Category Archives: Training

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Base Training For Runners

Base training for runners is more than lots of easy kilometres. Focus goes a long way. We need a good working definition of base training.

Definition

The point of base training is to develop a well balanced athlete capable of optimally responding to the stress of competition specific training.

Manage The Load

Care needs to be taken not to provide too great a stress. Too much intensity or high load can lead to:

  • increased injury risk
  • reduced immune response
  • early peak in fitness

No one wants to be injured or sick. An early peak in fitness can be costly for race day. Usually an early peak doesn’t reach the same heights as one you build up to properly. There is usually a performance slump following a peak performance.

Easy Miles

Lots of easy miles is the most common approach to base training for running. If that is all a runner does in base training it neglects other important requirements needed to develop a well balanced athlete.

A balanced athlete is better able to handle the specific harder competition training.

Low intensity training does not develop:

  • the different fast-twitch muscle fibres
  • specific neuromuscular recruitment patterns for fast running
  • connective tissues ability to handle high loads of fast running

Low intensity is important as it does develop

  • ability to tolerate higher training volumes
  • increased capillary and mitochondrial density in muscle
  • ability to recover from harder training

Most of your running in base training should be easy. It does provide most of what we want from base training. It doesn’t give us everything.

Include More

The solution is to include all fitness requirements throughout base training. Include some fast high intensity running, mix in strength training and some form of plyometric training. Enhance static and dynamic flexibility. Develop all aspects that contribute to aerobic performance including pure endurance, speed and tolerance at around anaerobic threshold and ability to handle VO2max paces.

The trick is to be careful with the loading of both individual session and a full week’s impact. A good rule of thumb is a session shouldn’t take more than one day to fully recover from. You should feel capable of repeating the session 2 days later. Keep the volume on high intensity training relatively low. A little bit goes a long way.

This doesn’t mean all runs and training will feel easy. Expect to be hurting during some training. You should still be extending yourself. Remember the key to base training is while you are pushing out your boundaries, you are shouldn’t be exceeding them by too much. We are aiming to push up our fitness set point to a new level.

We still need a good dose of easy running. This provides many of the benefits we are chasing while allowing us to recover quicker. Easy running should be the majority of training. It is the mainstay of base training. We need to leave room for some other training.

How do you fit together your base training for running?

Base training for runners is more than lots of easy kilometres. Focus goes a long way. We need a good working definition of base training. Definition The point of base training is to develop a well balanced athlete capable of optimally responding to the stress of competition specific training. Manage The Load Care needs to be taken not to provide too great a stress. Too much intensity or high load can lead to: increased injury risk reduced immune response early peak in fitness No one wants to be injured or sick. An early peak in fitness can be costly for race day. Usually an early peak doesn’t reach the same heights as one you build up to properly. Plus there is usually a performance slump following a peak performance.

Basic Strength Training For Running

Including strength training in your running program will improve your running. How much improvement depends on what you do and how you do it. In this post I work through the basic strength training for running I currently do.

There is so much information available on strength training. Unfortunately most of it is low quality.

Good quality research on strength training for running is limited. There is still some out there.

Requirements of my strength training:

  • Time efficient
  • Increase fitness for life and work
  • Improve running

 

Time Efficient

 

One thing that gets in the way of strength training is if it encroaches on other aspects. The structure of the plan has to fit in well with my life, plus give me a good rate of return. Good news is you don’t need a huge time commitment to get the gains you are after.

 

 

 

Increase Fitness For Life And Work

 

I love my life and I want to get the most out of it. To achieve this it helps to be fit and capable of doing the things I want and need to. Back pain, injuries and fatigue at work and life are thing I don’t want to have to endure. Therefore the training plan needs to assist with this.

 

My job provides a mixture of sitting, manual handling and the occasional moment of high demand physical efforts. There are different injury risks in each category. Having a functional and strong body mitigates some of that risk.

 

It’s important to have the energy to participate fully in the rest of family and life. Approach training as a means to enhance life.

 

 

Improve Running

 

This is why we’re here. Enough said. Let’s get into the details.

