Another week done, that’s week 8 of 16. Which means its 8 weeks till race day! I know I start each blog with this realisation that this race is ever steadily getting closer but I suppose that’s the one time each week I think about it, so it really hits home. It’s been one of the great aspects of doing this blog infact, as on a weekly basis I’ve been forced to sit down, take stock, see where I’m at and plan ahead.
I really enjoyed this week. It was a week that perhaps from an outsider looking in appears a bit ‘skewif’. Why did he do that? And then that? However, I have had this week and the coming week planned for a good while. I am more than happy with what I did this week and can justify everything I did with complete conviction/ utter confidence it’s what ‘I’ should be doing. I ran through my week with good mate Matt Davy from ‘Run2PBs’ fame to ensure my passion wasn’t steering the ship. I certainly don’t want to be taking risks in training, I’ve conditioned myself to manage what I did this week. I certainly couldn’t have done what I did this week 2 years ago. In 2016, Tim Gabbett an esteemed researcher in Strength and Conditioning proved that ‘consistent high training loads actually are protective against injury.’ It has taken several years of patience, consistency, building and adaptation to get to the point I am at.
At the same time, as much as I feel the ‘marathon specific’training I have scheduled for myself is a calculated progression. I’m not ambling around doing what I’ve always done, I’m pushing the envelope, ever, ever so slightly. When you are trying to run your best marathon, the hardest thing is to make the start line injury free. I plan to do this but in the best shape of my life. It’s a constant; ‘push and pull’ juggling act. Suffice to say, I have got 2 easy regeneration days ahead to to absorb the ‘big weekend’. Injuries happen when training loads exceed your; tendons, bones, muscles and/or cartilages capacity to tolerate load. So, training changes need to be small and regeneration days need to surround harder workouts.
Over the last 20 years as a runner I have got things right and got even more things wrong ‘training wise’. Through this process I have got to know what training I respond to. I have never been the most physiologically blessed runner but perhaps my biggest talent is my patience, focus and unrelenting desire to get the best out of myself.
Over the past 5 years I have realised my achilles can only manage so much high intensity speed work, otherwise it gets ‘grumpy’. This has pushed me to do more and more work at marathon pace or there abouts. Fortunately, due to the training principle of ‘specificity’ this has worked well for the marathon.
I’m one of those runners that needs to tick every box for several months to be both mentally and physically ready come race day. I have always been a confidence runner.
This week, I am happy to report, was a confidence building week. However, at the same time I do realise there is a hell of a long time to go.
So here is the week that was, I am going to do it in reverse today for something different because variety is essential in life.
July 22nd Sunday:
Albert Park Lakeside AV 10km Road Race
We got to Lakeside at 730am. Jess and Rem went for one of Remi’s first walks in the city around Albert Park Lake and then caught up with her sister Madi and friend Maggie for brunch. Meanwhile, Papa and I readied ourselves for what was to be a frantic morning. After a warm up, we were off for the planned pre race 10ks at ‘mara pace’ at 8:20am. I felt very strong during this and feel like the past 2 weeks of hilly tempo runs on dirt roads made Albert Park’s roads feel on par with the F1 circuit in Monza, Italy. Josh gauged the pace, I just followed. We hit 17:10 and 16:41 for 33:51.
We now had 5 minutes to race start. I quickly dismantled Jess’s bike and stuffed it in my spacious Barina.
Off goes the gun and here is Papa in the car park wrestling with his tights. He soon gave up and then continued to run bare chested to the start line flailing with his medium ‘Run Culture’ singlet (a men’s large would of been a far better fit for the barrel chested greek god but I am out of stock).
We quickly realised why we both aren’t triathletes. I frantically hit ‘start’ on my watch as I took off from the VIS carpark, in last place but with a fun challenge ahead, to catch as many people as I could admittedly getting slightly carried away with the task at hand; running ‘half marathon pace’ instead of the planned ‘marathon pace’. It’s amazing what adrenaline can do and how easy ‘half marathon pace’ felt in such a situation. I was officially in second last place when I got to the start line, with Papa still squeezing into his singlet; languishing behind. I ran on the gravel next to the road in an attempt to run through the field. However, I soon realised my chip might not work if I don’t run through the start line on the road. So, 100m in, I suddenly doubled back and made sure I did this; knowing that my cherished Frankston Athletics Club ‘The bailpigs’ needed all 6 team members to finish to ensure we had a team. Now, I was officially last.
I just put my head down and ran ‘my half marathon pace’ and had one of the most exhilarating and enjoyable runs. I love running through a field, it’s my favourite way to run a race. Albert Park was it’s usual windy self so one of the perks of running the race how I did was that I always had people to run behind and always had people to aim for or chase as I went.
I ended up coming 66th out of 735 open runners, my official chip time was 33:14. As it turned out I needn’t have doubled back to run through the startline, as all timing was activated by the gun rather than running through the line. My Garmin gave me 32:51 for 10.26km. So, give or take I was somewhere in the low 32 range for the effort but this is besides the point. The best part is I felt really good doing it. The rest of Sunday entailed an easy relaxing day at home with Jess, Remi and typing up this blog infact (getting a jump on it for once, hence why it’s out on time on a Tuesday).
