Sleep Beer Run: Training Log

Easy runs aren’t so easy when you add beer.

It’s amazing how you can set yourself up to fail. The final run of the week almost didn’t happen.

 

Before we get into the details, the overview went like this:

  • Regeneration 50min
  • Long 2 hours (20km)
  • Recovery work: no run
  • Regeneration 50min
  • 8x1000m @ HM pace w/200m jog
  • Easy 60min
  • Easy 60min

Total 71km

Not a bad base week of training. Seemed to suit my current fitness levels.

 

Sleep

 

 

Having successfully convinced myself of the importance of sleep I slept in as much as possible on Sunday. If you can call 6:30am a sleep in. That was time to eat some breakfast and get into the logistics of the kids’ sport for the day.

 

I congratulated myself on getting in the sleep hours I need.

 

This created a problem. I lied to myself and decided I could my run in between everything else. Every thing else turned into the end of season presentation for the footy. There is no way you would ever pull kids away from jumping castles. While that was happening it was only right to contribute to the club’s social fund and purchase some beverages.

 

The morning turned into an awesome afternoon. Awesome sunshine, some beers, friends and family mixed together. A good way to spend a Sunday.

 

 

Beer

 

Completely forgetting about running I was quite content. On return home it wasn’t long before dinner. It was then I had feeling that I’d forgotten something.

 

What could it be?

 

Out the corner of my eye I spotted some running shoes. They taunted me, “you should’ve gotten up early.” That was a bit rude. “No run for you now. It’s too late.”

 

For a moment I believed them.

 

 

Run

 

Better turn it around. There wasn’t any reason I couldn’t fit a run in now. “What about those beers?” Good point, they weren’t going to sit well. Reminiscing back 20 years I channeled my old recovery abilities. I used to do most of my long runs after a big night after only a couple of hours sleep. This time I had the sleep thing sorted. It was only the beers this time.

 

Those running shoes ended up on my feet. The easy run wasn’t quite as easy as it should have been.

My Biggest Race Weakness: How To Fix Your Race Pacing

Pull apart my biggest race weakness. You learn a lot from mistakes. Learn from mine. Learn from my mistakes and fix your race pacing.

 

Pacing

 

Over the years I’ve prided myself on my pacing skills. I can run an out and back course and hit my return split within seconds. On a track I can become a human metronome. I’ve paced some races perfectly. As a result I developed the belief I was pretty good at race pacing.

 

Funny thing is I also have many races where I seriously got it wrong.

 

In many race I’ve gone out way too hard. Not just a little bit. So fast those watching say “he’s gone out way too hard.”

 

In those races I suffered spectacularly. From a massive slow down to a DNF. These are not the way I want to race. My goals are bigger. I’m sure yours are too.

 

 

When It Goes Wrong?

 

The problem in an ultra marathon is the correct pace is so slow. Running way too fast actually feels way too easy. Race pace is slower than your usual slower training run.

 

When working out predicted times and going through the maths, I have often thought:
How is it possible to run so slow?

 

The revenge on me is I end up unable to reach that slow pace later in the race.

 

Too fast feel very natural and too easy.

 

When It Goes Right?

 

Sometimes I get my pacing absolutely spot on. What was different? Why did I get it right?

 

Going through training history reveals one consistent factor for nailing race pace. I practiced race pace in training, a lot.

 

Repeating the speed over and over in training until it feels natural. Until it becomes the pace you naturally start with. Repeating until you can do it without thinking.

 

Along with the other elements of training, honing in on your race pace will set up the start of your race. One word covers this:

 

Repeition.

 

Why Is It Hard?

 

When we look at the speeds required to perform well at an ultra marathon they are actually slow. You might be able to rock out a 6:00/km long run of 30km in training and feel pretty good. Yet holding 7:30/km over 100 miles becomes impossible. Funny because running at 7:30/km at the start feels way too easy.

 

It usually feels easier to run faster.

 

Then the muscle damage accumulates. Your legs stiffen up. You lose some of the elasticity in your legs as the kilometres mount up. 7:30/km no longer feels easy. Your heart and lungs might be working at the same rate, but the legs don’t give the same return.

 

We can change this. Keep reading and I’ll take you through my approach.

 

 

 

 

Training To Fix Your Race Pacing A double approach is needed. Make race pace natural Condition your legs to hold race pacing

Training To Fix Your Race Pacing

 

 

A double approach is needed.

