October 2016

Day one of marathon week,

Day one was uneventful really. Busy at work so didn’t have time to think about running. How does that happen ? Note to self must never let that happen again. ! So I can look forward to a run tomorrow morning, probably my go-to 10k that I run between 3-5 times a week religiously, normally as a second run after work on auto-pilot. These go-to runs are important as they allow you to drift away and think about ‘stuff’ , be that family, work or leisure  ‘stuff’. The ‘stuff’ thinking is not as important as the benefit the time on legs is giving you. As you know I am a big believer in the two runs a day, distance,  not pace theory. I firmly believe the second run , which may or may not be on tired legs, is a massive benefit and allows you to really make a big difference to your running aspirations.

I have dabbled with double-days before but never for the length of time I have sustained it this training block,  pre-Masters. I think this is probably week number 17 of upwards of 10 runs a week. What has surprised me is how fresh I have felt. I have certainly felt a lot more fatigued when I have run less k’s and less total runs a week but heavier workload i.e. faster average pace.  Will this work for everyone ? Probably not, every person is different, they have different aspirations, different threshold for distance and pace, different constraints allowing them only a certain amount of running time. Double-up days does mean some ‘juggling’ of work and family life and maybe once in a while one of these will suffer. To quote Ned Kelly ‘Such is life’, or was that Ben Cousins for the Australians among us. The benefit of distance cannot be over stated, if you can run more (and not get injured of course) then I recommend you do it. With running the more you run the better you can run. Obviously there is a point when you do start to slow but when or where that is I do not know and I’m nearing 50 and haven’t found it yet. (and don’t intend to anytime soon.)

So I digress, for a change, this post was meant to be about taper day 1 for marathon week. Uneventful and no real thought of running to tell you the truth, which for me is strange but after so many marathons I realise the benefits of not running more than twice on marathon week gives me a spring in my step come Sunday. I’ll venture out for a slow 10k tomorrow morning and a similar one Thursday and that will be it. Remember ‘it is impossible to do too little on marathon week, the only option is to do too much.’ The only reason I run at all is to retain my sanity as I grapple with my old favourite ‘weight gain‘.  So far I have been lucky and avoided ‘self doubt’ and ‘niggles’, with no one ill on the train, that I could see , and all my work colleagues looking quite sprightly today I may even avoid ‘everyone is trying to infect me…

An uneventful post today but with taper week in full swing I need to focus elsewhere until Thursday when its my favourite time, carbo-loading. I’ll discuss that tomorrow because although carbo-loading can be a good thing for runners who like to eat , it is not an excuse to binge on chocolate and muffins for three days. Sorry guys there is a certain requirement to meet to make carbo-loading work and chocolate and muffins , although a small part (maybe!) , is not the complete picture. Running really is a cruel sport…..

I’ve attached a photo as all good posts need photos. This was taken on Saturday at the Masters 5k by Jon Storey. A great photo, a talented man with a good camera, a good combination.


Masters 5k First bend. Photo Jon Storey.
Masters 5k First bend. Photo Jon Storey.


World Masters singlets where ever you looked….

Looks like today is the day to wear your Australian World Masters running singlet before the big day next weekend. ( http://www.perth2016.com ) Me and the Sunday morning posse agreed to meet at the West Australian Marathon Club house ( http://www.wamc.org.au )and run on alp of the World Masters marathon course. It was also agreed to wear our Masters Australian singlets to ‘wear them in’ pre-November 6th.

World Masters singlets
World Masters singlets

Funnily enough in the photo three are English, there’s one Scotsman and one South African; and a token Australian. Seems to be the way in Western Australia, and Australia as a whole. We’re a diverse lot. All here for different reasons but for the next 6 days we’re here for one reason and one reason only, to run a marathon representing our country of choice,  rather than our country of origin.

We weren’t the only ones running the marathon course ahead of next weeks big event. We spotted another couple of Australian singlets and at least two from the Netherlands, a possible Portuguese and I’m sure the French were out somewhere. I hope these guys have trained for the heat because we are expecting a hot day. Currently they are predicting 35c doe Saturday which doesn’t bode well for Sunday. It will be a tad cooler but not enough to negate the issue of heat and what it does to marathon runners.