Saturday involved me physio’ing for Haileybury Cross Country team all morning. On the way home at 1pm I did my planned 30km long run on the flat from Mordialloc to Patterson river on the bike path and then onto the Dandenong Creek Trail and back. I felt bad for Jess, as not only did she have to go solo to puppy school, it meant I didn’t get back home till 3pm on our day off together. You know I’ll make up for these selfish moments after Berlin!!! I rolled around comfortably at 4:03/km so was out there for a smidegeon over 2hrs. It’s amazing how easy a flat long run feels compared to the hilly Cape schank or Lysterfield long runs I’ve done over the past two weeks. You almost have to go at a faster clip to feel like you get something out of it. As I said, this long run was planned.
I’m trying to come up with an original name for this ‘Saturday-Sunday double header’ that I did this weekend, something that will stick. Please send in any suggestion to email@example.com or comment below. To be honest Dion Finocchario my first ever interview on Run Culture was my inspiration for this weekend length workout. When he trains for his 100km races, he rolls Saturday/Sunday long runs across both days eg. 40km into 40kms to better assimilate running through fatigue. So he breaks his 80-90km long run up over two days, so that he can bounce back better the week after but also cover the required territory to harden his legs. Unprepared, such a session would be regarded by most as too much or risky. I’ve felt like I’ve slowly loaded myself up to do this and I jogged very slowly both Thursday and Friday knowing what was impending.
The other reason why I did the ‘Saturday- Sunday double header’ was an attempt to recreate the leg weariness you get when running on a flat predictable road for a long time. Gone is the variety of Ferny Creek, Lysterfield or Cape Schank. Biomechanically; the same muscle fibres and joint angles are used with every step. The Berlin marathon will be run on a ‘flat predictable road’, so it makes sense to train on such. As a marathoner you do need to train the capacity to better endure and tolerate this monotony. As good as hills are at instilling mental and physical grit, sustained runs at a moderate clip on flat surfaces are more specific to the environment and running technique used on race day. As you have seen I do long runs on both surfaces when training for the marathon.
So, I hit 50kms across Saturday and Sunday between 3:12-4:03/km. As you can see my pace was ‘up-tempo’ because I was running across flat ground which enabled me to lock into a gear and just grind the sh## out of that gear. Undulating hills don’t give us the luxury to do this, we sift through all our gears, employing different cadences, footstrikes and muscles. Hills offer a fantastic broad strengthening effect to all our leg muscles, spreading the load and offering respite. However, with ‘flat’ up tempo long runs there is no respite; we run how we run and if we overload some aspect of our legs biomechanically, we are going to know about it. With this training you are training your body to be resilient to the rigours of the marathon in the most specific way possible.
Friday was technically a rest day in preparation for the big Saturday and Sunday ahead. I rolled around at 5:26/km for 60 minutes in a hoody and tracksuit pants at the local Frankston reservoir covering 11kms.
Thursday included an easy 38mins (7km) at Edithvale bike path at 5:24/km in the morning before work and 60 minutes (13km) in the afternoon around the undulating Langwarren Flora and Fauna reserve where I felt ‘so fit’ at 4:28/km. I got a 35 minute heavy strength session done after this.
Wednesday was my other session for the week. I was solo for this big one and headed back to my favourite; Devil Bend reservoir. Here, I put ‘Sia’s- Elastic Heart’ on repeat again, I love this song, it just does something for me, it is that rare combination of both soothing and electrifying. It’s one of those songs that I could study to- calming enough to not impede concentration but up beat enough to give you energy during the tough moments. Although, before I get too carried away, I was getting slightly over it by the runs end (maybe I’ll need a new song? I do have visions of using this song in the tough moments at Berlin though).
Anyway, enough about music, the session was 1hr and 40 minutes of work; 50 minutes easy into 50 minutes at marathon pace or close to, over the ravenous dirt roads of Devil Bend.
I got 25.9kms done in 1hr 42minutes with 144m of climbing at a total average of 3:57/km. I ran the first 50 minutes at a easy 4:33/km and then changed at my car into my old 4%ers (this took 1-2 minutes) then it was straight back out there for 14.4kms in 50 minutes at 3:28/km. I was rapt with this session as adding to its difficulty; it was also quite windy. While I nodded my head to Sia’s harmony, I practiced my inner Kipchoge and smiled my way through the wind, hills and solo’ness of the run.
Run wise, Tuesday was the same as Thursday. In the morning, I ran along the Kananook Creek trail from 4 pub corner in Frankston and funnily enough I bumped into dad doing his daily hour walk. After listening to him lovingly tell me how stiff I looked, we both continued on in our respective workouts. I have to agree with him; the first 10-15 minutes of every run I do is this appalling looking shuffle until I warm up and even then it is hardly gracious. I’m not sore, I’m just stiff. I may look woeful jogging at times but I’d like to think that I’m most efficient and rhythmic looking when I ‘m rolling along at marathon pace. That’s the one pace important to me. In a similar vein, I remember several years ago hobbling between runs during the week with my mate Matt Davy and joking to him; ‘we may not be able to walk well but all I care about is that I can run’. To finish off the day I rolled a very slow 6.6kms around Patterson River at 9pm after work in what had to be the coldest run I have done for the year.
Monday included 70 minutes (15kms) at 4:37/km along the Coolstores trail in Mt Eliza and a 40 minute heavy strength gym session.
That brought me to a total of 146kms for week 8 of my Berlin prep. I nailed my diet this week. I nailed sleep this week. I got some nice mara specific work in. I could be better with daily hydration efforts- so this is a focus for next week. I didn’t get a massage, this is the first time this has been the case during my preparation. I am certainly going to ensure I am on top of this in the coming week.
Alright guys, that’s me done for another week! Hope you are all well and thanks again for continuing to read and support my blog!
May you all continue to Run. Live. Grow!