"It's a treat being a runner, out in the world by yourself with not a soul to make you bad-tempered or tell you what to do." - Allan Sillitoe

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Post City to Surf - where to for the rest of the year?

First up - what went wrong on Sunday in the City to Surf?  I have had a couple of days to reflect and my best guess is that I was dehydrated.  Rox and I went out on Friday evening and I (unusually for me these days) had a few beers.  Not drunk by any stretch of the imagination as they were mostly light beers but I reckon I peed as much as I drank.

I really should have made a conscious effort on Saturday to make sure that I re-hydrated fully but I didn't - I just drank normally.

Sunday morning I had a banana and then an Up and Go, half a Gatorade (so about 300ml)  and a 250ml V energy drink in the 2 hours before the start.  On reflection, not enough on its own and certainly not enough if I was already dehydrated - especially when it warmed up around the time the race started.  I think the stitch that I got up under my rib may have been a cramp caused by de-hydration.  I didn't take much water in during the race either, just a mouthful at two or three drink stations.

I never got going and legs felt pretty much gone after the first long hill. I think I went out at the right pace as I could see Dave Bryant only about 30 metres in front of me as we ran down Kings Park Road.

Every little and big hill was a real struggle though, even the one on Thomas Road before we turned left down Hay Street.  Unlike last year, I maintained my effort and did not back off at all down Hay Street but I was suffering. After about 3km I got the stitch under my ribs on right hand side (I never get stitches) which lasted at least 2km very painfully and never went fully away.

Heartbreak Hill is always hard but it is how you feel once you reach the top that is a better indicator of how you are going and I was not going well.  The km markers were not always accurate but I didn't need them to tell me that I was way off the goal pace I had set myself.

I did think the run through park at Perry Lakes was an improvement apart from the stretch on the grass at the end and I was still hopeful at that point that somehow might come good and make a go of it on Oceanic Drive but once I hit the first hill I realised I was stuffed and it was just head down, short strides and grind up the hills as best I could at plus 4 min/km pace.  Instead of making up time on the last 3km, I estimate that between 9-11km I lost another minute.  My watch shows 3.48 for the last 1km but that does have a big downhill before the gentle uphill to the finish (which again this year seemed to take forever to arrive).  Don't think I got passed by anyone in the final stretch which is something at least.

I ran some really good workouts in the lead up to this race which is the most disappointing thing.  Unlike last year, when I felt that if there had been km markers and I had run a bit harder in the middle of the race that I could have gone under 45 mins, this year I honestly believe that I could not have suffered any more than I was, based on how I felt at the time.  I knew that I wasn't running as fast as I should but I couldn't get more out of myself.  I don't think I left my race on the training track - I think I just got it wrong in the last 48 hours before the race.

Where to from here?  Junior soccer season is nearly finished.  Two games to go and we are second on the ladder but can't win the league unless the top team unexpectedly loses one of its last two games.  Our last game coincides with the Fremantle Fun Run (10km) which I would have liked to do but can't.

I have decided to run as many shorter races as I can for the rest of the year.  I am not going to specifically target any of them as key or goal races but I am going to race each of them in the hope that I get better at racing.  I feel like I train better than I race so I think I can benefit from running hard and suffering over 5-8km.

I'll wing it with my training as well, running some longer runs mid week when racing on the weekend and running long on weekends when there is no race.

Race program is:

19 September - Bibra Lake Fun Run (6.5km)
3 October - Fremantle Half 5km (I was thinking of doing the half but have decided to do the 5 instead)
24 October - Rottnest Fun Run 5km
4 November (Thursday) - PWC Cool Night Classic (5km)
21 November - Peninsula Run (5km)
28 November - Deep Water Point (7.5km)
19 December - City Beach (8km)
31 December (Friday) - New Year's Eve Run (8km)

I am also making a really conscious effort to drop a few kilos.  I have started keeping a food log and recording it on http://www.trainingpeaks.com/ as recommended in Matt Fitzgerald's "Racing Weight".  My initial thinking is that I should have a calorific deficit i.e. I am consuming less than I am burning but I will need to check.  Yesterday I consumed around 2700 calories.

Really looking forward to Rottnest in October.  We are staying over the night before in the Lodge so I'll be up early to cheer on the marathoners.  Should be much more enjoyable than last year!

I am on Strands.com – Follow my training

He's done it again! - David Rudisha - 800m world record in Rieti

Just completely blows away a really class field. Nick Symmonds of the US runs 1.43.76 and is nowhere near Rudisha.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Training cycles

This is such a good article that I have cut and pasted it in its entirety.

Why Training Cycles Are Important

August 17, 2010 By Terrence Mahon


It’s true that variety is the spice of life, but there is also a necessity for repetition when it comes to building solid training programs. The great masters of coaching understand that it is the balance of training diversity and training repetition that make athletes perform better. Stemming from this came what is known in the training theory world as “cycles.”

