October 2017

After a marathon it’s time to smell the roses. (and eat pancakes)

It’s now been just over a week since I ran marathon number 43 on Rottnest Island and managed to grab a 2nd place. I normally give myself 2-3 days off after running a marathon but as I stay on Rottnest Island for a week post marathon I restrict my non-running days so I can take advantage of the running conditions available to me. Rottnest is a beautiful Island with no cars , bar the maintenance vehicles, and kilometres of undulating hills and trails, with little or no other runners. (  http://www.rottnestisland.com ) An opportunity like this only comes around once a year so I can’t just lay on the beach and frolic in the sea, that would be silly ? I may treat myself to an extra coffee and danish but other than that it is normal training,  albeit maybe just one run a day, I am on holiday.

Lay on the beach and miss running these roads, never going to happen !

The solitude of getting up early before the first ferry arrives and exploring the Island is inspiring and although the legs are complaining the views and atmosphere of the Island entice you along, adding one extra kilometre after another. Of course when I return home for breakfast it has to be a trip to Geordie bay for a large cappuccino and pancake stack with maple syrup and bacon, a match made in heaven.  No worrying about calories or nutrition the week after a marathon, your body craves all things nutritional and that includes sugar, carbs and fat (good or bad). The week after a marathon is a time to treat yourself for all the hard work that has gone into the previous months of training. I’m sure there has been times you’ve missed out on a night out with friends due to an upcoming long run or dessert as you’re watching your weight pre-race. Well all that goes out the window post-marathon,  albeit briefly. Meb Keflexighi, America’s greatest marathon runner, ( https://marathonmeb.com ) aims to put on 10 pounds after a marathon and enjoys ‘letting himself go’, his book ‘Meb for Mortals‘ is a must read and I personally thoroughly enjoyed it. Meb is retiring from competition at the New York Marathon this year and will spend his time training others. if you live in the States you can sign up for some Meb time from his website. Unfortunately couldn’t see a way to sign up with my Australian address. If anyone does sign up could they let me know how it all goes ?

 

The Geordie bay cafe pancake stack, a runners dream.

There’s a great article from the running competitor website on marathon recovery which highlights several areas that require almost total rest for at least a week or more. As I said earlier in the post being on Rottnest for the week leaves no time for recovery, I’m having too much fun running and eating pancake stacks, but that could be the point I suppose ?

The Importance Of Recovery After A Marathon

When I get back to the mainland I start to think about the next race, there is always a ‘next race’ otherwise what is the point ? I’m not one of these ‘I run for the thrill of being at one with nature’ type runners, no, no, no , for me it’s about the rush of competition and the bib on my chest which keeps me coming back for more. Don’t get me wrong I love the training and truth be told my favourite sessions are the ‘smell the roses’ type recovery/easy runs, but the pain box and competition is where its’ at.  Racing yourself and trying to go faster than you have ever ran before, c’mon you know this is why we do what we do. I certainly a Steve Prefontaine when it comes to racing and often recite his quotes pre-race to inspire me, he has a few.

A Steve Prefontaine classic quote.

Not sure how I started this post citing rest days and recovery links and then ended up with classic Steve Prefontaine quotes advocating suicide pace and today being a good day to die ? That’s a thing with writing, it’s like running on Rottnest, you never know where it’s going to take you, and maybe that’s the point.

A marathon in paradise, there is no other description.

On the weekend I ran the Rottnest Marathon for the 11th time, marathon number 43 (61 if you include ultra-marathons). Rottnest Island is about 20k off the Perth coastline, a small island that is stunning as it is brutal.   ( http://www.rottnestisland.com  ) The marathon itself is a 2k initial loop and then a 10k loop four times, sounds like fun eh? Add in 3 good hills on each lap and some serious heat and you have the recipe for a brutal test of ‘mind over marathon’. The weekend didn’t let me down this year with some serious heat to contend with from the outset as the WAMC, (West Australian Marathon Club) who organise the event (  http://www.wamc.org.au  )  , start the race at 6:45am to account for the marathon runners who like to get up really early and add a 45 minute ferry journey to the pre-start logistics. Personally  I can think of nothing worse then playing Russian roulette with the ocean conditions and hoping for a smooth crossing after training for 6 months minimum . Call me old fashioned but I’d prefer paying the cost of at least one nights accommodation on the island so you’re guaranteed a good nights sleep, and a nice leisurely stroll to the start line,  rather than risk a George Clooney inspired ‘Perfect Storm’ crossing.  Both years since they started the early ferry option the crossing has been bearable but it’s just a matter of time before runners are ejected from a hell crossing, losing about half their body weight in vomit,  straight to the start line of a brutal marathon, that is really going to hurt trust me.  Anyhow, I digress, back to the start.

This is the 24th running of the Rottnest Marathon and as I said earlier my 11th. I’ve ran 8 of the last 9 only missing last year as I chose to race the inaugural half-marathon as I had the World Masters marathon 2 weeks later. I felt quite a fraud running only two laps as my fellow runners battled four laps in some hot conditions. Luckily this year was more of the same, maybe even a bit hotter, so it was my turn to run the ‘man’s distance’.  (please note this is not a slant on women but I can’t think of a better description at the moment?) After a minutes silence and some powerful bagpipe music for a fallen runner and a good friend, Andre Bartels, we set off.  My friend Zac was determined to try and run around the 2hr 45minute mark for the marathon which, given the conditions,  would be a winning time but also a bid risk, given the terrain and heat combination. Zac set off at an incredible pace which I matched initially but always knew that time was out of my league and was happy to let him disappear into the distance before we even got to the first last proper after an initial 2-3k loop. I was joined by another runner aiming for a podium , Matt McNally, and together we moved onto the first lap proper.

Sharing a joke with Zac at the start. I mentioned we’d opened up a large gap after the first 100 metres, probably not a good idea in a marathon?