Heat and Wind are two things which unfortunately can make all that hard work fruitless when chasing a PB. Unfortunately sometimes the elements can combine against you and nothing you do can beat Mother Nature when she conspires against you. This morning would have been a good morning to run the marathon as it was cool enough that if we had started at 6am we probably would have missed the heat. Next weekend we won’t be so lucky.

So how did you mitigate heat. The best thing is to adjust your pace at the start. You need to realise that heat will sap your strength and your body will need to work extra hard to maintain its core temperature. All this extra effort comes at a cost and that is your average pace. Another option is pre-race cooling which could be drinking a slushy before the race and/or cool towels hand carried until they are of no use.

Drinking water and more importantly electrolytes pre-race is another must do and this will be an even more important part of the 3 day carbo-loading process. You need to be fully hydrated pre-race as the drink you take onboard during the race is really self preservation.

I’m not painting a pretty picture am I, but this is a risk you take running a marathon in November. Luckily , as Mike discussed this  morning over pancakes (for a change),  we always have next year and most of us run 3-4 marathons a year and as such a good run is only a few months away. Running a good PB is a combination of proper training combined with ideal conditions on the day on a good marathon course.


Article from coach Jeff from Runners Connect on pre-race cooling. Worth a read…

What is Pre-cooling?
Running causes the core body temperature to rise, which is exacerbated in hot and humid conditions. Once an athlete’s core temperature reaches a certain threshold, significant declines in performance will occur. Pre-cooling is a technique used to slightly lower a runner’s core body temperature before they start running, which in turn extends the amount of time they can run hard before hitting that critical temperature threshold.
How does Pre-cooling work?
By pre-cooling the body, an athlete is able to lower their core body temperature, thus increasing the margin before they reach their critical temperature threshold and are forced to slow down. Furthermore, pre-cooling enables runners to draw on their reserves later in a run due to reduced thermal strain. This means you can finish off your workouts harder and also begin the recovery process faster.
Numerous studies have proven that heat is a major cause of performance decline in runners – and you’ve more than likely experienced it yourself this summer. However, recent studies have now confirmed that pre-cooling can significantly improve performance in hot and humid conditions. One study reported that pre-cooling can boost performance by 16%. A second study showed a 2.6 degree average core temperature difference after a 5k race between subjects who pre-cooled with a vest and those that did not.
How to get started
Ideally, runners looking to implement a pre-cooling strategy would use a cooling vest for 10-20 minutes prior to their run or during their warm-up. Hands down, cooling vests are the most effective product on the market for pre-cooling. Understandably, not every runner reading this article will want to shell out the money for a cooling vest, so I’ll give you two quick and cheap ways to try pre-cooling at home.
1. Freeze a paper cup of Gatorade or buy some freeze pops. 10-20 minutes before your next hard workout in the heat, eat the freeze pop or Gatorade slushy and get on your way. While a popsicle won’t cool your entire body quite like a cooling vest, you will see benefits during your run.
2. Grab a few hand towels or small bath towels and get them wet. Place them in the freezer overnight and put them on your neck, head and back 10-15 minutes before you head out for your workout. Warning, it will be shockingly cold at first, but you’ll appreciate it when you get back. Plus, if you put them back in the freezer, you can put them on again when you return for a nice treat!


Masters 5k. A lesson in how not to run a race.

Well after many weeks (months) preparing the World Masters is upon us. The first event I enrolled for was the 5k as I ran a 5k PB before my last marathon so thought a repeat would give me some confidence going into the World Masters marathon in a weeks time. Unfortunately there were several external factors I had not planned for and in the end I feel this race probably did more damage than good.

My week long holiday at Rottnest may not have been the most ideal preparation for the Masters and although I ran twice a day for the early part of the holiday I may have let myself go a bit with the ‘treats’. Truth be told my main treat of choice was a paleo banana  bread which was probably good for me, the accompanying coffee was the problem. I must also confess to two glasses of wine which doesn’t sound a lot but it’s probably the same amount of alcohol I consumed for the previous 10 months. Add in tired legs from the half marathon and plenty of time scuba diving looking for crayfish and cycling everywhere and my first week taper was a bit of a disaster. (Although from a different viewpoint it was a great holiday and I’ve already booked in to Rotto’ again for next year, for the marathon this time, no more half marathons for me!!)

