Category Archives: Training Log

New Running Plan

Over the last four weeks I have experimented with my run training. I haven’t followed a normal training program. Instead I’ve tested how I respond to different types of run sessions. This has led to a new running plan.

 

Why Have I Experimented?

 

I have a goal to regain my running form from younger days. Looking to challenge my marathon personal best.

At 40 years old I cannot do the same training that got me there. The training I have been doing over the last couple of years won’t get me there either. Changes need to be made.

So I took some time to test the effect of different runs.

 

 

Key Lessons?

 

The higher volume, slower running that has been a mainstay of ultra marathon training has changed my over running style. Muscle imbalances have built up over time and my body is less able to handle fast running.

 

Anaerobic threshold runs raise my fitness quickly, but the down side is strong. My sleep quality gets effected. Three days later I tend to feel extra flat and struggle to run any quality for a couple of days

 

Fast running broken into intervals is improving all my running at all speeds. The greatest effect is when I keep the volume at a level that doesn’t bury me in the session. Where I feel like I can do at least one more repeat.

 

The Result

 

Less volume and more speed supplemented with strength training.

 

Running Plan

 

9 day training cycle:

  1. Short and Easy run (30min)
  2. Steady Run 45-60min
  3. VO2 Intervals 400m-1200m with 3min recovery (total 2-6km of intervals)
  4. Easy Run 45-60min
  5. day off (sleep after night shift)
  6. Long Intervals 2-4km at Marathon to Half Marathon pace with 5-2min recovery
  7. Easy Run 45-60min
  8. Long Run of 2 hours (slower than marathon pace, but far from a slow jog)
  9. Easy to Steady Run depending on how I feel.

 

Mixed amongst this week will be strength training. Two dedicated session out of each 9 days focussing on legs and core. Upper body will be mixed amongst life, without a set session. For me this allows me to get more work in than if I try to set more specific times.

 

How To Run

 

Quality is the priority. Hitting the targeted paces in the right way is more important than getting in another repetition or running an extra kilometre. To a point the aim is to get the speeds right then follow up with volume as my body adapts. Both volume and pace will adapt over time. They play off each other. As a result I will review the program every 4 weeks.

This training program is backed by the concepts I have covered in following posts:

 

Let me know what you think or if you have questions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make Running Add To Life: Training Log

Running shouldn’t get in the way of life. It has recently for me. This impacts others. I have changed my approach to make running add to life instead. Let’s see if it works.

 

Last week went a little something life this:

  • 10km Easy + Strength
  • 8km Easy
  • 8km Easy
  • 5km Easy + Strength
  • 8km Easy
  • 8km Easy
  • 5km Regeneration

Total 52km

 

Easy

 

The majority of my runs are listed as easy. This doesn’t mean they are all a slow jog. It is more about the feeling and recovery cost needed. I aim for the run to feel comfortable and natural. Doing what is required to keep my technique on point. Speed and intensity are a byproduct of this. Recovery cost should be low. A good guide is to be able to able to repeat the same quality of run the following day.

 

Never underestimate The Power Of Easy Runs.

 

Strength

 

The tighter structure and scheduling on my strength training has felt good. Reinvigorating my enthusiasm for this aspect of training. No longer just whenever I feel I can fit it in. Giving away a few running kilometres means I am getting more strength work done. Because of the structure it is also taking less time over the week.

 

For the details check out Basic Strength Training For Running.

 

 

Make Running Add To Life

 

All habits perceived as healthy can become unhealthy. Chasing the extreme or wrong reasons can take you there. Every so often it pays to check you are running for the right reasons.

 

Checking in on my own reasons I had to make adjustments. It isn’t dedication if it’s easier to run than to sort your other stuff out. There is addiction to the runner’s high and clearance of mind. I’ve chased it too far lately. Time to bring it back to a level to make running add to life.

 

Runner Chats recorded an amazing podcast with Simone Brick. Covering many topics, but delving into running as healthy versus unhealthy. Definitely worth a listen.

Thinking About Goals: Training Log

The week after the Surf Coast Century Relay was about recovery and thinking about goals.

