Monday, December 12, 2011

Uncertain future running plans .........

I've had a pretty disrupted training plan over the last week or so, with more disruptions ahead due to it being that time of the year. The ACTVAC track and field season takes a short break over Xmas and New Year and I'll be officiating at the first meet for 2012. A bit of a gap before I get to see how things are progressing.

The most pressing issue though is what direction to head now with training. It is great to be feeling so much better after boosting tissue iron levels (although I still need to make a trip to the Doctor to get ferritin and Hb levels assessed), but I am also painfully aware of the complete lack of 'endurance' after so much time lost with fatigue and the calf injury. I am not a natural athlete and I have to work hard to develop endurance and fitness. Hence, I am a bit lost as to where to head. Pre-calf injury I wanted to run a sub 3:30 marathon and a 40 min 10K. The 3:30 was definitely achievable as I was already really close. The 40 min 10K would have been a much greater challenge. However, now that those 18 months have passed, I question if I could even get close to 3:30, let alone the 40 min 10K. I ran 12K on the road over the weekend and it was really tough going. I don't have enough years experience in my legs to be able to fall back on that. I also think that low iron for so long has really screwed with my muscle physiology and it is really like starting from scratch. Yes, I'm not feeling especially positive at this point in time.

With there only being a few months until Track and Field Nationals, it is too soon to expect to be able to run well over 5000 or 10000m? Would it be better to set myself for a half marathon mid year? I need to double my weekly mileage to improve over 5, 10 and 21.1K distances.  At 10% each week, that will take around 7-8 weeks of careful increases just to reach a decent mileage. Can I expect to be able to handle upped distances AND upped intensity to develop speed, together? In the past, it was distance first, speed later. I don't have a lot of previous experience to draw on.

Latest training:
Monday  - day off
Tuesday - 8 x 400m intervals, 1 min passive recoveries, goal was 93 x 5; 91 x 3; actual with HR data were:
102         144av    154max
92           140av    158max
94           147av    161max
92           149av    161max
94           151av    163max
90           151av    165max
91           153av    166max
89           152av    164max
Wednesday - a circuit that included the Little Black Mountain loop - 9.2K, 58 min @ 6:12 min/K pace and HRav 146bpm.
Thursday - 20 minute tempo interval with warm up and cool down, total distance 7.2K
Friday - day off, travel day for friend's 50th in Newrybar near Byron Bay
Saturday - 12K run on the road, undulating and warm and humid. Time 1:07 with 5:40min/K as av pace and HR av 144 bpm.
Sunday - contemplated some hill reps, but hot humid conditions and a yappy persistent dog on the chosen hill combined with tiredness saw me cut this session to just 2 hill reps and total distance of 3K. Another travel day, so PM training session wasn't going to happen.


  1. I know what it is like to have no natural ability. The antidote is consistency over a long period of time.

    Whether you compete in Nationals should depend on the answer to this question: will you enjoy competing there regardless of performance? Sometimes when you go with no expectations you can get a pleasant surprise. Conversely if you go with high expectations your experience can be less than optimal. Consider the world champion who "only" gets silver and gets depressed and unhappy. Versus the novice who is pleased just to be there. So go if you can adopt the mindset of: hey I'm doing this, it's just great. which is something we all have to learn down the track, eventually. I wish you well.

    I have always said: distance first, speed later, when working towards a long distance race. For a start some speed comes with the distance training without working on speed; also, increasing distance is enough stress on the body without trying to run faster as well. Speed can always be added later; honestly it only takes 6-8 weeks to re-recruit some fast twitch fibres so you only have to work on speed for a month or two each year after which racing is enough to maintain the speed.

  2. Well, Geoff has *some* natural ability - you don't run 8:30 for 3000m with no natural ability.

    For next year (first half), keep going with the 1500/3k/5k training. Those were good 400s! You're improving and running well. You could still run a 'reasonable' half mid-year if you gradually edge the mileage up over the next few months and then bring in some long runs in the last six weeks.

    Longer term, the 40-minute 10k is more dependent on 'speed' than a 3:30 marathon (or even a 3:15 marathon) and as we age we lose speed before endurance. So, I'd be trying to improve at distances up to 10k for the next year or two. Having said that, 'marathon type' training (Lydiard base etc) is great for 10k racing, so 'good' weekly/monthly mileage but without a very long long run (24k would be plenty) could work well.

  3. Some might run 8:30 for 3000m after 23 years of training and no injuries. There is some luck there. But lots of wise planning and application, of course.
    Anyway: JK & I had a discussion tonight (sorry: looks like it was last night) about natural ability and I say genetics is over-rated. In fact the best stories are those of ugly ducklings (goslings?) who overcome all odds and succeed through effort over time. Often starting fighting the circumstances of life results in the best outcomes. Be encouraged! I will say it again: what you do and become is far more significant than what you start out with.

  4. I agree Ewen, Geoff does have some natural ability. We were discussing how we are both family 'mutants', Geoff as a runner, me as an academic. That said, wise planning and application are very important and can allow the 'not so naturally gifted' still achieve amazing things.

    You have both offered good advice which I will ponder over the Xmas break. There is no doubt that I need to start building up the miles. However, miles caused me so much trouble with fatigue during those unknown iron status months. Hence, I will continue to tread warily for now.

  5. Yep, tread warily. Make small adjustments.

    Natural ability would make for an interesting PhD subject. It's a variable thing. Haile Gebrselassie might have 100% natural ability for distance running - more than Geoff for instance - and I would have more than Dean Lukin (who would have more than someone else). So we all fit on that scale somewhere.

    I'm always more impressed by the less naturally gifted runners (Brian Sell for example) who achieve amazing things through hard work, than the super gifted who might win local races on a training regime of 3 runs a week.