The Masters 5k was at the Ern Clarke Stadium in Cannington, Perth. I have raced a 10k in this stadium on three occasions previously. Must admit a 10k on the track is not my favourite race and running round a track 25 times can be a tad monotonous. How these runners who do 24 hour track ultras do it is beyond me ? (They must take solace in food of course because on a 400m track you are always within 400m of food…..) I wrongly assumed that 12.5 laps would be a lot easier. Today I was to be proved wrong.

Ern Clarke Stadium
Ern Clarke Stadium

The 5k was to start at 3:25pm but was a tad late so probably got under way nearer 4pm. This in itself was a problem as there was the issue with what to eat. I had decided earlier in the day that after breakfast I would use a Yelo muffin and coffee as my fuel for the race. I has these all done and dusted by 11am so logic dictated that by 3-4pm (after 1 banana) I would be ready to race. Truth be told I much prepare the 5k park run which starts at 8am and when I race these runs I normally do so on an empty stomach. Probably another mistake, Yelo muffins are not the prefect pre-5k meal. Pity.

It was windy which make the back straight feel pretty good but the home straight was a struggle. I did manage to get into a group for a few laps but was mostly battling alone.(Although I notice on the results a couple of French runners I had passed early seem to have magically finished a few seconds behind me. They are sneaky the French.)

I have attached the results below. Top 10 finish and 2nd Australian is a good result, position wise. I had hoped for a faster time but I feel the wind, racing last week, the late start, the American election etc. all played a part in me dropping 10-20 seconds. Truth be told I made a decision at the start to run with the leaders for the first few laps and a 3:11min/k first kilometre was, with hindsight, not the right thing to do. I did manage to put in another couple of half decent kilometres after that but the last two were a struggle, or should I say a ‘challenge‘.

Funnily enough I watching a 800m heptathlon heat before my 5k race and one of the runners bolted out of the traps like ‘greased lightning’, she probably has a 200m lead at the halfway mark. For the second lap it was obvious she had nothing left and she was nearly caught. What a difference a lap makes, even in an 800m race you can blow up. I did find some humour in that as I struggled home, though I would hope I did not look quite so ‘finished‘.

Top 10 finish and second Australian.
Top 10 finish and second Australian.


So what did I take from today.

  1. I am still not a fan of the track. Just too old I think.
  2. Went out too hard, too early and paid the price but that was always the game plan so got what I deserved.
  3. You can’t get a PB every time you put on a race singlet. (More’s the pity!)
  4. I need to be really careful with this last week of taper as i seem to have made a hash of the first one.
  5. Yelo muffins are not ideal pre-race nutrition. (This hurts the most.!)


Perth Masters 5k
Perth Masters 5k




What is worse over training or under training ?

After the Rottnest half last Sunday I entered the 2 week period all runners detest, the ‘taper.‘ As I have mentioned before as runners we like to run, when we want and normally as may times as we want. This is called ‘training’ and depending on your goals this can mean you get to run a lot. Running a lot is good, assuming of course you avoid the ‘I’ word ! (I’ll type it once but that’s it… injury. I even hate typing that word.)

At the end of a training block we are then faced with a 2-3 week taper period where we cut back on running to allow our weary legs to recover and better prepare for the goal race. It all sounds good to the untrained runner, they would think that after an intensive training block you’d be ready for some ‘downtime’. In theory of course you would think so but once we take our foot of the gas, so to speak, along comes ‘self doubt’ and his friends ‘niggles’,  ‘I’m coming down with something’ and the worse of the lot ‘weight gain’.  These four make the last 2 weeks pre-race a living hell for most runners.

Let’s start with the first one, ‘self doubt‘. I know I continually talk about trust in your training but even typing this I have a 5k race tomorrow at the Perth world Masters  ( http://www.perth2016.com ) and because I have been on vacation for a week I am wondering if I can still run 5k. ! Ridiculous I know but after a day resting my old mate ‘self doubt’ has got to work. I’m lucky at the moment because after self doubt along comes ‘niggles’.

