Thursday, 29 May 2008

UK 10,000m Championships and Olympic Trials

Updated 15/06/08 report and results

A few days ago I received my invite for this years championships and trials on 14th June at Watford then today the
start lists were published which really starts to focus the mind.

I'm really excited to be lining up for my first track 10,000m for a decade. One of the benefits of being a marathon runner is that 25 laps doesn't build the mental barriers that it used to. When you do sessions like 20km alternating 'fast' (3.05) and 'slow' (3.25) on the track as part the marathon build up then 10km stright seems perfectly manageable. Sure the speed is going to be a shock to the system but that's why i'm doing it !

With just over 2 weeks to go I will put in a couple more workouts at race tempo and then start to back off the volume a bit which has been consistently in the 105-115mpw range for the last couple of months. Hopefully that will leave me lining up with fresher legs to keep up with the strong field that is entered.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Canova Hill Sprints

The last few weeks I have been back on the track doing some specific training sessions to prepare for the 10,000m trials on the 14th June. One of the things I've noticed is that despite having done very little traditional 'speedwork' I have still got plenty of speed (by my standards) and was able to run a series of 200s in 29 secs the first time out.

I'm sure that retaining the ability to run at close to my maximum speed has got something to do with the hill sprints that I have been doing for the last year. I started them as part of my build up for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 2007 and have kept them going weekly during the winter. The idea has been popularised by Italian coach Renato Canova who is currently head coach for Qatar and the personal coach to athletes such as steeplechase world record holder Stephen Cherono (aka Said Saeef Shaheen) and Mubarak Shami (formerly Richard Yatich) who won Marathon silver at Osaka's World Championships.

The idea behind the hill sprints is quite simple. As long distance runners we spend a lot of time exercising the slow twitch and intermediate fibres in our muscles but relatively little time on the few fast twitch fibres that we have. However these fast twitch fibres are needed at the end of the race when all the others are exhausted or to produce a sprint finish. So to train them effectively we need to provide a training stimulus which activates them and the quickly overloads them. Hill sprints are how we do it. I tend to do these workouts in flexible shoe such as the Saucony Type A or Grid Tangent as there is a lot of foot flexion required to maintain a good running action when sprinting uphill.

The precise gradient of the hill is not that important but it needs to be steep and long enough for a 10-12 second maximum effort. After a good warm up you are ready to go.
1. Sprint for 10-12 seconds uphill at maximum speed. Why 10-12 seconds ? Well after that the effort is starting to be lactic-anaerobic and the speed will start to decrease. Remember we are looking for a maximum effort to recruit the fast twitch fibres.
2. Walk back down the hill taking as long as required to recover. 2 minutes is probably the minimum recovery time.
3. Repeat until the legs are exhausted. You will tell when they are because they feel like jelly and the speed starts to drop off ! As soon as you can no longer maintain the speed then stop.

Adaptation to this type of training is surprisingly fast. The first time you try it you may only be able to manage 3 or 4 efforts but can add one effort each subsequent session.

Remember though, its all about maximum speed and full recovery !

1st July 2009 COMING SOON - photos and video clip

Bristol Photos

Photos from the Bristol 10k. From left to right
1. And we are off. Eventual winner Jean Nyasenga is wearing 25
2. Leading the second group along the Portway. Top V40 Rob Whalley is in the glasses and Ewen Malloch is on my shoulder wearing 14.
3. Under the Clifton Suspension Bridge. 19th century British engineering at its best - just don't ask about the delays or cost over runs ...
4. Sprinting for the line

Monday, 5 May 2008

4th place in Bristol 10k

On a humid morning I finished an excellent 4th in a strong field at the Bristol 10km road race behind a couple of african runners and UK 10,000m champion Phil Nicholls. The race went as well as I could have hoped for and after a steady start in the second group I was able to push on at the 4k mark and pick off several runners before the finish.

The race was superbly organised though the course is not the quickest and the muggy conditions left us all drenched in sweat by the finish. As a result times were a bit down on what people would have expected. For me the benchmark is how close I was to the leaders and generally it was a good 30 secs closer than a week ago at the national road relays so I was delighted with my morning's work.

With 6 weeks until the Olympic 10,000m trials I am feeling confident of running much faster as I am only just starting to do some specific 5k/10k training after a really good block of endurance work.

1. Jean Ndayasenga (Bur)
2. Phil Nicholls
3. Zak Kihara (Ken)
4. Adrian Marriott
5. Toby Lambert
6. Martin Williams

Full results

In the news
Western Daily Press

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Easing down for Bristol 10k

After a hard block of training I can't wait to race again on fresh legs. One of the most difficult balancing acts of an athlete is training hard enough while still racing regularly. The temptation is to back off the training before every race but if you are racing every few weeks you quickly find a that a few days easy before a race followed by a couple of recovery days after means that training quickly gets compromised. So the alternative is racing on tired legs and accepting that performances could be variable.

Fortunately I've had 3 solid races during my most recent training block, the half marathon win in Switzerland and a couple of strong relay efforts over about 9k. It certainly helps being a marathon runner. The extra training miles means that I recover more quickly from races and also racing on tired legs is the essence of the last 10k of a marathon so you learn to love that sensation of pushing hard when your body is telling you it is time to sleep !

It always surprises me just how tired I feel after a couple of easy days. I can keep knocking out 30km training days and feel OK but a couple of days of less than 20k and I feel knackered. It just goes to show the cumulative effect of hard training and reinforces the need for a proper taper to get fully refreshed for a big race. Hopefully a couple more easy days will see me starting to feel good again and ready to go in Bristol on monday.