Sunday, January 29, 2012

First ACTVAC handicap for 2012

The goal this week after the 1000m @ track was the Sunday handicap. I ran the course last week and thought it could be a good shot for glory. That was before Angel informed me he was in the group ahead of me and also had his eyes on the prize. I joked with him that I'd get him on the last hill on account of me being a 'bit lighter' than him. The course seemed hillier than I recalled! I guess at a slow jog, the hills don't seem so bad, but when you are running in Zone 5, you feel them! I went out a tad fast and made up some ground on Angel in the early stages. However, from then on I just couldn't get any closer to him, he was especially good on the downhills, where I was trying to recover! Once I got to the turn around, it really was just a race of survival, I was fried! I really miss my endurance! Angel pulled a bit further ahead and I just hoped that I was not going to be passed by anyone speedier. That last hill, as expected, was nausea inducing! I passed a couple more people and managed to hold off a faster finishing person just behind me, scoring 8th place. I gave it my best effort, and was happy with that result, figuring I was just outside the medals. However, the bonus was that 6 people in front of me were not eligible!! Woo hoo!! Angel GOLD, Janene SILVER.

Heidi also ran a blinder in the Frylink series to take the 1st place card and was a fully eligible 1st place. Congratulations Heidi - she is running so well! Of course, we will now pay the price, the handicapper will make sure of that (won't he Steve?!)!

Bronze - Bernie Millet; Gold - Angel Marina; Silver - Moi

Silver - Ian Bowden; Gold - Heidi Johnston; Bronze - absent

Latest training:
Friday -  Easy slow 12.3K
Saturday - 4K warm up followed 4 x 100 m run throughs @ 19-20 sec, then 6 min tempo on 1 min off x 4 intervals.
Sunday - Warm up 1.8K; Handicap - 6.1K (by my Polar) - HRav 160bpm with 63% of time in Zone 5 (ouch!). Silver bling made the pain worth it :o).

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A step in the right direction

The world of exercise physiology is full of so much interesting research and information. Trying to establish the right balance in regards to high intensity vs low intensity work can be a challenge. This article:
is an interesting read. The 80:20 rule does make a lot of sense. Indeed the cases studies presented do help support the theory. What you do in that '20' depends on what distances you are targeting. I have always thought that there should be plenty of slow easy runs as part of training. Pushing too hard in your easy runs, does hamper your ability to push hard in your high intensity sessions. It is too easy to go out and just hammer, hammer, hammer.

It was a great night at Track. Not so much my running, but watching some incredible performances by Kathy Sims in the Pennington and Maria O'Rielly in the 5000m. Maria has 9 years on me (she celebrated her 57th birthday with her outstanding run at track) and easily passed my 5000m PB. She looked fantastic and is running very smartly. Kathy Sims in the Pennington 800m was outstanding. She ran a fantastic time of 2:51 as a W60. She held off the incredible Kathy Southgate and was only squeezed out of first place by her hubby Geoff Sims (what happened to chivalry? ;-) ). The final event in the Pennington, the 3000m will indeed be very exciting!

I was happy with how I ran. I chose to give the 1000m my focus and was aiming for a sub 4 min time. To increase my odds I donned spikes and set my watch to beep me through the process. I thought I went out a tad quick for the first 200m, but then settled in nicely and stayed ahead of the beeps to finish in ~3:55.  I also ran the 3000m at the end of the night, intending to do this as 6 min intervals. Alas, I selected the wrong program on my watch and so ended up doing a 3000m interval! I settled into a comfortable tempo-ish pace and finished in 13:40, with plenty still in the tank. Much better than last week's effort. My back still isn't 100%, but it doesn't appear to be affecting my running.

Latest training:
Monday - 4 x 200m hill reps, with 2 km warm up and cool down - ~7K
Tuesday - Gentle recovery run in anticipation of track on Wed ~ 4.3K
Wednesday -  Track night; ~2.5K warm up with run throughs; 1000m @ 3:55; 3000m @ 13:40
Thursday -  Recovery run - 10.7K in Z1 HRav = 125bpm - felt good

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Onwards and upwards

The back has been an issue for most of the last 9 days or so. It finally seems to be coming good. I will need to take care and not set it off again. Now if I could only figure out was has set it off in the first place.