Whenever I run Rottnest my main goal is to finish top 5 as they hand out medals for the first 5 and also win my age group. If I do that Rottnest has been a success, anything better is a bonus. Over the years at Rotto’ I have placed 2nd, 3rd, 4th , 5th and 6th so I’ve been reasonably successful. (Note; this is mainly due to Rotto’ being a small field due to the testing conditions and the logistics of having to stay the night , before the early ferry option the last couple of years.) This year was my first in the 50-59 age category so I was confident of an age group win, well more confident than being the oldest in a 10 year age group window. Anyhow I was more than happy sitting in the top 3 moving along around the 4min/k pace I was hoping to sustain throughout the four laps. As I have said many times on this blog, in a marathon the person who slows down the least wins, this was so nearly true as I will show later in this post.  After the first lap Matt up’d the pace and I was happy to let him go, in a marathon you run your own race and what will be , will be, there is no point staying with another runner who is running quicker early in the race as it will end in tears. This goes back to my the runner who slows the least wins previous quote, this is doubly true for Rottnest because of the heat and the terrain, make a bad decision early on in Rottnest and that last lap becomes even longer and the hills even steeper, trust me on this I speak from experience.

So after crossing the start/finish line I moved on to lap 2 alone, sitting in third place. The half marathon had started just before I had arrived so I instantly started passing the slower half marathon runners. This continued for the whole of the second lap which was, truth be told, uneventful.  I continued to maintain my 4min/k pace while struggling with the oppressive heat which was of course rising by the minute. Toward the end of the second lap I passed the halfway point which is always a relief and I always picture myself ‘touching a post’ and then returning from where I had come. This is a mental ‘pick me up‘ and always seems to help with the next 10k or so until I move too ‘finish mode‘ at 32k onwards.  I went through the finish line again for the second time and made some ground on Matt who was initially only a few hundred metres ahead. Coming out of the settlement I put in a spurt and got to within 50m of Matt but then decided the pace was unsustainable and let him go, returning to my 4min/k pace.

Running past the piper, on the last lap you get to put a gold coin donation in the bucket.

The third lap on Rottnest is the defining lap of the marathon. The first two laps are to prepare you for lap three where it all comes together or falls apart. Today was going to be my day and I was determined to reach the start of lap four with something left in the tank. Head down I continued to pass half marathon runners while seeing no one in front of me fro the marathon and not looking behind. The cardinal sin of racing is to look behind you, it only ever encourages your pursuer, if you get the chance of a sideways glance while you turn a corner all good but never directly look behind you.  Truth be told I had no idea who was behind me and how far they were behind me, I was happy enough in third place behind two very good runners who I considered more than good enough to keep ahead of me. Moving through the start and finish line for the penultimate time , moving from lap three to lap four , I was encouraged by the announcers who informed me Zac had been passed by Matt and looked like he had blown up spectacularly. Remember earlier I said Zac was aiming for 2hrs 45minutes and this was a dangerous tactic, it seemed the heat, pace and a possible stomach virus had combined to derail his day.  This was confirmed a few kilometres later when I passed him quickly on the salt lake, he was not in a good place with 8k to go, it would be a long 8k for Zac.

So I was sitting in second place which was more than I could have hoped for at the start of the day, better still I had got to lap four in good shape and could still maintain my 4min/k average which meant I was now lapping some of the faster half marathon runners. This kept me honest as there was always a ‘bunny’ to chase ahead. I worked hard maintaining my pace as with 6k to go I knew if I could keep running I would be good for a 2nd place finish. My running buddy Luke , who was second last year with a 2:52 finish, told me he had walked a few times on his last lap the previous year and I suspected he’d do the same today as the conditions were more brutal than 2016. If I didn’t walk I reckoned he wouldn’t catch me. (This was actually how it panned out with Luke taking 3rd place and admitting to me afterwards he had walked like the previous year. I suspect next year he won’t walk that last lap so I’ll need to raise  my game again, the joys of competition! )

The last lap was a test of course and this was soon to become even more so when I spotted Matt coming back to me just before the last hill at Longreach. All of a sudden my ‘happy with 2nd‘ changed to ‘I could win this‘, remember the person who slows the least wins, I had put myself within 10 metres of first place,  with less than 2k to go. Unfortunately Matt had something left in the tank and as soon as he breached the hill he set off at 3:50min/k pace and left me , again. I continued to move along at just over 4min/k pace but had no sprint finish, it was to be another bridesmaid  run at Rottnest, albeit a lot closer than my last second place in 2013. In the end 25 seconds separated myself and Rottnest victory, after over 2 hours and 48 minutes of racing. my finish time of 2hours 48 minutes and change was more than I could have hoped for and a 2nd place another massive bonus but what could have been…

One happy runner who is smiling, on the inside !

The marathon itself was brutal of course but satisfying in so many ways. Got to run my 2nd fastest Rottnest Marathon at my 11th attempt, age group win and a podium finish. All my goals ticked. Add in the fastest last lap of the field and I’ve taken some confidence into my next race mid December, the trail ultra marathon that is the 6 Inch Ultra. ( http://www.6inchtrailmarathon.com ) This bad boy can make Rottnest seems flat if the conditions turn on you, but that’s another post for another day. Last thing , can’t leave with a Quokka photo. This is my best from my week on the Island.

 

My best Quokka shot of the holiday..google it.

Footnote: Rereading this post it sounded like the run itself was maybe too easy. Thinking back on the event I realised I may have left out a few details which may help readers in their battle with the marathon distance, because people it is a battle.  My target was a sub 2:50 time which was why I set the pace around 4min/k average pace to give me a few minutes in the bag for the inevitable pace pressure of the third and fourth laps, I say ‘pace pressure‘ I mean fatigue and general ‘I am knackered , why the hell do I do this‘, type thoughts. The first 10k were uneventful but there were thoughts of stopping as early as the end of the first lap. Running behind Matt he had opened up a lead and, as I was slipping away, I suddenly just wanted to stop running knowing what was ahead, that being 32k and heat, hills and pain. I feel sometimes the pressure I put on myself by doing this blog and the bravado I sometimes seem to portray can be a double edged sword. Sometimes the fear of failure is greater than the sweet smell of success and what I fear most is slowing down, in-fact I know that to be true. Being advanced in age I realise that I cannot be expected to hold my position at the pointy end of the field ad infinitum, each race may be my last competing for podiums. This is why I probably race as much as I do, the sands of time are dropping through my racing egg timer, how much is left? At halfway I was in a beer place than 10k previous but the third lap was a test and although not as bad as the first lap there were thoughts of pulling the pin.

