service!). Managed to win the race, finishing ahead of runners from India, Srilanka, Thailand, and Malaysia. The event is the annual Singapore Masters T&F Championship. Note that the race wasn’t very competitive. Firstly, there was no prize other than trophy. Secondly, Singaporeans are hard working and people in my age group are busy doing their mid-life crisis, couch potato, baby bonus, hard-cash professional lives. Thirdly, Singapore does not have a running heritage (current fastest marathoner is under 2:40).

Quite surprised to see the finish time (av 3:37 pace) since I never ran faster than 3:50 min/km during intervals. I believe I could have run even faster given 1) bad pacing; 2) uncompetitive race and I was running alone after the first lap; 3) the race was delayed for 1 hour and I had to do four warm ups in different times since I didn’t know when the race would start; 4) I pulled a hammy about midway; 5) my HR only peaked at 188 (I usually hit 190+ during intervals); and 6) no 3k pace work other than 100m strides.

McMillan puts me at 1:27:27 (4:09 pace) for the HM based on today’s 3k. Jack Daniels is more generous at VDOT of around 53.5. This projects 1:26:20 HM (4:06 pace). Another reference point is this week’s 10k run at 4:04 pace based on Garmin. My lingering concern is that my long run and easy runs paces which are very easy at 5:00-6:00 min/km. Any ideas?

The biggest concern is the pulled hamstring from today’s 3k race. It felt really bad when I finished the race. I don’t know how serious it is, probably until the time I wake up and run tomorrow. Let’s hope I have enough reserve to do one final punch next week.

Update: Just received feedback from Coach. He said I could have run 10secs faster (10:40s) in the 3000m if I started slower and ran consistent 85-86 laps. Also, he suggests to go out at 4:05 pace for the HM (86s), but warns not to run with injury.

27 September 2009

On the ropes

Ran 87k for the week, consisting of 17k of running at Threshold or faster and 70k of very 'easy' running.

And what I meant with easy is in fact, really really easy, something like 5:00-6:30 min/km on my easy days. Coach's guideliene for easy runs is 5:00-5:20 but for some reasons I can't go any faster these days. My legs are tired all the time. I felt like a boxer leaning on the ropes in a boxing match. Just holding on to survive (running at slow paces), with an occasional counter punch when feeling strong (1 good run per week).

Did 1 full workout and 2 little sessions:

1) 9k hard + 10x100 hill: Coach is really old-skool and basically only uses two pace terms, namely either hard or easy. With such opaqueness, I just ran the pace that I feel is appropriate for that distance. Did the 9k in 36:55, average 4:06 (according to GPS); Struggling with side stitch in the second half. All in all, not a bad effort considering I did a 29k long run the day before (36 hours rest)

2) Thursday's program calls for 15-15-8 hard, but only managed to complete 15mins @ 4:02 pace due to heavy rain. I asked Coach whether I could repeat the same session the day after, but he said no and was against me making up session. I had to beg him to give him a short make-good session. The next day, I did a little workout of 2x8mins hard (4mins rec). I covered 2.1k in each of 8mins, pace about 3:50 min/km.

For some reasons, I am struggling to run under 3:50 pace in the last couple of months. Lactic acid always rise very quickly everytime I want to run faster. Bear in mind that intervals in the program are never shorter than 5 minutes and recovery never longer than 90secs. I think my brain probably takes a conscious decision to prevent me running any faster since the intervals are long and recovery are short.

Next week, I will be running my virgin 3000m track for over 35s. Honestly, I think I would be lucky to run under 11:45 since my fastest interval pace is only 3:50 min/km. Coach doesn't schedule any 3k-paced work in his program. I can see myself to be flooded with lactic acid due to the absence of short, fast intervals. But I don't really care since it is just a part of training and marathon is really what I am training for.

Still struggling with sore hips (I think it is pirofirmis). Have been using foam roller and tennis ball to work the ass. Found Myrtil exercise on internet and I shall give it a try.


20 September 2009

Short Recovery

Still struggling with sore hips, but fortunately the calf strain is improving a bit .

Did 92k for the week (vs coach target of 100k). This means that I continued the trend of never hitting the mileage target set by the coach ;=)

This week, I did 2 workouts:

1) 4 x 5mins, 1min rec. Ran a bit conservatively since I had a deep tissue treatment the previous day. Averaged 3:56 min/km on the 4x5, so it wasn’t very fast. Av HR for last 3 reps was 175, high of 185. Felt refreshed after a down week, still got plenty left in the tank.

2) 6 x 5mins, 1.15 rec. Went to CCAB track and aimed to cover 1300m in 5mins (23secs/100m or 92 per lap or 3:50 min/km). Splits: 5:00, 5:02, 4:59, 5:04, 5:02, 4:56, av HR for last 5 reps was 177, high of 190. Pace range was 3:47-3:53, could have been a hair faster here and there, since the track was crowded with school kids.

I think the second workout is akin to running a controlled 5-6k race in terms of effort. 6 x 1.3k with short recovery (75 secs), total 7.8k @ av 3:50 pace for 30 mins of hard running. Probably I am a good value for low 19 5ks (3:50 pace), but defintely don't think I can do 3:50 for 10 (38:20) even under race condition.

Talking about short recovery, there is an interesting video on Ryan Hall’s 10 x 800m session.


The intervals were done on an out and back route at 2500m altitude. His splits were 5x 2:11-2:12 and 5x 2:16-2:17, so obviously there was an incline on the return leg. Recovery was 1 minute in between.

It seems that Ryan did his 800s at goal HM pace as he mentioned a target of 59mins for the HM. This is about 2:48 min per km or 2:15 per 800m. At sea level, 10x800 at HM pace is an easy session, but at altitude coupled with short recovery, it is a tough workout.

If this was a Yasso session, he would have run it at 2:04-5 per 800m or at 6-8k race pace (2:35 min/km). Recovery would be 1-1 ratio or 2 full minutes.

In summary,
Ryan: 10x800 at 21k pace with 1:2 rest-to-run ratio, in altitude, total 22mins of hard running (plus 9mins rec)

Sling: 6x1300 at 8k pace with 1:4 rest-to-run ratio, in tropical weather, total 30mins (plus 7mins rec)

Question: As a average joe, is my workout too hard or too easy?

In the past, I loosely followed Tinman and Jack Daniels’s guidelines on recovery. Equal rest time for 5k pace intervals (80-100% of rep time), 50% of rep time for 10k pace intervals , and 20% for Threshold intervals. But under Coach, the recovery has now been cut to around 1min.

Another thing that I notice is that I am now so much slower in my easy runs. When I was self coached, I do around 15% of 10k-21k paced running, 15-20% of marathon or moderate paced running and the remaining 65-70% was easy runs. Under Sean, I did 15% of 10k paced running, and the residual 85% is slow poke pace runs. And I really meant slow poke pace (5:30 min/km) since my legs are shot after two intervals per week.

In essence, the main changes from my previous training are:

1) More easy running (85-90% now vs. 70% before) and slower pace

2) Short recoveries for intervals (1min for 5mins of fast running vs. 2-4mins before)

3) Less weekly modulation. The program either has 2 intervals + long run for the week or 2 thresholds + long run for the week. When I was self-coached, I adopt a more varied approach to weekly training by doing 1 interval, 1 threshold, 1 long run for the week.

