Tag Archives: training

Super Slow Reps: Training When You Can’t Train

How do you training when you can’t train? Making use of super slow reps while I’m limited in the exercise I can do.

Limitations

At 3 weeks post skin graft I’m finally allowed to do a very small amount of exercise. Even though the graft is healing well, it is far from mature. I still have to protect it. I’m not allowed to do any leg exercise. Plus the stitches at the front of my right hip limit plenty of movements.

Limited in how much time I can spend up right before having to elevate my leg. I also have to avoid sweating. All training will be well within these limitations.

To stay within those limitations I am performing some upper body strength training. The session will be under 30 minutes. Weights will be kept extremely light.

How do I get the most benefit from this?

The answer is make each repetition super slow.

How Slow Are Super Slow Reps?

Well, super slow reps are way slower than is comfortable. As slow as 10 seconds up, and 10 seconds down.

Slowing the exercises down this much increases the time under tension which may provide an increased stimulus, Plus it provides the opportunity to improve the mind-muscle connection. Make those adjustments to technique to target exactly the movement and muscles that I’m aiming for.

The slow speed keeps the whole body effort lower, reducing the likelihood of a raised core temperature and sweating.

Taking the opportunity to work on something different and some corrective work. So I’m performing some work on my shoulders and upper back. Aiming to open them up. Remove the feeling of being closed and rounded forward from all the sitting and lying with my leg over the previous weeks.

The Training

2 sets of 2-10 reps, with a rest of 2-3 minutes in between.

The key is to keep some difficulty in maintaining in the final few reps, but not working hard through my whole body.

Exercise selection:

  • Pull up
  • Bench press
  • Rear deltoid raise with supination
  • Seated dumbell press
  • Later deltoid raise
  • Dumbell preacher curl

These exercises are better demonstrated in video, than in words. So I cover this in my following vlog:

Not the most extensive or intense training. This at least has me moving while keeping well within the limitations I have with a skin graft. Now I can actually start doing some exercise I feel happier.

Less Running and More Other Stuff: New Goals

Chasing new goals leads me to less running in my new training plan.

There’s nothing like a forced lay off due to injury to have you re-evaluate your goals and training.

A foot injury ended my training program for the Surf Coast Century this year. Over the last few weeks I’ve worked through the first 4 of 5 priorities for an injured runner. I’m now ready for step 5:

New Goals

To guide our training we need goals.

Mine are:

  1. Injury proof my running
  2. Reach a fitness level to run a sub-3 hour marathon

You notice there isn’t a deadline listed in those goals.

Pushing a hard deadline on a sub- 3 hour marathon will likely risk my first goal of staying injury proof. Therefore I am open to however long is needed. It could be 6 months, or it could take over a year. I don’t know yet.

Less Running

I’m seriously cutting back on my run volume. Long runs and high volume will be a quick way back to injury for me.

Guidelines for run volume include:

  1. I have to be able to maintain good form for each and every run
  2. The volume must be well within my capabilities

It is the running equivalent of stopping 2-3 repetitions short on a weight lifting set. Adaptation still occurs with until grinding yourself down into fatigue.

More Other Stuff

Less running leaves some extra time.

With this extra time I am dedicating it other training modaltities:

  1. Strength training
  2. Prehabilitation / Rehabilitation
  3. Mobility
  4. Recovery

These will now be written into my training plan. Previously I have been performing these on an ad hoc basic. It didn’t work.

More Fun

Less running and more other stuff means more variety. I am looking forward training that doesn’t entail mile after mile after mile.

I am expecting this change in approach will reduce the feeling of grinding day after day. It reminds of how I used to train for triathlons. You could partially recover from one discipline while hitting another hard.

I expect my training to be quite effective. More importantly it should be a lot of fun.

Is your training fun?

Injured Runner Priorities: 5 Steps To Get Back To Running

What are the priorities for the injured runner? What is the best way back from injury?

Most injured runners want to get back to full training immediately. We also often try to continue through injury. Often to our own detriment.

Instead of hoping for the best and making the injury worse, let’s work through the priorities for the injured runner.

  1. Prevent further injury
  2. Diagnose
  3. Recover
  4. Rebuild
  5. New training

These are the priorities I follow

1. Prevent further injury

It’s simple…

Don’t make the injury worse.

Stop running. Rest. Do the basics of sports first aid.

2. Diagnose

Dr Google is not your best friend. Do what it takes to find out what your injury is. Use a doctor you trust, a physiotherapist or other practitioner.

An injury needs to be properly assessed. Different injuries have many cross over of symptoms, but require different treatment.

Working from an accurate diagnosis will give you a better chance of success.

3. Recover

Help your body repair.

You have to recover before you can rebuild.

The approach is different depending on your injury. This priority is likely to include:

  • Resting the injured area
  • Protecting the area through support or taping
  • Introducing gentle movement
  • Physical manipulation (massage)

4. Rebuild

This is the rehabilitation side.

Do what it takes to get yourself back to being able to training.

