30 May 2010

A Training Sketch

With about 19 weeks to go, I think it's now or never to come up with a sketch of my marathon plan !

When I was training for Seoul earlier this year, my typical week was as follows:

Mon: Intervals
Tue: Easy
Wed: Medium Long Run
Thu: Intervals
Fri: Easy
Sat: Long Run
Sun: off

The structure remains the same throughout the preparation period. The workouts were very interval based, ranging from short fast ones like 30s on/15s off  or 60s on/30s off, to long intervals such as 6 x 5mins, and to even longer ones such as 15-10-5 mins done at  slightly above tempo-ish pace. Similar to Aussie training which is based on 'repeated cycle', the workouts form month M would be repeated to month M+1, M+2 and so on. The notable difference is perhaps coach had 6-8 different workouts every month, while Deek/Mona were doing the same 2 workouts week in week out. Long runs were all easy aerobic, time on your feet thing.

Frankly, I am a bloke who loves doing tempo runs more than intervals. As mentioned last week, I train on my own and I find it extremely tough 'chasing ghosts' during my intervals. I also think having four key sessions consisting of 2 intervals and 2 long runs every week is a bit too much when my age is nearing 40 and especially, whilst training in the heat and humidity of Singapore. I am also one who likes to sprinkle some bursts of faster running into my long runs as compared to doing a single pace long run.

Increasing mileage and the number of running sessions per week are not an option for me.

Based on the above, I'd like to schedule a plan that suits my strength and at the same time, involves more variety. Since I like to incorporate interval, tempo/threshold running, and long run with MP into my plans, I don't think I can do all of them in one single week on sustainable, long term basis. With this in mind, I am going to give a two-week training cycle a try.

Here is a rough sketch:

Mon: Intervals (800-1600m reps)
Tue: Easy
Wed: Medium Long Run (aerobic)
Thu: Easy
Fri: Easy
Sat: Long Run with MP
Sun: off

Mon: Fartlek or short stuff (200-400s)
Tue: Easy
Wed: Medium Long Runs with Threshold running or progression runs
Thu: Easy
Fri: Easy
Sat: Long Run (aerobic)
Sun: off

I feel that this sketch fits my needs: 2 workouts, one long run plus 3 easy days and one rest day. It's essentially a mixed basket of workouts with one longer interval session to train aerobic capacity/vo2max, one interval session of shorter stuff like 200-400s or fartlek for lactate/neuromuscular training, one threshold session as part of medium long run, one MP session as part of long run, and two aerobic, fat burning long runs. Hence, they pretty much touch all aspects of physiological zones, albeit spread over a 14-day cycle.

The structure is also designed in such a way to lessen the risk of injury and over training:. For instance in Week 1, the (hard) interval session will be followed by an easy mid-week long run, to allow sufficient recovery in an endeavour to put in a faster, MP-esque long run in the weekend. In Week 2, the short reps/fartleks is placed early in the week (after hard long run) since they are not overly too taxing. This will be followed a threshold session mid-week and after two fast sessions, I will end the week with an easy long run.

I am also hoping the 'big workouts' such as MP long run and mid-week medium long run with threshold running embedded will better prepare me to meet the demands of marathon, since they are virtually race-pace simulation in disguise

However, there is a big difference between a training plan that I like and a training plan that works !  And I am pretty sure there will be choppy waters and slipperly slope along the way.

Any views/opinions guys?

23 May 2010

Goin' Solo Redux

Thanks guys for your comments last week - I am sold..

Rob - yes, I forgot that I might have a guaranteed pacer in you (assuming you don't break 3 before M)
TB & Ewen - thanks for the tips re: course description
Speedygeoff - you hit the nail on the head. I am an excessive sweater and never run well in the heat, so my performance is probably 'amplified' (if I can use that word) with the much colder weather - which in this case, is in favour of M.

Glad that one issue is now sorted.

I have decided to suspend coaching for now - at least for this cycle, but I might resume again if things do not work. I have certainly improved under the coach's guidance. Althouth, my marathon PB only came down by 1 minute, but 89/94 marathon split is definitely an improvement from GCM's 92/93.

As I have mentioned previously, the training system is based on an old-skool Aussie system with 2 intervals a week (I checked with somebody who trains under Pat Carrol and the structure is exactly similar, so presumably that's the Aussie way). However, I found it really difficult to do fast intervals since I am training on my own. It is so tough to push myself in order to run fast without any pulling forces. Coach has a squad (of all levels) training together a couple of times a week and all of his runners certainly thrive under this environment on the back of the group camaraderie. I've been struggling in 'upgrading' my interval paces required for the sub-3 without the help of any 'rabbits'.

I also feel that 2 intervals a week shred my legs as evidenced by the long recovery from marathon. Furthermore, since I have gone through one marathon training cycle under Coach, probably I can repeat the program again if I want to go back to the old program. I wish all the best to Coach and congratulate him on his achievement especially with this guy.

So, what is the game plan now? I am thinking to combine bits and pieces from various sources - maybe a few workouts from Coach, a few sessions from running books or internet (Pfitz, Daniels, Bakken, Mcmillan etc), and some which will be self-invented. I really love tempo runs and fartlek, hence I will surely include these babies! lI think it's gonna be fun to write your own training plan and hopefully I can come up with something half-decent!!

Finally, in case you guys wondering about my training journals. I've been doing okay lately but not great. Lots of therapeutic easy runs and with only 1 speed session a week. Did Passion Run 25k race in 1:49 - an average of 4:23 pace which included walking breaks at 8 drink stations in order to hydrate proper. The pace is slower than my current MP  (4:20min/km) but not too shabby given I don't particularly race well in the heat. I also managed to sneak into 10th and got $75 shoe voucher.

