Training Recap October: Training To Train

Base Training

Working within my training limits I tried to set up a base to launch future improvements over the next few months. Many think of base training as low intensity and high volume. It’s not how I define it. For years I’ve run from the working definition of base training:


To develop a well balanced athlete capable of optimally responding to the stress of competition specific training


The aches and tightness from the previous month dissipated and my running felt smoother. My ego still tried to get in the way. It argued against dropping the volume on my easy runs. Yet dropping a couple of kilometres on those runs has made a big difference.


No monster sessions. They are still some months off. Instead, I’m creating habits. Trying to make my training a day after day thing. The volume will come out of consistency and progression. Not from pushing it crazy hard now.


Time management is important. I’ve let it slip lately. Over the last year I’ve worked on accepting last minute changes to my schedule because of kids, life and work. I’ve seen improvement in a lack of stress when I’m presented with changes. It’s also morphed into a lack of planning ahead. As a result I’ve lost a lot of efficiency. This needs to change if I want to increase my training. I need to get other stuff done. Life is more than just running.



Willpower is limited in how far it can take you over time. It can work as a bridge, but is almost impossible to rely on every day. Habits are more useful. The brain works well with habits. We become what we do. I use triggers and repetition to change and create habits. It takes some deliberate action and critical thinking. Over the last few weeks I haven’t been doing this. Time to start again and follow these general steps:

  1. Decide on the action I want to take and when.
  2. Use a trigger to prompt me to take that action.
  3. Develop a protection against negative actions around that trigger


It sounds simple, but it takes repetition to make it work. Procrastination is the biggest enemy here. It’s become a habit to procrastinate.



The running bit wasn’t too bad. Each week I covered about 50-60km. Kept my long runs relatively short, but focussed on making sure I was running and not shuffling. I sprinkled in a few hill repeats, but mainly kept it all conservative. Most importantly I’m getting the right feel and flow in my running. It not just about the paces I hit, but how I achieve those paces. Anyone can force up the speed, but it takes a bit more time, patience and skill to achieve the speed and keep it relaxed. That is what I am aiming for. I’m just starting to see the early hints of it since coming back from injury.


Fear Of Failure: Make It Your Advantage

The fear of failure of can be debilitating. It can also be used to bring out your best.


Sport is an amazing platform you can use to develop the traits that make you a better person. Endurance sports have an amazing ability to reveal a lot about yourself. To paraphrase founder of the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon, Commander John Collins it is where “you can find out what your soul is made of in a non-lethal environment.” I find running can do exactly that.


You can take what you learn in running and apply it to other areas of your life. Running can be more clear cut. You can define success or failure as a definite time in a race, the ability to cover a certain distance, or to achieve a personal best. Training to reach your goal takes time, commitment, discipline and plenty of other attributes. It isn’t easy, but we can get a lot out of it.


Good goals give us a real chance of failure. Pushing your boundaries means you have to go further than you have before. You never truly know you can do something until you have done it.

Fear of Failure

Destructive Fear of Failure


We can react to potential failure is different ways. We can simply not try, self sabotage or create excuses. Most will be familiar with the multitude of excuses heard before a race:

  • I haven’t done any speed work
  • This isn’t an ‘A’ race
  • I’m just training through this one

It’s  better to turn the fear of failure into something constructive.


Productive Fear of Failure


First recognise the fear of failure as positive.


It let’s you know your goal is a challenge. You will grow more from chasing big goals. If it doesn’t scare you, it might not extend you.


Identify what you fear.


Get specific. Write it down. Is it something you can control? Is it something you can prepare for?


Use this to plan your training or approach.

  • If you don’t have time to do the training, use it as a catalyst to look at how you spend your time each week. Be detailed. You might be able to find that extra time. It might take some creativity.
  • If you are afraid of the distance. Focus on your long runs. Make them a priority over your other training. Use the fear of the distance to motivate you to put the most into your longer runs.
  • What if this or that happens during a race? Think about what would be the best approach to deal with it. Plan ahead. If you don’t know what to do, ask others.



Use the fear of failure to tell you your goal is big enough. Use it to plan to take on that goal.






Coburg Lake Classic 10km: Race Report 2018

Coburg Lake Classic 10k

The Coburg Lake Classic could well be Melbourne’s longest running fun run. The inaugural event was back in my birth year of 1977. I

didn’t run it then. A classic it is. In charge of the event are the Coburg Harriers. They focus on getting the basics right. No extras.

No fanfare. Just a friendly, relaxed and accurate race. I really love the old school style.