Strengthen the area. Condition the body to prevent what led to the injury in the first place.

Ensure you have good mobility.

Introduce running well within in your physical limits.

5. New Training

Finally what we’ve been waiting for.

Back to full training, but with a new style. This new style has to take into account your recent injury. We likely have to modify are previous training so we don’t have a recurrence.

Runner’s often go back to their previous training plan. The plan that led to injury in the first place. We need to change this. To progress our running we need to train in a way to minimise injury.

If you need help to change then get it. Get feedback from knowledgeable runners. Speak with a coach, physiotherapist or someone who understand running and human movement.

There are many ways to achieve your running goals. I have some further tips on injury proofing your running here.

Time Frames Of Injury

How should we spend in each section?

This will vary so much depending on the injury you have sustained.

A simple muscle strain may need the following time in each phase:

  1. Prevent further injury: 12 hours
  2. Diagnose: 30 minutes
  3. Recover: 2 days
  4. Rebuild: 3 days
  5. New training: 1 week

Whereas a broken leg would need so much longer:

  1. Prevent further injury: 3 days
  2. Diagnose: 1 day
  3. Recover: 10 weeks
  4. Rebuild: 8 weeks
  5. New training: 1 week

Do you have a different approach to injuries?

Long Run For 100km Trail Race: Training

How to approach the long run for 100km trail race.

There’s an important concept we need to get our heads around. The speed we race a 100km race is relatively slow.

Compared to your 5km or half marathon speed, 100km is run significantly slower. This needs to be remembered when we are setting up our long run training.

How Long Is Long For 100km?

By following some principles we can get to an optimal long run distance.

Long is relative. It begins with a distance near the edge of what you can comfortably run. This could be 10km or it could be 40km. It depends on your training history and current fitness.

If you are looking at taking 16 weeks to train for a 100km race I recommend being comfortable at 25km.

You want to be able to build up to a peak of at least 40km or 4 hours. This will ensure you develop the physiology to go really long. The magic happens after 3 hours.

Referring back to 16 Weeks to 100km Training Plan, you want this peak run to be reached by 12 weeks. We start reducing the length of the long run after this.

Is it worth going longer?

The short answer is… maybe

That maybe depends on your ability to handle the extra distance. If you can handle, absorb and adapt to the extra distance then go for it.

However, any of the following will rule out going further:

  • Carrying an injury
  • Still feeling fatigued beyond 2 days after a long run
  • Recent long runs have a dramatic slow down in their second half
  • You struggle to perform the other key runs

Some runners may benefit from 1 to 4 long runs pushed out to 50km or 5-6 hours. Don’t under estimate the impact these runs have. Make sure you get in some sleep, eat well and focus on recovery afterward.

How Fast For The Long Run?

This is specific for a 100km ultra marathon. When training for shorter distances, it will be a different answer.

Now we get back to the concept that the speed we race a 100km race is relatively slow.

Be realistic. How fast will you really average over a 100km race?

Write the answer down.

Most of your long runs should be around this pace.

Take aiming  for under 12 hours to win the beer stein at Surf Coast Century. Giving 10 minutes buffer, 11hr 50min is a pace of 7:06/km or 11:21/mile. Most people in this chasing this time should be capable of a road marathon under 3hr 40min (5:12/km, 8:20/mile). In this example you want to make sure you are very comfortable at around 7:06/km over similar terrain to the race.

Is There Benefit To Going Faster?

You need to earn going faster.

To do so will require the following

  • At least 2 runs of 4 hours or more
  • Those runs must be completed at around 100km race pace
  • You need to feel comfortable in these runs
  • There is no big slow down towards the end

Going faster is best reserved for the peak phase of training. There are a few ways to approach this:

  • Start at usual pace then gradually and continuously increase the speed over the last 30-60min of run.
  • Start at usual pace then towards the end add 3-4 intervals of 10-20 minutes about 1 minute per kilometre faster than race pace. Take 10 minutes back at usual pace between intervals.
  • Negative split the long run with first half at usual pace and second half 15-20 seconds per kilometre faster.

These options look easier on paper. The pacing discipline required is hard.

Do you have the discipline to get the most from your long run?

Redefine Your Easy: Not Just Slow Running

The body is inherently lazy. It is clever in finding ways to have you take the easy way out. When training towards big goals we need to get past this. Check your base point of training and redefine your easy.

Defining Easy

Easy is a relevant concept. I’ve written about the power of easy runs before. Those concepts still hold true. There are different ways to make runs easy. Easy may be faster than we think.

Most easy runs will occur while recovering from a harder run. Either a long run or a set of intervals. So it would be normal to expect to feel sore or heavy in the legs. Perceived exertion may be significantly higher than the intensity truly is.

After running for many years it pays to check your habits every so often. I had fallen into the habit of making my easy runs so easy they almost no longer resembled running. Instead they had become better described as a shuffle. Too far removed from the technique I was aiming for.

Is this really a problem?

It is when it pulls you away from an efficient running technique.

This leads to a challenge.