 

I was unsuccessful in my 2018 Running Goals. More on that after we look at the last week of running.

The running was kept easy. Looking to feel more than comfortable on each run, but concentrating on keeping good form. The work was in staying away from the lazy running style that tries to sneak in after a race. For the most part I seemed to get this right.

  • Regeneration 4km
  • Regeneration 6km
  • Regeneration 10km
  • Day off
  • Easy, no watch, no goal, no GPS, possibly 8km
  • Easy 10km
  • Easy 10km

Total 50km / week

 

Thinking About Goals

 

I had 2 big goals for 2018:

  1. Wings For Life World Run (cover more than marathon distance)
  2. Hard Core 100 Mile (sub 24 hours, with back up of finish)

In the Wings For Life World Run I only managed 28.4km. A long way off the 42.195km. For the Hard Core 100 Mile I didn’t finish the race, having to pull out at 110km (50km short).

Naturally there is some disappointment. Surprisingly I still feel good about those races and my running for the year. You learn a lot from your mistakes and I learnt a lot this year.

 

Different Types Of Goals

 

At the moment I haven’t decided on any future goal races. Sorting out the family calendar comes first. Around that is where my running fits.

 

Race goals will come later. Now I’m working on training goals. At the moment I will be working on 2 goals:

  1. Improving the feel of running (remove the heavy feeling ultra distance running has created)
  2. Improve my fitness set point to what I term as Marathon ready

These goals deserve full posts on their own. Pursuing them will require some changes in training. As a bonus I think those changes will be a little more time friendly. Based on the last year that’s something that’s need.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Find That Running Feeling: Training Log

Improvement in running isn’t linear. Over the last few weeks I’ve had to remind myself running rewards consistent work over long periods of time. I’ve been frustrated my running hasn’t felt great. In the last few days I’ve finally manage to find that running feeling I chase.

 

 

Patience Grasshopper

 

 

Recovery from the Hard Core 100 Mile race has taken longer than I’ve wanted. In reality it has only been 8 weeks. When you go past your limits it should be expected recovery will take a long time.

 

But I’ve been impatient.

 

Impatience can set you back. Pushing too hard and too much before the body is able to absorb the workload can do more damage than good. Luckily I took some extra down time in the previous week. The result has been better running this week.

 

Find That Running Feeling

 

 

Speed and volume isn’t what has made this week better. Instead the feeling of running has improved. I’ve shaken off the heavy, flat feeling most of my runs have had. There is now a snap in my stride. Running is starting to feel natural and relaxed.

 

It is hard to describe. That running feeling where it just feels right. You know your body is absorbing the training. Your body is ready to take on the next challenges you throw at it.

 

Listening to your body is usually referenced when you take some recovery. If you listen carefully you will also here when it ready to run harder.

 

 

Training Log

 

The training log looked a little something like this:

 

  • Easy 60min
  • Regeneration 40min
  • Sleep – extra night shift
  • Easy 60min
  • Long 2.5 hours 24km + Easy with 30min with girls
  • Easy 60min
  • off

Total 64km

 

 

Why Do You Run?: Training Log

During the week I was asked why I run. It was good timing for the question. We can all benefit from being asked this. Take a moment and ask yourself why do you run?

 

Training Week

 

Before I share my answer, let’s take a look at the training week.

 

  • 40min form work
  • off
  • off
  • off
  • Long Run 2:15 (21km)
  • Regeneration 40min
  • Easy 70min

Total 45km

 

Last week was a flat week of running. I really wasn’t feeling it. My body didn’t feel right. There was a lack of power in my legs. My heart rates were way out compared to usual. Often shooting excessively high for a low workload. Something was up.

 

I took a few days off running to let my body balance back out. This seemed to help a lot. I have my suspicions as to the problem. The answer is worth a post all it’s own. There’s a few things to work on before I do write that up.

 

Why Do You Run?

 

Thank you to Matt from Fractel Performance Caps for asking me why I run at the right time.

