Category Archives: Training

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.

 

 

The Power Of Easy Runs

Why is it so hard to get easy runs right?

 

Attention always goes to the high flyers. The threshold runs, the VO2max intervals, the long runs, the hill repeats, they hog the limelight. What about the easy run?

 

Is it too basic? Too run-of-the-mill? We do more of these easy runs than any other type.

 

Since it is the most common type of run we do, shouldn’t we pay it some respect?

 

The easy run is subtle, but it packs a massive amount of power. That power builds up over time when combined with consistency. It provides the support to launch your hard training. On a smaller scale, the easy run has the power to influence your next hard session. It can help you be ready for it, or it can take away from your performance.

 

I’ve made the mistakes on easy runs. The number one mistake is pushing too hard and fast. It is all too easy to go too hard. Over the years I’ve experimented with different approaches. I’ve let my ego get in the way plenty of times. Not everything has worked, but some has. Now I’m back to chasing some big and challenging goals. To reach them I have to get a lot right in my training. One of the biggest influences on this are the easy runs.

 

Time to share what works.

We do more easy runs than any other type of run

 

 

Setting The Base With Easy Runs

 

When a long way out from a race and trying to develop a simple to base fitness, most of the runs will fall in the easy category. At this time the easy runs are relatively harder than later in a training program. Because the key hard sessions are not crazy hard at the time, you can afford to allow the easy run speed to creep up a little.

 

My main focus is on run form. Making sure I am developing good technique. Focusing on a proper range of movement, some snap at the ankle and proper knee lift. While working on improving running form I find the intensity needs to be raised a bit until the form changes become more natural. Remember the body is inherently lazy and will take what it thinks is the easiest way in the moment. This doesn’t always mean it’s the best way in the long term.

 

To ensure the runs aren’t too hard, the best guide is that you are able to repeat the exact same run the next day without fatigue carrying over.

 

Increasing Workload With Easy Runs

 

After setting a grounding with some base training we start to push the key runs a bit harder. Yet we still want to keep increasing volume and the ability to handle more training. This is the time the easy runs start to become tricky. This is where we really have to pay attention to the effect of these runs. As we start including faster running in the training mix, it is often easy to inadvertantly run the easy runs too fast. It just starts to feel natural to run faster. During the run it doesn’t feel like it’s too much. Yet it encroaches on the your recovery. It adds a load you need to recover from, and it puts a hold on recovering from the harder runs. This tends to be subtle, but it accumulates and reduces your ability to extend your key runs.

 

This is the time to put your ego away. Drop the pace on your easy runs to what may feel ridiculously slow. To push up the workload, gradually add a little bit of distance to a couple of the easy runs each week.

 

 

Closing Down On The Race

 

As we get closer to race day the key runs tend to become harder and more specific. It becomes important to be fresh enough to hit your marks in the hard runs. As a result the easy should be even easier. Personally I find they vary a lot during this time. Completely dictated by how I am responding in the key hard sessions.

 

This is no longer the up the volume. Some of the runs will be very short, maybe just 30 minutes at a ridiculously slow jog. If there are a few days between extra hard runs, then in the middle I may move the pace up to something that feels quick for easy. Making sure it doesn’t take away from the next run.

 

 

Respect Easy Runs

 

I’ve kept clear of providing exact pacing guidelines. The speed of an easy run shouldn’t some preset arbitrary number. It be guided by the effect you are aiming for. Focusing some effort on taking notice of how you respond to the easy runs reaps a lot of returns. It is a great opportunity to develop a feel and understanding on how your body responds to training. This is part of the power of easy runs.

 

Power of easy runs beach running

Ultra Marathon Training: Block 1 Weeks 1-4

It has felt like years since I really trained fast. With ultra marathon training I’d become pretty good at shuffling my way over long distances. I get a lot out of this, but miss the faster running of my earlier years. So I’ve set a goal that should help me find some of that speed again. Some extra detail is in 2018 Running Goals.

 

Different and bigger goals require a change in approach. The main difference is a regular inclusion of faster running. The fast running won’t work on it’s own. It is only part of a bigger picture. Let’s break it down.

 

Block 1 is the first of 5 blocks, each of 4 weeks in my lead up to the Wings For Life World Run. An overview can be found in Training Plan Overview 2018: 7 Steps To Setup Your Running.