Question: Will these changes work for me and make me a better runner?

Life is an experiment of one, I guess :=)

14 September 2009

Calf/Hip issues

Crap week.

I have been feeling jaded lately and this week the legs simply went missing in action. Haven’t taken a proper rest since April, preparing for Gold Coast, then Army Half and then the new training regime under Sean. To compound the issue, I am struggling with calf strain and hip problems.

The muscles are very tender around the calves and make legs felt ‘dead and heavy’. I think this might be the reason why I ran poorly in the last couple of months or so. After running a flat marathon in GC, my calves were shot and afterwards running has never been the same again. I had some good training sessions but also some poor ones where running became a chore as the calf strain made the legs heavy and accelerated fatigue.

The hip pain is also back. I struggled with sore hips 2-3 years ago, but generally I managed to avoid it in the last 12 months or so. Not sure the reason why they are back.

Due to a combination of the above, I only did around 40k this week (lowest mileage in 4-5 months) by virtue of a weekend long run (25k) and a couple of 30-35 minutes runs. Took two rest days and did two cross-training days (elliptical + core) for the remainder of the week.

Let’s hope next week will be better.

06 September 2009

HM in 5 weeks time

Here are my race plans ‘till the end of 2009:

Oct 4: 3000m track Veterans (over 35 yo)
Oct 11: St. George Melbourne – ½ Marathon
Oct 24: Nike Human race 10k (tentative)
Nov 8: New Balance RealRun road/trail 10/15k (tentative)
Dec 6: Standard Chartered Singapore – ½ Marathon

Mrs. Sling is homesick and wants to go over to Melbourne for a month. I will also take one week leave. Whilst we are there, we plan to get baby baptism for Sling Jr. Being a runner; I negotiated for the day of baptism to coincide with Melbourne marathon weekend.

When I tell Coach about my race plans, he penciled in a 10k in Melbourne, 21k in Singapore, and 42k in Seoul in March (tentative). Since the marathon is 7 months away, this looks like a nice progression.

However, I told Coach that I prefer to do the ½ in Melbourne. We have lots of 10ks here in Singapore, but only 2 HMs for the year. He told me the training plan that he prescribes (and which I have done I 2 weeks) is geared towards shorter races. He reckons by focusing on 2 speed sessions a week (2 intervals or 1 interval, 1 fartlek) will make the long runs much easier in the latter part of marathon training. Having seen Epi’s progression from Matilda Bay 10k, Darlington HM, and finally Perth C2S, I can see where the Coach is coming from.

Anyway, I’ve told Coach that I still prefer to go with the HM and accept the possibility of running mediocre times. Current training plan is very much focused on shorter distances, for example, this week I did two speed sessions: 4 x 5 minutes, 1min rest; and 20x 30secs on, 15secs off. I averaged 3:50 pace (1.3k per 5 minutes) for the 4 x 5mins, which is not too shabby considering the short rest (1-1.5 mins) and temperature. However, I didn't do well on 30/15 on/off fartlek as I covered only about 3.7k. This turned out to be 4:05 pace ( approx HM pace) as I struggled to get the rythym goin'. Very suprising, given I could do tempo runs at this pace for longer period and they feel more comfortable and easier to do.

When I negotiated for the change to the HM, he only made a couple of small alterations. This would be the first time for me doing HM with only a small amount of half-marathon pace or threshold training. I’ll write more on this next week.

PS: Rob, if time allows, I’ll wait for you at the finish line in MCG, hopefully well before the clock says 2:59:59 :)

30 August 2009

First week

A big congrats to Epi who ran 2.57 at Perth C2S today !

In the current edition of Run 4 Your Life (R4YL) magazine, there is an article on one of Coach Sean’s elite athlete (65mins 21k). The article also has 3 weeks training diary of this athlete and his training partner’s (13:25 5k, 62mins HM). What I found interesting is that both the elite squad and mere mortals under his coaching have largely similar training structures. The only differences are the elites run doubles and do 3 workouts + 2x 90-120mins runs per week. I told Coach that I can only run on either Sat or Sun as I need the day off to take care of the bub (otherwise Mrs Sling won’t be happy since she needs a break too). Hence, he prescribes 2 quality sessions a week and 2x 90-120min runs for me.

Some of the quality sessions are surprisingly similar. In the magazine, they did 8k + 10x100 hills, while Sean scheduled 6k + 10x100 for me this week. The difference is that they run the 8k in under 24 minutes, while I completed my measly 6k in 24+ minutes LOL.

For my first full week training under Sean, I give myself a score of 7 out of 10. I completed all the sessions, except had to cut short my weekend long run since I was feeling sluggish and tired. Mileage wise, I told him that a weekly mileage of 80 is a sustainable and manageable range for me However, he gave me some ‘bonus’: 87k this week, 93 next week, then 97 the following week!

So far, I found the quality sessions are the most difficult aspect of the program. Sean’s prescription is to do 5-6mins reps at 5-10k pace, 6-15mins reps at 10k-15k pace, and 15-30mins at HM pace. However, I ran them about 5 secs/km slower than the above range. First reason is that I am not (yet??) fit enough to blend into his program, and secondly, I’ve been doing some of the runs during mid-day where it is terribly hot (I do midnight and morning feeds for the baby, hence unable to train in the morning). For instance, he scheduled 15-15-8 minutes on Thursday and according to the above, my paces should be around 4:00 or under for the 15s and low 3:50s for the 8. My average paces turned out to be 4:05 for the 15+15 and 3:53 for the 8 (I think I won’t be able to nail the 8 if the 15s were faster). Another workout that I did was the aforementioned 6k hard + 10 x 100 hills. I ran them at 4.04 pace during lunchtime (35c heat index) and felt drained afterwards. Did only 6 hill reps before giving up.

For easy days and long runs, my pace is also slower than what he suggests. His suggestion is about 5min pace for most runs but I generally do mine 10 secs slower. But easy days are supposed to be easy, right? The R4YL article shows that his elite athletes do their recovery runs around 5:00 min pace, so why I can’t run slower? LOL. Let’s just hope that Coach is still happy when he evaluates my training log!

22 August 2009

Got myself a Coach

I decided to get a coaching service from Sean W.

I truly enjoyed the self-coaching journey and I am proud of my outcomes as a mere mortal and a late starter to the sport. The 46 minutes improvement from 3:50 to 3:04 over 5-6 years shows that I am a man of limited talent. I had leaps and bounds during this period, but in general, I worked pretty hard for a newbie.

The question is whether will my dedication alone be good enough to take me to sub-3?

Last week’s HM results helped to put the nail into the coffin. I realized that I still got to learn in terms of training and peaking at the right time. I would have thought marathon fitness will yield a good HM time, but on race day, I felt flat. A good coach probably can periodize the training more effectively and design the appropriate workouts.

With no marathon planned until March or July 2010, this gives me a window of opportunity to experiment with new things.

I considered a couple of coaches, locally-based Guy Ogden (sub 30 10k, 2:24 marathon in his youth) and Sean W. The advantage of the former is face-to-face coaching and the squad trains together a few times a week. However, Sean’s CV as a coach (Lara T (national 10k champ, 20 yo), Tim R (2nd Canberra marathon), Ben SL (29min 10k), Keith B (low 70s HM at 50 yo) was too good to pass.