 

Basic Strength Training For Running Plan

 

Keep it simple.

Basic Strength Training For Running•Time efficient

One main, full body workout every 3rd or 4th day. For those living more normal hours than me, that means 2 main workouts every week. These workouts ideally will be after a harder run. Either straight away, or later in the day. It is best not to do them the day before a key run. The carry over fatigue tends to reduce the quality of the run.

 

In between the main workouts, short 10-15 minute core training sessions are performed. Ideally it would be best to include one on every day without a main workout, but I will accept a minimum of 1 core training session between every main workout.

 

 

 

Main Full Body Workout

 

The exercise list

  1. Standing Single Leg Calf Raise 6-15 reps
  2. Seated Calf Raise 6-15 reps
  3. Single Leg Hamstring Raise 6-15 reps
  4. Lunge 4-10 reps
  5. Squat 4-10 reps
  6. Pull Up 4-10 reps
  7. Shoulder Press 4-10 reps
  8. Ab Wheel Rollout 6-15 reps
  9. Back Extension 6-15 reps

 

First week starts with 2 sets of each exercise. Second week 3 sets. Third week 4 sets of each exercise and this is maintained from then on.

 

Rest between each set will be approximately 2 minutes. Give or take 30 seconds either way. For the single leg exercises, I consider one side rested while working the other side.

 

The time commitment for a session is 30 minutes when it’s at 2 sets and extending up to 50-60 minutes at 4 sets per exercise.

 

 

Core Training

 

For the 10-15 minute core training sessions there is less structure. Instead the aim is steadily work almost continuously for 10-15 minutes. That time is filled moving through a series of core stability and strengthening exercises.

 

Most work will involve a swiss ball and focus on rotation and anti-rotation exercises. Basically this means keeping the core in a neutral position while moving a load around in different positions. This concept is best demonstrated in video over words. Lebron James shows off this concept to a high level in the article LeBron’s Secret To Being Better Than Ever In Season 15? Superhuman Core Strength.

 

Intensity

 

Intensity and form are important. Poor form leads to injury risk. Therefore the load must be within a range to it keep it together. However, the load must also be hard enough to get results.

 

Science suggests we get more benefits in improved connective tissue strength, limb stiffness and muscle power from higher loads performed for 2-4 sets of 4-15 repetitions compared to circuit style training or lower loads performed for more repetitions.

 

Exercise Selection

 

This is individual. Injury history, current imbalances, strength profile and equipment available all influence which exercises you choose. Different exercises can achieve the same goal. So I’ll go through the overriding principles of my selection.

 

Calves are targeted with 2 exercises. These have become a relative weak point for me over the last couple of years. Weakening of the calf muscles as we age has been shown to be a major cause of reduced stride length. Leading to the shuffling running pattern I am trying to avoid. I aim to turn that around.

 

The hamstrings play an increasing role as the speed of running increases. I want to run faster. Therefore I will strengthen the hamstrings.

 

Squats are included as a big lift. Dead lifts could be used in their place. There are potential benefits from squats and dead lifts beyond the direct strength gains. Research has shown there is a greater hormone response elicited compared to machine or exercises using lighter loads. Does this lead to further other improvements? Maybe. The science is far from conclusive. Including squats in my strength work usually has me feeling stronger overall.

Remaining exercises are chosen to cover the major movement patterns of the upper body, push, pull, extension and flexion. Rotation is covered is covered in the core training on days without the main full body workout.

 

Your Turn

 

What strength training do you include?

Would you like to know more about anything in this article?

Let me know in the comments below.

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?

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.

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?

Hard Core 100 Training Plan

Training for a 100 mile race is intimidating. The Hard Core 100 in the You Yangs, July 2018 will be my first 100 mile race. Here I outline my 10 week Hard Core 100 Training Plan.

 

To go with this post I have created a simple PDF outline of the 10 weeks of training:

Hard Core 100 Training Plan pdf

 

 

Race Goals

 

I don’t have a specific time goal. There are too many unknowns for me. Being my first 100 mile race and 10 weeks out, I’ll let this develop as weeks go by. Maybe I’ll set my sites on something specific, maybe not.

