Monday, 25 August 2008

Marathon Training W/E 24th August

After 6 months of trouble free running it all went a bit wrong this week. I've had a tight hip recently and on monday it finally decided that I wasn't going to run another step. Fortunately I've got a great physio in Claire Wheller and she quickly found that my pelvis had upshifted and rotated forward on the right hand side. This was causing the muscles to work in ways they are not supposed to - and hence the pain. The best metaphor I can think of is when you bash your car wheel against a curb and then a few thousand miles later find that the tyres have worn unevenly because you put the suspension out of alignment. Thats basically what's happened. Its not new for me, I did it last year before Toronto but at the start of my taper so it didn't interfere with my preparation beyond forcing me to run the race on one leg. Its a bit annoying because I thought I stopped a recurrence by spending time doing some exercises to keep everything solid but clearly I haven't been doing enough. Must do better !

With 5 weeks to go until race day this is not an ideal position to be in but there are two rays of light. The first is that before my first marathon I missed 10 days with a horrid gastro bug at about the same time in my build up and if anything the break did me some good. The second is that i'm in good shape already so if things come together this week I should have time to get in a few more key workouts then taper though I may need to have a review of my goals. Time will tell !

So after a few days of rest to let things settle training was a 25 minute jog on saturday and 45 minutes on sunday. At least this left me with some time to watch the olympics and enjoy two terrific marathon races.

The men's marathon really was a surprise. Along with most other onlookers I was expecting the fast early pace to really take its toll later on due to the conditions but Sammy Wanjiru just kept pouring it on right to the finish. There's no doubt in my mind that we will look back on this race in a few years time and say that it marked a step change in men's marathon running. Why do I say that ? Until now the fastest 10k guys to move up to the marathon have been Tergat and Geb but they have done it at the end of their careers. A couple of 13min /sub 27 guys like Evans Rutto and Felix Limo made the move mid career but nobody with such speed has specialised as early as Wanjiru. Remember he has run 26.40 for 10k and a mid 58 half marathon. With Bekele crushing the opposition again at 10,000m I can see a few more fast runners moving up mid career (I would expect Zersenay Tadesse to debut this winter) and some of the aspiring 10,000m runners to skip straight to the marathon like Wanjiru and Ryan Hall have done.

If that is not concerning enough for the european/north american marathoners it also seems that the effect of foreign coaching on the east africans is starting to take effect in how they acclimatise for hot and humid championship races. With Rothlin 6th and Ritzenhein and Hall 9th and 10th the african performance was stronger than in recent championships. And when the Ethiopians finally swallow their pride and prepare their marathon runners properly for a hot and humid championship race then there really will be fireworks. The days of relying on superior acclimatisation to beat them may be coming to and end.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Marathon Training w/e 17th August

Managed to get in two good marathon specific workouts this week though not quite as much running in between as I would have liked due to a slightly sore hip but thats all part of the joy of a marathon build up.

Having stayed up half the night on saturday to watch the Womens Olympic Marathon I made sure that sunday was a really gentle day. It would have been very easy to push too hard and risk over stressing the immune system after not enough sleep.

And what a great race it was. Britain's Mara Yamauchi kept me on the edge of my seat for the last hour as she looked very strong just tucked into the leading group. We were at university at the same time and I don't imagine for one minute that when we were slogging through mud in the students cross country league that Mara would have imagined that 15 years later she would finish 6th in the Olympic Marathon. It just goes to show what is possible with the right amount of focus and progressive training. Inspiring stuff really !