 

There are main 2 points in Block 1:

  1. Increase VO2max
  2. Increase distance of long run

Both these points will extend into Block 2. They should set the base for more specific training in the remaining 3 blocks.

keep on running ultra marathon training

1. Increase VO2max

 

This is the gold standard of aerobic fitness. A higher VO2max means you can do more work or run faster while using oxygen. It filters down to all intensities below it. Heavily determined by which parents you chose, there is still a substantial influence training can make.

 

There are a multitude of different ways to train to increase your VO2max. These have different effects on other areas of fitness. I will stick to what has been well supported in research and has worked for me in the past. It is a throwback to my university days when I was a lab rat in many exercise studies.

 

My go to VO2max training session is 4-8 repeats of 3-5 minutes with 3-5 minutes of easy recovery in between each repeat. The intensity of each repeat should be very close to my VO2 max, which will be about 3000m race pace.

 

 

2. Increase Distance Of Long Run

 

To make the Wings For Life World Run an ultra marathon I need to be able to handle running a long way. That calls for some long runs.

 

I know I can shuffle out some very long distances. However, the pace won’t get me anywhere near my goal. There is a big difference between 7:00/km and under 4:27/km. This means my long run needs to shift up a gear or two.

The struggle will be to find that balance in going faster versus adding distance.

 

Training Plan

 

Over the 4 weeks I was working in 8 training cycles. I know this doesn’t fit neatly, but it works for me. My work roster has a lot to do with it. The planned training for each of the 8 days is:Ultra marathon trining week 1 to 4

  1. Easy – likely a run commute to and from work. Anywhere between 4-10km each run at a pace that is comfortable.
  2. Easy – run commute. As per yesterday, but if feeling okay I’ll throw in some short hill repeats in the morning run.
  3. Easy – again likely a run commute between 4-10km. These first three days are about regeneration from the previous week/cycle of training. I want to come out of these three days feeling ready for some hard sessions.
  4. VO2max Intervals – this is my key “get faster” run. Starting with 3 x 1000m repeats with an easy 600m jog in between, I’ll add a repeat each week. The rest of may day is lazy as I will be following up with a night shift at work.
  5. Regeneration – this day is mostly written off as a nothing day. I’ll be sleeping for most of it after a 14 hour night shift. I hope to force myself to get in a few very easy kilometres of running. Sleep is definitely the priority.
  6. Long Run – Starting with 30km I want to add 2km each week. I expect to carry over some fatigue from the VO2max intervals, but I hope I can get this right.
  7. Easy – just a simple 6-14km to keep the legs moving.
  8. Hill Repeats – I will pick hills that take 2-3 minutes to run at a bit below VO2max pace, with a very easy jog back down. It is a mixture of specific strength and support for VO2max development.

The total kilometres in each period are not a goal. That total will take care of itself if I focus on getting each session right

 

Training Plan Overview 2018: 7 Steps To Setup Your Running

How do you plan your training? Do you get the most out of yourself? Will you achieve your goals?

 

There are 7 steps I take to developing my training plan. Join me as I take you through my process. At the end I’ll share my overview for the 20 weeks leading up to the Wings For Life World Run.

  1. Gather The Essentials
  2. Know Your Goals
  3. Create An Overview
  4. Pen In Important Dates
  5. Pencil In Key Training
  6. Details, Details, Details
  7. Train, Adjust, Train

 

How do you plan your run training? I sit down with my calendar, goals, commitments and make the most of what I have

 

1. Gather The Essentials

 

 

2. Know Your Goals

 

There are two key races I am focussing on in 2018.

Check out those goals in 2018 Running Goals.

 

Along the way I’ll throw in a few shorter distance events. Most will be based on what is available when my work roster allows me to race. Not to be missed will be the 2018 Victorian Police and Emergency Services Games in March.

 

3. Create An Overview

 

My training started part way into December 2017. This gives me 20 weeks until the first main race, The Wings For Life World Run. Then there is 11 weeks to the Hard Core 100.

 

Break up the 20 weeks. I work in 4 week blocks. It is a manageable time frame, plus it fits with how my work roster is scheduled. The easier training fits in with life, the easier it is to do.

 

Pick a main focus for each cycle coupled with a secondary focus. Remember you can be great at anything, but you can’t be great at everything. Choose wisely.

 

4. Pen In Important Dates

 

Put in everything you know. This should include your fixed commitments and anything that may affect training.