Niggles‘ is a bad one because after weeks of pushing yourself without the faintest thought of any issues all of a sudden every tendon and muscle in your legs, and/or anywhere in your body really, is starting to feel tight. Your hammy , which has been made of steel for months, now feels about to break in two if you move anywhere fast. Ankles and ITB’s start to feel they are about to implode and you are certain it’s all over.

Unfortunately it gets worse when ‘I’m coming down with something’ pops along and you are by now just about suicidal. How is it every single person you come into contact with has a cold and insists on sneezing on you,  or in your vicinity ?  The train journey is like sharing a carriage with the walking dead, everybody it seems has one purpose in life and that is to infect you.

Finally, after negotiating ‘self doubt, niggles’ and ‘I‘m coming down with something along comes’ the worst of the lot ‘weight gain’. After working so hard to get down to your running weight, even racing weight, you now have 2 weeks where the appetite is still there and thinks you’re running your training distances. Alas you have halved your distance and thus all of a sudden you feel you look like ‘Jabba the Hutt’! Of course it gets worse as the last few days pre-marathon you have to carbo-load. What idiot thought of this ? When you are already stressing over the smallest morsal of food you are now forced to stuff yourself silly for three days. How can this possibly help unless the course is downhill and the added weight is useful with gravity as a co-pilot?

We are a fragile lot runners and these four serve to make the 2-3 week taper a living hell. I know runners who cannot handle the taper and train right up to the event just to avoid the whole process. For an ultra there may be something in this. I wouldn’t recommend training as hard but if you really need to run there could be the option to train slower and ‘recover‘ while running. Unfortunately the carbo-loading is not to be avoided for any distance from the marathon up. Sorry guys but sometimes you just go to eat the odd muffin or two.

So I’m sitting here with my mate ‘self doubt‘ on my shoulder and I’m sure his three friends are just around the corner , waiting to pounce. You’d have thought after 40 marathons and 16 ultra-marathons I’d be ready for them, unfortunately not.  Counting down the days to the World Masters Marathon because I love racing but also because after the marathon I can get back to what I love to do, run, and run a lot.. (maybe even add in a stack of pancakes or two because I can…)

Note: I actually outdid myself this time by adding extra pressure agreeing to a photoshoot for the local Sunday newspaper. So add ‘Pressure‘ to the four running nightmares. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

Local Sunday Newspaper..
Local Sunday Newspaper..



Beware of the selfish runner’s syndrome.

While I holiday with Rottnest I have made an effort to read as much as possible, in-between running of course. One of my favourite books is the running bible by Tim Noakes , ‘The Lore of Running’. A 921 page book of biblical proportions containing just about everything you ever need to know about running and more. It must be noted though, as pointed out by my friend Mike, ‘how can anyone write so much about running, it ain’t that complicated’. 

There are hundreds of extracts I could post on the blog but this one section caught my eye this morning which I think is worth sharing. It describes the selfish runner syndrome and balancing running with life’s other commitments (There are other commitments ? ….) Noel Carroll, an Irish double Olympian, describes runners as an introvert lot. ‘They like keep their thoughts to themselves. Their behaviour is at best antisocial , at worst utterly selfish…

What amused me in the book by Noakes was a section where he offered pointers to avoid the selfish runner syndrome, or at least mask it. One of his offerings was :-

Don’t allow running to affect the way you carry out your household responsibilities. Doing so provides your family with a tangible reminder that they come second.

What a classic quote from a by-gone age (I think?). So runners if you load the dishwasher once in  while and maybe even mow the lawn intermittently you may disguise the fact that running is far more important than your family.

It gets better,

Be aware of “danger times” – you will know what these are in your household. At these times, be at your most attentive and, at all costs, do not open your mail to see if your running magazines have arrived, discuss running, or, worst of all, go for a run. Weekends too must be handled carefully to ensure that running conflicts as little as possible with the family’s weekend recreation.

Not sure what to do when I live in ‘danger times’ constantly. ? Luckily we now have the internet so I can pretend to answer emails while secretly reading my online running magazines.

One last gold nugget from Noakes.

Don’t get overtired. As a runner with a family you just have to accept that, for the sake of your family, you simply can’t train hard enough to run your best. That is the price that must, realistically, be paid.