At this stage I have 2 goals:

  1. Finish the race
  2. Race it to the limit of my abilities

Finishing is a clear goal. As long as I complete the distance within in the rules, under the cut off times I have achieved the goal.

 

Racing to the limit of my abilities is more subjective. At the end I will know if I have achieved this.

 

Training Limits

 

Hard Core 100 training should be a part of my life and not take over my life.

 

Therefore I plug in all my other commitments into the calendar. Family, friends, work, sleep and other random parts of life. Around all this I schedule my training. Being a shift worker on a varying shift rotation means I don’t fit into a normal 7 day week. This combined with rest of life means I have to plan ahead while being able to adapt. Everyone has their own limitations. Work with them, not against them.

 

Training Pattern

 

Over an 8-9 day cycles, Hard Core 100 training will follow the rough outline:

  1. Easy
  2. MAF Test
  3. Easy
  4. VO2 Hill Repeats
  5. Recovery
  6. Ultra Long Day
  7. Long Paced
  8. Easy
  9. Threshold

Out of necessity the order will often get swapped around.

 

Run Details

 

Easy

 

These runs are exactly as the name implies. The aim is for them to feel good. I want to stay within a comfortable effort, but look chasing the feeling of light and springy. They are runs where I aim to achieve the feel of running comfortably. Pace will be a by product of achieving this feeling along with good technique.

 

Distance will mainly be dictated by the time I have available to run on the day. Some days this may 30 minutes, other day I could sneak out beyond 90 minutes. Whatever the distance and resultant speed, I should finish feeling good. The load from these runs shouldn’t have me needing to take it easy the following day.

 

MAF Test

 

Phil Maffetone uses the term Maximum Aerobic Function. I may not agree completely with all the details and the terminology used, but I find the majority of the concept useful. The MAF test itself provides a useful and consistent reference point.

 

Basically it provides a heart rate that is a rough estimate of the intensity at which you burn fat at it’s maximal rate during exercise. How accurate is up for debate. As you improve your aerobic conditioning the speed at which you run at this heart rate should improve. This is relevant to ultra marathon training.

 

VO2 Hill Repeats

 

This is the run to kick up the intensity. This run aims for a double benefit.

  1. Working at close to VO2max will improve my aerobic capacity.
  2. Running hard up hill will increase running specific strength and power.

The session is simple. Find a moderate to steep hill that takes 2-4 minutes to run up. Run hard at around VO2max intensity up it. Jog easily back down. Repeat a few times.

 

Ultra Long Day

 

Where would a 100 mile training plan be without a really long run?

 

The format will vary depending on life commitments. The crux of the day is to get extended time on my feet and tune up the elements I will need for race day. Ideally I’d like to get out for 5-8 hours over plenty of hills at a low intensity in a single run. Reality will mean this run may need to be broken up into 2 or 3 runs over the day and night.

 

Long Paced

 

Usually a 40km run with quite a few hills thrown in. The aim is for a steady effort seeing how close I can get up towards my MAF heart rate. Usually this run will fall the day after my Ultra Run Day so will have the added challenge of carry over fatigue in the legs.

 

The run should be faster than 100 mile race pace. It could almost be considered as specific speed work for the 100 miles.

 

Threshold

 

An out and back run covering 10km over a hilly course. All run on feel. No clock or heart rate watching this one. The aim is to hit close to, or just under my anaerobic threshold. When combined with the VO2 Hills, this run should result in an improved speed for my anaerobic threshold. This should allow more space to be comfortable at the much slower aerobic intensity required for a 100 mile race.

 

Hard Core 100 Training Wrapped Up

 

Ambition goes along with this plan. Getting through the training requires being careful with intensity and ensuring recovery is addressed. It is a balancing act. The biggest threat to consistent training will be my other life commitments. No time for procrastination.

 

Don’t forget the pdf outline: Hard Core 100 Training Plan pdf

 

Come join me on the journey and we’ll see what we all learn along the way:

Peak Training For Wings For Life World Run

With 4 weeks until race day. This is the peak training block. Training changes a lot.