I want to experiment new things on training and I am hungry for new insights, so why not learn from one of Australia’s leading coach? Hopefully the long distance relationship will work. If it doesn’t, I have nothing to lose because I would learn new things.

Anyway, here is an interesting story. I received the first month program from Sean and did my first session, which was 6 x 5mins hard with 1.15 jog. Okay, when I looked at it, 30 minutes of hard running with short recovery sounded like Threshold (cruise) intervals. After all, Jack Daniels said in his book that for every 5 minutes of T-pace running, you get 1 minute jog recovery. For VO2max stuff, recovery would be longer (half or slightly less than the rep duration). During the workout, I ran the 5min reps slightly faster than T-pace in order of impress the coach. I got stuffed after 5 x 5 and decided to quit.

I emailed Sean about the workout and to my surprise, he said that the reps should be done at 10k race pace or faster (5k pace for the last 1-2)!. Gee, I was stuffed already running them at T-pace and just couldn’t imagine running them any faster. I also ask Sean whether should there be any concession for running in Singapore, such as longer recovery between reps or a tad lower pace to reflect the weather conditions; his response was ‘I will leave you the targets I have set and we will see how you go over the next few weeks. Your ongoing feedback will help me answer this question after seeing how you go’. He also added that ‘Try all measures to complete all sessions as they are. Injury would be the only fair excuse to stop’.

I guess that is the difference between me and other runners. I tend to stay at my comfort zone, and have been doing my interval paces conservatively (mostly just under 4s). In addition, when the going gets tough, I tend to quit or abort my workouts and this often spills over to my racing (aka giving up easily). From the two statements above, I get a feeling that he wants to push me (hard).

If you look at Sean’s website, his training philosophy is ‘Our job is to take you beyond a point at which you think a challenging task is impossible to a point where you believe it is possible’.

Maybe this is what I need, a kick to the butt…

16 August 2009

Army Half Marathon 2009

Not my day :( 1:30:48 (watch)

Two minutes slower than last year’s race which was done on a slower course. Only one minute faster than my first half split of Gold Coast Marathon :(

Failed to take advantage of cooler weather (5.30 am start), better route (last year had a muddy trail section), preferred start (by virtue of last year’s top 20 placing in the local runner category), accurate course (GPS measured 21.25) and marathon fitness (a two-edged sword).

Disappointed, but I have identified the reasons why:

1) I never fully recovered from Gold Coast Marathon 6 weeks ago. I ran pretty close to my best in GC, in other words’ it was a ‘giving it all’ effort or my peak. Using a banking analogy, I withdrew almost of all my cash from the account in one go (ie the effort at GCM) and currently I am just surviving on the leftover cash reserves.

As indicated in my previous posts, since the marathon, my legs felt heavy all the time. The generic rule of thumb is 1 day recovery for every mile raced, but since I started HM training right away after the marathon, I got burnt and simply trained on limited reserves

2) Aggressive pacing at the start. Since there was a 500m long steep hill at km 3, I decided to put some time in the bank by running the first couple of ks faster. While this was detrimental, the effect was not as big as Reason #1 (see splits)

3) Shorter sleeping hours. Having a baby really re-defines the baseline for sleeping hours. I’ve been going to bed around 1am each night after his night feed. Last night, I slept around 3 hours as I had to wake up at 4am to make the 5.30 start.

Now the race: My original plan was to go put at 4:05 pace (86mins) and tried to hang on as long as I could in order to give myself a shot at PB. However, after around 5k, it just went downhill from there. My legs felt ‘DEAD’ and simply had no strength to run fast. Personally, I don’t think the fast start was the culprit, it was simply tired legs from the long marathon training cycle. Ten days ago I ran 8k tempo at 4:06 pace and I felt fine. Av HR at that time was 166 and this morning it was 172bpm, so something was really wrong since today’s temperature was cooler due to early start.

From 5k, I decided to give up and revised my goal to sub-90 meaning that I had to average at my Gold Coast marathon pace for the last 10k. But even running at that pace, I was struggling big time. I really had no strength to run any faster that 4:20s except in the last 1k. I was basically done and started to walk at every drink station and didn’t care about the race anymore. I crossed the line in just under 91mins (only a minute faster than my first half split at GCM).

Splits (warning: ugly !!):
5k splits: 20:23 (4:05), 21:25 (4:17), 21:55 (4:23), 22:04 (4:25), last 1.2k 5mins
10k splits 41:48 (4:11), 44:00 (4:24)  HUGE positive split

What’s done is done. I treat it as a training run. Looking forward to a break from training for a week or two (I still run but mostly jogging). This will also offer me some time to think about running plan for the remainder of 2009.

Training for the week:
M: 57mins easy incl 6x12secs hill (total 11k)
T: 50mins incl 3 x 1000m (av 3:53), 4 x 400m (av 1:25), (total 12k)
W: off
T: 47mins very easy (total 9k)
F: 35mins incl 3.2k Tempo (total 7.5k)
S: off
S: 2.5k warm up, Army Half in 90:48
Total 63k for the week

09 August 2009

Week 4 of 5 to AHM

Did 80k in 6.5 hours (av 4:50) during Week 4 of 5 to Army Half

Good week, but both body and legs are damn tired. Looking forward to a break from running after next weekends’ HM. Since the GC marathon, I ran 45, 80, 73, 83, 80 km weeks and next week (taper) probably will total 70k including the race.

This week I only had the time to do two morning runs (Friday & Sunday). The rest was during lunch time, either on treadmill or outdoor where it is normally blazing hot. Accordingly, I couldn’t afford to do high volume (due to time constraint, office lunch time) nor high intensity (due to the heat). This means that I really need to capitalize on the morning runs by doing solid workouts whenever I have a chance.

This week, I also experimented with fartlek-type work: a mixture of tempo/intervals on Tuesday, tempo/fartlek on Friday, and progression run with pick-ups on Sunday. So far, I enjoyed them and they are definitely more fun than the structured workouts (e.g. 6x1000, 8k tempo etc). It'a welcome chance and probably I will incorporate them more often in the months ahead.

Next week, I have a 3-day seminar at work which might limit my running. On a hindsight, this might be good since mind and body are tired anyway after along season. No PB expectation for the race. I would be happy with anything around 90mins and definitely looking forward to a well-earned rest after the race.

Mon (Easy):
AM: 6.5k Easy in 34mins (av 5:14), treadmill
PM: Massage
Squeezed in a short run in the gym before massage. Easy pace from 5:45 to 4:50 min/km, with last 1k at 8% incline. The massage hurt, especially around hammy and ITB.

Tue (Intervals + Tempo):
12k run in 55mins (av 4:35) including:
- 2 x 1000m at 10k effort – 3:51, 3:51
- 4k Tempo at MP, av 4:22 (vs plan of 6k at HMP)
- 2 x 1000m at 10k effort – 3:54, 3:50

Ran during lunch time at 36c heat index. Tried a new workout combining intervals and tempo. My original intent was to do the 1k intervals at 10k effort and the 6k tempo at HM effort, but I just didn’t have it out there. Struggled during the tempo and had to slow down to MP and this effort felt hard too. I just don’t know how on earth I could run 42k at this pace in Gold Coast last month.