So far in my career I have never DNF’d a race and this alone has kept me honest on a number of occasions when the urge too just stop has been compelling. I always feel that once you DNF once it will become an option moving forward in all your races and easier each time. This is my personal feeling so please do not take offence as sometimes a DNF is the right thing to do. I know a number of my friends who have continued when they should have stopped and this has resulted in chronic fatigue sickness which they still struggle with, basically they cooked them themselves and it really is game over. Luckily I have never reached that point but unfortunately being the stubborn bugger I am know I will probably continue on to the finish and pay the consequences. Rottnest was not to be that day but believe me I suffered with all the runners but also succeeded with all the runners at the finish. That’s the thing with marathon running, ask a runner in the last 10k if they will do another marathon and most will say no, probably not as politely. Ask them 24 hours after the finish and you will get a different answer, probably. This is why we come back for more, the euphoric feeling when you cross the line, there is a runners high and trust me it is worth the pain and so much more.

Two more points before I sign off this war and peace post. (I hope somebody actually reads this ?). Rottnest proved yet again that marathon running is as much mental as physical. Of course you need to train and trust in your training but mentally you need to be prepared to ask yourself some tough questions. Anybody can run a marathon but to really appreciate a marathon you need to race it and by race it I really mean race yourself. You set yourself a target time and it is all about you putting yourself though hell and back to get that time, to do this and achieve your goal is what a marathon is about. Once you have experienced that feeling of achievement as you cross the line you will be hooked and want to do it again and again, trust me.  I saw so many runners at Rotto battling through 4, 5 and even 6 hours of racing when stopping would have been the easier option. These runners really deserve the accolade, medals and trophies , these battle longer and harder than the elites who finish hours earlier and are sipping gatorade and giving interviews while they toil on.  It is a privilege to watch these runners race themselves and cross that line victorious in their one-on-one battle with themselves and the marathon distance. That’s why the marathon is such a personal goal, it really is you against yourself and it just makes you a better person, period.

Last point, I promise. Everybody talks about a marathon as a 42.2k foot race over in a few hours, this couldn’t be further from the truth. A marathon is 6 months (minimum) of putting your life on hold and sacrificing everything you hold dear including family, friends, time, sleep and diet. To do a marathon justice you need to put it ahead of everything and the last 42.2k is just that, the last long run in a multitude of long runs. A marathon is Saturday night running round a dark park in the wind and rain when all your friends are in the pub or sat down watching TV in the comfort of their lounge. It is waking before the birds and struggling out of a warm bed into the cold morning, normally alone, and exercising when your body and mind tell you to stop. It’s about missing those morning tea’s with your work colleagues and those Friday night drinks as you have a long run planned Saturday. It really is about sacrifice but somewhere along the line it changes from being sacrifice to being the ‘norm’ and dare I say you even start to enjoy it. When this happens you become a ‘marathoner’, when every run is like the first and you’re excited about your next goal be it a 5k , ultra or even just a tempo session, this does happen eventually. I’m typing this excited about my next training block as I prepare for a 10k in a few days and then two shorter races before my next ultra in December. I’m as excited about my next run as I was about my first many, many years ago, I hope this feeling never changes…….

Right, enough typing, I’m going for a run.

 

I’m normal tea-total but once ever 10 years treat myself to a Guinness.

Sometimes muffins can actually make you faster.

A thing of beauty, and it seems for three days pre-marathon a performance enhancer.

 

Marathon training involves months of sacrifice to be able to be in the best condition possible on the day to achieve your personal goal. There are so many things that can derail you it’s a wonder anyone even gets to the start line at all. Of the ones that do a high percentage have ‘issues‘ or have had ‘issues‘ over the course of their training,  so very few are standing at the start line in the best condition they could possibly be in, full of beans about to explode into the run of their life.  This in itself keeps runners returning to the marathon because most of the time they know they could have done something different in their training or have been better prepared if ‘x‘ didn’t happen (for ‘x‘ insert one of hundreds of ailments or injuries) Very few get to run the perfect race.

Sometimes though marathon training gives back and three days before the big day is such an occasion. It does this by advocating carbo-loading, which translates into ‘muffin time baby!‘ . The common held believe is that carbo-loading is good for a 2-3% performance increase ; which over a marathon is a few minutes. I’ve said this before but what other sport allows you to eat muffins for three days before a big race and actually improve your performance, it is a wonderful thing. It’s just a pity it only lasts for three days and you need to probably work  your balls off for 3 months before, minimum. (Imagine if it was the other way around, I’m not sure my bank account could cope with the Yelo muffin bill !)

Of course I’m not talking about going ‘muffin crazy’ for three days, you can have one per day as well as lots of pasta, OJ, honey on toast, yoghurt and for my American cousins bagels. You need to aim for 10g of carbo-hydrates for every kilo of body weight. For me , at around 70kg, I look to consume about 700g of carbs a day for the last three days before the marathon. Trust me people this is a lot of carbs. (and a lot of muffins if I choose the ‘muffin only’ approach, which is probably suicidal!, probably….) You will feel bloated and, if not, you’re probably not eating enough carbs unfortunately.  I would suggest a very large proportion of runners who try to carbo-load never actually do it right and just end up putting on weight, feeling like crap and achieving no real benefit. It, like all things in life, takes practice and experience.