 

Two key points for this block:

1. Develop race pace
2. Recovery

 

It feels amazing when you race well. The last block of training included the 10km cross country and Half Marathon at the Victoria Police & Emergency Services Games. Those races proved to myself I had made some big improvements.

 

The main goal of that last block of training was to improve my pace for the Wings For Life World Run. As a result there was a good amount of running at faster paces. My body responded and absorbed the training like a sponge. It went into over drive and the fast stuff became too easy.

 

Too easy?

 

My body wanted was hitting peak fitness. Unforunately that’s too far out from the WIngs For Life World Run. To try to capitilise on the my fitness gains, but delay a racing peak I dropped the speed and upped the volume, followed by a few very easy runs. It feels like it has worked. I’m ready to hit some specific training to peak on race day.

Peak Training

 

All the preparation work has been done. The focus of these last 4 weeks is only on being ready for race day. My goal is to make the WIngs For Life World Run an ultra marathon. That is run further than 42.195km before the car catches me.

 

This goal means I have to run a marathon under 3:10. Then keep it going for as long as possible. That will be my 3rd fastest marathon. It’s been over 9 years since I was in that shape. As result it means I’m treating most of the training as marathon preparation.

 

Two key points for this block:

1. Race Pace
2. Recovery

 

Race Pace

 

It’s important to be efficient at race pace for all long distance running. For a marathon this applies extra. The length of the race adds in extra elements. Being able to run efficiently under significant fatigue is paramount.

 

Overriding is the balancing of fuel use. Burn too much carboydrate at a your race pace and say goodbye to holding that speed for the entire distance.

 

The base training and long runs over the last few months play a big role in getting ready. Now it’s time to make the most of that and get everything in tune for my race pace. This calls for long runs at or very close to race pace. They are almost race simulations. Difficulty lies in the sessions being long enough to force the body to adapt to improve the fat to carbohydrate ratio, while not be too long to require a crazy amount of recovery.

 

These runs are big sessions. Too many will have likely be detrimental. Getting it right should lead to some big improvements. Only 5 key runs are being scheduled, all occuring in the first 3 of the 4 weeks. There will be an 8 day taper encompassing the 4th week.

 

Most of the training in the previous months has been focussed on getting the feel right. Times have been very secondary. This is flipped around for the key runs. In these key 5 runs the aim is to hit the paces as closely as possible. Let’s get into those runs…

 

All 5 runs begin with an easy warm up of 10-15min. I will try to keep it the same as what I aim to do on race day. After each run I will perform a very easy cool down of 15-20min. All runs will be over similar terrain as the race.

 

1. Specific Long Intervals 4 x 5000m / 1000m

 

Each 5000m repeat will be run at or just above race pace. That’s 100-102% of race pace. So if targeting 4:25/km then the range will be 4:25-4:19/km.

 

These repeats dial in the feel and rhythm of the top end of speed for the race. It is important to know what this feels like to control pacing over the distance. It also provides time training near the crossover point of fat and carbohydrate burning. Running faster switched the metabolism too heavily towards carbohydrate and will miss most benefits in fine tuning the balance of fuels.

 

The main set ends after the 4th 5000m repeat. After each of the first 3 repeats there is a 1000m recovery. Pacing the 1000m is important. It isn’t a simple jog aiming to take full recovery. Instead I will be looking to drop the pace down to about 90% of race pace. For a race pace target of 4:25km, that gives 4:51/km for the recovery. So the speed is still up there. It should provide just enough time for a mental reprieve to take stock of how the 5000m repeat went. There is also a sense of pacing that is enhanced when a small drop like this is practiced.

 

A total disance of 23km for the main with 20km at or slightly above race pace.

 

2. 30km Long Run @ 98-100% Race Pace

 

It’s as simple as it sounds. Between a warm and cool, run 30km at slightly slower to right on race pace. Using a race pace of 4:25/km this long run will be between 4:30-4:25/km.