  • Work days
  • Family events
  • Holidays
  • Races

 

5. Pencil In Key Training

 

Think of the bench mark training sessions when want to hit. Pencil them into the overview of your training plan.

  • Do they work?
  • Do they fit in with your other commitments?
  • Is there enough time between the sessions?

I find I rewrite this quite a few times. The first draft is always too optimistic.

 

6. Details, Details, Details

 

Plan out each session of your first training block. For me it is 4 weeks. Start with the main sessions such as long runs, intervals, tempo runs.

 

Next fill in the recovery or regeneration sessions. This can include the very easy runs, days off or anything else you do to help recover and absorb from you training.

 

Fill the remaining runs. These will usually be easy runs.

 

Finally schedule your supplementary training. Weights, yoga, pilates or anything else you do.

 

After the first training block, I will then pencil in the main sessions for the following block of training.

 

Now we have a detailed view of the first block plus a reasonable idea of the following block of training. Compare it to the over view of your training plan and make sure it all fits together. It is at this point I find the reality of the rest of my life means my main sessions don’t quite work. Usually I have less time between then than I first thought. Again it usually involves a rewrite.

 

7. Train, Adjust, Train

 

Now for the fun part. Start training.

 

Have some patience and confidence in your plan. Allow time to see results, but be honest with how you handle it. What looks good on paper doesn’t always work in real life. Take note and adjust. Keeping the plan in line with your overview.

 

Training Plan Overview 20 Weeks

 

I break 20 weeks down into 5 blocks of 4 weeks.

 

20 Week Training Plan Overview: Wings For Life World Run 2018 then 11 weeks to the Hard Core 100 mile ultra marathon

 

Block 1: Weeks 1-4

 

  • Increase VO2max
  • Increase distance of long run

Different and bigger goals require a change in approach. The main difference is a regular inclusion of faster running. The fast running won’t work on it’s own. It is only part of a bigger picture. Let’s break it down… read more here

Block 2: Weeks 5-8

 

  • Increase VO2max
  • Increase distance of long run

I’ve moved from 8 out to 9 day cycles for training. Mainly because I’m on a different roster cycle for work. It also does work in quite well with what I am trying to achieve. It makes for a simple structure of 1 day hard followed by 2 easy days… read more here

Block 3: Weeks 9-12

 

  • Increase pace at Anaerobic Threshold
  • Increase pace of long run
  • Small amount of anaerobic tolerance development

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… read more here

 

 

Block 4: Weeks 13-16

 

  • Increase Wings For Life race pace
  • Emergency Services Games

 

 

Block 5: Weeks 17-20

 

2.5 Weeks targeting efficiency at Wings For Life race pace

1.5 Weeks of taper

Race: Wings For Life World Run: Melbourne

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… read more

 

 

Final Word

 

Having a clear plan helps you make the most of what you have. How do you plan your training?

 

 

Do You Run Everyday?

Every runner gets asked, do you run everyday?

 

For some the answer is yes. For most of us it is no.

 

To some degree I aim to run everyday. Looking back through my training logs I definitely haven’t achieved it. Would I be a better runner if I did?

 

 

Streakers

 

It can be an amazing achievement to run for a year or longer without missing a single day. For some it is a goal unto itself. For others it is a means to an end.

 

I’ve been impressed with the efforts of Steve Dinneen. His days off have led to some amazing results.

 

 

 

Of course there is Ron Hill. Longest Running Streak Ends At 52 Years, 39 Days

 

A Day Off

 

On the flip side some have achieved sensational results by incorporating a day off running. Paul Radcliffe was known to have a day off running every 8 days.

The day off gives the body a chance to adapt and repair itself from all the hard days of running.

 

If you take a day off running every week, it is 52 days without running every year. Will you benefit from taking this time off? Will more running be better? I think the answer is very individual. It probably even changes according to where you are in your own fitness.

 

trail run

 

What Gets In The Way?

 

There are the typical excuses. We are all stretched with competing priorities. If you really want something you will make it a priority. It sounds simple, but so many people struggle to make that jump from wanting to doing. It may seem like we have to put running ahead of family and work. I don’t believe that’s the case. Instead we need to look at what goes around our priorities. Do you watch television? How much time do you spend scrolling through social media? Do you plan your food and shopping ahead of time? There are many ways to create more time to do what you want to do.