Personally I eat a muffin (Yelo of course) for breakfast or weetbix and a banana ,  2-3 bananas per day,  2 rounds of honey on toast throughout the day, a few OJ’s, two smallish serves of pasta (lunch and dinner) and some yoghurt in the evening, while sipping on either electrolytes or water constantly. This leads to plenty of time in the men’s toilet and your urine should really be virtually clear most of the day.  Staying hydarated is another pre-requisite of a successful carbo-loading process.

Do you need to stuff yourself full of carbs for three days pre-race ? There are alternatives and/or other options. The first alternative is from a Western Australians University who studied the carbo-loading process and came up with a different , quicker, option while consuming less food.  Matt Fitzgerald studied this approach and two others in his article below :-

 

The practice of carbo-loading dates back to the late 1960s. The first carbo-loading protocol was developed by a Swedish physiologist named Gunvar Ahlborg after he discovered a positive relationship between the amount of glycogen (carbs stored in the muscles and liver) in the body and endurance performance. Scientists and runners had already known for some time that eating a high-carbohydrate diet in the days preceding a long race enhances performance, but no one knew exactly why until Ahlborg’s team zeroed in on the glycogen connection.

Subsequently, Ahlborg discovered that the muscles and liver are able to store above-normal amounts of glycogen when high levels of carbohydrate consumption are preceded by severe glycogen depletion. The most obvious way to deplete the muscles of glycogen is to eat extremely small amounts of carbohydrate. A second way is to engage in exhaustive exercise.

The stress of severe glycogen depletion triggers an adaptive response by which the body reduces the amount of dietary carbohydrate that it converts to fat and stores, and increases the amount of carbohydrate that it stores in the liver and muscles as glycogen.

Ahlborg referred to this phenomenon as glycogen supercompensation. Armed with this knowledge, he was able to create a more sophisticated carbo-loading protocol than the primitive existing method, which was, more or less, eating a big bowl of spaghetti.

The Ahlborg Method

Ahlborg came up with a seven-day carbo-loading plan in which an exhaustive bout of exercise was followed by three or four days of extremely low carbohydrate intake (10 percent of total calories) and then three or four days of extremely high carbohydrate intake (90 percent of total calories).

The Ahlborg
Carbo-Loading Method

  1. Perform an exhaustive workout one week before a long race (90 minutes-plus).

  2. Consume a very low-carb diet (10%) for the next 3-4 days while training lightly.

  3. Consume a very high-carb diet (90%) the next 3-4 days while continuing to train lightly.

Trained athletes who used this protocol in an experiment were able to nearly double their glycogen stores and exhibited significantly greater endurance in exercise lasting longer than 90 minutes.

After these results were published, endurance athletes across the globe began to use Ahlborg’s carbo-loading plan prior to events anticipated to last 90 minutes or longer. While it worked admirably, it had its share of drawbacks.

First of all, many athletes weren’t keen on performing an exhaustive workout just a week before a big race, as the plan required. Second, maintaining a 10 percent carbohydrate diet for three or four days carried some nasty consequences including lethargy, cravings, irritability, lack of concentration and increased susceptibility to illness. Many runners and other athletes found it just wasn’t worth it.

The No-depletion Method

Fortunately, later research showed that you can increase glycogen storage significantly without first depleting it. A newer carbo-loading protocol based on this research calls for athletes to eat a normal diet of 55 to 60 percent carbohydrate until three days before racing, and then switch to a 70 percent carbohydrate diet for the final three days, plus race morning.

The No-Depletion
Carbo-Loading Method

  1. Perform a long workout (but not an exhaustive workout) one week before race day.
  2. Eat normally (55-60% carbohydrate) until three days before a longer race.
  3. Eat a high-carb diet (70%) the final three days before racing while training very lightly.

As for exercise, this tamer carbo-loading method suggests one last longer workout (but not an exhaustive workout) done a week from race day followed by increasingly shorter workouts throughout race week. It’s simple, it’s non-excruciating, and it works. Admittedly, some scientists and athletes still swear that the Ahlborg protocol is more effective, but if it is, the difference is slight and probably not worth the suffering and inherent risks.

Note that you should increase your carbohydrate intake not by increasing your total caloric intake, but rather by reducing fat and protein intake in an amount that equals or slightly exceeds the amount of carbohydrate you add. Combining less training with more total calories could result in last-minute weight gain that will only slow you down.

Be aware, too, that for every gram of carbohydrate the body stores, it also stores 3 to 5 grams of water, which leads many athletes to feel bloated by the end of a three-day loading period. The water weight will be long gone by the time you finish your race, however.

The Western Australia Method

The newest and perhaps the best of all the carbo-loading strategies was devised in 2002 by scientists at the University of Western Australia. It combines depletion and loading and condenses them into a one-day time frame.

The creators of this innovative protocol recognized that a single, short workout performed at extremely high intensity creates a powerful demand for glycogen storage in both the slow-twitch and fast-twitch fibers of the muscles. They hypothesized that following such a workout with heavy carbohydrate intake could result in a high level of glycogen supercompensation without a lot of fuss.

In an experiment, the researchers asked athletes to perform a short-duration, high-intensity workout consisting of two and a half minutes at 130 percent of VO2max (about one-mile race pace) followed by a 30-second sprint. During the next 24 hours, the athletes consumed 12 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of lean muscle mass. This resulted in a 90-percent increase in muscle glycogen storage.

 

The Western Australia
Carbo-Loading Method

  1. During the pre-race week, eat normally while training lightly until the day before a longer race.

  2. On the morning of the day before the race, perform a very brief, very high-intensity workout

 

Runners have cause to be very pleased by these findings. Doing just a few minutes of high-intensity exercise the day before a competition will not sabotage tomorrow’s performance, yet it will suffice to stimulate the desirable carbohydrate “sponging” effect that was sought in the original Ahlborg protocol. This allows the athlete to maintain a normal diet right up until the day before competition and then load in the final 24 hours.