 

This should develop fatigue resistance specific to racing. Sense of the slower side of race pace is enhanced. This will aid in preventing inadvertant drops in speed on race day.

 

The end of the run is likely to challenge carbohydrate stores. This should force the body to adapt and become more efficient in sparing carbohydrate at race pace. Holding the pace all the way through is paramount in this run. Being able to do so requires as much mental effort as it does physical.

 

3. Specific Long Intervals 5 x 5000m /1000m

 

Exactly the same outline as the 4 x 5000m in key run 1. Just extending out with an extra 5000m repeat and another 1000m. It is more important to be close to race pace than to run faster. The progression in race efficiency will come from. running further at this speed.

 

Jumping up to a total of 29km for the main set. Combined with the easier 1000m in between, the average for the full set should be right on race pace.

 

4. 32km Long Run @ 98-100% Race Pace

 

Exactly the same as the 30km long run for key run 2, just with an extra 2km. By now my body should have absorbed and adapted to at the first couple of key runs. Here I would any difficulty in maintaing speed to extend our closer to 32km. It will be a good guage to if I’m on track.

 

5. Specific Long Intervals Descending 7,6,5,4,3,2,1km / 1km

 

The last big run. Similar concept to the 5000m repeats in key runs 1 and 3.

 

Each fast interval will again be at 100-102% of race pace with a 1km repeat in between at 90% of race pace. After the warm I will begin with 7km at 4:25-4-19/km. Then 1km at 4:51/km, and moving into 6km interval.

 

If feeling good once down to the interval of 3km I can increase the speed slightly of 1km recovery, maybe to 4:40/km. On the final fast interval of 1km the aim will be run slightly faster than all other repeats just a few seconds. Maybe 4:16/km.

 

Will I hit those times?

 

I hope so, but that is 3 weeks away. It is the aim, but we’ll see how it goes. This last run is big. 34km as the main set. It won’t be performed closer than 8 days out of the race.

 

I'm looking forward to this block. When I'm feeling this is the type of training I love. Big sessions with no pressure in between

Recovery

 

To perform the specific race sessions properly you need to be fresh enough. This is not the time to carry over fatigue into key runs. The key runs are big and create a substantial recovery cost. So my recovery between them is extra important.

 

I’m moving beyond my usual 1-2 days of easy running between key runs. For this block, the easy days will be 3-4 days. Yes, that’s right.

 

The running on these easy days will be exactly that… easy.

 

Easy doesn’t always mean slow, but it usually does. Most runs will be between 5-13km at a very comfortable pace. Occasionaly, I may throw in a few short intervals to kick up the nervous system and remind the few fast twitch fibres they are needed. The rule is each run should have me feel better after running. They should not add a recover cost.

 

At the end of the this block is ultimate period of recovery. Eight days of taper. All runs will be ridiculously easy. The legs will turn over around race pace on occasion, but the runs will be short. Absolutely nothing should add a training load. The training is done.

 

I’m looking forward to this block. When I’m feeling this is the type of training I love. Big sessions with no pressure in between. How do you approach your last few weeks before big race?

How Not To Miss A Day Of Running: 6 Steps To Running Consistency

  1. Consistency rules in running. But life gets in the way. We skip a session here and there. That eats away at our consistency. How can we not miss a day of running?

 

Anyone can put together a good week of training. Most will put together 2 weeks. The numbers drop off at a full month. How many can back it up month after month?

 

Life, family, work, injury, health and my own head have all gotten in the way of consistent training over the years. Since returning from injury I’ve turned that around. This is what has worked for me.

 

  1. Know Your Goals
  2. Know Your Weaknesses
  3. You Can’t Do Everything
  4. Keep The Plan Simple
  5. Use Friction
  6. Switch On Switch Off

 

Life, family, work, injury, health and my own head have all gotten in the way of consistent training over the years. Since returning from injury I've turned that around. This is what has worked for me. Know Your Goals Know Your Weaknesses You Can't Do Everything Keep The Plan Simple Use Friction Switch On Switch Off

 

1. Know Your Goals

 

Be clear on your goals. The doubts will set in. When they do it really helps to know what you are striving for.

