Monday, October 13, 2014

Stuck in 4th gear

The motor (aka cranky muscles) isn't working well at the moment. It feels like there should be at least another 1-2 gears, but finding those gears is proving challenging. Admittedly there have been some of the usual cranky muscle signs messing with training, so that doesn't help. I headed over to Gindy parkrun last Saturday, mostly to be there to cheer Kikka when they announced her position in the '50' Club. However, it was also nice for a change of scenery and to catch up with some familiar faces.
Kikka - another parkrun Club 50 member
 The conditions in Canberra on Saturday were perfect running conditions, cool and windless. I was well slept and rested and felt pretty good during the warm up. Alas when it came to the run, I couldn't get out of 4th gear. It's been a similar finding in recent training, with the 4:40 min/k proving a popular 'rev' zone for the legs. For the Gindy parkrun I finished in 23:42 something like 4:40, 4:39: 4:40; 4:57 and 4:44 to average 4:44 for the 5km. There was no coaxing the legs to go any faster and that's been the case with recent 1km reps. 4:40 is about as good as it gets. All the intervals sessions are based on feel (aiming for a pace that feels sustainable for 5km).

With this latest stint in 'Groundhog day,' today some 400m reps were needed to see if I could, even briefly, shift into 5th gear. Good news is that yes, a slightly quicker pace was possible. Bad news is it was very hard to stay in 5th gear and there were no signs it was a sustainable gear change! Average pace for 6 reps of about 430m were 4:22; 4:10; 4:11; 4:11; 4:13; 4:14. I stuck with just 6 reps as the effort was not sustainable. With more travel on the horizon, there won't be much training opportunity. Hopefully just enough time on the hotel treadmill to keep the legs ticking over. It sure would be nice to see a similar parkrun outcome as when I returned from my travels to Germany. Unfortunately as this is a trip for work, there won't be a lot of time for relaxation and I don't think US Riesling will have the same 'medicinal' qualities as those of Germany. ;-)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The lab rats

The AIS has been conducting some research looking at the combined effects of sleeping at altitude and training in the heat. Two good friends who are both more youthful and athletic than me (and therefore eligible to be part of the study) became 'lab rats' for 3 weeks as they participated in this study. The general gist is they stayed in a low oxygen house for at least 9 hours per day (essentially sleep and meal times) and had treadmill training sessions in the heat. Other than that, they were told to maintain their normal training. It made sense that 1 week after completing the study they would see a big increase in performance (more blood volume). Sure enough, we got to witness this at Gungahlin parkrun on Saturday. Lou ran an all time 5k PB 18:57 (age grade 78.28%) and Stu ran his best parkrun time 16:51 (age grade (85.46%). The results from the study are still being analysed. For both Lou and Stu, they lost body fat despite eating well (not that Stu ever had much to lose!), so no doubt the weight change was also an assisting factor in their performance. They are both lining up on 27 September for the Centenary 101 teams challenge, combining with Elizabeth (another lab rat) and DaveO (a freak of nature) to take on Vince Puffy, Jackie F, Vanessa H and Tom Brazier. Can the lab rats hold their form and win the event? It's going to be a great contest, one not to be missed!
Speedy lab rats
Back in the real world with normal oxygen and cool conditions, I'm still plodding away running 3 sessions a week, as well as doing a bit of cycling. I still can't convince the muscles to run much distance and so I continue to chip away with short sharp sessions of running interspersed with easy cycling. It is far from an ideal running training programme, but at least there is some subtle improvement. Inspired by the lab rats, I managed a Gunners parkrun PB. There is still some work to do to catch my Gindy PB, but at least the time is heading in the right direction.

Friends parkrun results

1          Stuart DOYLE*           16:51              VM45-49        85.46 %        
3          Louise SHARP*          18:57              SW30-34        78.28 %        
4          Bede WEBSTER         19:08              VM50-54        77.09 %
27       Janene KINGSTON     23:06              VW50-54       72.58 %
82       Skye FRUEAN             32:53              SW30-34        45.21 %        

Thursday, September 4, 2014

If only the Garmin was right!