The Western Australia carbo-loading strategy works best if preceded by a proper taper–that is, by several days of reduced training whose purpose is to render your body rested, regenerated, and race-ready. In fact, several days of reduced training combined with your normal diet will substantially increase your glycogen storage level even before the final day’s workout and carbohydrate binge.

When you exercise vigorously almost every day, your body never gets a chance to fully replenish its glycogen stores before the next workout reduces them again. Only after 48 hours of very light training or complete rest are your glycogen levels fully compensated. Then the Western Australia carbo-loading regimen can be used to achieve glycogen supercompensation.

Having said all of this, I would like to note finally that carbo-loading in general has been shown to enhance race performance only when athletes consume little or no carbohydrate during the race itself. If you do use a sports drink or sports gels to fuel your race effort–as you should–prior carbo-loading probably will have no effect. But it doesn’t hurt to do it anyway, as insurance.

 

For the purists, who want their daily muffin,  Karla Douglass Thom describes the stereotypical approach :-

 

Endurance athletes have long touted the benefits of carbo-loading – which, for most, simply involved scarfing down lots of pasta and bread the night before a race and calling it good. A smart carb-cramming plan, however, is slightly more strategic.

Research suggests, for example, that starting to ramp up carb intake a few days before an event can provide the best results. It also shows that by carbing up properly, an athlete can maximize endurance, maintain focus and improve strength.

Carbo-loading – the practice of increasing one’s intake of carbohydrates, particularly for a performance-related event or intense training session – is critical for endurance athletes. Carbo-loading tops off muscles’ glycogen stores, which power your muscles for maximum performance. The more glycogen you have socked away, the longer you’ll last. And those who exercise hard enough to deplete their muscles of glycogen (a process that generally takes 60 to 90 minutes of strenuous exercise, so think runners, cyclists and cross-country skiers – not low-key walkers or joggers) will need more than their usual dose of carbs to keep them going.

A Method to the Macaroni

Carbo-loading works best when you’ve already been eating a carbohydrate-rich diet during your training regimen, according to the Mayo Clinic, because during that time your body has learned to use the carbs you eat more effectively. In fact, research from the Human Performance Laboratory at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., suggests that well-trained athletes who log long training sessions teach their muscles to store up to 25 percent more glycogen.

Ideally, endurance athletes’ diets should already be carb-rich, so carbo-loading mainly consists of bumping up your ratio of carbs to fats and proteins even further. You shouldn’t take in more calories; rather, just eat more oatmeal, fewer eggs, more potatoes, less steak. A week before your event (when, ideally, you’ll begin the carbo-loading process), you should also reduce the intensity and duration of your workouts in order to rest and rebuild your muscles.

During your carbo-loading phase, carbs should constitute about 60 to 70 percent of your daily caloric intake. Specifically, shoot for 3 to 5 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight each day. So, a 130-pound woman would need from 390 to 650 grams of carbs in her diet per day, and a 180-pound man would strive for 540 to 900 grams per day. (At the beginning of your loading cycle, start at the lower end of the range; by the end, strive for the higher end.)

Keep in mind, though, that carbo-loading isn’t an excuse to scrap your nutritional needs: It’s important to maintain a healthy diet that includes vitamin- and mineral-packed foods such as fruits, veggies and legumes. According to the Mayo Clinic, about 10 to 15 percent of your non-carb calories should be from lean protein in meat, poultry or fish, and about 15 to 20 percent of your calories should come from healthy fats.

Load Your Own Way

Carbo-loading isn’t just for high-stakes competition, according to sports nutritionist Monique Ryan, MS, RD, author of Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes (VeloPress, 2002). She notes that both athletes and fitness enthusiasts should experiment with carbo-loading throughout their training.

Every body responds to carbs a little differently, so your training cycle is the perfect time to figure out what your body likes and digests the best.

Generally, complex sugars, such as those in whole-grain pasta or an apple, are absorbed by your system more slowly than the simple sugars found in a white-flour bagel or cookie. That means complex carbs deliver more long-lasting energy. Simple sugars, on the other hand, provide a quick burst of short-lived fuel for your muscles’ energy needs, but they don’t usually offer much nutritional value.

To each his own digestive system, however. “All carbs have their own unique glucose and insulin curve in each individual,” notes Ryan. The point is, what works best for your training partner might not be ideal for you.

Keep It Clean

Carbo-loading priorities aside, when it comes to nutrition, the old rule still applies: “In general, athletes want to focus on quality carbs from fruits, vegetables and wholesome grain foods for the bulk of their carbohydrates. These nutrient-dense foods offer not only the fuel needed for top performance, but also the vitamins and minerals that are like spark plugs for the body’s engine,” says Nancy Clark, MS, RD, a Boston-area sports nutritionist and author of Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook (Human Kinetics Publishers, 2003).

Athletes don’t necessarily have to avoid sugar altogether. Most dietitians assert that it’s acceptable for them (like everyone else) to take in up to 10 percent of their calories from refined sugars. For the athlete who eats 3,000 calories per day, that might equate to a midafternoon Frappucino or ice cream for dessert. But if you’re eating processed energy bars or shakes for training, or nursing a soda habit, you could easily be getting your sugar quota that way, too.

Read labels carefully, and remember, because refined sugars are a pro-inflammatory (and thus antirecovery) food, and because they tend to reduce your immunity, you’re best off minimizing your refined-sugar intake as much as possible. Try the natural supplement stevia for everyday sweetening, and save your sugar for feel-good treats you really enjoy.

Calculating Carbs

It’s a good idea to know which foods provide the biggest carbohydrate bang per serving, but you don’t necessarily have to approach each meal with a fork and a calculator. Marathoner Deena Kastor, who won bronze at the 2004 Olympics, believes that once you understand how your body processes different carbohydrates – that is, which foods provide lasting energy for you – you can approach your meals with an intuitive sense of what you need.