Traditionally we use both micro-cycles and macro-cycles to create the foundation from which all training will be built upon. The macro-cycle phase simply relates to the larger picture of the running program. This would look at the athlete’s plan in relation to the entire year of training, racing, strength training, recovery period and so on. The micro-cycle often looks at a mini-block within that overarching scheme and focuses on the specific workouts that the athlete will do within that set time frame.

Micro-cycles can be as short as 7-14 days in length or as long as 3-4 weeks. The breakdown of the plan into a specific cycle allows the coach to pencil in the various energy zone workouts that need to be addressed on the calendar and make sure that all targets are hit before going on to the next phase.

The reason for breaking down training in this fashion is that it allows for two things. The first is what we call the General Adaptation to Stress (GAS for short). The second is to create a sense of “mastery” with each type of workout before going on to more challenging training schemes. Since all training is stress we look at each workout as a challenge to the GAS component.

When we add in specific energy zone workouts within that cycle we create what we call Specific Adaptations to Stress (or SAS). An example of a SAS Challenge would be the marathon-paced tempo run. When this workout is continually set up in the marathon training plan it is done with a design to stress the body specifically for the event demands of the marathon. We do this because there is a need for “mastery” with this type of workout if the marathon is going to be successful.

Time has shown us that a workout usually must be repeated 3x for mastery to occur. This “mastery” that takes place happens on both the physical and psychological level.

The first time a workout is given, the athletes mind and body are confused as to what will be stressful and what will be easy within the session. This limits the true capability of the athlete to perform the workout at its best. The second time the workout is given, the athlete then begins to feel more comfortable with the session and they will take a greater risk on either the mental side of the workout (going after what was mentally hardest in the first session) or the physical side (pushing the area that was easiest on the workout last time).

Sometimes these roles switch, but it is usually not until the third time the exact workout is given that the athlete hits all the components that the workout demands with success. Once this is done the workout is seen to have been mastered and any further repetition of that workout will not create the same SAS that we are looking for when training.

Understanding where an athlete’s training is in relation to the overall goal is important for them to know that they are on the right path. This is why training cycles were developed and why they have been broken down into both large and small components over the years. In Mammoth, our traditional training micro-cycle for the marathon is based on of a 2-week model.

This two-week plan allows us to incorporate all of the various energy systems that we need for overall athleticism as well as the specific demands necessary for the race. This 2 week cycle will then be repeated for another 2 rotations until we feel that the athlete has a true handle on all of the workouts within those two-week schemes. Once that is mastered, then a newer program is introduced that further challenges the athlete’s fitness – either on the speed side or endurance side depending on what is needed for their goal event.

Here is a 14-day outline of what a typical program would look like for Ryan Hall as he prepares for the marathon.

Two Aerobic Recovery runs, plus short sprints for acceleration development.

Anaerobic Threshold Intervals – 1k or longer per interval

Two Aerobic Recovery Runs

Uphill Aerobic Threshold Run

Two Aerobic Recovery Runs

Aerobic Run that finishes faster over the last 2 miles, plus short VO2 max intervals

Long Run – easy effort with the addition of 30-60 second intervals after 90 minutes of running to stimulate increased neuromuscular recruitment

One or Two Aerobic Recovery runs, plus hill sprints for acceleration development.

Anaerobic Threshold Intervals – 400m to 1k per interval

Two Aerobic Recovery Runs

Marathon Paced Tempo Run: 10-15 miles

Medium Long Recovery Run, additional short recovery run

Two Aerobic Recovery Runs, plus 8 x 200m intervals at 3k goal pace

Marathon Simulation: 10-12 miles @ 1 minute per mile slower than marathon pace, then 6-10 miles at marathon pace, and a 2-3 mile warm down

Friday, August 13, 2010

7 mile tempo Thursday

My program over the last few weeks has been speedwork on Tuesdays (intervals) and Thursdays (tempo).  I have increased the tempo run by a mile a week over the past couple of weeks, out from 5 miles (8k) to 7 miles (11.2k) which I ran yesterday.

I ran with Clown on a wet morning although it did ease up up a bit while we were running.

This is the longest tempo run I have done and I tried to run controlled at the same effort level as last week. Overall time was 43.38 (3.53/pace) so a couple of secs per km slower than last week but in much worse conditions, with a lots of puddles and a bit of flooding down at Windan.

Clown ended up running mostly at MP so I was on my own after about 1km. The hardest part was the last 1.1km where I was running the same route as my intervals from Tuesday but was feeling a bit fatigued in the legs and could feel that I was running slower than Tuesday.

We finished with a cooldown to Coode Street.

3.53/km pace is at the slow end of the McMillan range for a 36.40 (3.40/km) 10k but given the conditions and that I am backing up after a hard session on Tuesday (and that my 10k PB is only 37.12), I’ll take it. A confidence boost to the extent that I think I can go sub 45mins at the City to Surf if I have a good day.