It's been hard to gauge the whole running thing. Understandably it was a fairly conservative start to the week due to the sore back. The enforced slow running has to some extent been used to work towards a bit more Ks in the base. Sunday was another day off given the ongoing back complaints. Monday was a very gentle and tentative jog around central basin. Tuesday I decided to go just a little bit further and included the little circuit around Lennox Gardens with central basin. It was pretty warm, so that with the delicate back kept me at a slow plod. Wednesday it was 30 C at lunch time, so I sought out a running loop with a little shade and headed up to the Little Black Mountain circuit. A good test for the back given the hilly nature of the circuit. I ran protectively, but did not encounter any problems with muscle spasms. It was a gorgeous day and it was just great to be outside during my lunch break enjoying some sunshine and scenery. Thursday I headed to track to give an increase in speed a go. The back was still a bit sore and I still felt the need to be a tad conservative. However, warm up laps and some run throughs did not result in any increase in pain. The run throughs were initially a test to see if a 13:00 3000m would be a comfortable pace. With the lost training and a slight lull in energy levels, it was immediately apparent that even a 13:00 3000m would be hard work. Plan B was to run a tempo pace, and that ended up being 4:40 min/K for a 14:00 3000m. The slowest one ever! It is fair to say that 3000m times in 2012 can only get better. I watched some great runs in the 1500m and a video will follow in the near future. The end of the night included the old 4 lap spiral as another 'interval'. It was at about 4:30 min/K pace.
Friday was a 'recovery' run around the little Black Mountain loop with lots of butterflies :o). It was a rather warm 31C, but another stunning day. Saturday I head out to Isaac's Ridge for some training company and after the 2K uphill warm up, it was 6 min tempo intervals x 4 with 2 min recoveries followed by a 2K downhill recovery and the obligatory coffee. The plan for Sunday is to do a 'familiarisation' run of the new handicap course in preparation for the first handicap of 2012.

Addendum: the January handicap course is very nice, probably the flattest of them all.

Latest training:
Sunday - OFF
Monday - 7.2K easy
Tuesday -  9K easy
Wednesday - 8.8K easy
Thursday -  2k warm up with 25 sec 100m run throughs; 3000m @ 14:00 av HR 160bpm; 1670m @ 7:38 av HR 152 bpm.
Friday - 8.8K easy
Saturday - 11K with 4 x 6 min intervals @4:30-4:50 pace, HR Int1 - 142; int2 - 152; int3 - 159; int4 - 150 bpm.  Followed by an afternoon session with Heidi and Steph at ACT BarBell. This brief video shows Heidi demonstrating some great Kettleball moves!
Sunday - 10K easy
Week total a tad over 60K :o).

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Starting over

It seems it was never going to be a miraculous recovery. I am destined to have to deal with many hurdles along the way. C'est la vie!

A long road trip seriously exacerbated my back problem and I'm back to where I was at the start of the New Year.

I think the best way to deal with it, is to forget the last couple of months and just gently start over. Trying to set goals (e.g. a 20:12 5K) given all these ongoing problems, will only serve to create frustration and disappointment. It is better to just appreciate those days when I can train and to be thankful of any little improvements I might make along the way. I feel like I am probably at an equivalent level to what I was back in early 2009. All the stuff in between has been lost. A bit of a bummer, but you can't lose 18 months of useful training time and expect to find yourself anywhere close to where you were 18 months ago. All the gains are lost and some!

With the current bad back, I turned up at track on Thursday contemplating the mile or the 3000m. However, it only took 50m of jogging to realise there was no way I'd be running on the track that night. I did coerce my back to let me do a 2K jog, so all was not lost. After that I headed home and did lots of back stretches:
Lower Back Stretches
These definitely help!
I managed a gentle 5K jog on Fri, with the back still protesting. A similar protest today, but I did get around a 10K loop on my local trail. It will be a day by day approach.