“I focus on adding another heaping spoonful of pasta or a few more potatoes,” she says. “Before the Athens marathon, I also ate a lot of dense fruits with high sugar content: pears, bananas, grapes. They replaced a lot of electrolytes and minerals I knew I was sweating out.”

But while emphasizing fruits might work for Deena, Clark warns that, for some athletes, the fiber content in some fruits might result in unwanted pit stops along the racecourse. Generally, though, the more adjusted your body is to eating whole foods, the less of a problem this is likely to be.

Common Mistakes

As you perfect your personal carbo-loading plan, there are certain things to avoid. For instance, research supports skipping the “depletion phase” of classic carbo-loading. The old-school depletion approach included hard workouts a week or so before competition to drain the muscles of glycogen, followed by a few days of a low-carb diet to further sweep out the shelves. In the final few days before the race, adherents then switched to a high-carb diet to saturate the muscles with glycogen.

While that approach does work, a study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine in 1981 found that eliminating the depletion phase works just as well and can prevent athletes from feeling sluggish and irritable the week of their event. “The depletion phase accomplishes no more than what simply resting and eating properly does,” Ryan says.

Other tried-and-true advice you can take to the table:

1. Don’t experiment with new foods during the week before competition. If you’re traveling to an event and are tempted to try the local fare, hold off until after the race.

2. Skip the high-fiber foods the day before the event. Unless you are used to eating them as part of your regular diet and know you tolerate them well, raw vegetables, beans, bran and the like may leave you feeling bloated and gassy when the gun goes off. Also, avoid fatty foods that take a long time to digest. Stick with high-carb, easily digestible foods like pasta and fruit.

3. Don’t obsess about weight gain. Proper carbo-loading will cause you to put on a little weight, because with each gram of glycogen your muscles store about 3 grams of water. “A well-loaded athlete will gain about 2 to 4 pounds of water weight,” Clark says.

Burn, Bagel, Burn

“Carbo-loading will provide higher-than-normal glycogen stores,” Ryan says, “but even ‘fully loaded’ marathoners will lose steam between miles 15 and 20. If you’re exercising for that long, you’ll still have to take in carbohydrates during the event.”

An hour or so into a training session or competition, it’s wise to begin refueling your muscles with glucose. At this point, whether you eat a cookie or ingest a sports gel doesn’t really matter, although packets of gels and other foods designed for eating and drinking on the go are convenient to carry, go down quickly and tend to be easily digestible.

If you’re eager to stretch your glycogen stores and your athletic potential to the max, keep these carbo-loading guidelines in mind: Experiment with your carb intake during your training routine, start carbo-loading well before race day, and push the carbs while controlling your calories and nutrition. Do this on a regular basis and you’ll find that carbo-loading isn’t much different than any other aspect of race preparation: It all comes down to practice, practice, practice.

 

Want to run faster and further, go make some friends.

You really do need friends on Sundays.

Sunday morning is the traditional long run for myself and my running brothers (and in todays case a sister, thanks for bringing some decorum to our group Jules.) It is after said run we get to do what I run for basically, eat sugar disguised as either pancakes, waffles or muffins all washed down with a good Cappacino,  People ask me what I enjoy most about running and to me , and it must be said most of the running group, it’s the post-long run (or the Thursday Yolo progressive) ‘tukka’ and conversation. Admittedly living in Perth we are spoilt rotten when it comes to the scenery we play in and the weather as a whole. In Winter it may be dark and rain (once in a blue moon) but it’s rarely cold and I’ve never not ran because of the conditions. There’s been a few times when we’ve all sat in our cars as a ‘squall’ passed over but it’s normally pretty quick and I’ve never had a run I regretted. As we move into spring in Perth we really are blessed with near perfect running conditions and today was no exception. As a few of us (myself included) are racing Rottnest next week the run was to be a 20k , time on legs, easy run. More about the banter afterwards than a hard session, all the hard work has been done and we are in taper mode.

It is to be noted there were a few runners in our group who find it difficult to run slow, Zac and Ross being the main culprits,  so we gave Damo’ (front row, far left) the task of grabbing pole position and slowing the pace down. This lasted about 1k before Damo’ failed in his task spectacularly and blew up big time. Unfortunately it was then on for young and old as the pace dropped from the planned 5min/k pace down to the low 4:30min/k very quickly. This continued to the half way point with much grumbling from the back runners including myself. At halfway though I suddenly felt a second wind and decided to put in 5k of MP (marathon pace) before slipping back to a more respectable pace as I stumbled towards City Beach and waffles. It’s been a long few weeks of quality training so my 5k of MP was never really going to happen. In the end I settled for 4k of ‘near MP’ and then a drink stop, while I waited for the group to catch up.

In the end Jeff and Ben came running past and I joined them briefly for the next hill before setting off alone again drawn to the waffles and coffee that awaited me at City Beach. In the end my overall average was 4:22min/k for 20k but more importantly I felt relaxed and enjoyed the hit out. Without doubt though the best part was the first 10k and the company. The kilometres really do pass so quickly when you run with friends as you have a week of  ‘man stuff’ to catch up on. Being mostly a male dominated group we don’t tend to speak in the week unless we run together and we have found ‘What’s App’ now so all runs are organised online. Actually running together forces conversation, a lost art these days it seems, also if you know me you know I like to talk,  so without company I struggle with distance.

Today was no different and we chatted like long lost friends , well it had been a week, about all the latest ‘stuff’, I would try and be more specific but it really can be anything and everything. The main topic is normally running related of course, about upcoming races, who just ran what and in what time is always high on the agenda, new shoes (a very topical topic at the moment with the Nike arrivals) and when will the 2 hour marathon be broken and will anybody from my group do it? Either way the time ticks along nicely and a long run can be over before you know it, well maybe not that quick but certainly a lot quicker than running solo. Back in the day I use to do my long runs alone and boy when you ain’t in the mood, and you start counting K’s early, you are in for along day at the office. I had a 34k run from my house to the end of the bike path at Burns beach and back as my ‘last long run of choice‘ before a marathon and most times it was a killer. I remember the last time I ran it I was counting kilometres very early and the run just seemed to drag on for ever as I slowed with every K. Mentally I was finished before I started and I have had so many bad runs on that route but still perceived , we’re a funny bunch runners?