  1. Make race pace natural
  2. Condition your legs to hold race pacing

1. Make Race Pacing Natural

 

Start your training runs with your goal race pace. This has you running at the correct speed when you are feeling fresh. If you do this most days, your body gets used to it. After a few weeks it become natural.

 

Dedicate at least one run each week to honing on race pace. Find similar terrain. Hills, flat, trails, whatever you will encounter on race day. Go over it at the exact speed you should be running from race start. Then do it again the next week.

 

You know have it right when you no longer need to look at your watch or heart rate. When you can run at exactly the right speed without relying on other props. Once you no longer accidentally speed up or slow down. When your body hits the correct pace on autopilot.

 

2. Condition Your Legs To Hold Race Pacing

 

Once you have your race pacing honed in you need to hold it for a long time. Most of your training is already dedicated to this. Your long runs especially. Endurance becomes a byproduct  of ultra marathon training. We can get more exact. You can get more out of yourself.

 

There are 3 styles of training I have used to get this right:

  1. Down hill running
  2. Long run at race pace
  3. Progressive run

 

Down Hill Running

 

Is usually performed on a steep hill where I walk/hike up and run quickly, but lightly down. I repeat this over until I accumulate 60-90 minutes of up and down. The impact from the down hill running fatigues the legs in a certain way. Adapting to this improves the legs ability to tolerate for longer the impact of ultra marathon racing. The legs don’t become as stiff and take longer to lose their elasticity.

 

Long Runs

 

Long runs at race pace are exactly that. Go out and aim to hit your exact race paces on one of your regular long runs. Make it a full dress rehearsal. Same food, same gear and terrain. See how your body responds. You’ll not only get a specific training boost from this, you will also gain some insight into how you respond as the distance mounts up.

 

Progressive Runs

 

Progressive runs for race pace are not super long. I like to do them in 5 stages.

  1. Stage 1: 30 seconds / km slower than race pace
  2. Stage 2: 15 seconds / km slower than race pace
  3. Stage 3: Exactly race pace
  4. Stage 4 15 seconds /km faster than race pace
  5. Stage 5 30 seconds / km faster than race pace

Try to make each stage a lap of course you can repeat for each stage. Stick as close as possible to the pacing guidelines. You’ll learn to feel the subtle difference between a few seconds per kilometre. It will help you become more in tune with your body and how it reacts to small variations in pace. Making it easier to recognise those changes on race day.

 

Your Turn

 

How do you get your race pacing right?

Is it something you always struggle with?

Recovery Week Doesn’t Have To Be All Week: Training Log

Change up your easy week. You can get extra out of your training by taking a different approach. Your recovery week doesn’t have to be all week.

 

I took 4 days for recovery from the Coburg Half Marathon. Usually 3 days is enough, but since the Hard Core 100 Mile I’m finding harder runs impact recovery more.

 

My week looked like this:

• recovery work⠀

• Regeneration 50min⠀

• recovery work ⠀

• day off⠀

• Long Run 2 hours ⠀

• Regeneration 50min⠀

• Easy 55min⠀

Total: 43km/week

 

The Normal

 

Many training programs go with the cycle of 2-3 weeks hard training followed by a full easy week. Often the easy week is a reduction in distance of all the same key sessions.

For example the long run is cut back to 50%, instead of 6x1000m intervals you perform 4x800m. It works for many. There are different approaches.

My favourite is to focus completely on recovery then launch back into full training when the body is ready.

Redefine Your Structure 

Get out of thinking your training week always starts on Monday. Instead your training week begins when your body is ready.

Then you are free to focus on taking the recovery you need. Better than being forced into a predetermined calendar. Yes the body is fairly predictable, but it doesn’t always go as planned.

This week I expected to be ready with 3 days of recovery. It wasn’t the case. So I took an extra day. Training started on Thursday.

 

The Rest Of Life

 

We are all constrained by the rest of our commitments. Most runners go long on the weekend because that’s when they have the time available.

Flick your thinking around. Your week doesn’t have to end with the long run. Maybe the long run can now be in the middle. You can approach the run a bit differently.

Your week doesn’t have to be confined to the normal 7 days. Maybe you take 4 days of recovery followed by a week that lasts for 10 days. This brings you back to aligning the next week to Monday. 

 

What can you do with a 10 day week?

 

Change up your training structure. Maybe taking an extra easy day between your hard sessions. Will it allow you to get more out of those hard runs? Perhaps you can throw in a different type of hard run into the mix. 

 

How do you structure your recovery week from training and racing?

Coburg Half Marathon 2018: Race Report

Caught in between wanting to race and knowing I’m not as fast as I want to be. Leading into the Coburg Half Marathon the excuses not to race built up. None of the were good reasons. Only excuses.