 

I chase goals that register something deep in me. Understanding what I want out of running helps with this. Further thoughts on this are in Run Alive.

 

Putting the goals in writing as clear, simple and measurable statements make them easy to reference. It leaves no doubt as to why I am training. Having these goal statements in a place I see often makes it easier to grind out a session when I otherwise don’t want to do it. Check out 2018 Running Goals.

 

2. Know Your Weakness

 

When are we at our weakest? When am I most likely to skip training? What’s my go to justification for slacking off?

 

Training at the end of the day is often a fail point for me. After a day of work, family stuff and assorted other items I find it too easy to justify skipping my run. By avoiding scheduling training in the evening I give this weakness less opportunity.

 

When my weekend falls on a weekday I have the advantage of training during the day. After dropping the kids off at school I run straight away. Trying to fit something else in before the run usually causes me to run out of time to fit in the training. Again I make a point of structuring my day to avoid this weakness.

 

3. You Can’t Do Everything

 

It is impossible to include every type of run in a training week. Trying to cover all bases just doesn’t work. Understanding there is a big cross over of training effects helps. Knowing what to prioritise is important.

 

Comes back to knowing your goals. Focus on what will lead you there. Then allow enough space and recovery to perform those runs well. Anything else is extra. Be careful with the extra, it usually gets in the way.

 

My main focus is aiming to run fast enough at the Wings For Life World Run to make it an ultra marathon. Along the way there I will be racing a 10km cross country. Using the 10km as a stepping stone towards the ultra marathon keeps me heading in the right direction. However, I have to accept it may not be my fastest 10km. Altering my training to achieve my fastest at the shorter distance will take me away from my big goal.

 

 

4. Keep The Plan Simple

 

Writing every detail in a long training plan sets it up to fail. I write out a basic overview which lists 2 to 3 key points for each block of training. As I come up to each block I right out about 4 weeks at a time. Each run is listed as a headline rather than a detailed description.

Headline: Long 40km

Description: Start very easy, making an effort hold back the pace over the first 3km. Then hold 5:35/km for the remainder of the run. Accept I will likely have to push the intensity heavily in the final 5km just to maintain pace. When running uphill focus on being relaxed but ensuring good form, don’t worry about pace. Use the assistance of gravity to bring back some of the time on the downhill.

 

The difference allows for the ebb and flow that occurs in training.

 

Check out Training Plan Overview 2018: 7 Steps To Setup Your Running for an example of how I keep the plan simple.

 

5. Use Friction

 

Make it easy to do what you want. Make it difficult to do the things you shouldn’t.

 

The more steps there is to do something the less likely we are to do it. I use this principle to get in my training before an early start at work. When the alarm goes off it be would easy to hit the snooze button and go back to sleep for a while. This is where I throw in some friction. Using my phone for the alarm I disable the snooze function. I place the phone a bit out of reach so I have to sit up to turn it off. There is enough in the way to make it harder for me to go back to sleep. My clothes and training gear are all set out from the night before. As a matter of habit I just put it on before my brain has had a chance to think.

 

Make it easy to develop those habits that get you training. Habits beat motivation.

 

6. Switch On Switch Off

 

Be on task. I have the urge to keep going over my training statistics and explore my training looking for the fine details that may help me get faster. Doing this over and over is a very inefficient way to spend my time. It also doesn’t lead to much improvement beyond just getting the basics right.

 

When training I get the most out of a session if I focus completely on it. Being free of distractions. It isn’t an easy skill to master, but it is a skill we can develop with practice. On a run I am only running. My concentration is on what I need to do now. Of course random other thoughts float into my head. They try to pull my attention away down another track. Being able to pull mind back on task works wonders.

 

This is a concept to apply to other areas of life. Essentially it is the act of mindfulness. I should place my attention into what I need to do now. That may be as simple as paying attention to what my kids are saying to me. It may be my work or getting chores done at home.

 

Being able to switch on and switch off allows me to get more out of the other areas of my life. As result it reduces the loose ends. This makes it easier not be distracted when it is time to train.