Different story with the current day ‘BK posse’  , the long runs are more bearable and dare I say ‘enjoyable’, well as ‘enjoyable’ as a long run can be. The conversation and shared suffering helps, maybe it the shared suffering that really helps. Watching your fellow runner in as much pain as you makes your suffering seem a little easier, I say that in a nice way of course? That’s not to say every long run is painful but when you’re in the middle of a training block for a marathon, I’m sorry people,  you need to spend some time in the pain box, with or without your running buddies. Maybe it is  the ‘problem shared is a problem halved type ‘ scenario but with pain and suffering, I’m not sure but it just works. Nothing I enjoy more than seeing my running buddies in pain, again in a nice way?

Some competitive rivalry is also useful within the group as it spurs on good performances. In our group at the moment most of the runners had ran a sub3 marathon with the exception of Gareth, Jeff and Mark L.  Mark C. was a member of this group but with the help of a one-on-one training plan from Matt Fitzgerald ( http://www.mattfitzgerald.com in Matt we trust! ) had gone from just over 3 hours  to a 2:55 and then a 2:48 in the last few months. (fuelled on carbs!) Mark L. was desperate to enter the sub3 club and did so last weekend with a second place finish at the Bussleton Marathon and a 2:57 finish.  Give Mark L. his due he had been taking a severe ‘ribbing’ since missing out on the sub3 target at the Perth City-to-Surf ,which was well short. (Even his Mum joined in.) This time there was no mistake. So instantly the mantra of ‘not ran a sub 3‘ falls to Gareth, Jeff has a get out of jail card as he is well over 100 years old and thus , age adjusted , has actually ran sub2; probably sub1 truth be told !!

 

I read a great article recently written by Matt Fitzgerald , In Men’s Journal, as he documented the top 5 things he learnt from training with the elites for the recent Chicago marathon,  where we ran his target time of sub 2:40.  One of the top 5 tips was train with people of similar abilities and goals.   I wonder if Matt would have been so sure if he’d met my bunch of running reprobates, interesting , maybe we’ll get him over to sunny Perth one day for a Sunday long run, I just hope he can keep up with the banter as he’ll have no troubler keeping up with the pace , especially if we can get Damo’ to the front albeit briefly ?

 

Do the Little Things

Fitzgerald says that training goes beyond, well, training. “Carve out time to work on your strength and mobility limitations,” he says. “Do form drills, get a massage, use a foam rollerand so forth. Your workouts will go further if you support them with ancillary activities.”

Listen to Your Body

One aspect of pro training that really hit home with Fitzgerald was the willingness of the elites to cut a workout short or even take a day off if something was hurting. This is something most amateurs are loath to do, opting instead to stick it out and do the work on their training plans. Often, it sinks their ships. “This ‘live-to-fight-another-day’ mentality reduces the risk of injury and overtraining,” he says.

Train With People Who Have Similar Abilities and Goals

“You’ll benefit more from your training if you surround yourself with athletes who can pull you along on their good days and whom you can push on your bad days,” Fitzgerald says. If you don’t have ready training partners, seek them out via your local running club or shoe store.

Spend More Time at an Easy Pace:

Fitzgerald says that most amateurs run their easy runs too hard. “Most pros spend 80 percent of their runs at low intensity,” he explains, “but too many recreational runners fail to truly dial back.” Make easy pace your respected friend unless you’re out to do speed work, realizing it will establish a base to carry you through long term.

Scale Properly

While there’s much that amateurs can adopt from the pros, Fitzgerald points out that unless they scale it to their own level, it will be too much to handle. “Few amateur runners can or should run 100 miles per week, for example,” he says. “but they can and should run a good deal relative to their personal limits if they want to get the most out of their God-given ability.” That said, Fitzgerald reminds every-day runners that some pros take risks that shouldn’t be emulated. “They might train or compete injured — risks you shouldn’t take if your livelihood doesn’t depend on your performance.”

 

 

 

Funnily enough Matt forgot to mention Yelo muffins, maybe he ain’t as knowledgable as we first thought…?

 

 

Nike have produced the holy grail of running, twice.

The baby brother of the might Vaporfly’s 4%

After running two races in my Nike Vaporflys 4% and being blown away both times I couldn’t resist the cheaper sibling, the Nike Zoom Flys. Priced normally $225 Rebel Sports has them at $175 and I had a $50 Rebel voucher from winning my age group at the Pert City to surf, bringing them to a very reasonable $125, you’d be mad not to really. So this morning I rocked up to the first Yolo 14k progressive since I tore my calf in March this year. I met Ross, Phil and Gareth at 5:30am and off we went on our normal 14k progressive pain train run followed by the best coffee and muffin in the southern hemisphere at Yelo.  ( http://www.yelocornerstore.com.au  )  Truth be told its more about the coffee and muffin afterwards than the run but you can’t do one without the other. I’m not sure 14k progressive actually burns of the calories from a Yelo muffin but it is a risk I am willing to take and I always try and run lunchtime just to be on the safe side.

So back to the run, with this being the first time since the 23rd March, thanks Strava ( http://www.strava.com  ) I wasn’t expecting fireworks , added to the high mileage and race weary legs from the weekend and it was more trying not to embarrass myself. We set off quick enough and I headed to the front determined to do my bit before the pace overwhelmed me. The shoes felt good but not in the same league as the vaporflys 4%, to be expected I suppose given the $125 price difference. After 4-5k though the shoes started to ‘warm up’ and I started to drop the pace each kilometre. At the 8k mark we were in the sub 3:35min/k territory with no where you go really but up. I managed to hang on in the lead until the 10k mark where faced with the first hill of any note I wilted. Ross and Phil surged ahead but I managed to keep it together enough to record one more 3:35min/k down the last hill and pre-Yelo. At the end I was goosed , so much so I stopped at Yelo with the Garmin recording 13.7k, I was not for finishing the 300m needed for the normal 14k, sorry Strava.