He is a wise man Noakes, I just hope my Wife never meets him or reads this.

All joking aside, which I assume Noakes was doing when he wrote these little gems, family life and running are not ideal bed partners. I often say to my non-running colleagues that I run early morning before the family awakes and lunchtime , when the family are miles away.  Truth be told this has the knock on affect of course that after I read my youngest her bed time story I sneak off to bed myself,  leaving my Wife to do whatever she does for a few hours. (‘Karen time’ I think she calls it )

When I was training for Comrades in 2008/2009 and 2010 I have three young Daughters. After my long runs, which would sometimes be up to 50k, I would return home and like limpets the girls were on me, excited to see their Dad return. Karen, my Wife, would of course then hand then over as she had looked after the girls till then. It made the afternoons as challenging as the previous 50k of running. Many times I would bundle the girls in to the car and find a park where I would position myself to watch over them from beneath the shade of a tree but that would be my contribution. The legs would be stiff and tired from the mornings exercise where as the girls were full of life. Sacrifices had to be make. Looking back I can see why most ultra-runners are older as after the mornings training nothing would have beaten a nap, after a good sized lunch of course.

Funnily enough I only started to run marathons ,and then ultra-marathons,  when I had my third daughter, I’m not sure if it was a conscience decision but running further, although harder, was still easier than looking after three young daughters, I’m sure Noakes would understand, not so sure about Karen.

As I get older I have managed to keep my love of running and even managed to up the training but this has the negative affect on any other sporting activity with my girls. Basketball, Tennis and Netball are all far too dangerous to an ageing runner who is one bad injury from retirement. As soon as any ball based game is offered I retort with how dangerous it would be for ‘my hammy’ and runners are ‘built to go in straight lines not move from side to side !’ The girls are less than impressed, another sacrifice us selfish runners make.

Truth be told my family does realise that running is important to me and they also realise it has stolen time that would have normally be assigned for them. Because of this they are flippant to the point of uninterested in any of my achievements which is a pity because it would be nice if they were to share in my successes (or failures)  but it seems I may have not followed Noakes successfully enough.

Running is a selfish sport and families do suffer because of it but I would hope my family realises that although I love my running nothing is more important to me than family. (Just don’t tell them I said that!)



In Running you really do need friends.

Running can be a lifetime commitment and in my opinion of course should be. If you can avoid injury and maintain the passion there is no need to ever stop running. Discussing this topic with my friend Dan he raised a good point that company is another factor that can prolong your running career.

Running with friends encourages participation, if only for the banter afterwards over pancakes.  In sunny Perth I have running friends who I have met over the years and together we formed the St. Georges Terrace Running Club. (We all work on St. Georges Terrace in Perth hence the name)  This entailed purchasing some great running tops (see below) which we actually had professionally designed and made. As a group run together most lunchtimes, encourage each other, offer advice and race together.

The St Georges Terrace Running Club. A finer bunch of runners you'll have trouble finding...
The St Georges Terrace Running Club. A finer bunch of runners you’ll have trouble finding…

Over the last 8 years I have met so many great runners who have become good friends and this week in Rottnest I holidayed with my friends Jon, Dan and Paul and their families; all people I have met through our love of running. So this bond keeps you running as before long you’ll find most of your friends are runners and you need to run to be able to add to the conversations, which invariably are about a new race to enter or current running goals etc.

As well as the St. Georges Terrace Club I am also a member of the West Australian Marathon Club. ( http://www.wamc.org.au ) (WAMC) and this is another source of good friends who I race against but also  share the same love of all things running. The WAMC put on around 30 events a year ranging from 4k unto 64k and each one is run and organised by volunteers.

Without these friends I would have found it difficult to maintain the passion as, although I enjoy some ‘Kev time‘  running alone , I also enjoy the banter running with a group. So I encourage all runners to seek out like minded people and spend time running with them. It will be a major factor in the length of your running career as when these runners become your friends spending time with them will encourage you to lace up the trainers.

It also helps at the end of the run as no one likes eating pancakes alone in the cafe.

Has the Ultra become the new Marathon.?