Warm Up 4.1km 00:18:30 4:30 min/km
Tempo Run 1 x 2km 00:07:39 3:49 min/km
Tempo Run 1 x 2km 00:07:44 3:52 min/km
Tempo Run 1 x 1.6km 00:06:19 3:55 min/km
Tempo Run 1 x 1.6km 00:06:13 3:51 min/km
Tempo Run 1 x 2km 00:07:53 3:56 min/km
Tempo Run 1 x 2km 00:07:48 3:54 min/km
Cool Down 1 x 5.8km 00:26:00 4:28 min/km

I've struggled to get out of bed on Wednesday and this morning after my hard sessions.  Tuesday was  6 × 4 min hard/ 2 min jog recovery down at Burswood. I ran the reps pretty hard and had some landmarks picked so that I could measure up the distance covered afterwards. Map My Run has it at 1.13km so around 3.30/km pace for each rep. The recoveries got slower though and were a walk (30secs)/jog (90 secs) on the last couple.
I ran this between the WAMC clubrooms and the little bridge just before the Windan bridge so it wasn’t completely flat and had a little bit of uphill and downhill on each rep.

Tomorrow morning I'm running in the hills (Mundaring) with Sugar.  First time out on the trails since Choo Choo and it's an early start so I hope the weather is kind.  Looking forward to it as a good end to what has been my peak week of this short segment for City to Surf.

I am on Strands.com – Follow my training

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Racing Weight - How to get lean for peak performance

Racing Weight - How to get lean for peak performance is a book by Matt Fitzgerald that I have just finished reading.  It includes a five step plan for endurance athletes - in fact, that is the essence of the book, outlining the plan and explaining the science and the logic behind it.  It is written in a really accessible way for the average reader/athlete without dumbing it down at all.

The 5 point plan is as follows:

Step 1: Improve your diet quality.
Step 1 is to improve your diet quality, or the amount of nutrition you get from each calorie in your diet. Increasing the nutrition-per-calorie ratio of your diet will enable you to get all the nutrients you need for maximum performance from fewer total calories, thus enabling you to become leaner. Fitzgerald recommends grading or scoring the quality of your current diet and continue to score your diet quality as you make efforts to improve it. He has created a simplified diet-quality scoring system that is very easy to work with and that will help you nourish your body for health and endurance performance.

Step 2: Balance your energy sources.
There are three main sources of energy for the human body: carbohydrate, fat and protein. Each of these three “macronutrients” is used by the body in a different way. There are also different types of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins that affect the body in slightly different ways. Consuming the right balance of macronutrients and the right balance of carbohydrate, fat, and protein types will help you achieve your optimal performance weight.

Step 3: Time your nutrition.
When you eat affects your body as much as what you eat. The timing of your food intake has a big impact on what’s known as energy partitioning, or what becomes of the calories you consume. There are three main destinations of food calories in your body: muscle, fat cells, and energy. If you want to become leaner, you need to shift the balance of energy partitioning so that more calories are incorporated into your muscles, fewer calories are stored in your fat tissues, and more calories are used to supply your body’s immediate and short-term energy needs. This shift will lead to more metabolism-boosting lean tissue and less health-jeopardizing fat tissue.

Fitzgerald believes you can often achieve this objective with little or no reduction in the total number of calories that enter your body. This is by redirecting calories once they’ve entered your body, not about decreasing the number of calories that enter your body in the first place. The practice of nutrient timing, or consuming the right nutrients at the right times throughout the day, will enable you to partition your energy more effectively and achieve your racing weight.

Step 4: Manage your appetite.
Appetite is important. It is your body’s built-in mechanism for food intake regulation, and its job is to drive you to eat enough to meet your body’s energy and micronutrient needs, and no more. The appetite mechanism works very well under normal circumstances, having survived millions of years of evolutionary testing to the benefit of our health. But our modern lifestyle does not constitute “normal circumstances” in relation to the environment in which most of our evolution took place. Consequently, our appetite cannot be entirely relied upon to ensure that we don’t overeat.

In recent years scientists have learned a lot about how the appetite mechanism works. Understanding how your appetite works puts you in a better position to manage it effectively so that you consume only the number of calories you need to maximize your performance and no more.

Step 5: Train right.
Training errors are common in every endurance sport, even at the highest levels of competition. Many of these training errors not only limit performance but also prevent athletes from becoming as lean as they could be. Training methods continue to evolve at the elite level of each endurance sport. Bringing your training methods up to date will help you raise your level of performance and achieve or maintain your racing weight.

I got a lot out of this book and it reinforced many things that I am already doing or know that I should be doing.  My main failing is that my evening meal is too big.  My breakfast and my lunch are spot on, my training program is structured properly, it's just the number of calories in my evening meal.

There are lots of useful tools in this book and links to online resources and tools as well.  One really good one is http://www.trainingpeaks.com/ which adds up carbohydrate, fat and protein as well as calories and gives you daily totals.  It is easy to use and you don't have to do it everyday once you have established your basic pattern. 

I am going to try and put a lot of what I have read into practice and hopefully see some changes over the next couple of months.