 

My training has been the basics of base training. Most of it is easy. Where I gently push up my capabilities. A half marathon is that chance to really push out the boundaries to add a little extra.

 

My top end was definitely limited. A lack of high intensity training will do that. This meant a conservative race plan would get me my best result.

 

The Plan

 

* Relax and find a race rhythm
* Keep it feeling easy for the first half
* Gradually pick it up in the second half

 

I wasn’t expecting a personal best. I had to ignore placings. Time to relearn some self control in a race.

 

 

Let’s Go

 

Melbourne’s recent weather had seen some crazy winds, rain and cold. As seems to be my trend of late, the weather cleared up for close to perfect conditions.

 

Relaxed and easy.

 

Surprisingly this kept me up with the front runners. The opening out and back makes for a nice relaxed undulating rhythm. My legs felt fresh. It was easy to run too fast. I didn’t have the right fitness to go out hard. Being in this pack was forcing my pace up.

 

Today I took a different approach than usual. I backed off.

 

It was a subtle slow down. Hardly noticeable. A few seconds per kilometre. Gradually falling off the lead group.

 

This was a race and it didn’t feel right.

 

I reminded myself I knew my body. More than just understanding where my fitness was at. Here was the opportunity to bring back a bit of patience in my racing. If I was fitter than I thought I could attack later in the race.

 

Coburg Half Marathon Coburg Harriers Jason Montfort

 

Go Again

 

Halfway brought us back through the start line. It was a 2 lap course. For a half marathon it was feeling relatively comfortable. Definitely not easy, but I was in control. Working at the level I could hold my form together.

 

Curious to see how I a repeat over the course would go.

 

Out in 5th place. A gap of about a minute off the lead and 30 seconds from 4th place. Could I bring it back? Would anyone fade?

 

Sticking with the plan I gradually picked up the effort into the second half.

 

Despite a mild increase in heart rate, the resulting pace averaged about 8 seconds/km slower than first time over.

 

After the 16km mark I felt my legs change. They weren’t really hurting, just fatigued and losing power. My pace dropped and I struggled to keep the intensity. In no-man’s land. A good distance from 4th place and well ahead of 6th. This forced the race into being me against myself.

 

The Lead Runners at the Coburg Half Marathon 2018

 

Mind Games

 

It is a good place to be if you want to learn something about your mind.

 

Plenty of excuses presented themselves to justify slacking off. Mainly I could hold my place to the finish. That would be a way to finish with regret.

 

Instead I let those excuses continue on through. Refocused on form and tried to absorb myself in the process of running.

 

I’ll have to say I struggled with this. The negative thoughts kept creeping in, trying to distract me. For the next few kilometres it was a constant exercise in refocusing the mind. I was glad for the mindfulness training I do. It certainly got me back on track faster.

 

One last hill and a little under 2km to go.

 

My legs sucked. They didn’t want to run anymore. Luckily my mind started to enjoy itself again and over rode those legs. Looking at my splits I didn’t get any faster, but I definitely felt better. That brought me through the finish in an official time of 1:29:36 and 5th place over all. Well off my faster times, but where I should be based on my fitness.

 

Coburg Harriers Fun Runs

 

It was great to back at one of the Coburg Harriers Fun Runs. They have been amongst my favourite runs for the last 2 decades. Low key. Accurate courses. Super friendly. Crazy value for money. Get onto them.

Injury Proof Your Running In 6 Steps

Get more out of your running by staying injury free. Keep those improvements coming by avoiding time out of training. I’ve had very few injuries in over 20 years of running. I credit a deliberate effort to avoid injury as the main contributor. Hopefully my approach can you injury proof your running.

 

Everybody is different. Training history, injury history, body types, work stresses and variation over time. As a result we must take a dynamic approach to injury proof your running.

 

1. Dedicate time to becoming injury proof
2. Take notice of early warning signs
3. Progress training only as the body allows
4. Gently push up your fitness over time
5. Every now and then really push the boundaries when in good physical condition
6. Prioritise sleep

 

 

1. Dedicate time to becoming injury proof

 

Injury prevention is like anything else. To improve you need to dedicate some time to it.

 

Most of us are time poor. Injury prevention shouldn’t be about adding hours onto the training you are already struggling to fit in. Instead keep it manageable and regular. Make it easy to become a habit.

 

My approach is to schedule 2 x 15 minute sessions every week. Those 15 minutes could the start of a run. Incorporated as a warm up. They could be part of your strength training sessions.

