30 January 2010


Week 2 of 9 to Seoul (ouch...)

Thanks for everyone's vote of confidence that I could complete an impromptu marathon with just 2 months of training. Sounds like around 3:10 was a popular prediction.

Well. I've been looking it at my past running log and found some interesting stuff (see chart below)

The 1st bar shows my monthly mileage for Joong-an marathon in Nov 08. The prep was quite similar to current situation. We were in Japan for holiday and rarely ran for 2 weeks. Then I embarked on 8 weeks of marathon training. Av mileage for that 8 weeks block was 384k per month. If we include another month before that (including holiday period), the 3 month average was 355k. This yielded 3:11 marathon.

The 2nd bar depicts mileage for Gold Coast in Jul 09. I was in off-season mode for 1 month (baby), then had 12 weeks of marathon training. Av mileage for the last 2 months prior to the race was 415k per month, for 3 months it was 388k. This yielded 3:04

The 3rd and 4th bars show mileage from two popular programs, Hal Higdon and Pfitzinger. Av mileage are 300 and 400ks respectively for 2 & 3 months before race week

The 5th bar shows the projected mileage leading to Seoul 2010 (mid Dec-mid Mar period).This assumes 90k average for Week 3-6 and 70k average for week 7-8. This produces a monthly average of 330 for 3 months and 360 for last 2 months prior to the race.

My observations:
- Based on Joong-an and GCM data, it seems higher mileage & longer prep correlate positively with marathon times (at least for me). There is pretty strong evidence that 3 months averaging 400k+ helped me to attain faster marathon timing in GC.
- My mileage are concentrated in the last few weeks before the race as depicted by more mileage done in last 2 months versus last 3 months.
- Higdon and Pfitz plan show consistent volumes for last 3 and 2 months. This raises another question whether I work too much in the last few weeks (tried to cram in everything as race day got closer)
- To say that my mileage is higher than Higdon's advance plan is misleading, since Higdon's plan runs for 4 months. My training plan is only 2 months.

- Will run Seoul with lower mileage compared to previous 2 marys & Pfitz plan
- It looks that there is nil chance to get a PB ! lol

So, that's a bit of analysis based on mileage. It's more difficult to compare intensities since all the workouts in each cycle are different. If we use average weekly training pace as a proxy for intensity, presently the data show that I am still averaging a the same training pace. In fact, my average pace still hovers about 5:00 pace and it hasn’t changed in four years!

Anyway, training this week:

Mon (threshold):
4k warm up/strides (av pace 5:25)
10 mins, 4mins jog, 10mins, 3mins jog, 5mins
Ran the fast part at 3:50-3:55 min/km, slow part av 4:45 min/km
Covered 7.9k in 32mins with 4 miles worth of 10k-paced running
3k cool down (av pace 5:30)
Total session 15k in 1h:10m (av pace 4:44)

Tue (easy):
11.7k easy in 60mins, including 5 barefoot strides (av pace 5:10)
XT: lunges, hip exercises

Wed (long):
20k easy-moderate in 100mins (av pace 5:00)
XT: 15mins upper body weights

Thu (hills):
6k worth of hills plus wu + cd
Average only 5:00 pace (up & down), but HR never got below 160 due to quick jog down and then up again

Fri (easy):
40mins easy on treadmill (av pace 5:37)
XT: 80 abs on bench (no weights)

Sat (long):
32.4k long run in 2h:37m (av pace 4:52)
10k easy @ 5:23, 140 bpm, 16k @ 4:30, 160 bpm, 6k easy with pick-ups. Testing the legs since I don't know what my MP is

Sun (off):
Rest day

Total 99k for the week in 8h:14m (av pace 5:00)

Week in summary:
Another 'ramping-up' week, with midweek and weekend long runs being extended to 20k and 32k respectively. Paces for these two runs are still on the slow side as my body is still adjusting to 100k weeks. Had one good threshold workout, but a dud again when doing hills. Next week will be another 'ramping-up' week with long run further stretched to 3 hours.

23 January 2010

Holy Cow...I will be running a marathon in 8 weeks time

Last week, it was:

23 weeks to go to the Marathon..


8 weeks to go to the Marathon (yup, eight weeks)

There is a suprising, but very exciting development.

For my son's 1st birthday, the family (us, in-laws) decided to celebrate in style by going to South Korea. Coincidentally during that period, there is Seoul International Marathon!

I would have entered 10k/21km, but they don't have one (it's a single event). After some thinking, it will be too rude to pass the opportunity to run one of Asia's biggest marathon (30,000 marathon runners). So why not?

Now, the big question mark is how do I get my self ready to run 42k in 8 WEEKS TIME ???? *gulp*

I have been in off-season mode in last 1.5 months, longest 'long' runs of only 15-20k with a view that I have a full 6 months to do marathon training.

Will I crash and burn? Can I finish the race in one piece? Will I hit the dreaded wall?