During the week I wondered if I should skip the race. I knew I wasn’t race fit. A combination of school holidays and some unexpected extra

work hours meant a lot of training was skipped. My long run earlier in the week was missed. I could justify not racing the 10km event

and just put in some longer and easier kilometres. It would also be pretty easy to write a blog post about the importance of not missing

the long run. But that would just be an excuse. The reality is I was scared of racing 10km.


I know I raced 5km a couple of weeks ago. To a degree I can fake a 5km. Doubling the distance will show up fitness gaps. It

could be better staying in ignorant bliss. I could skip the 10km and claim I’m an ultra runner. Sprinkle over a bit of acceptance

and go on about still coming back from injury. The truth is racing a 10km hurts and it can hurt a lot.


At times we are faced with a choice between what is easy and what will be best.


Don’t choose what is easy.


The not so easy option

On the morning I didn’t feel like was about to race. I didn’t have my usual buzz of anticipation.  Best to take a long gradual warm up. Working up from a ridiculously slow shuffle to a few run throughs at race pace eventually uncovered some of that buzz. We assembled in the club rooms for the briefing.


I was now ready to race.


Simplicity is my preferred option in race plans.  I haven’t trained at around 10km race pace. Best to avoid smashing my weakness and try to suck some advantage out of my endurance. The plan:

  • Go out conservative for a 10km.
  • Ignore the front runners. Today is not the day to try and stay out front.
  •  Keep that pace until 7km and try and pick up in the closing 3km.


That seemed doable when bounced around inside my head.


Time to Race


The opening kilometre is interesting. The 5km runners start about 200m ahead of the 10km. Despite the faster 10’ers passing the slower 5’ers  it works. The numbers are small enough. The path is wide enough. Plus the friendliness of this race shows up. No one is held up.


The course can be thought of as 2 main sections. First is a mildly undulating out and back covering 4km. The return takes you almost back to the start before turning into a different out of back of 6km with a good size hill in the middle. You get to hit the hill from both sides.


I keep my speed in check and feel I could hold it for the full distance. The legs are happy. I’m not breathing too hard. I trust my experience to know I am a bit above threshold. Hopefully I’ve picked the sweet spot.


Over the mild undulations of the 2km brings up the first turnaround. I find myself in 5th place. The front 3 are moving off ahead and I know they are likely to stay that way. I’m feeling pretty good at this point. Retracing my steps back over the 2km seemed ok. I didn’t feel as comfortable and my pace seemed a little erratic. Honestly, I just felt out of practice.


Onto the second section. Out by myself, 3rd place was well ahead of me. It was just myself against the course. A brief flat section and then into the first climb. I tried to make the hill feel good.  It didn’t work.


The down hill is usually my friend. Not for today. I felt like I was playing just behind the beat.


Part 2


Off the hill and it’s mostly flat with some very mild undulations to the turn around. Now past 5km I was struggling. My pace was lagging. I knew I was working hard, but it wasn’t hurting in the way a 10km should. It was more I lacked the strength to keep up my speed. My legs just seemed to be failing me. This was disappointing. It wasn’t part of my race plan. I was still meant to be running at my opening speed. Picking it up over the final 3km seemed unlikely.


The turnaround allowed me to check on the top 3 runners. First and second were challenging each and well in front of me. Third certainly had a clear gap on me. Just not as big as I thought it would be. Maybe I could catch him. It was a thought I made sure I grabbed hold of. Maybe I could get myself out of this slump. The idea was appealing. Make it more than just an idea.


Now I was hurting. Around the turnaround. Forcing the idea out of my head and into my legs. I managed to get my pace back up. There was plenty of space between those behind me, so no point looking back. Best to set my sites in front. Over the next kilometre I was able to keep up the speed. The lactic acid burn flooded through my legs. In a strange way I was enjoying the burn. It made me feel like I was truly racing again. My muscles didn’t enjoy it. They reminded me I wasn’t race fit. They struggled in the acidic environment and just wouldn’t fire properly. Running coordination seemed to dwindle quickly, and with it went any speed I’d been able to muster.


It wasn’t through a lack of trying, but the final 2km were relatively slow. I’m not so sure I could call it running. Was I getting any air time in my stride? Maybe I was just walking quickly. This took me back over the hill, which wasn’t pretty. Eventually back onto the athletics track and across the finish line. Still in 4th place, and a time of 41:52. Far from my faster 10km races and slower than predicted off my 5km race time. I learnt a lot this day.