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Blog 41: Tokyo Bound- Entry 1


Tokyo Bound

Hi all,

It’s Dane Verwey, here the founder of Run Culture, a site created for the running nerds out there, that not only love all things running but appreciate running as a necessary necessity and cherish the numerous psychological and physiological benefits running has on our lives!

Ok today, due to the overwhelmingly positive response I had to the ‘Breaking 2:24 Project’ earlier in the year, a blog detailing my lead up to the 2018 Berlin Marathon, I have decided to do a similar thing with fellow ‘Run Culture Elite’ athlete; Craig Appleby.

Yes, I couldn’t bore you with another dozen self indulged blogs of my own prep, you have got to know me already. I will interview Craig each week and quickly along side these interviews I will fill you in on the changes I am doing in a bid to try and further improve my marathon time at Tokyo 2019.

Craig and I, along with a few other Aussies; Dion Finocchario and Dave Ridley, are aiming to run the 2019 Tokyo Marathon in 11 weeks time.

I thought not only will; ‘Tokyo Bound’ give readers a great chance to get to know Craig Appleby and what makes him tick. It will also give everyone a fantastic insight into the fun, spirited, persistent, hard working culture I am trying to establish in ‘Run Culture Elite’; a team of elite/subelite distance runners that I hope to grow slowly over time.

I’m sure the weekly blog will once again give everyone a great insight into the ups and down, planning, training required, thoughts, sacrifices and effort that goes into trying to hit a career best marathon.

‘Tokyo bound’ eludes to the 2019 Tokyo marathon, not the Tokyo 2020 Olympics but maybe I shouldn’t write Craig off, maybe the title of this blog is a double entendre?!

Who is Craig Appleby? Well, where to start? First of all he is one of the all round nice guys on the Victorian athletics circuit, a 34 year old part time teacher, from Cockatoo and father of two.

He has been running since he was a little athlete. He was an outstanding junior; placing 73rd at the 2003 World Junior Cross Country Champs in Lausanne, and followed this up with two u20 national titles in 2003: Mountain Running Champion and the National u20 xc champs in Melbourne, ahead of no other than; Collis Birmingham. He was then hit with numerous years where he spiralled in and out of the sport struggling with lots of injuries.

Under the tutelage of Jeff Risely in 2014-2015 ‘Apples’ had a career resurgence, in this year he nailed a lot of his career bests. With PBs of 3:53/8:14/8:54 for the 3k steeple/14:16/29:57/65:32 and in 2017, 2:24:36. It’s easy to see, Craig really is a class athlete.

If you combine this with his love of the sport, his ability to train hard, his strong desire to succeed, I think you will soon see why I truly feel we still haven’t seen the best from him yet.

I don’t feel like I am alone when I say this. I feel a lot of people that know Craig will agree. Much of his career really has been savaged by injury.

Infact, this is what really brought us close together in terms of a coach/mentor relationship. We were already good friends prior to this but as a physio I brought to the table the knowledge of the body and injury he needed. I became his sounding board, so far we have been injury free for 8 months, an achievement in itself!

To add to this we both have really turned our attention to the marathon in recent years. With my 8 marathons of experience to his 2, I also had some experiences in terms of training and race day, worthy of sharing.

Anyway, enough from me, I will throw you over to Craig and let him introduce himself and go over his goals for Tokyo and how his past training week went. Over to you mate…


Cheers bud. Hello to you, and to the readers out there. Firstly, thank you for your kind words! Yes, I’ve been running for decades now and couldn’t think of anything else that is more frustrating, exhilarating and life-balancing. My father, as well as his, were runners so that was my pathway into the sport. More precisely, in Year 7 (1997), I was dabbling (struggling, not really confident to get into the packs) with football when my Dad said, “you’d make a far better runner than you would a footballer, why don’t you give it a go and see what you can do?”… well the rest is history, I’m still at it, striving for success.

