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