 

My main excuse is sleep. Being a shift worker it is easy for me to throw out I need to get my sleep in. The excuse is easily accepted by others. To do my job safely, I cannot be fatigued.  Inadvertently it has become my default excuse.

 

Turn it around. Sleep isn’t the problem. We all need good sleep. It is what I do around my shifts that gets in the way of sleep that is the problem. Get important things in your life done without delay. It will lead to improvement in your running. It is something I need to work on.

 

Will I aim to run everyday?

 

The short answer is no. The longer version is, I will aim to run almost very day. Putting a caveat that if I do take a day off it has to be for a significant reason. Not just because I’m not feeling it today.

 

Do you run everyday?

Hill Training: Easier Way To Get The Benefits

Hill training is often the nemesis of the runner. We can make great gains from it, but it is often hurts. It doesn’t have to be so difficult. In fact you can get many of the benefits of hill training by backing down the speed a bit and changing your focus.

 

Benefits Of Hill Training

Hill training provides so many benefits to your running. The obvious ones are:

  • increase in strength
  • increase in power
  • improved performance on hills

They are the no-brainers. Yet there is so much more, and it doesn’t just translate to the hills.

  • increased range of motion
  • improved foot landing in relation to centre of mass
  • improved toe off
  • increased strengthening and activation of posterior chain
  • improved running economy
  • increased mental focus
  • improved injury resistance

 

Speed Training Versus Hill Training

Training flat doesn’t improve hills.

Training hills improves your flats.

 

It’s a general guideline. Of course we can find exceptions to it, but it seems to apply well. There are plenty of runners who are exceptionally fast on the flats, but fall apart as soon as the gradient goes up.

 

Running fast on the flats provides many benefits. Some people have an injury history where flat intervals put them at risk. Substituting hill repeats can often reduce the chance of injury, but give many of the gains for these runners.

 

Hill Training Running Alive

Risks Of Hill Training

Of course hill training isn’t without it’s risks. Like anything in running, doing too much too soon is likely to cause problems. There are ways around this. Every runner is different. We all have different biomechanics, experience and injury history. There are however, some common risks that affect many runners.

 

Launching into near maximal efforts without a period of building up is likely to cause problems. Watch for tightness around the ankle and over the front (dorsum) of the foot. They are warning signs. Heed them.

 

Beware the descents. The impact when running downhill is higher, but that isn’t the only issue. Most of the impact is under eccentric load. This is when the muscle lengthens as it is applying force. More damage occurs with this type of loading. You can get great benefit, especially in fatigue resistance from down hill running. The risks are higher pushing down the slopes.

 

Find The Feeling

Hill training doesn’t have to be at your absolute limit. You will probably gain more benefits to keep the intensity under control. Running hill repeats right on your maximum is likely to limit your gains in the early stages of development. There is a time and place for maximal effort hill sprints, but there is more benefit in chasing form than intensity.

 

Practice makes permanent. So you want to be practising great form.

 

Use the following cues for good form:

  • run tall
  • drive down with your glutes and hamstrings
  • push your ankle and spring off your toes
  • aim for a feeling of snap and spring on toe off

 

The body likes to take the easy way out in the moment. If you haven’t convinced it that great technique is the best option, it will find ways to cut corners. It will cut your stride short, reduce your drive through your toe off, drop your hips and take out the hamstrings. None of this helps you go faster.

 

Make technique the most important element. Back off the volume and speed to ensure good form. Do not exceed your abilities to maintain form. You will make bigger gains in the long term with this approach. Your body will tell you when it can handle more.

 

Your Body Will Tell You

If you begin with just a few repetitions focussing on great technique your body will adapt. A little bit goes a long way. At first it often feels awkward. Keep chasing find a smooth, snap and spring in your up hill running. After a few sessions it will feel easier. You will probably be a little bit faster too. Take notice of this. Next time add a little bit more. Your body is ready.

 

When you add more pay attention to how you feel in added distance. If you lose the feeling of great form, then stay at that level. Anybody can write you should do 8 x 200m repeats in advance. It is hard to know how the body will behave for those repetitions. You might struggle with form and stop at 7. On the other hand you might be in the flow, with it feeling relatively easy. Maybe it is worth extending out to 10 repetitions.

 

If you pay attention hill training will highlight your form. Both good and bad. It gets easier to hold your technique over time. If you avoid just chasing the grind, you will find a flow that lets your body progress better. It can feel like you’re not doing enough at the beginning, but trust in your body. When it’s ready it is easier to progress.