Running has become more and more popular not seen since the days of the Sony Walkman revolution of the early eighties when for the first time you could run with music. (To the young generation amongst us we used a  thing called a ‘tape’, analog not digital music. ) People new to running inevitably join a running club or run with more experienced friends and before they know it they’ve signed up for their first race. This is a good thing as I believe you never push yourself as much as when the competitive juices start to flow with a racing bib on your chest. One thing leads to another and before too long you’ve entered your first half or full marathon.

Invariably this distance is conquered and you’ve informed all your friends via Facebook and normally your work colleagues via daily updates on your progress. The problem arises though when the marathon doesn’t seem to cut it for kudos like it use to. In the office there seems to be quite a few marathoners and worse most are faster than you. You start to get compared to John in accounts who ran sub3 or even Sheila in Purchasing who ran has ran 10 marathons while juggling family commitments and a busy career. So these days to get some real kudos it’s time to take this running to the next level, the ultra-marathon.

The ultra has the added benefit of the slower you run the more kudos you get where as the marathon is these days about not only completing it but also setting a good time. Non runners are getting use to people telling them they’ve ran a marathon and have responded asking how long they took. Again they are wise to what they consider a good time and if you reply ‘4 hours’ they look at you with pity an asked ‘what went wrong’? Not so with the ultra-marathon. Because it is still not mainstream a non runner has no idea what a good or bad time is for an ultra and even if they did the distance can be varied to confuse them. Remember an ultra is anything longer than a marathon distance, it can be 42.3k upwards.

The ultra gets even better, they tend to be in far flung locations and have pretty serious titles, again earning kudos points. How good does an ‘ultra-marathon in Death Valley‘ sound. Death valley, c’mon, if that doesn’t get serious kudos around the drink fountain nothing will. Ok, Sheila from Purchasing has ran 10 marathons but she’s never ran an ultra-marathon in Death Valley. They have no idea where Death Valley is or even what an ultra-marathon is but who cares, you are now the running god in the office, someone who wouldn’t waste their time with silly ‘girl distance’ like marathons. The universe is realigned and you can ‘strut’ around the office yet gain.

The only downside to this new running adventure is the office folk then look to you for more and more longer distances and/or exotic locations. After your first ultra you can never repeat that distance as non-runners , although initially impressed , soon become impervious to distance running unless there is a serious upgrade or the location adds some spice. e.g. The Marathon Des Sable ( http://www.marathondessables.com/en/), the toughest footrace on Earth. ! ( ..On Earth? are they saying there’s a tougher footrace not on earth, the Moon 100k maybe? Now that would be worth talking about !??)

A word of warning of course you may come across the non runner who knows a thing or two about ultra-running and while you strut around the office sprouting off about a 100k race on the local trails,  basking in the adulation of the finance department,  they walk past and grunt it was ‘no Marathon Des Sables’. Instantly your credibility is destroyed and you sneak off back to your desk plotting your next adventure.

So to some up an ultra marathon may fill the void in the office kudos states. It has the benefit of still being relatively hardcore, in the view of the uneducated, allows you to focus on distance and not time (to counter that nasty sub3 runner in Accounts) and even allows you to slow down and take your time as the longer you take will actually earn more brownie points.  I won’t even start to mention the extra equipment you get to buy and use on ultra-marathons. The wardrobe options are endless and include camelbacks, gators, water belts and my mate Mark’s favourite a cappuccino machine. ! (He doesn’t actually bring along a cappuccino machine but he wore a water belt once that had so many accessories he might as well have!)  This can become more of a hindrance than a help as I always remember feeling my mate TB’s camelback at the end of the 6 inch ultra-marathon ( http://www.6inchtrailmarathon.com ) and it must have weighted 10k; and that was at the END of the race not the beginning !!

The 6 inch is a good example of the small step up needed from the marathon distance. Remember anything longer than a marathon is classed an ultra. The 6 inch is 46k (assuming you don’t get lost, which I have on a number of occasions!), so for that extra 4k you get to shoot down Sheila in Purchasing as you’ve ran an ultra-marathon and as everybody knows so much harder than the silly marathon…

So lookout Sheila,  we’re coming for you ?