Wed (Easy):
9.5k Recovery in 51mins (av 5:24), treadmill

Thu (Easy):
14k Easy in 70mins (av 5:02)
Another lunchtime run, 38c heat index with bad air quality from forest fire in Sumatra. Ran from office to Mt Fabre via Morse Rd and did the undulating loop 5 times. After that, things went sour as the heat got the better of me. Planned to do 90-100mins, but I decided to cut it short to 70mins. A runner died last weekend in Malaysia due to dehydration after completing a HM.

Fri (Tempo + Fartlek):
AM: 16k run in 72mins (av 4:28) including:
- 8k Tempo in 32:48 (4:06), av HR 166, high HR 175
- 15mins modified Mono-fartlek (3.6k, av 4:11)

First morning run of the week and the temperature certainly makes a lot of difference. HR was pretty low and in retrospective, should have extended the tempo to 10k to familiarize the body for next week’s HM. After 3mins break, did an abbreviated Mono-fartlek (2x90s, 2x60s, 3x30s, 4x15s). Only managed to do the float recovery (~4:30 min/km) for the first 3 fast segments and after that, I just couldn’t keep up and reverted to easy jog. Covered 3.6k in 15mins, av 4:11 as compared to 5k-ish in a standard 20mins fartlek on fresh legs.

PM: 1-hour XT (lunges, squats, abs)

Sat (Off):

Sun (Long Run):
22k run in 104mins (av 4:45)
Progression run, starting at easy pace, ending at around MP effort. 10mins @ 5:18, 5:05, 4:58, 4:54, 4:45, 4:40, 4:35, 4:30, 4:25 (total 90mins). Finished with 6 x 45secs pick-ups at around HM effort, 45secs jog and cool down. The first hour of the route was undulanting, the rest flat terrain. Tired.

Total 80k for the week

02 August 2009

Week 3 of 5 (AHM)

Did 83k in 6 3/4 hours (av 4:50) during Week 3 of 5 to Army Half

Have been running a lot on treadmill this week in order to balance family, work, and running. Sleep time so far has been pretty decent (6-7 hours), however the baby’s feeding timetable changed my sleeping cycle slightly. A midnight feed plus another hour to play and help him to sleep means that I go to bed around 1am. Because I leave the house for work around 8-ish, this means that I have to forego some of morning runs. Evening run is not possible because we normally have dinner pretty early. I would say a good balance/compromise will comprise of 2-3 morning runs a week (quality sessions), and the rest will primarily be treadmill runs in the gym during lunch time (easy days).

I think that I am experiencing some post-marathon blues. My legs are tired all the time and my workouts haven’t been that great. I did a couple of workouts: Tuesday’s intervals went ok (hitting target paces), although the effort was more taxing than it should be. Saturday’s long threshold run (5k MP, 5k HMP, 5kMP, 5k HMP) was a dud. Actual paces were slower than planned and legs were pretty dead. I am not sure whether treadmill running has something to do with it. Due to the moving belt, doing slow, easy runs on treadmill still requires a high leg turnover (whereas a slow run outdoors requires less stride rate). I am guessing that the high leg turnover causes my body to work a bit harder on my easy days.

Two weeks to go to Army Half. Due to the post-marathon blues and fatique, the plan for next week is just to do some maintenance work (tempo runs and slow intervals) in order to prevent myself going into deeper hole. A PB seems unlikely, but I’ll try my best.

Mon (Recovery):
5.5k Recovery in 30mins (av 5:30)
Short on time, a short 30mins run on treadmill, 1% incline.

Tue (Easy):
13k Easy-Moderate in 66mins (av 5:05)
Lunchtime run in the gym since it was blazing hot outside. Started at 5:45 min/km, increasing the speed every couple of mins to 4:40 pace. Last 10mins was done at 5% incline to provide training variety.

Wed (Workout):
AM: 17k run in 74mins (av 4:20) consisting of:
- 2.7k easy warm up (av 5:22) with 1 stride
- 1.6k faster warm up at MP (av 4:19)
- 3 x 1600m at 10k effort (av 3:52) - 6:11, 6:10, 6:10
- 3 x 800m at 5k effort (av 3:42) - 2:58, 2:57, 2:58
- 3 x 400m at m1500-3k effort (av 3:25) - 1:24, 1:24, 1:19
- 4.3k cool down with 4 strides (av 4:50)

Ran from home to Queenstown track, doing a different warm up by including a mile at MP. At the track, I did ‘3-by-3’ workout at various interval paces. Splits were pretty much dead even (see above), could be 1-2 secs faster since I had to overlap a lot of walkers and slow runners. Recovery for all intervals was 1:40-2:00 standing rests. The standing rests (not counted in total time) artificially made the average pace for the total run faster (17k at 4:20). Too tough of a workout for my liking and a sore butt to boot.

PM: 25mins jogging (av 5:40)
A slow run on the treadmill to flush out the junks.

Thu (Easy):
8k Recovery in 42mins (av 5:20), treadmill
Yes, another treadmill run (fourth one in one week). I then joined a Yoga class for 30mins for stretching purposes.

Fri (Easy):
9k Moderate in 42mins (av 4:46)
Light progression run, 5mins at 5:10-5:00-4:50-4:40, then 10mins at 4:30 (below MP). Jogged to the hill and did 5 x 15secs hill sprints, walk down for recovery. Felt sluggish and tired, not a good sign for tomorrow’s long workout.

Sat (Workout):
26k Long Run in 2 hours (av 4:35) including long Threshold run

Stole this workout from Hamburglar who cut his marathon time from 3:18 to 3:02 in Westlink’s M7 Sydney marathon last week. A 20k threshold runs, alternating 5k MP, 5k HMP, 5k MP, 5k HMP. Legs were tired, hence I struggled big time in the second half. Splits: 5k in 22:23 (4:29), 5k in 20:35 (4:07 pace), 5k in 23:16 (4:39), and 5k split in two runs: 10:00 and 10:27 (av 4:06). The pace for third 5k blew out to 4:40 and I couldn’t complete the last 5k in one continuous run. Seriously need a massage first thing Monday.

Sun (Off):
Rest day, spending time with Sling Jr

Total 83k for the week

26 July 2009

Week 2 of 5 (AHM)

Did 73k in 6 hours (av 4:55) during Week 2 of 5 to Army Half

Sling Jr has finally landed in Singapore! He is now four months and getting chubby :) It will be interesting how my training will pan out due to the need to balance family life, work, and running.

Training wise, it was an enforced down week in terms of both intensity and mileage. I was sick with cold, runny nose and sore throat for almost the whole week. As Sling Jr was due to arrive in the weekend, I had to tone down my training to make sure that I recovered in time. For example, I cut my interval volumes from the usual 8k to 6k, Threshold run from around 10k to 7k and so on. At the end, I was able to get a pretty reasonable outcome: 1) getting some ok training when sick and 2) back to 90% fit when the baby arrived.

Three weeks to go to Army Half. Hoping that I can up the ante for the next couple of weeks.

Mon (Recovery):
5k Recovery (av 5:40)

Sick with cold and runny nose. I think my immunity is very low after the marathon, and I made a mistake by rushing back to training too soon.