The new Garmins on the market have some neat features for the technically driven runner. These include information about running cadence, ground contact time and body movement. They are also programmed to calculate a VO2max estimate and use this to predict potential race times. Given where I am these days, I sure wish what my Garmin has been telling me was true. It currently has my VO2max at 48 ml/kg/min and as a W50, this ranks me in the 'superior' range. Not only that, it presently predicts I could run a sub 22 min 5K. Last week is was predicting a sub 23 min 5K, but my effort at parkrun did not get even close. The VO2max estimate is an algorithm from Firstbeat technologies. I've found that the value drops after a tough session and then increases after an easier session.
Running 'metrics' from an intervals session
They say that fast runners have high cadence and less ground contact time. So is it the chicken or the egg? My cadence is quicker and I spend less time on the ground when I'm running faster. I'm guessing most people would find the same thing, when comparing slower paces to quicker paces. Question is, could a slow runner get faster by simply changing the way they run? Maybe yes and maybe no, it would be an individual thing. But hey, it's lots of fun looking at all the graphs and numbers. I wonder when that race time predictor will get it right? Time will tell ;-).

Sunday, August 3, 2014

'Secret' overseas training

Saturday saw a Gungahlin parkrun PB. Not sure where that came from! It must have been all the secret overseas training in hot and sunny Europe. Actually, there weren't that many running opportunities. And for the few taken, it was really just to make sure that the legs had a few gentle sessions to keep them ticking over. In particular, a favourite was a morning run along the Mosel river when staying in the small village 'Piersport'.
Run route along the Mosel and amongst vinyards near Piersport
Maybe it was all the carbo loading from all the Riesling consumed ;-).

There were no big expectations for the first Parkrun back from holidays. Simply run by feel and see how things panned out. Conditions were good, cold, but clear and no wind. The focus was on 'running tall' and trying to drive from the hips. At the 2 km point, it all seemed to click and the run went well, finishing in 23:13. The glutes seemed to work better than they have been. Maybe all the squats and painful trigger point work on the hip flexors are starting to help. Time will tell.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Foggy fifties

Somewhere between my last post and this post I changed age groups. This getting older thing just sneaks up on you. Now I find myself a W50. Where's that walking cane/mobility scooter?! ;-). Others would consider this an opportunity to set new PBs. There is also the age grade percentage that receives a boost with advancing years.

The holiday in Qld was lovely and relatively warm. This made for a rude shock when returning to Canberra, with the famous Canberra fog in full flight. That fog sure makes for cold mornings! Most mornings it's already there when you wake, but this morning the fog rolled in quite late. It was sunny at home as I headed out to Gungahlin parkrun (only 2km from home), only to be greeted by a foggy Yerrabi pond and parkrun course. This meant there was no wind, but conditions were brisk. I spotted just one familiar face, the lovely Margaret McSpadden. Despite the cold and foggy conditions, 116 hardy souls made their way to the start line, including the very speedy Philo Saunders (the eventual winner). I didn't get a lot of training in while I was away in Qld, so I wasn't expecting a speedy time. A positive sign was the warm-up gave no significant indication of cranky muscles and I really do like to run in the cold (as long as it isn't windy!).
Emerging from the fog
The start was a bit crowded and this ensured a gentle starting pace. It all felt good, so the body found some rhythm and gradually picked its way through the other runners. The pace was comfortable and felt easier than the other 2 recent efforts. Interestingly, when I hit the 4km point I could see I was on sub 24 pace, so I tried to up the pace, sadly the legs have forgotten how to run fast. Run time was 23:46, rate 3/3, a pleasing result all things considered. More travel lies ahead in July (3 weeks in Hong Kong/Germany and a day in France), so training will be limited.
Margaret enjoying her run - finishing just 5 seconds outside her PB!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Some bad and some good