 

Focus on whatever work will address your injury risk. This is individual. It might specific strengthening, technique retraining, flexibility work or a combination of the above.

 

 

2. Take Notice of early warning signs

 

We’ve all been guilty of ignoring the early signs of injury. The majority of injuries in running build up over time. Even those that appear to acute from an individual run usually are the final straw of an issue that already existed.

 

It is easier and takes less time to get over an injury the earlier you start dealing with it.

 

Truly listen to your body. Some pain and discomfort is normal at times from training, but there are different types of pain. Take note of tightness, sharp pains, pain that doesn’t go away or gets worse over time. Don’t take the chance to train hard through issues. Take the steps neccessary to deal with it now.

 

Early steps might be an extra easy day, to work on flexibility or some drills to correct technique. Ignoring the warning signs, might mean extended time off running or not being able to race at your goal race.

 

 

3. Progress training only as the body allows

 

This is an extension of point 2 in taking notice of the early warning signs of injury. If you have signs indicating injury or the inability to adapt to the current load, then you shouldn’t be pushing up your training.

 

Your body is amazing. It can adapt to almost anything if given time and the right stimulus. Push too hard too soon and it breaks.

 

Get your body in an inury free state. Allow the time it takes to heal. This doesn’t mean you can’t train, but progressing the training load before your body is ready will break it.

 

1. Dedicate time to becoming injury proof 2. Take notice of early warning signs 3. Progress training only as the body allows 4. Gently push up your fitness over time 5. Every now and then really push push the boundaries when in good physical condition 6. Prioritise sleep

 

 

4. Gently push up your fitness over time

 

The majority of training should gently push up your fitness over time. This process does take longer when measured in weeks. Measured over months to years you can reach higher heights.

 

Small increases each or every second week require patience in the early stages. But the accumulated effect puts helps build a very efficient and robust body. In this approach fitness gains comes naturally.

 

Runners often feel they have to run further or faster each week to get any benefit. Luckily this isn’t true. The body still adapts to a training run over the same distance at the same pace if repeated once or twice. For example, take a 10km run at 5:00/km pace. The first week it might feel a little difficult. Second time round it feels comfortable. Definitely some improvement in fitness. On the third time it feels the same, but inside the body you reinforced the neuromuscular pathways and added to effiency. Beyond this it is worth increasing the pace or distance.

 

Taking your time to gently push up your fitness will allow you safely absorb bigger training loads.

 

 

5. Every now and then really push push the boundaries when in good physical condition

 

This is what I consider the fun part. This is when we see big jumps in fitness.

 

It also comes with a risk. This training is taxing and will find your weak points. Those weak points are likely to break if you’ve skimped on the first 4 steps.

 

If you are injury free and have a good fitness base then you can go for it. Go far. Go fast. Do those sessions your mind thinks you can’t do. Then take some time to recover and go for it again. This leads to big performance gains.

 

We don’t need this level of hard work in every training week. When your body is ready for it, it only takes a small amount of this high end work to get the most out of yourself.

 

 

6. Prioritise sleep

 

The body does the majority of its repair work while it sleeps.

 

There’s no point in training if your body can’t recover from and adapt to it. Sleep plays a major role in this. So put it high up on your priority sleep.

 

My work has me doing rotating shift work. A mix of long day, afternoon, evening and night shifts. It plays havoc with my body clock. I have learnt the hard way getting less than adequate sleep leads to problems. Those problems include sickness, injury, poor performance and changes in appetite. My body doesn’t work anywhere near it’s best when sleep is compromised.

 

Put in the effort to plan ahead. Set up good sleep patterns. Make your room and bed comfortable to sleep in. Avoid bad timing of caffeine. Beware of computer, phone and television screens close to sleep time. Relax and give your body the time it needs to get you to your best.

Return To Training And Back Up Plans: Training Log

Smashing yourself at an ultra marathon and taking a full week off doesn’t put you at your fastest. That’s alright. It is part of the cycle of training. This last week I returned to running. It was great to be moving again but I was certainly slow. I learnt in training it is worth having back up plans.

 

 

Work Within Limits

 

The body is still in repair mode. After some rest, movement is the difference between functional versus tissue. The trick is to move enough to stimulate the right repair, but not too much to cause damage.

 

How to do this?

 

First up impose an intensity limit. For me it was a heart rate ceiling. I use the Phil Maffetone’s Maximal Aerobic Function (MAF). This gives me a heart rate ceiling of 144bpm. All my running will be kept at or below this intensity. That includes walking when needed.