I plan to start posting about training in a couple of weeks time, which is 18 weeks out from Melbourne and that's when my training starts proper.

The goal is now to finish running before the clock turning 10 on 10/10/10. Hahaha...interesting lottery numbers :p

16 May 2010

S or M ?

I am not talking about t-shirt size here ;-)

Lately I've been following the cool running thread on Sydney Marathon with great interest, in particular with respect to the new course.

Somebody posted a map-my-run on the new course and if you click the elevation profile, it doesn't look that hilly anymore. As a matter of fact, after km 30 where people normally tend to slow down, the course goes downhill.


Therefore, it seems that if a runner can navigate the first 30k and still have some in the tank, then sustaining goal pace in the last 10-12k is a real strong possibility due to the net descend.

Pros and Cons for Melbourne:
+ Three weeks later than Sydney equates to longer prep time
+ My in-laws has a house there = easier on the budget
+ HM race four weeks out; a useful test to predict marathon fitness and goal time
- Weather too unpredictable (although last year was great)

It seems the Melbourne course is flat with some rises at the end, but I haven't seen the course profile personally. Maybe TB who has done it in the last couple of years can chip in?

But if the weather sucks on the day, there is a risk that 4 months of good training will become a waste...

Pros and Cons for Sydney:
+ More reliable and pleasant weather conditions
+ Haven't done Sydney before and running the Harbour Bridge and finishing at Opera House will be special
- No tune-up races before the marathon
- I am not that great in hills (I always aim for flat marathons, hence past training always on the flat)

Currently still leaning towards Melbourne, but the new Sydney course is definitely very tempting.

Will not make decision until July/Aug, but any inputs will be appreciated. Thanks!

10 May 2010

Another blow

So after navigating a lengthy bouts of poor training, flu virus and sluggishness, I was hoping that things would be on the improve this week. Unfortunately, I was hit by another one...

The week started with a medicore interval session. Did a few 800s and only managed to do them in 3:05-3:10. Considering that during marathon training, I did 8x800m in 3:00 average with 60sec recovery, I should find the 800s in 3:05-3:10 to be easy but they were not. My 200s were also slow at around 44secs (3:40 pace), compared to my usual 40-42secs. I am not a speedster type but these are disappointing even according to my standards. I had a 5.6k race planned on Thursday so things were not looking good!

On Thursday, I participated in the 5.6k JP Morgan Challenge together with my work colleagues and 11,000 other runners from Singapore corporate world. Completed the race in 21:20 or about 19:00 5k pace. Considering my 5k PB was 18:45 and the fact that I am not training well at the moment, the results were not too shabby on the surface. However, after some reflections, I think I should have blasted my 5k PB easily considering that it was done 4 years ago and all my training paces are much faster now than back then. During this 4 year window, I have also slashed my marathon PB by 15 minutes but my 5k times remained the same even after doing a lot of interval training under SW. Hmm, even when my training sucks at the moment, I know that I should have been capable of better timing.

And now, the blow....On Friday, I was watching telly and was munching on this Asian snack (cuttlefish jerky) and sipped a glass of wine. As the jerky was probably processed using a lot of acidic stuff/chemicals and combined with the sourness of merlot, I had this acid flux in my body. For the whole weekend, I was suffering from frequent severe heartburn. Had difficulty in sleeping as lying down made it worse. Took me the whole 2 days to shake out the damn thing and even now, I still had the burnt here and there albeit at low levels.

I think I need to see a witch to remove me from the bad jinx and to un-needle the voodoo doll !!!

Above: Start area of JP Morgan Race in Singapore CBD
Below: That's me at the start, a guy in BP green tee & pink racer :)

01 May 2010

The Lost Mojo

I think I am officially having a depression...

It has been six weeks after the marathon, but I still can't shake out the tiredness and mental fatique. I am sure that everyone dips after a marathon race, but I've dipped to an extremely low level and wondered if I can be the same runner I was.

The common rule of thumb for recovery is 1 rest day for every mile raced. It has been 40 days and I am still not running well. Nowadays I found it 'hard' to run longer than 1 hour. I got tired easily and my legs felt dead and burning. Psychologically, I also seem to lose a lot of competitive juice or the 'mojo' to train.

In the last few weeks, I probably had about 3-4 long runs that ended-up as walk-run sessions. Speed workouts also turned into disasters. On Friday, I planned to run my favourite workout of 5x5mins session but I only could finish 1 rep. SW has designed an easy program post marathon, however for some reasons I am just not the same runner I was.

Some possible reasons:
- I ran my heart out in Seoul and probably I was pressing my upper stress limit (e.g a 87min HM runner running 89/94 marathon splits). The effort predisposed me to recovery problems, both mentally and physically
- fatiqued musculosketal system, leading to heavy legs syndrome
- post-marathon depression and mood swings. It has been documented that choline, a neurotransmitter precursor, is depleted with marathon-like efforts.
- low iron levels
- hormonal imbalance

Wondering what should I do to get out of this pariah situation? People said 1-2 months after a marathon can lead to the best shape of your lives on the back of marathon fitness (e.g Ritz which broke 5k AR, 60min HM after London). Unfortunately, it didn't happen to me and wondered whether it will. The worst thing is that the recent slew of failed/aborted workouts lead to more and more heightened frustrations.

I am depressed, frustrated and slow :(