6 Inch Trail
6 Inch Trail

After the Runners high comes the Runners low…

Everybody talks about the runners high, this sense of euphoria one experiences when they cross the line at a major goal event. I’ve discussed what I feel it is, a sudden overwhelming sense of relief, or release,  after you achieve something after putting yourself either under pressure or into the ‘pain box’. Anyway, after this ‘runners high’ you can sometimes come a cropper and experience what I term the ‘runners low’.

This feeling is the same in all sports and happens after achieving something you have worked so hard to do. There’s a classic scene (there are so many classic scenes in this movie of course.) in ‘Chariots of Fire’ when Harold Abrahams has just won the 100m gold and everybody else is celebrating while Harold himself is reserved and alone in the changing rooms. What Abrahams is struggling to come to terms with is success after so many years working towards that one 10 second race. All of a sudden he has no purpose, no target, no reason to do what he has been doing for so long. It must be daunting ?

The same can be true for us recreational marathon runners, albeit probably not as severe. Once we have completed the marathon and achieved the ‘runners high’ the next day all of sudden we have no goal. No reason to put in that early morning 5am start, no reason to double up or run a threshold until your lungs feel they are about to explode. There is no purpose after so many months of having something to achieve, a target to overcome. This feeling , coupled with the emotions of the previous few days of finishing a marathon, makes the runners high seem so long ago.

There is hope though and it as easy as getting on the internet and searching for the next goal, the next target, the next reason to structure a long term plan. Before you know it you’ve signed up for another race and it’s back on. Another phase begins towards another goal race which will probably have a target finish time just that little bit quicker than the previous race. Let’s face it we don’t do all this to slow down !

So my advice is to get back on the horse (so to speak, if you actually get on a horse you’ll probably get disqualified, remember this is a running blog!) and set yourself your next goal. It works for me, no off season, the next race is normally a few months away at worst but I know it’s there for me, waiting. Admittedly after a marathon I do feel low for a few days because I love to run marathons and the feeling you get when you finish one is why we do what we do. It has never let me down in 40 runs so far . (and the 16 ultra-marathons have also delivered of course)

Remember we are runners, we need a goal, something to make those 5am alarm calls worthwhile. What else is there to do at 5am in the morning anyway?

Another tick in the box pre-World Masters Marathon. Gotta’ love Rotto.

Rottnest half went very well. Trusted in my training and yet again it delivered. Finished with a comfortable second place after racing for the first 2 kilometres and then realizing that my opponent was running my 5k pace and was relaxed doing it. I had discussed the start with my friend (coach?) Dan Macey last night and his final words were go out slow and build into it. I did smile to myself when the first kilometre came up at 3:15min/k with the second only marginally slower. Time to wave goodbye to Stuart Caulfield, the winner by over 3 minutes in the end. Please note Stuart was running in the 20-24 age group. Doesn’t matter how much training I put in, age and talent will always beat plain hard work unfortunately. It was nice to keep Stu honest if only for 2k !

After Stu left I settled down in to a pace I was confident I could maintain to the finish and was happy with a 1:17:06. The conditions were brutal and I felt for the marathon runners. This year was the first year the marathon started nearly 2 hours later than normal and the weather had not been kind. I was done by 9:45am but most of the marathon runners had not even hit halfway. It got very warm very quickly.  So massive kudos to anyone who ran the marathon today, you earned your medal.

It wasn’t easy  running the half and seeing all the marathon runners working so hard. Running 2 laps on Rotto’ is hard work but the 4 lap course tests you like all good marathons should. Add in the 4 hills (I missed one when I was discussing Rotto’ a few days ago!) and times that by 4 gives you 16 hills and the heat was brutal..  All my friends reported suffering to new extremes and I was very quiet when asked how the half went. Couldn’t really compete with their ‘war stories’.

So todays lesson is again ‘trust your training’, if you put in the hard yards you will be rewarded on race day. I’ve said it so many times but this needs to be repeated, running is an honest sport, if you put in the time you will be rewarded. I’ve questioned myself over the last 4-5 weeks as I’ve been running some serious kilometres and then racing at the weekend. So far I’ve not been let down. Now though it is taper time and this is a difficult time for us runners. We love to run and the thought of not running does not excite me but I realise it is for the greater good.  I must admit to sneaking out for a 10k recovery this afternoon but I did take it easy and I’m a big believer in the benefits of running on fatigued legs.