For this reason, and after self-coaching since 2016, I needed to seek further support, guidance and accountability – or as we often joke, someone to ‘hold me back’. Dane was someone who knew my history, understood my goals, is a great bloke to listen to, extremely knowledgeable, and great to train with – so when he agreed to help, I was more than happy!

Focussing on the marathon has meant that standard training sessions wouldn’t cut it and it just happened that Dane, Matt Davy and Dion Finocchario were all in the same marathon boat, training wise. So, since winter 2017 we have grouped together, when possible, to complete the longer, marathon specific sessions. This has been both enjoyable and rewarding – with 3 out of the 4 of us winning a city marathon in the last year (my day will come… I hope, haha).

Family and work responsibilities, as well as living in the outer Dandenongs, has meant that I have only been able to make weekend sessions. The boys have been really supportive of this and we usually adjust training locations/times/sessions to suit the group. It sure beats the solo, pre-dawn runs in winter…

Dane, Dion and I worked together for our 2018 Canberra Marathon campaign, successfully taking the podium, and are now onto to Tokyo 2019, as you already know. My initial goal for Tokyo is to finish strong. Both Melbourne and Canberra I have suffered the marathon pain in the latter stages – Melbourne, my hamy’s and quads ran out of gas from a lack of training leading in; and Canberra… I felt great up to 35km, then my quads began tightening up to the point where I had to walk a few 100meters to shake them out. Second to this goal is the elusive sub 2:20 (but a PB would be awesome).

To combat this muscular fatigue in my upper legs, we have slightly adjusted my form, added gym strengthening work (hoping to reduce biomechanical fatigue) and incorporated downhill training. Also, we have a constant focus on the non-negotiables: long runs and a longer tempo run each week since October – all of which is presenting good signs and building the consistency you need to be a marathoner.

Through our learnings and marathon experiences we have adjusted our training philosophies, aligning to those similar to the Canova method. We have focused on two sessions a week, like many other current Aussie marathon champs, and utilise our long run as a session, when it is suitable. For example, two weeks ago Dane and I ran 32.5km around Braeside Park that included a 5km warm up, half marathon efforts for a pyramid of 1,2,3,4,5,5,4,3,2,1 (minutes), separated by a 5min float in 3:40-3:45’s; followed by a 5km cool down. Tough but rewarding, especially when downing the recovery drink!

Beginning to lay the ground work from a longer way out for these longer tempo sessions, focusing on bolstering our aerobic conditioning (like Lydiard’s philosophy), I have noticed big improvements in my perceived effort and running economy. Furthermore, after racing a 3km and 5km in November off this approach I have also noticed how much stronger I am in the closing stages… hopefully something that continues at the Steigen Spectacular this week. I was keen to have these track races included as a mini focus and a way to get the racing juices flowing – something about track races at night, hey!

I appreciate that you’re still here, thanks for reading!

Week 12 Training:

Monday – 14km easy – shaking off a chest/throat cough, felt really good.

Tuesday – 6km AM – easy, not too sure the track session will go well…

PM: Track: 20 x 400 (30-35sec recoveries) in 71sec average – hot and windy but surprised myself. Power of the mind hey. Had to cut cool down short to pick up my two boys from childcare on time. (24.5km day).

Wednesday – AM: 20km – 92mins… tired, that is that…

Thursday – PM(8:50pm): 8km – family commitments and crook guts held me back today.

Friday – AM: Casey Fields. 6km Warm Up (WU), 3km (9:17); 1km 3:35; 5km (16:13); 1km 3:42; 3km (8:55); 1km 3:31. – another repeat of Tuesday’s feelings. The wind and rain kicked in nicely this morning but felt a million bucks during the session.

6km Cool Down (CD).

Saturday – lunch run – 14km, late PM – 7.4km. heavy in the legs, but felt better for getting out.

Sunday – AM: 29km (2:12). Long run goodness. Did some reccy work for school in the first 10km then picked it up a little. Still tired in the legs, but moving pretty well. Used a TENs machine on my legs in the evening – improved the lethargy.

Total mileage for the week: 144km

Only 5 days until Steigen 10…


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