Tue (Intervals):
12k run in 56mins (av 4:42) including:
- 4 x 1000m (av 3:52) with 80seconds jog
- 4 x 500m (av 3:35) with 2 minute jog
- 4 x 200m with 200m jog

Still sick, hence ran an abbreviated volume of intervals. Splits for the 1k: 3:51, 3:52, 3:51, 3:52 (av 174 bpm). Splits for the 500m: 1:49, 1:50, 1:49, 1:41 (av 177 bpm, high of 189). Splits for the 200s: 37, 39, 39, 38.

Wed (Recovery):
7k Recovery (av 5:40)

Thu (Easy):
12k Easy in (av 5:08) including 5 x 12secs hill sprints

Felt sluggish. Sore throat and bad cough.

Fri (Off):
1-hour Strength Training (abs, lunges, squats)

Decided to take a rest day to enhance healing process.

Sat (Threshold):
18k run in 84mins (av 4:40) including 3 x 2400m at Threshold effort (av 4:01)

Rainy day, but the good thing is that I was almost back to normal health. 5k warm up to the track, then 3 x 2400m in 9:45, 9:35, 9:33 (av 174 bpm) with 2-3mins standing rests. Finished with 4x100m strides and 5k cool down.

Sun (Tempo):
19k run in 89mins (av 4:41) including 10k at MP effort (av 4:30)

3k warm up, then 10k at MP effort on undulanting terrain, averaging 4:30 min/km. Found 1km stretch of small, slightly hilly road and ran out and back 5 times. A good variation to my normal flat running routine. Finished with 8 x 45secs fast, 1m:15s jog during cool down.

Total 73k for the week

18 July 2009

Week 1 of 5 to AHM

Did 80k in over 6.5 hours (av 4:59) during Week 1 of 5 to Army Half

I took a more cautious approach to training this time. A general rule of thumb for marathon recovery is 26 days (one day for each mile raced). Although, legs felt fresh but I am pretty sure there are some microscopic muscles damages inside. I just didn’t want to repeat the same accident last year where I embarked a full-on training straight away after the marathon and a couple days before the 10k race, I damaged my ankle ligament and was injured for 2 months. While it was a freak accident, but I think weak and stressed ankle joints, tendons & connective tissues post-marathon (further stressed by subsequent heavy training) were also responsible.

This week’s training has been fairly easy with the exception of Saturday’s workout. I did a 1-hour progression run on Tuesday, which wasn’t that hard in terms of effort spent. On Saturday, I did a big workout consisting 10k easy + 5 x 2k at HM ‘effort’ to simulate a second half of HM race. I emphasize the word ‘effort’ because I don’t know my goal HM pace is. McMillan calculator predicts a 1:27 based on GC timing, but the latter was done on good running weather. The average pace of the 2ks turned out to be 4:07 min/km, but I am not sure whether I could run at this pace for 21k straight.

Mon (Off):
AM: 40mins Elliptical
PM: 1-hour Pilates

Tue (Workout):
16k run in 75mins (av 4:42) including 60mins Progression Run

Progression run with pace change every 10mins at 5:15, 5:00, 4:45, 4:30, 4:15, and 4:00s, covering last 30mins at sub-3 MP and last 20mins at 87mins HM pace. Finished with Hill Sprints of varying length: 2 x 20secs, 2 x 15secs, 2 x 10secs.

Wed (Easy):
6.5k Recovery (av 5:29), treadmill

Thu (Easy):
17k Easy in (av 5:00), out at 5:00-5:10, back in 4:50-5:00

Fri (Easy):
AM: 10.5k Easy (av 5:03) incl 4 laps of sprint the straights, jog the curves
PM: 1-hour Strength Training (abs, lunges, squats)

Sat (Workout):
24k run in 116mins (av 4:50) consisting of:
- 10k Easy (5:12)
- 5 x 2k at HM effort (av 4:07)
- 3k cool down (5:34)

The aim is to get a feel of how the second half of HM will be like. Ran 10k easy from home to East Coast Park as a warm up, then did 5 x 2k at HM effort. Splits: 8:16/168, 8:14/172, 8:14/175, 8:14/176, 8:04/181. Recovery was 2:00 jog + 00:30 standing rest to drink & stretch, except for the last one whereby I took a 3:00 standing rest to ensure I ran a bit quicker. A hard workout, but not awfully tough. Legs still lacking zip. Happy to see that HR hitting 180s since I haven’t been at this range during marathon training.

Sun (Easy):
6k Recovery (av 5:35)

Total 80k for the week

12 July 2009

Post Mortem & Race Plans

Post race analysis and personal findings:

1) I found that the temperature differential (30c during training vs 10c during racing) will only allow me to sustain the projected MP for the whole 42k without bonking. Unlike other trained runners (e.g. by7), I still don’t have that ability to utilize the cooler racing temperature into running faster than projected MP. A heat chart by Tinman suggest that a change in temperature from 50F (Gold Coast temp 10c) to 90F (Singapore temp 30c) will cause a performance drop of 5%. Since I have been practicing MP at 4:20-4:25 min/km in Singapore, ‘theoretically’ the heat training in Singapore could enable me to do sub-3 (4:20 pace x 95% = 4:12 pace

2) My marathon HR in Gold Coast was 165bpm or 85% Max HR. My last max test was done 3 years ago and it was 195 bpm. I am not sure what my max is now but maybe it’s down by a couple of beats. Hadd training article and other lets run posts suggest that well-trained runners (with 190+ HR Max) can run marathon averaging 175bpm (87-88% Max). So my marathon HR is about 10bpm lower than those people.

The aforementioned points above may indicate a few things 1) Assuming if I was well-trained, I was too conservative during the race and didn’t realize the possibility that I could run a bit faster; or 2) I wasn’t very well-trained, hence I was unable to capitalize on the lower temperature and run at a higher HR; or 3) I am just one of those average joes.

Race Plans:

My next race is the Army Half Marathon in mid-August (did 1:28 last year). There are only 5 weeks of training left (including taper) to prepare for the race, hopefully I can match or slightly better last year’s timing.

No other races planned for the rest of the year. There are possibilities that I sprinkle a couple of short races here and there (e.g HM leg of Singapore Marathon in Dec or Freo HM in Sep if family allows). My wife and kiddo will return to Singapore at the end of the month, so training times will be slightly constrained and less flexible. My current aim is to do general type of base work consisting of moderate mileage, 2 day offs per week, in order to balance family life.

Have yet to decide on next marathon. What currently comes to mind includes Seoul International Marathon in March (flat course, sub-zero temperature in 2007), Gold Coast Marathon again in early July or perhaps Perth Marathon (not sure when).

Training this week:

M: off
T: off
W: 7.5k Recovery (5:28) in Melbourne
T: 12.5k Easy/Mod (4:48) with last 30mins moderate(4:40)
F: Arrived in SG, 6k Recovery (5:27) + massage
S: 5k Easy (5:00), 2 strides
S: 8k POSB Run for Kids race in 32:23 (4:03) + 6k wu/cd (5:40)
Total 45k

Despite just ran a marathon a week ago, I decided to do a low key 8k race. Initially planned to run this at about 4:05 pace to get HR data for next month’s Army HM, but got sucked in to a fast start. Felt good in the first half, but found no leg speed in the second half despite feeling as strong as an ox. HR was almost constant at 182 in the last 5k. Just couldn’t push harder. Finished 4th, about 50secs behind the 3rd runner and 3 minutes after the 1st runner. Splits: 3:53/167 (hill), 3:57/177, 4:00/180, 3:57/183, 4:04/182, 4:12/182 (hill), 4:07/181, 4:02/182, 10secs extra. I am not sure whether I can maintain this pace for 21k, so probably a 1:27-1:28 is an appropriate HM goal for me.