My week looked something like this:
Mon 50mins easy and 40mins very easy
Tue 2hr 15 mins moderate with 10x1min fast/2min mod after the first hour then 20mins MP to finish. The fast stuff put some fatigue into the legs which made the last 20mins more challenging. These long runs are going to get tougher in the next month and hopefully this will pay off in the last 10k of the race
Wed 52 mins easy
Thr off as the hip was sore
Fri 50 mins moderate and 45 mins easy
Sat 5x4km at marathon pace with 1km in 3:45 as recovery. Was able to really put my foot down in the last 2km of the last rep so plenty of power in the engine which is good news.
Sun 60mins easy and 45 mins easy

Monday, 11 August 2008

Marathon Training w/e 10th August

This autumn will be my 6th marathon build up and each time i've had to change things a bit to keep challenging my body to adapt. Last time out I put in a 27km continuous tempo run. For this one I've already gone a bit longer on my long runs so far (2hr 45mins) and run a bigger volume during July. Next I will be throwing in some faster segements on my long runs to get used to running at race pace on tired legs. Should be fun!

I found this week a bit of struggle. Coming down from the mountains it has felt really humid all week and the legs have just been a bit sluggish, that said there was plenty of speed when required so its just a question of re-adjusting to sea level. So the details:

Mon 90mins undulating with the last 30 steady
Tue 45mins easy + 9x2mins fast with 75 secs jog
Wed day off and a visit to the physio to make sure everything was moving properly
Thr 50 easy mins incl 7x200m fast + 45mins very easy
Fri first structured MP run: 8x2km + 35mins regeneration
Sat 65mins moderate + 45mins easy
Sun 65mins with the last 30 steady + 45mins very easy and 7x80m uphill max sprints

This works out at about 160km for the week and after the training in St Moritz actually felt quite easy. I doubt I will still be saying that in 5 weeks time though.

For those of you wondering what pace easy, moderate etc is it goes something like this:
Regeneration = 5min/km
Very Easy = 4.30
Easy = 4.00
Mod = 3.45
Steady = 3.30
MP = 3:15
AT = 3:05
Fast = sub 2.55

And as a general rule I start a bit slower and build up to the required effort and if in doubt run slower rather than faster.

The Letsrun 'Fall Marathon Training' thread is here

Monday, 4 August 2008

Funny thing endurance

At a weekend track meeting I got talking to two of my clubmates, both veterans (masters) and both the proud owners of big new personal bests. The first had just knocked 4 seconds off his 800m time to go sub 2:20, which is a big chunk by any standard. Especially as all of last season he had trained specifically for the 800m and this season he hadn't ! The second runner had a tough winter with not as much running as last year. The last time we spoke in June he was toying with the idea of running some shorter races than last season's range of 800m-5000m. This seemed like a good idea as he has plenty of speed. So when he popped a 59.9 for 400m (not bad for a 45 year old novice sprinter) the plan was vindicated.

Earlier that morning I had been reading in the newspapers Marilyn Okoro explaining her 1:58 front running win in the Crystal Palace GP the previous friday. Maz is a 800m runner with enough 400m speed to be on the GB 4x400m relay team. Her slow start to the season (she was running 2:02 back in May) was down to the heavy endurance work she was putting in she explained. In the same paper Michael Rimmer was chuffed with his 1:44 breakthrough which in his estimation had a lot to do with a winter spent training with the 1500m man (and accomplished cross country runner) Tom Lancashire under the guidance of experienced coach Norman Poole.

So this got me thinking, what have a couple of 45 year old club mates got in common with two of Britain's Olympic middle distance hopes ?

Well the first of my clubmates had actually run his first marathon this spring. As a result he had spent the winter running more volume and doing more long runs than before. So while he hadn't been hammering short reps on the track all spring he had been getting aerobically much fitter. And given that the 800m is about half and half aerobic and anaerobic contribution its pretty easy to work out now where the 4 second improvement came from !! In fact if he now does a few weeks of race pace workouts I would bet that there is another second or two to come off that time. And the second club mate was simply matching his race event to the amount of background training he had managed to get done in the winter. Instead of facing a summer of disappointment in the longer middle distances he moved down and focused on setting personal bests at those distances.

So what's the takeout ? The aerobic system has far more scope for training than the anaerobic and the majority of us are underdeveloped aerobically. (Even after a few years of marathon training I am still improving my running economy and turning in faster races even though my anaerobic power is less than it was 10 years ago). So whether you are a half miler or a marathon runner get to work developing your aerobic capabilities. It takes time and the payback is well worth it.