Top 4 reasons why I should feel pessimistic:
a. 8 weeks essentially means 6 training weeks (plus 2 weeks taper)
b. Been in off-season mode, only ran 2-3x per week in Dec.
c. Feb-Mar is a busy time at work. Tough to find the time to train
d. As I am essentially doing a 'crash training'. The increase in mileage and intensity over that 6 weeks might yield over-training risk

Top 4 reasons why I should feel more upbeat:
a. I run much better in the cold climate. However, average temp in Seoul in March is between -2 and 8c (max, noon). This is below a perfect running temperature of 10c (such as Gold Coast). An unknown factor.
b. Seoul course is flat-ish, slight downhill in the beginning, but there is 6k of gradual rise (km 30-36) of 15 meters in elevation. Hmm…looks like a miniature version of Boston marathon which has a rise between km 26-36, climbing 51 meters. Overall net elevation loss of Seoul is 12 meters versus Boston's 137 meters.
c. My mid-week and long run have reached 18k and 30k
d. SW actually thinks I won't be doing too badly :)

All things considered, I could think of three scenarios:

1. Most likely scenario: hit the wall or overtraining, finish in 3h:30
2. Less likely scenario: <3h:15m, qualify Boston marathon for three years in a row
3. Most unlikely scenario: running under 3.10

Place your bets please….

Anyway, I always want to run Seoul so might as well enjoy the route for fun (albeit insufficient training).

Importantly, what a great way to celebrate my son's 1st birthday by running a marathon !

Training this week:

LT/Vo2 test

Tue (intervals):
5k warm up (av pace 5:20)
8 x 800m, 1min slow jog
Splits: 3:02, 3:01, 3:01, 3:02, 3:01, 2:59, 3:00, 2:55 = average 3:00 (3:45 min/km)
4.6k cool down (av pace 5:27)
Total session 16k in 1h15m (av pace 4:45)

Wed (long):
18k easy (av pace 5:06)
Took it easy, av HR 143

Thu (easy):
35mins treadmill (av pace 5:40)
2 sets of weights, 100 abs

Fri (threshold):
15mins warm up (av pace 5:25)
6k threshold run in 23:41 (av 3:57min/km)
Splits: 4:00, 3:58, 3:59, 3:57, 3:57, 3:48. Av HR 167
Rest, then up and down 100m hills, 10 times
3.6k cool down
Total session 15k in 1h:10m (av pace 4:42)

Sat (long):
30k long run in 2h:33m (av pace 5:05)
Tired legs from yesterday. Ran 10k from home to MR, 1 loop of trail, ran 10k back. Always hard to run 30k again after 2 months hiatus. Had a few stops nead the end.

Sun (rest):
OFF. No run.

Total 100k for the week in 8h:17m (av pace 5:00)

Week in summary: I broke the '10% mileage rule' by jumping from 70k last week to 100k this week (50% increase), hopefully The Runners World magazine gods will not punish me for this. Overall, a good week with 2 solid speed workouts and two longish runs. Paces for the long runs are still slow right now as I have been absent from marathon/mileage training for over 6 months.

18 January 2010

lab rat

Participated in a research.

1) vo2 test

Protocol: speed 8.5 km/h constant, 3mins @ 0% grade, increased by 2.5% every 2mins
Duration: 20mins, ending at 20% grade
Vo2max 59
HR 190
Peak lactate 10.1

Experienced premature fatique as hills are not my strength. I've seen HR of 195 bpm during races & intervals, so could go longer under competitive situation, hence potentially higher Vo2. On the other hand, some say that protocol is not that accurate as in reality, runners don't run at that grade a lot hence Vo2 might be grossly elevated. A better test would be to run on flat grade (or track), with increasing speed and ending at the top speed that corresponds to your highest oxygen uptake.

For what it's worth, this calculator predicts 35mins 10k, 80 HM, and 2h45m marathon potential for me.

Pretty much in-line with what I expected. NOT MUCH GENETIC TALENT, even after logging 20,000km in the last 6 years.

Sub-3 would be the upper limit of running achievement since many runners generally never reach their VO2max potential.

2) LT

Protocol: grade 1%, 4mins run, 2mins rest for reading, speed increased by 0.7 km/h every interval

The protocol was for less fit types, with starting speed of 8.7 km/h. Lactate still hovered above resting levels for 30 minutes into the run. Fortunately, during the last stage, I at least reached 4 mmol which is often referred as LT (although range could be 2.5-6.5).

Paces/HR/lactate profile to come.

3) Vo2max (same day as above)

Done after LT test with 10mins rest
Protocol: 1 minute at 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 km/h at 1% grade (total 6 minutes). Then staying a 15km/h, grade increased to 2%, 4%, 6%, 8%, 10%

Achieved the same Vo2max as above, hence consistent results - although, I had some residual fatique from the LT test. HR only reached 190, decided to stop as I just couldn't run at 4:00 min/km with 10% grade.

Interestingly, the test was done at 23 BMI. Dropping a couple of kgs will increase it by 2 points.

