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 :)