Despite already having  a strong core, gym work has been amped up to include kettlebells and planks focused on building back strength. Many of the other exercises I do at the gym already work the core, so I am surprised by this latest back issue!

For some info on kettlebells - Heidi can point you in the right direction!

Latest training:
Thurs - 2 K slow
Fri - 5K slow
Sat -  10 K slow

Sunday, January 8, 2012

No man's land

Probably not the start to 2012 I was hoping for (a good thing the Chinese New Year is Jan 23). My back kept me out of action for the first few days of 2012. It settled down enough to be able to run on Thurs, but it does remain just a little achy. Steady as she goes is all one can really do.

Running has not been great for a few weeks now. Most of my jaunts have felt quite hard. Hence, I have the feeling of being in no man's land (or is that no woman's land?). A blood sample was taken last Wed, and results should be available tomorrow, Mon.

Addendum: Ferritin results show a definite improvement. The level is now at 44 ug/L. That said, on going iron supplementation has been recommended to get the level in the 60-90 ug/L range. The anaemia is also resolved.

Latest training:
Wed - OFF
Thurs - gentle 8.2K run involving the Little Black Mountain loop. My back was still quite sore and as a result there was zero impulsion in my legs!
Fri - The Little Black Mountain loop in a clockwise direction, for a change. This run actually felt okay. This direction also seems to be an easier way to do this loop. 9.2K in 6:08min/K pace
Sat - Long intervals (6ish mins) at Isaacs Ridge. 4 x interval with 1-2 min passive recovery. I probably ran these a bit hard with HR around 162 bpm. Pace varied between 4:30-4:45 min/K. Total distance for the run 10.8K. A great location with lots of tree cover, and finished off with yummy brunch at My Cafe in Manuka.
Sun - A very tough 8.2K around my local region. Tired and sore from the intervals and a gym session yesterday. I had intended to go 11K, but had to cut it short. It seems trying to increase my distance is easier said than done at this stage.

Addendum training:
Mon - OFF
Tues - OFF
Wed - OFF

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


And just like that it's 2012, Happy New Year! It seems that 2011 went by in a blur, and that wasn't due to any speedy running! The last couple of weeks of 2011 saw a drop in running performance despite what seemed like an iron-boosted response in November. There is a planned trip to the doctor tomorrow and some more blood tests. It will be interesting to see just where things are at.

Training has been pretty ho hum of late, mostly because my energy and performance have dropped. Also not helped by a recent back strain of unknown origin. I woke up on New Years day with a very sore back. So sore, that I couldn't run on New Years Day. My attempt to run the following day was not met with much joy. I managed a very slow awkward shuffle for a while before muscle spasms forced me to stop and walk. I took the sensible approach and elected to give the back another day off today. I sure hope it is feeling a bit better tomorrow!

There are no major New Year goals at this stage other than to keep up the training and to spend a bit more time in the gym building some strength (particularly lower back strength!). Longer runs have not been going well of late. It looks like it will be a slow road ahead for the next little while.

Latest training:
Saturday - 6 x 300m hill repetitions
Sunday - Long run of 15K - tough going (6:10 min/K pace; HRav - 132 bpm)
Monday -  OFF
Tuesday - 9K run with a 1K walk to finish off - body not willing to run the full 10K
Wednesday - fartlek session 8.2K (7 x 30-45 sec @ 3:55 to 4:05/K pace, 1 x 75 sec @ 4 min/K pace)
Thursday -  Easy 11K @ 5:50min/K; HRav - 140 bpm
Friday - Easy 8.3K @ 5:50min/K; HRav - 144 bpm
Saturday - 8 x 200m hill repetitions (6.2K with warm up and cool down)
Sunday - OFF
Monday - Slow 10.3 K @ 6min/K; HRav - 139 bpm; then had to walk the remaining 3K
Tuesday - OFF

As I was born in 1964, I am a Wood Dragon. Here's hoping the Year of the Dragon is good for Dragons!