 

 

Last Word

 

It isn’t easy to back it up day after day. It is something I’ve rarely been able to achieve. That is part of the journey. Trying to make the hard a bit easier. Running consistency does get rewarded with results.


6 Steps To Running Consistency

Ultra Marathon Training: Block 3 Weeks 9-12

The last 4 weeks of training was a bigger challenge than I anticipated. Well off target for quite a few sessions. I tried not to dwell on them too much. Took a little extra recovery. Tested myself in the last week. Surprisingly I still ended up pretty close to where I hoped to be. Now ready for training block 3.

 

Focus

 

Following the Training Plan Overview the focus is:

  1. Increase pace at Anaerobic Threshold
  2. Increase pace of long run.
  3. Small amount of anaerobic tolerance development

 

 

Increase Pace At Anaerobic Threshold

 

Anaerobic threshold training provides big improvements. I start to feel invincible and find the faster paces feel easier and easier. Anything powerful tends to come with strong side effects. Anaerobic threshold training has a big impact on me. I find it easy to over do. I get caught up in the feeling. So many times I have over shot the mark. It tends to give my immune system a hit and I am prone to getting sick. After a week or 2 of feeling fast, my legs tend to come crashing back down as if wrapped in concrete.

 

Trying to sort out how to get the benefit without the downside had me searching through my training logs. Looking back over the years there is a trend. Over training with anaerobic threshold work has been related to 2 main issues:

  1. Trying to extend anaerobic threshold work beyond 60 minutes in a session.
  2. Pushing the pace too high on continuous threshold training runs.

This training block I’ll avoid the above 2 ways of training.

  • I’ll save pushing the pace up for the interval runs.
  • Hold back a little on the continuous threshold runs.
  • Limit any session to well under 60 minutes.

 

Increase Pace Of The Long Run

 

The distance will be limited to 40km or 4 hours, whichever comes first. With how my long runs have unfolded over the last 2 months, it is clear increasing pace isn’t about going hard in the first half. Long runs of 40km are definitely not easy. Where will the improved speed come from?

 

Most of that pace will be from maintaining my form and pace all the way to the end. Avoiding the drop off in speed that has occurred in almost all long runs will be my priority. Just holding it together over the final 5km will bring my average pace back by about 20 sec per kilometre.

 

The secondary push up on pace will feel subtle. It involves attempting to relax and allow my body to open up. So far I’ve had to artificially slow down the first part of my long runs and it still feels quite restrained. I want to gradually release those restraints and let the legs find a more natural rhythm and pace. The risk is that pace is too fast for the full distance.

 

Small Amount Of Anaerobic Tolerance Development

 

There’s 2 reasons for this:

  1. Creating a stimulus to maintain or enhance the VO2max gains from the past 2 weeks.
  2. Be able to maintain run form in the closing stages of the races at the Emergency Services Game in a few weeks.

VO2max can be maintained with less than it takes to raise it. So a couple of sessions over the month that have me gasping for air should be enough. Hopefully it helps me with a little extra kick in my legs for the end of races.

 

Anaerobic tolerance training intervals track

 

The Template

 

A training week covers 9 days for me at the moment. There will be some variation to fit around the other areas of my life, but here’s the basic template I’ll be working from:

  1. Easy
  2. Easy
  3. Anaerobic Threshold (Continuous): 10km
  4. Anaerobic Tolerance: 12 x 300-100m, 1min recovery
  5. Easy
  6. Long Run 40km/ 4hours
  7. Easy
  8. Easy
  9. Anaerobic Threshold Intervals 4-6 x 2000m / 1000m float

 

I’m curious to see if the Anaerobic Threshold (Continuous) and Anaerobic Tolerance combination over days 3 and 4 will work for me. I think it will, but am open to adjustments if needed.

 

There is definitely a nice dose of faster running injected into the program. None of the fast running should feel forced. While there are physiological adaptations I’m going for, it is more important I develop the right feel in my running. Block 3 is about trying to develop that right feel in running faster.