05 July 2009

Gold Coast Marathon 2009

Net Time: 3:04:50

A PB by 7 minutes and beat BQ for my age group (35-40) by 11 minutes.

Firstly, training for the Week 12 of 12. As mentioned previosuly, I felt that I peaked at the right time judging how easy my workouts were in the last 2 weeks (signs of adaptations). I had to patiently control the pace and duration of the workouts (including a 5k race), just to make sure I didn't 'race' my training.

M: 5k Recovery (5:26)
T: 13.5k (av 4:45) including 50mins Progression of 10mins @ 5:20, 5:00, 4:40, 4:20, 4:08. Covered last 30mins at MP, last 20mins at sub-3 pace
W: jetlagged
T: 10.5k (av 4:45) including 3.5k MP + 6 strides
F: 7k Easy (5:02), 4 strides
S: 12mins jog (6:00 pace)
Total 38k pre-race

Now, the race report:

Arrived at GC airport around 4.30pm (would love to get there earlier but no choice since it was a mileage ticket). Took the shuttle bus and arrived at the hotel. Picked up the bib + chip from Max (thanks a bunch) and went to have a pasta dinner at Surfers Paradise. Tossed and turned at the bed and couldn't sleep until about 1am. Had a weird dream that I was running a marathon carrying a monile phone and at km 10, I received a call from work. Stopped and talked for a few minutes, feeling de-motivated to run and DNF'ed. I then woke up and the clock was showing 4:00 am. OK, it was just a dream and I hasn't started running yet !!

Continue to sleep until about 5:20am, took shower, ate breakfast and took the bus to the race location. Had a mini fiasco during the warm up. I wore a belt which carries race bib and gels and I lost 2 packs of gel during warm up ! Luckily, I brought a spare one and now had 3 pax for the race. Now, I had to re-think about my fueling strategy as I initially planned to take gels at 10, 17.5, 25, 30 and 35k. I decided to rely on sports drinks for the initial part and would take gels at km 17.5, 27.5 and 35k.

I also happened to make the right decision on race gear. Bought a cotton glove after dinner and decided to wear long sleeve top for the run. It was a chilly morning, sub 10 degree and a bit windy in some areas. The course itself was 'relatively' flat (it's not 99% flat as Perth). There were a few gentle undulations along the suburban area and a couple of bridges. Would say it's about 95% flat but some of the slopes could affect your legs, especially after running on a flat ground for a long time. I found that the road is very cambered.

I ran pretty much even split for the first 30k, passing the respective 10k splits in 43:29, 43:31, and 43:45. No stopping at all as I drank during the run. Km 30-40k was harder since I began to feel tired and as we passed Southport, there were a couple of bridges to overcome. During this period, I had to resort to a few seconds walk breaks at the drink stops just to give the legs some rests. My average pace began to slow down to around 4:30s but I continue to dig deep. During this hard patch, I thought about my 3-month old son and how he always smiles. This enpowered me to keep going for the last 2k depsite the heavy legs. I managed to minimize the damage, hanged on to the finish and passed the clock at just under 3:05

5k 21:37 10k: 21:43
15k 21:47 20k 21:45
First Half Marathon: 1:31:39
30k 43:44
35k 21:55 40k 22:27
last 2.2k: 9:49
Second Half Marathon: 1:33:11

Net Time: 3:04:50
Av HR: 165 bpm (high 177)
Overall placing: 194 put of 3711 (179 of 2561 male)
Age group placing: 44 of 495

1k splits: 4:20/149, 4:18/159, 4:19/162, 4:19/162, 4:21/161, 4:20/162, 4:24/161, 4:23/161, 4:20/162, 4:23/163, 4:19/164, 4:21/163, 4:23/163, 4:21/164, 4:19/165, 4:25/165, 4:20/165, 4:17/166, 4:22/165, 4:24/165, 4:19/166, 4:20/167, 4:22/166, 4:24/167, 4:18/167, 4:27/166, 4:21/167, 4:27/167, 4:22/167. 4:21/169, 4:22/168, 4:23/169, 4:26/167, 4:23/169, 4:27/170, 4:29/168, 4:24/171, 4:32/170, 4:29/170, 4:27/172, 4:37/172, 4:27/174, 48/178


28 June 2009

Week 11 of 12

Did 70k in 5 and ¾ hours (av 4:55) during Week 11 of 12

I really enjoyed my first week taper. Singapore mornings have been cool (26c & cloudy) all this week and these made running much more palatable. In addition, I felt that all the runs were relatively easy effort-wise, which could mean two things: 1) my body has adapted to training and ready to peak, or 2) I didn’t train hard enough and my training intensity during taper were too easy.

Ran 6 days a week and only had Monday off. My taper plan was to maintain running frequency (to keep weight in check) with a 20-30% reduction in mileage, for instance long run was cut from 30 to 24k, recovery runs from 40mins to 30mins, as well as shortened duration for speed session. I did 3 workouts at varying intensities this week: 10k MP run 12 days out, 2 hour easy long run 10 days out, and a controlled 5k race at 10k pace effort 7 days out.

My plan for the race week is to do a short run on Monday, 12-13k on Tuesday including 5k of moderate pace running (sub MP to MP), fly to Melbourne Tuesday night, rest on Wednesday, 8-10k run including 3k MP on Thursday, 30mins jogging Friday, and 10-15mins jog once I arrive in GC on Saturday evening. Probably 35-40k in total for Mon-Sat.

All the best to Rob, Craig, TB, and Henry who are running Perth Marathon on Sunday as well as Max, Ewen and others who are doing GC. All the best to you all!

By the way, for anyone who cares, my bib is M2521.

Training this week:

Mon (Rest):

Tue (Tempo):
14k run in 65mins (av 4:38) including 10k @ 4:18 min/km

Jogged for 2k and then ran 10k tempo in 43mins flat (av 4:18) at a few seconds faster than MP. Av HR was 164 bpm with a high of 173. Hopefully today’s tempo will make the MP feel easier at least for the first half of the marathon next week. Broke-in a new pair of shoes for the marathon.

Wed (Easy):
6k Recovery (av 5:23), 3 strides

Thu (Long):
24k run in ~120mins (av 4:55)

Last long run 10 days out and decided to make it an easy one (previous 2 long runs were moderate paced and not fat-burning mode). After a couple of ks of warm up jog, ran ~90 minutes at 4:55-5:00 pace. Then picked up the pace to MP + 5%-8% (4:30-4:40) in the last 20minutes. Tried the Endura (GCM sports drink) for the first time.