10 January 2010

The work begins

Training for the week ending 10/01 (Week 1 of 26 to GCM)

Mon: 6k easy (5:00), 5 strides barefoot on grass, 1.2k cool down. Total 8.2k in 41:05 (5:01), 40 forward lunge walk, 20 backward, 80 abs on bench, glutes exercise

Tue: 3k warm up (5:20), drills + 4 strides, 15 x 00:60 on, 00:30 off - paces according to GPS for the 'ON' were 3mins 30, 29, 32, 40, 31, 38, 32, 35, 38, 46, 39, 33, 42, 49 (small climb), 30 min/km - average @ 3:37 or about 3k pace, recovery were 5:00-6:00 pace - total fartlek 22:00 incl recovery covering 5.43k (av 4:03 min/km), HR av 175 hi 186, 3k cool down (5:32). Total 12.33k in 59:10 (4:48)

Comment: Felt ok. Probably that's my max speed at the moment, nevertheless accumulated about 15mins worth of current 3k PB pace. Just realized the program had 12x 1min…so I over did-it..oops

Wed: 45mins easy progressing from 6:00 to 5:00 min/km, next 30mins at 4:50, 5 strides. Total 16k in 81:00 (5:04), HR av 147
Comment: Legs a bit tired, probably takes time to be familiar with running everyday again.

Thu: 3.5k wu (5:40), 15x100m hill, quick jog back, between 58-62secs per cycle, av pace 5:05, 2.5k cd (5:30). Total 9k in 49:00 (5:27)
Comment: schedule called for 30x100m, but I was spent after 15. Not fit enough yet. Hips and kness sore due to the downhill.

Fri: 5.5k treadmill (5:40), relaxed and easy. 2x12 reps on weight machines (lat, fly, deltoid row, lower back, quads, calf, glutes), 60 abs on bench, 20mins yoga stretch

Sat: Long run progression, 20mins @ 5:00, 4:50, 4:40, 4:25 min/km, 10mins @ 4:18, strides. Total 20k in 93:30 (4:40)

Comment: Tried to make up for Thursday's session, so ran a faster long run today. Did the same distance & route as last week but carried a bottle of water this time. No breaks but drank the water on a run. Av HR was 155 bpm versus last week 157 bpm but av pace is 10secs/km faster today. Hence, hydration (500ml water for a 90min run) will certainly help running performance and mitigate heat build-up in Singapore conditions.

Sun: off

Total 71k in 5:54 (av 5:00)

Mileage breakdown:
Aerobic & Recovery: 90%
Stamina & Strength: 4%
Speed & Races: 6%

Overall, not a good start for the new year. Did one workout and failed to complete another. The fartlek was great but the hill was a dud (I think I had half of Singapore finished ahead of me in the hills). Av training pace at 5:00 is also slower than the 4:50s in recent weeks. However, I am not complaning since this is still early in the training cycle and there are still 25 weeks left before GC. Mileage and long runs will get progressively higher and longer from this point.

Had a blood test done before Christmas. Haematology data (wbc 4.0, rbc 4.87, hgb 14.5, plt 215) suggest that I should be ready to tackle training. However, my cholestrol is on the elevated side (238, hdl 77,ldl 147), hence I need to be a bit more selective on what I eat!

03 January 2010


Some stats to start with:

Ran 3650k total for the year of 2009 (av 10k/d). Also passed 20,000k of lifetime mileage since I started running six years ago at age 33.

The stats above just showed how little natural talent I have :(

This week marks the end of my off-season training. For the whole of December, my training load is only about 60% of normal, with lots of rest days. My body and legs are still not entirely fresh and springy, but my fitness hasn’t eroded much either, so I guess they balanced out.

Training this week:

Mon – 2k ez, 15k Tempo in 60:00 (av 4:00 min/km) in HK under cool conditions (see previous blog post). I reckoned I could carry on at this pace for a half-marathon distance (85 mins pace). But thenI would feel less guilty to claim a PB in a training run for 15k rather than a common distance such as 21k. Anyways, this timing is faster than of all my currents PBs, therefore, I will use to set my training paces. Makes me wonder if I continued to stay in Australia, how much faster I could get since I can run at this pace presumably on regular basis?

Tue – off

Wed – 35mins easy run on treadmill (av 5:20)

Thu – off

Fri – 20k long run in 97:00 (av 4:50), aerobic progression 20mins at 5:10, 5:00, 4:50, 4:40, and last 17mins at 4:32 pace. In line with my earlier blog about ‘secret weapons for 2010’, I did the long run without breaks and at moderate paces (instead of easy) to optimize calorie burning. The continuous nature of the run plausibly resulted in de-hydration, heat buildup, and cardiac drift as evidenced by the jump in HR from 140 bpm to 180 bpm at the end (note that 180 is higher than my tempo HR!). Will run without any breaks/water for runs up to around 90mins.

Sat – off

Sun – 4k ez, 10k at medium effort on a cross country course in 45mins+ (av 170 bpm). Decided to piggyback on MR25 club runs since it was my first time doing the route; even then I had to wait for some runners to ask for direction. Overall, a good outing at pretty solid pace although, I found the trail too rocky for my liking.

Total 59k for the week.

Will resume SW’s on-line coaching next week. Let the hard work begins !!