 

 

How To Do It

There are many different ways to train hills. This approach will reap many benefits. The process will suit many looking to introduce hill training or coming back from an injury or lay off. It will certainly add to your performance if you are not regularly including hill work.

 

The Setup

Include a session weekly or every 4 to 8 days (depending on how you structure your training). Find a moderate hill. Nothing crazy steep. No bending over, hands on knees should be needed. It doesn’t have to be extra long either. Anything that takes somewhere between 40 seconds to 2 minutes to run up.

 

Perform your preferred style of warm up and get into your first up hill repeat.

 

The Repeat

Run up at a pace where you can maintain the technique given above:

  • run tall
  • drive down with your glutes and hamstrings
  • push your ankle and spring off your toes
  • aim for a feeling of snap and spring on toe off

This is a not a sprint. The effort should be solid. You need to be working, but the most important element is getting the technique right. You need to be able to maintain your form through the whole repeat. This will also exercise your ability to focus.

 

Once at the top. Turn around and very gently walk/jog back down to the bottom. Do it all over again.

 

And Again

How many times?

 

That depends on a lot of factors. If just introducing hills definitely err on the side of extreme caution. If at any point you find you have significant  difficulty maintaining form or your speed drops, then it is time to stop. That might only be 2 repeats. The idea is to practice great form. You will make great gains from doing this, but it is likely to feel slow going in the first couple of sessions.

 

After you have performed a couple of these sessions. You can look at progressing things. Add one or two repeats as along as you can hold your form. Mix up the hills you use. Go longer, shorter, steeper, milder. Variety will be good. Don’t look to force your speed. Over time your speed will come naturally as your body adapts. Better yet, this speed will be a result of efficiency and should naturally incorporate a good level of relaxation. Your speed will naturally go up.

 

It is not just what you do, but how you do it.

Taper Doubts: Surviving The Week Before Your Race

Most runners struggle during their taper.

It seems strange. Leading into a race you ease off on the training. You are no longer trying to push the boundaries of what your body can handle. More sleep. A little down time. Time to chill. Should feel great. Yet, most runners have trouble handling this.

Instead of relaxation we have too much time to think about the race. We doubt if we are ready. Not enough long runs. Should have done more intervals. What if I’m just not good enough?

Instead of feeling good our body signals problems. We become hyper aware of everything. Every little ache stands out. Is it a race limiting injury? Every muscle feels heavy. We lose our snap. All the speed has been sucked out.

Not just the first timer, but as an experienced runner we wonder if this is normal.

It is normal!

Running Race Taper

How to handle a race taper better

The Body

The body will feel flat. You’ve been training hard for some time. Pushing the body puts it on the edge. It has been in survival mode. Now you are giving it the opportunity to recover and rebuild into a stronger and faster you. This is a significant process. It takes the body a lot of resources.

What to do:
Give the body what it needs. Good food and appropriate rest. Racing and training hard put you in the fight or flight mode (sympathetic). Rebuilding puts you in the rest and digest mode (parasympathetic). Everything feels slowed down when here. Let the body stay in this state. You only need to feel good on race day. Trust the body, it is surprisingly good at getting this right.

The Mind

Train the mind. There will always be doubts leading into a big event. It’s okay. Not only should we accept this, but we can use it to our advantage. Set aside some time (that time you used to be running).

Write a list of your doubts and negative thoughts. Put it on paper. Then split the lists into 2 categories.

 

  1. Things you can’t control: training completed or not done – can’t change it now. Weather. Terrain. Other competitors. Now you’ve identified this, it is easier to push it aside and focus on part
  2. Things you can control: race kit, race plan, contingency plans, nutrition. This is where you can focus your efforts. Make a plan for a good race, and not so good race. What will you do if things go wrong. If you’ve considered situations ahead of time it will be easier on the day to just do it.

Meditate. This isn’t the time to learn completely new techniques. If you have a practice already then put some more time into it. If you don’t meditate find some time to sit still and breath slowly or follow a simple guided meditation. Personally I use Insight Timer whenever I feel like using a guided mediation rather than my own practice.

After 20 years of racing I still have to remind myself it is normal to feel bad, crazy good or just crazy during the taper. I’ve come to enjoy the process and see it as part of training and racing. Getting those feelings many dread indicate you are on track for race day.

 

Comment below and share how you handle your taper.