Fri (Easy):
9k Easy-Moderate (av 4:55) + 6 x 15sec hill sprints

Sat (Easy):
5k Recovery (av 5:32)

Sun (Race):
11.5k run consisting of:
- 600m warm up
- 5.24k Brooks Republic Run in 20:28 (av 3:55, 5k in 19:36)
- 5.7k cool down

My plan was to treat the race as my last speed workout and to run it at 10k pace. Didn't sleep well the night before and arrived late at the race location. Only had the time to deposit bag and go to the toilet. Did only 600m warm up to the start line and went off. Very controlled effort from the start and once I hit the target pace, I just locked it in and stayed there. In fact, my shoe lace got undone after 2k, but too lazy to stop and tie it. Just ran steady, without any huffing and puffing and no attempt to kick.Splits: 3:55, 3:54, 3:57, 3:56, 3:53 (passed 5k in 19:36), and 51secs for the last 235m. Average HR was 171 bpm with a high of 183 bpm versus my actual Max HR of 193bpm, hence it seems that I still have a lot of in the tank. In sum, I pretty much got all I wanted from the run: a good leg speed workout without having to dig deep into my energy reserves (straining) and came out without any muscle soreness. A quick look at McMillan calculator, it says that an all-out 19:36 5k is equivalent to 3:11 marathon, so hopefully my marathon shape is under that.

Todays' race was won by a Kenyan Thomas Kiprotichs and the second place was Clinton Mackevicius, a former Australia's nation 1500m runner in late 1990s (~3:45 timing)

Total 70k for the week (1060k in last 11 weeks)

21 June 2009

Week 10 of 12

Did 92k in 7.5 hours (av 4:55) during Week 10 of 12

Starting my taper now with 2 weeks to go. Really looking forward to longer sleep time from now on since I have been getting up at 4 or 5am on my workout days to avoid the heat. My plan for the taper is 70k next week then 40k during race week (pre-marathon).

One dilemma I have is that I have a 5k race next Sunday (registered and paid long time ago). I am not sure what kind of effort should I put in for the 5k since the marathon is only 7 days later. On one hand, 5k is a short race and recovery should be quick. Read that lots of old-school elites used to run 5k/10k a week before marathon as part of peaking, leg turnover workout and to dissipate some nerves (race practice) before the big day. On the flip side, I don’t want to jeopardize the marathon which of course is more important (and costly) race.

Most training programs typically schedule 18-21k long runs on Sunday to remind the body and maintain adaptations of long runs done over many weeks. I think this shouldn’t be a big issue since I can play around with the structure, such as doing 20k on Thurs/Fri, run the 5k on Sunday, and then do an easy 15k on Monday.

What do you guys think? Should I run the 5k race at:
a) Race effort (probably sub/low 19 for the 5k)
b) VO2max workout: 3 x 1600m at 5k pace, 400m jog
c) Controlled effort: 10k pace (probably under 20 for the 5k)
d) Semi-controlled effort: 4k at 10k pace, last 1.5k hard/all out
(actual distance seems to be about 5.5k according to mapmyrun)

Training this week:

Mon (Intervals):
16k run in 72mins (av 4:32) consisting of
- Warm up + strides
- 3 x 1600 @ Threshold in 6:20, 6:20, 6:20 (av 3:58 min/km)
- 3 x 800 @ 5k pace in 3:01, 3:00, 2:59 (av 3:45 min/km)
- 3 x 400 @ 2k-3k pace in 65, 64, 61 (av 3:28 min/km)
- Cool down

Ran in the evening to give extra few hours of recovery. The SMU track was full of school kids; hence some of the splits were couple of seconds slower due to the traffic. Recovery was 90secs walk after each rep and 3mins after each set. Compared to the same workout a month ago, the 1600s were a couple of seconds per k slower while the pace for 800s/400s was similar. Pretty happy with the effort considering I did a 36k long run two days earlier.

Tue (Easy):
AM: 30mins elliptical + 30mins stretching
PM: 5k Recovery (av 5:40)

Wed (Easy):
11k Easy (av 5:10), 4 strides

Thu (MP tempo):
20k run in 93mns (av 4:39) incl 14k @ 4:24 min/km

One final engine test at goal MP with 17 days to go before the D-day. Covered 1/3 of marathon distance in 61:32 (av 4:24) without stopping on flat terrain. Average HR was 161, max 177. I did an exactly similar test run before Seoul Marathon last year in 61:47, av HR 162, max 170. Hence, today’s run was 1sec/km faster with 1bpm lower average HR, albeit higher HR at the end. Also did 4 x 25secs hill during warm down.

Fri (Off):
Off, 30mins pilates

Sat (Long Run):
27.5k in 2h:12 (av 4:47 min/km)

Started with 3k slow warm up (5:18), then ran 16k at MP + 10% (4:40-4:45) to get sufficiently tired. After arriving at the track, did 4 x 1000m intervals at HM pace (4:07, 4:06, 4:07, 4:03), jogging 200m. Despite the intervals being only at HM pace, I found the change in gear to be pretty hard, but maybe that’s because after 90 minutes of moderate-paced running. Finished the run with 4 x 100m strides and slow cool down jog.

Sun (Easy):
6.5k Recovery (av 5:30), gravel/sand surface

Total 92k for the week, 990k in the last 10 weeks (av 14k per day)

14 June 2009

Week 9 of 12

Did 110k in just over 9 hours (av 5:01 min/km) during Week 9 of 12

Was initially hoping for a hard training week, but it wasn’t meant to be. Mileage was good, but not the intensity nor quality. Had a massage early on Monday and the muscles were sore for the next 3 days. Consequently, I only managed to one so-so speed workout (normally I do two a week) and a weekend long run. In total, I had 5 slow/easy days this week.

Three weeks to go to GCM. Frankly, I am not sure whether I am in a better shape compared to my last marathon in Seoul. My average training paces are slower this year and I did less ‘long fast workouts’. Last year, I felt fresh and was able to do more intense quality workouts. While for the current training cycle; I’ve been hampered by groin problems and hot weather (one of the warmest on record). On a positive note, this year’s longer prep (4 weeks longer) is probably worth an extra 350-400 km in mileage (hopefully this will help!).

The plan for next week is to up the intensity since it will be virtually the last hard training week before I enter a 2-week taper. Plan to do 2 speed workouts (focusing on MP) during mid-week and 25-28km long run in the weekend.

Mon (Easy):
AM: 6k Recovery (av 5:30)
PM: Massage

Tue (Easy):
AM: 8k Recovery (av 5:36)
PM: 8k Easy (av 5:10), 4 strides

Too sore to do any workout after a painful massage yesterday.

Wed (Threshold):
AM: 19k (av 4:42) with 52mins worth of HM pace/MP work
PM: 5.5k Recovery (av 5:32)

Similar style to last week’s workout, alternating intervals at HM pace with recovery at MP. 3 sets of 1k HMP, 1k MP, 1k HMP, 1k MP with 2mins rest in between on the F1 track. Splits for the 4k sets: 17:12 (163 bpm), 17:12 (168 bpm), and 16:55 (170 bpm). Average pace was 4:08 for the HM segments, 4:25 for the recovery, and 4:17 min/km for the 12k total. I wanted to do another set but I was too stuffed from the warm weather.

Thu (Easy):
11k Recovery (av 5:19)

Fri (Easy):
AM: 9.5k Easy (av 4:58), 8 strides
PM: 20mins gym work

Sat (Long Run):
36k in 2h:50 (av 4:42 min/km)

Ran with Max again at East Coast Park. We started pretty early at 5:30am and didn’t see the mercury until near the end of the run - which was good for a change. After 3k warm up, ran 27k at 4:40 min/km or 3h:18m marathon pace (excluding a few brief drink breaks). After Max left, I planned to do 5k at goal MP to wrap up the long run. However, I was too tired by then, and only had energy to do 2 x 2k at goal MP (4:20 min/km) with a slow 1k jog in between. Including today’s run, total mileage for the last 7 days (Saturday to Sunday) was 130k.