So I have a week in Rotto with the family for the first week of my taper culminating with the 5k World Masters track on Saturday. This is a starter for the main course on November 6th, the marathon. ( http://www.parth2016.com ) It’s been a long journey to this race and I can see the finish line, just got to try and not run as much as normal. How hard can that be ?

Finally a bit shout out to Thomas Millard who ran 3rd male in the 5k and also first in the under 12, 20:25. It gets better, his sister, Jessica, was first female in the U12 and 7th female overall, 25:12. That is great running and the two of them are certain stars of the future. What a family, must be something in the water in that household. Outstanding.

Rottnest Half medal
Rottnest Half medal
More bling, don't mind if I do..
More bling, don’t mind if I do..

Holiday with Matt Fitzgerald

While I’m on holiday I like to try and read or,  even reread,  running books. Remember as a running tragic if I’m not running I like to read about running. There are so many good authors out there who have written so many good books it would be silly not to. Even now I’ve only brought 3 running books with me and I may need to call my Wife who is coming out Monday to bring a few more as I’ll probably finish these (they are all rereads actually) by the end of the weekend.

Of course my staple diet is Matt Fitzgerald and his ’80/20 Running’ . This has become my bible of late as I step up my training distance to over 100miles (160k) a week. By making sure 80% of this volume is low intensity I am able to sustain this without any fatigue issues. As Matt mentions in his book there are a few extra rules, small print, to his 80/20 Running blueprint.

He comments that the 80%/20% split is a guideline and not to follow religiously. It is more of a moving target and serves as a best case rather than a ‘set in stone’ target. Rather it is there to make sure you don’t over compensate either way e.g. 100/0 , 30/70 or 50/50. ‘The ideal balance of training intensities is a narrow range rather than a precise ratio’ . With periodization you may move the ratio more to the easy as you build up your base and just pre-race this ratio may change as you run more race-pace runs Once you have raced you may taper,  when again the shift is more to the 80% slower runs.

Matt also mentions training cycles and puts twenty-four weeks as probably the maximum the body , and mind, can sustain to absorb increased training loads. Looking ay my training lately I’m probably 16 weeks into a  heightened training program so it looks like I may have timed it pretty will with two weeks left pre-Masters Marathon.

Other rules Matt describes are topics I have touched on in previous posts and all make good sense. Build up your weekly average slowly and he even mentions no more than an average increase of 10 miles a week per year. I personally think this is far too conservative i.e. if your average weekly mileage was 20 miles one year I can see no reason why, if you were to commit to running,  and follow all the training rules you could not increase to any distance , within reason of course.  Limiting yourself to 30 miles a week average seems too restrictive. Sorry Matt it looks like you’re not perfect, or I’m wrong. (which has happened before funnily enough.)

Matt also describes the hard/easy principle where you should not have two hard training sessions in a row. As I described in a previous post the recovery run after a hard session is as good, if not better,  than the original hard run because you are running on fatigued legs. Thus even though it is a recovery run you are still preforming some good and increasing fitness, how good is that?

His fourth rule describes the tried and tested workouts which he splits into low intensity runs , these include the recovery runs, foundation runs and long runs. Next is the moderate intensity which include the fast finish runs (as the name suggests making the last few kilometres your fastest, and one of my favorite runs due to training with Tony Smith !!! AKA the T-train) . Next are the Tempo run, Cruise intervals and long runs with speed play. Finally is the high intensity runs which include speed play (fartlek), hill repetitions, short intervals or long intervals and mixed intervals. So many ways to have so much fun.

Finally Matt mentions Step Cycles where the running load is varied week to week , making each week slightly more challenging than the preceding, typically these adjustments are by increasing or decreasing volume. His last rule describes training progressively as you move towards your goal race. If it is a 5k your training should culminate with training sessions done at or near 5k pace. Likewise for a half you would sharpen up with a few workouts that closely simulate  the endurance and intensity demands of that specific distance.

All these rules make sense and have certainly helped me rediscover some racing form of late. I would highly recommend you search out any Matt Fitzgerald  ( http://mattfitzgerald.org/ ) literature, he knows what he is taking about.


Holiday light reading
Holiday light reading