 

View this post on Instagram

[WhyWeRunWednesday] with Jason Montfort ( @jason_monty ). 🏃🏽‍♂️🏃🏽‍♂️🏃🏽‍♂️ Jason is a man full of running wisdom and a chaser of moments. With the @rapidascent Surf Coast Century event coming up, he is stringing together some solid training weeks and documenting his journey through his online blog runningalive.com. ✖️ Here is what Jason had to say when we asked him ‘why’ you run… 👉 “How I started: I wasn’t fast when I was a kid. But I enjoyed running. Gradually I discovered I could just keep going and cover distances others didn’t try. Out of high school in 1996 I started entering fun runs. That led to the Melbourne Marathon in 1997. From there it has been years of running and triathlons and more running. Why I run: There is a feeling I chase. I could be satisfied with everything I get out of the rest of my life. I could be. Knowing there is more, means I’m not. So I chase moments. Those moments where all the noise is stripped away. Those moments where it feels impossible. Those moments where time is distorted. Those moments where I am broken down to my core. This is when I feel absolutely alive. These moments push everything out of my head and I am left with being present only in the moment. It is in this interplay between failure and achievement that something happens. Everything is enhanced. I usually discover I can get more out of myself than I believed. In short, I feel alive.”🙏🏼 It’s great to be reminded how raw the simplicity of running is, and the moments it creates whether you are out there solo or with a group. Thanks again for sharing Jason and all the best with what’s to come! #whywerun #fractelrunning

A post shared by FRACTEL™ (@fractelrunning) on

 

It was clear I wasn’t fast when I was a kid. In primary school races were short and I was a tail ender. I wanted to be quick, but it didn’t take too much enjoyment away. I still loved sport, even if I thought I wasn’t very good at it. I enjoyed running. Gradually I discovered I could just keep going and cover distances others didn’t try. This was the start of my running story.

 

Running added to my life. It provided a way to really feel alive.

 

There is a feeling I chase.

 

I chase moments.

 

Those moments where all the noise is stripped away.
Those moments where it feels impossible.
Those moments where time is distorted.
Those moments where I am broken down to my core.
This is when I feel absolutely alive.

 

These moments push everything out of my head and I am left with being present only in the moment. It is in this interplay between failure and achievement that something happens. Everything is enhanced. I usually discover I can get more out of myself than I believed. In short, I feel alive.

 

 

Your Turn

 

I’d love to hear why you run. Let me know in the comments.

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.

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.

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.

Recovery Week After An Ultra Marathon: Training Log

Some races you pull up in better condition than others. My body was the most spent it has ever been after the Hard Core 100 mile. My recovery week after an ultra marathon is a 3 step process:

  1. Sleep
  2. Rest
  3. Eat

 

1. Sleep

 

For the first 2 days my priority was to get as much sleep as possible.

Early to bed. I think I passed out rather than sleeping. Only waking to get the kids to school the next morning. Then it was straight back to bed. Sleeping until I had to pick them back up.

It may sound excessive, but I had night shift to do that night. So I had to make sure I was capable of working. 15 hours of sleep achieve exactly that. Then sleep all the next day. Up for a few hours in the afternoon and evening before going back to bed.

 

 

2. Rest

 

Running would only get in the way of sleeping. Plus my mind definitely needed a break. A complete reset. No structure. No pressure.

I know where my thoughts can go. Combining legs that really aren’t working properly with post DNF wouldn’t work well with trying to run this week. As a result I gave myself the full week off running. The rest aspect is predominantly about giving the mind a break.

 

 

3. Eat

 

No concern for food. I ate whatever I felt like and lots of it. An over sized burger didn’t stand a chance on my birthday.

Hunger and pleasure was my guide. The repair process churns up a lot of calories. I’d prefer to come out of recovery week a bit up on weight. Better than delaying muscle and tendon repair.

 

recovery week after an ultra marathon

Different Styles

 

A complete week off won’t suit everybody. It definitely isn’t my usual after a race. In this case the race was my main focus and my body was smashed to higher level. I required a bigger swing towards the rest and recover side of the pendulum.