Sun (Easy):
AM: 7k Recovery (av 5:26), 4 easy strides
PM: Yoga

Total 110k for the week

07 June 2009

Week 8 of 12

Did 99k in around 8 hours (av 4:58) during Week 8 of 12

Re: marathon decision….

It is gonna be Gold Coast. After discussion with my wife, doing a marathon in the East Coast is a better idea since I can make a combined trip to visit the family in Melbourne. Had a few things to take care (baby passport, shipment etc) before my wife and baby will head to Singapore in early August.

Apologies to the guys in Perth for not being able to run Perth Marathon this year. I’ve discussed with my wife about doing Perth Marathon next year (need to re-qualify for Boston if I want to run it in 2011) or perhaps even one of the WAMC’s weekend events. I hope that speedsters Epi and Clown will be kind enough to pace me to a 10k/21k PB since the road race culture and organization and in Singapore is really bad.

Anyway, training has been lackluster this week. I was unable to get the results I had hoped from the workouts (e.g. less tempo distance, slow pace of easy/long runs etc). One reason could be that I am just tired. During my last marathon prep, I did 8 weeks of training and I felt good the whole way. In contrast, the current training cycle is 12 weeks long and I passed the 8 weeks mark today. I’ve been feeling tired and sluggish (also running with sore groin/quads) since the last few weeks. Singapore weather during April-May also has been much hotter and humid (which is very draining) compared to the Sep-Oct period.

Below is the comparison between the two marathon preps. Two things that strike me are that a) I am doing less number of and much shorter LSDs; and b) training paces for the two preps are almost exactly the same, for instance tempos (4:00-4:10), intervals (3:50s), MP (4:20-4:30), and Easy (5:00-5:30). In other words, there is no increase in training intensity (in fact, the Seould prep was actually more 'dense' if we count the number of both easy and quality long runs completed during the short training cycle). The only difference is that I will have 4 weeks of extra training this time around and I wonder whether this will yield a different (better) results?

Seoul prep (followed by 2 weeks taper):
Mileage (6 weeks): 94, 91, 105, 98, 115, 105 = av 101 km
Long Runs (Easy): 32, 35, 35, 27, 30
Long Runs (Quality): 27 (21 @ MP), 32 (28 @ MP), 31 (21 @ MP)

GCM prep (another 2 week training + 2 weeks taper):
Mileage (8 weeks): 88, 90, 121, 97, 112, 93, 88, 99 = av 98 km
Long Runs (Easy): 25, 27, 24, 31
Long Runs (Quality): 30 (15 @ MP), 33 (24 @ MP), 35 (26 @ MP)

Training this week:


Tue (Intervals):
15k av 4:50 with 6 x 1k @ 10k pace

Back in SG and I felt the difference in effort right away. Last week, Melbourne was 14c and the wind chill made it to around 11c (apparent temperature). This afternoon, Singapore was 32c with a heat index of 35c. This basically means that I am training in a place which is 3x hotter than in an ideal (lab-like) conditions. Ran 4k for warm up to the F1 track, 6 x 1k @ 10k pace (av 3:54) with 90secs walk, 5k cool down including strides and short hill sprints.

Wed (Easy):
AM: 10k Easy (av 5:17), on treadmill
PM: Weights/Core

Thu (Threshold):
AM: 7k Easy (av 5:06)
PM: 16k (av 4:45) with 6 miles Threshold (alternate miles of HMP & MP)

Due to limited running space in Singapore, sometimes I have to be creative in finding places to run. Tried a Threshold workout, alternating 1600m on the track at HM pace with 1600m recovery 1600m at MP on a short stretch of road. Splits: 6:36/7:05, 6:36/7:01, 6:37/6:52 (av pace 4:15 for 9.6k, 4:07 on the HM and 4:23 on the recovery) with 1min rest between sets. Also did 4 x 30secs hill during the cool down. Might do another variation of this workout next time.

Fri (Easy):
AM: 7k Recovery (5:27)
PM: Pilates

Sat (Aborted Long Run):
17k including 14k av 4:37

Ran with a friend (Max) in East Coast Park who has a 3h:15m marathon target. The plan is to do 3k warm up, followed by 24k of goal pace (4:37 min/km). Felt sluggish and my heart rate was hovering at 170-175 which was very high for the effort. Could be either due to dehydration or insufficient recovery from previous workouts. Didn’t want to take any chance of over-straining and decided to cut short the run.

Sun (Long Run):
27k Easy

Ran around Tanglin and Bukit Timah area which has a mildly undulating terrain. Ran the first half at 5:00-5:15 and the second half at 4:50-5:00. Had a few breaks in the middle to rehydrate. Tired legs, definitely in need of a massage.

Total 99k for the week

31 May 2009

Week 7 of 12

Did 88k in just over 7 hours (av 5:00) during Week 7 of 12

A recovery week. Only had one workout but a decent one.

Felt jaded early in the week due to fatigue. Wanted to do a 10k MP run on Wednesday but could last a measly 5k since the effort felt like a race. I got very frustrated with the frequent inability to complete workouts.

Flew to Melbourne to see my 2-month old son (he is very, very cute). Since this week is a recovery week, I decided to take a couple of days off to freshen up. My objective is to practice a race week routine by having a taper, carbo loading, before doing a 26.2k ‘marathon simulation’ run on Saturday.

Came Saturday, the temperature was windy, but cool at 13-14c with 70% humidity. I wore a 220gram racing shoes and started my run. The course was from home to Collingwood and back on the Koonung and Yarra trails. The route had a combination of flats, undulations and a couple ks of dirt road.

Started with 5k warm up at 4:44 pace and it felt so easy (in Singapore, my aerobic runs are about 30-60secs slower than this and I had to work my butt off!). I completed the 26.2k simulation run in 1h:56m, averaging 4:26 min/km. Felt strong the whole way and still had a lot left in the tank with only a minor tightness in the legs near the end. Rest time were very brief (total stopagges were less than 10mins, excluded from running time) compared to Singapore, where I virtually had to rest 5mins after running every 30mins in order to re-hydrate (I am a heavy sweater, hence lose lots of body fluid). Quads were beat up from the undulations afterwards. All up, with warm up and cool down, the total run was 35k in 2:40 (av 4:35 min/km). Thank God for the Aussie weather!

Overall, I am pretty happy with the simulation run (~2 hours of MP running), although the pace is a bit slower than anticipated (was hoping for low 4:20s). Average HR was 160s or 82% Max. Hopefully the next 3 weeks of training will help me to increase the ability to hold MP from 26.2k to 26.2 miles !

Mon: 100mins Easy (av 5:17)
Tue: 40mins Recovery (av 5:28)
Wed: 95mins Easy (av 5:08), aborted MP run
Thu: off
Fri: off
Sat: 160mins Long Run (av 4:35), with 26.2k @ MP
Sun: 43mins Recovery on grass/trail (av 5:28)

Total 88k for the week