 

Set The Structure

 

⦁ Long (90min)
⦁ Regeneration (40min)
⦁ Easy (60min)
⦁ Regeneration (40min)
⦁ MAF Test (8km + warm up & cool down)
⦁ Regeneration (40min)
⦁ Off

 

Back Up Plan Required

 

Not all your plans for training will go perfectly. Every so often I like to plan a session down at the athletics track. For the MAF Test I wanted the exactness of the athletics track. As I finished my warm up arriving at the track I discovered it was occupied by school athletics.

Finding you can’t do your planned session, especially if it high intensity can really kill motivation. It is easy to just chuck it in and run back home. Take the excuse it was beyond my control. Not ideal but definitely a common response. It’s almost natural to pack it in.

It pays to have a back up session. One you can flip straight into.

For me that was simple. A paved and mostly flat trail comes off the track. Here I can run 4km out and 4km back. I kept to my heart rate within the MAF test range. While not as exact as the measured 400m, it still gives a GPS measured pace against the heart rate. In fact I can compare MAF tests performed both at the track and along the path. Similar testing measured differently may provide more insight.

 

Last Tip

 

If you have an interval session planned at the track. As a back up have a similar workout stored in your watch that can be done based off GPS instead. That way if the track is being used you have the same type of run ready to go. Make that change over easy to do.

How To Train Without A Goal Race: 3 Steps To Setup Your Running

How do you get your training together when you don’t have a goal race?

We’ve heard it before so many times before. Focus on your goal. Use your upcoming race to kick up your motivation. What if you don’t have a goal race? How do you get your training together?

This is the situation I find myself in at the moment. Just out of a failed attempt in a 100 mile race. I pick race goals to challenge me. They are big enough they require getting other aspects of my life in sync to achieve. As a result I don’t pick the big races lightly. I’ll take my time to see what resonates with me.

In the meantime I still need to train.

Here’s 3 Steps To Train Without A Goal Race

1. Make Yourself Injury Proof
2. Develop Your Aerobic Capacity
3. Create Training Goals

 

1. Make Yourself Injury Proof

 

The biggest influence on missed training is injury. If you can avoid the down time or reduced quality of training due to injury you will be much better.

If you are recently injured or have an ongoing problem, now is the time to sort it out. Get the issue properly assessed. Whether that be through a doctor who understands running, a good physiotherapist, a knowledgable coach or other person you trust. Find out the cause of the problem and fix it.

Each person and injury is different. For a general approach I find the following effective:
⦁ Dedicate 2-3 x 15 minutes each week to exercises dedicated your main injury concern
⦁ Include 2 general, whole body strength training sessions each week
⦁ Keep the majority of running within your current ability

 

2. Develop Your Aerobic Capacity

 

By aerobic capacity I mean the ability to move quickly for a long time without the build up of anaerobic byproducts. The exact details may vary depending on if you prefer to race 5km versus ultra marathons, but there is a good deal of crossover. There is a lot of evidence of suggesting most training should be well below your anaerobic threshold. Different training systems have different ways of arriving at a similar intensity level.

That level appears to correspond with the intensity where energy production is about a 50/50 split between fat versus carbohydrate. A bit slower than most trained runners could run a marathon. About 80-85% of anearobic threshold. RIght at what is sometimes termed as the first lactate threshold. Performing a consistent amount of training at this level leads to becoming fast at lower effort levels.

Personally I use the Maffetone Aerobic Function Heart Rate (MAF HR) as an easy guide. It may not be exact, but it gets fairly close. I find it practical and offers the ability to perform reliable field tests to check progress.

Developing your aerobic capacity raises your base running fitness. The training isn’t sexy, but given some consistency over time it sets you up for some big improvements.

 

3. Create Training Goals

 

Instead of having a big race goal. Set short term, attainable and progressive training goals.

Early on I stay clear of specific pace goals. Instead I focus on goals that set up good training habits. Such as:
⦁ Perform 2 general, whole body strength training sessions each week
⦁ Have the next day’s training clothes ready the night before
⦁ Resist the urge to surge at the end of run and stick to my heart rate zone
⦁ Cut up a fruit salad before training so it is ready for when I finish

Those goals can be anything. Think outside set times for certain distances. Go back to the process and use your motivation set up some strong habits.

 

Training Cycle

 

Time away from purely focusing on races is a necessary part of the training cycle. Give your mind and body a bit of freedom. Fix those injuries. Make yourself injury resistant. Improve your aerobic capacity. Create training goals and train without a race goal.

What is your approach?