After running for many years it pays to check your habits every so often. I had fallen into the habit of making my easy runs so easy they almost no longer resembled running. Instead they had become better described as a shuffle. Too far removed from the technique I was aiming for.

How do you keep the run easy while raising the intensity to ensure better technique?

The answer is to remember intensity isn’t the only variable to determine the difficulty of a run. Keeping an easy run relatively short can allow you to up the intensity a little bit more.

My Approach

Most of my easy runs were between 8-15km. In these I kept the intensity very low. While the movement at a low intensity aided I the recovery from harder runs, it was taking away from my technique.

Now I focus on technique during my easy runs. Ensuring proper knee lift, good leg extension and push off all the way through the toes. This raises the heart and breathing rates more. I am accepting this as long as I’m not reaching my anaerobic threshold and accumulating lactic acid. To keep the run still within the easy range I am dropping the distance down to between 5-10km. The shorter distance stops the run from taking away from the next of training.

The Results

The faster running and more complete technique is a little more difficult. They highlight where I am sore from previous hard training. Here the body and brain attempt to kick in the lazy habits. More concentration is now needed to override the inherent laziness.

On the plus side I am finding I feel fresher going into the harder runs. Faster running is feeling a bit more natural and dare I say it… easier.

How do you approach your easy runs?

Let me know


Best Way To Start A Running Program

Welcome to a new year. New goals. New running program. Over the last couple of decades I’ve tried different approaches to kick starting my next training. In this post I share what I find to be my best way to start a running program.

The approach isn’t about exact mileage, paces or mix of training of sessions. Those all vary depending on upcoming goals and current fitness and health. Instead I look for an approach that sets me up hit my training consistently and hard. To get me beyond the initial burst of motivation.

Two principles make up this approach:

  1. Refresh the mind
  2. Prepare the body
Welcome to a new year. New goals. New running program. Over the last couple of decades I’ve tried different approaches to kick starting my next training. In this post I share what I find to be my best way to start a running program.

Refresh The Mind

This is not taking a break. Instead I am chasing the enjoyment. Looking to lose myself in the process of running rather than focussing on times. It is a form of moving meditation.

There are 2 aspects to refreshing my mind.

All runs are based on feel. Some structure still exists in the form of intervals or repeats. On those runs I don’t worry about any exact times. Instead I run based on feel, looking to achieve the feeling rather than any number. The times are only a by product. If they turn out faster or slower than expected then it’s irrelevant.

If I feel like changing the planned run then I will. It really doesn’t matter as long as I’m still training and enjoying it. Every so often this approach results in some runs much faster than they feel.

Supporting the more relaxed approach I aim to run in places I enjoy. This is almost always on the best trails around me. This year I did this by making the most of the spectacular trails and beach around Anglesea.

Prepare The Body

This is mixture between hard training and allowing recovery. A wide variety of running paces, terrain and intensity is important.

I will train hard and fast in between different versions of easy. I’ll state again I don’t care about exact paces, but am looking to have the running feel great.

One aspect of training I avoid during this process are hard, long runs that grind me down and require a few days to recover from. Those types of runs tend to be counterproductive. They rob me of the snap and spring I look for. Any over load usually comes from pushing the speed up.

I’ll expect to be a bit sore from some training for a day or 2, but shouldn’t require anything beyond that. There is room to throw in a race, but nothing beyond 12km.

Most mornings I woke just before the sun. Running through the amazing backdrop of the sunrise across the sea and beach. The loose training structure went like this:

How I Started My Year Running

Camping with family and friends put me amongst some of the best landscapes along the coast. A mixture of hills, single track, bush and beaches made for the perfect playground.

Living in a tent without setting an alarm allowed my body to follow it’s natural circadian rhythm. This is a luxury to me. Life as a shift worker makes this a rare opportunity.

Most mornings I woke just before the sun. Running through the amazing backdrop of the sunrise across the sea and beach. The loose training structure went like this:

  • VO2 Intervals 4x3min with 3min easy jog
  • Easy 10km
  • Easy 7km
  • Race: Tim Gates Classic 10km
  • Regeneration 4km
  • Easy 6km
  • Easy 10km
  • Hill Repeats 4x3min with jog back down
  • Easy 10km
  • Easy 6km

In writing it looks like a typical running program. The distances, paces and even the structure of each run isn’t very important. It is the approach that makes the difference.

I find the best way to start a running program is to take a bit of time to refresh the mind and prepare the body. How do you like to start a new running program?

Make Running Add To Life: Training Log

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

 

Last week went a little something life this:

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

Total 52km

 

Easy

 

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

 

Never underestimate The Power Of Easy Runs.

 

Strength

 

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

 

For the details check out Basic Strength Training For Running.

 

 

Make Running Add To Life

 

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

 

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

 

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

Find That Running Feeling: Training Log

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

 

 

Patience Grasshopper

 

 

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

 

But I’ve been impatient.

 

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

 

Find That Running Feeling

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Training Log

 

The training log looked a little something like this:

 

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

Total 64km

 

 

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?

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?