With no mobility scooters to spur me on this week, it's been a bit of a tough week. The tempo intervals on Monday were a bit slower than usual and the run was 1/3. Wednesday was going to be a 'long' run, but it quickly became another 1/3 and I cut it short. So with 3 1/3 runs in a row it made sense to skip the Fri run and then see how the next parkrun was going to go. The conditions at parkrun were perfect, cool without much breeze. The warm up didn't feel very inspiring, so I wasn't expecting much. Fortunately after about 800m the body started to settle and I was able to get some rhythm and run at a tempo pace. This run felt so much better than the last 3. I finished in 24:11, a big improvement on last week, but plenty of work still to do to find some form. Lou was also there and ran a great parkrun PB of 19:18. I also spotted Nadine out on the course, who finished ahead of me in 23:40, she looked like she was taking it easy.
I want what Lou has! My last parkrun as aW45.
I'm off to Qld now for some holidays in warmer weather. I likely won't be near any parkrun events, so I'll have to wait until I get back to Canberra before I run one again. Hopefully there will be few runs along the beach and along some trails.

Week in summary:
Monday 4 x 5ish minute tempo intervals; rate 1/3
Tuesday bike commute 16km one way.
Wednesday 45mins easy run; rate 1/3
Thursday bike commute 32 km
Friday OFF
Saturday parkrun 5km 24:11 HRav 151bpm; rate 3/3
Sunday travel day, will be OFF.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Paced by a mobility scooter

It's been a pretty consistent couple of weeks on the running front. Mostly the rating for each run has been pretty good. No real horrid 'I wish I could stop and walk' type runs. The muscle discomfort is ever there, but it's tolerable so I keep on running. Treatment for that at present involves glute exercises and painful psoas trigger point work. The glutes have become very lazy, maybe due to a desk job, so deep squats (body weight), bridges, clams, and lunges are all on the menu. Some strength is returning, but so far it's not translating over to the running. Time will tell on that one!

As per the previous post, I've been throwing in intervals here and there to mix things up. Last Wednesday I decided to try another session of hill reps up 'old hospital hill'. As I was jogging back to the start after the first interval a mobility scooter went past heading up the hill. When I turned to start interval 2, that scooter was not too far ahead. This was not a good thing as the competitor likes to take over when there is a target just ahead (seriously, a mobility scooter is about all I could handle at present ;-) ) . Sure enough that scooter wasn't moving away from me (despite my pretty slow pace) so I sped up just a little and found myself gaining on the scooter. Woo hoo! Next thing I know, I'm passing that scooter and then feeling obligated to keep moving ahead to stay out of its way. When I got to the top of the hill, I really felt that effort, but the scooter had turned off (a shallow victory). Understandably the remaining 3 reps were hard work!

Maybe this would be a better 'pacer' next time :-)

Passing a mobility scooter going up hill went to my head, surely it was time to try a parkrun?! Maybe a new PB was there for the taking ........ Hence, I lined up at the start of Gungahlin Parkrun on Saturday only to come face to face with reality, that mobility scooter wasn't going very fast and neither was I. Sadly it was one of those 'I'd like to stop and walk' runs. I didn't, but yep for the effort put in, it was a pretty slow time. I guess I'll have to find a faster pacer next time ;-).

Summary of recent runs et al
12/5 - 25/5
Mon: 4 x 4:30min tempo intervals with walk/jog recovery; rate 2/3
Tues: Bike commute
Wed: 31 min jog, HRav 137bpm; rate 2/3
Thurs: Off
Fri: 51 min jog, HRav 135bpm; rate 2/3
Sat: Off
Sun: Off

Mon: 4 x 5min tempo intervals with walk/jog recovery; rate 3/3
Tues: bike commute 32 km
Wed: hill reps x 5; rate 2/3
Thurs: Off
Fri: 42 min run, HRav 145 bpm; rate 2/3
Sat: Parkrun 5 k 24:54, HRav 151 bpm; rate 1/3
Sun: 64km bike