While munching down on my Yolo muffin (hot mixed berry , my favourite) and enjoying the best coffee in Perth I down loaded the run from Garmin into Strava. (remember if it isn’t in Strava it didn’t happen!) I was pleasantly surprised to find the morning run was a course PB, fastest in my 14 attempts; 10 seconds a kilometre faster than my all time average (thanks again Strava.) It seems Nike have found the holy grail of running shoes not once but twice, and the second option is $125 cheaper; how good is that?

Was it the shoes ? I really think they made the difference. I tried them out on my recovery lunch run (remember you need to run twice in a day if you want a Yelo muffin.) and managed 4:30min/k average; this is quick when I normally run around 5min/k average on a recovery. The Zoom Flys work two fold, first they are very ‘spongy’ with a big heel full of forgiving material , albeit light, which makes running seem easier (especially on the legs which seem to recover quicker) and second they propel you forward, encouraging pace. It was all I could do to run 4:30min/k pace, I could have gone faster. The legs also appreciate the extra ‘spongy padding’ of the heel where usually I’m a minimal heel drop runner preferring minimalist shows like the Nike LunaRacer (how I miss that bad boy), Saucony Fast Twitch or Kinvara’s. The Nike Zoom Fly and Vaporfly are very Hoko’ish with a heel my wife would be proud of. This does have one disadvantage though when a couple of times I felt I felt off-balance, like I was going to fall from a great height. Small price to pay, just need to be on top of your game when you put these race weapons on. I can’t believe my vertically challenged running buddies Jon and Bart’s haven’t cottoned on to the height benefits of these shoes, they’ll feel like basketball players ! (It is to be noted Bart’s did buy a pair of Hoka’s and there was rumours he wore them 24*7 for a period of time before his Wife insisted he at least take them off for bed ? Just rumours mind…)

 

Nike Zoom Flys , PB at first attempt. made my muffin taste even better, if that was possible ?

 

Of course you don’t have to take my word for it, below is an extensive review of the shoes from June this year from http://www.roadtrailrun.com

 

Editor’s Note: We are thrilled to present this 4 way review of the Nike Zoom Fly. Our testers include Peter Stuart from Los Angeles, a “late” forties sub 3 hour marathoner, Derek Li from Singapore a 2:41 marathoner (PR just recently in the Zoom Fly, see below), Dave Ames a well known distance running coaching coach and sub 3 hour marathoner from Boston, and Sam Winebaum, Road Trail Run editor whose annual goal is a sub 1:40 half.

The Nike Zoom Fly ($150) is an 8.4 oz marathon racer/lightweight trainer with a 33mm. heeland a 23mm forefoot. Nike describes being “designed to meet the demands of your toughest tempo runs, long runs and race day with a responsive construction that turns the pressure of each stride into energy return for the next”. It’s got a full length carbon infused nylon plate and a Lunarlon mid sole.
The hype is that it’s a stiff shoe that provides both speedy propulsion and cushioning. So how does it roll? Is it bouncy? Yes. Is it stiff? Hell Yes. Do we like it? Read on to see. Warning, don’t judge this shoe on the first half mile of running in it. It may take a while to break in.

Update:

Not hype for Derek! Our reviewer Derek Li just set a marathon PR of 2:41.20 at the Gold Coast Marathon in Australia on July 2nd.

 

Derek: I just ran the Gold Coast Marathon in Australia in the Zoom Fly. This is a fairly flat race but with quite a lot of cambered stretches of tarmac along the way. After putting ~60 training miles (~30 at sub 6:30/mile pace) in the zoom fly, I decided to go with the zoom fly instead of my usual Lunaracer for the Gold Coast Marathon in Australia. I had previously done this race in 2013 in the Lunaracer3 and remembered the cambered roads causing some hots spots for me around the met-heads so this was something I was wary of going into this race.

I actually did some marathon-pace efforts alternating between the Lunaracer4 and the Zoom Fly a week out from the race and eventually decided that I liked the transitioning of the Zoom Fly more and was willing to gamble with the 2oz weight penalty for a little more cushioning in the late miles.

I think the forward dip and roll of the Zoom Fly really came to the fore in the last 3 miles when I was starting to tire and was landing a bit more towards the heel. The high stack of this shoe really did a great job dampening the ground feel in the late stages whereas the lunaracer would start to feel like too little shoe at this point.

I didn’t really notice the weight penalty of the shoe even in the early stages when I was running 6:00 miles because the shoe is just so smooth once you get going. On the cambered sections, I did feel a little bit on pressure on the insides of my feet, but no more so than in the Lunaracer, and the high stack of the shoe did not cause any issues of instability either. I did run a wider line a few times to get to less cambered sections at times just so the gait felt smoother.

Post-race, my feet really ached and I had to undo the laces in both feet to let them breathe a little, but my thighs and glutes were less sore than usual which is always a promising sign. (It would take 24 hours for my feet to stop aching, and I’ve since done a 6 miler at 7:15/mile pace 72hrs post race so recovery has been quick and good) Overall, I came away with a 41s PB at this race so I can’t complain. If anything, I’m even more excited to use the Vaporfly 4% at my next race.  Read Derek’s full race report at his Running Commentary blog here

Upper and Fit:

        

Dave: I generally wear a size 9 in everything I log my mileage in.  I like a snug, locked in fit no matter if it’s a trainer or a racer.  The Nike Zoom Fly is just that.  From immediate step in feel, the Zoom Fly wraps my narrow foot like a glove.  I instantly fell in love with the fit.  The upper molds like any good running shoe in my mind, should, wrapping perfectly around my arch, while leaving enough room in the toe box for my toes to splay.  Heels were perfect.  No issues with the heel counter being too firm, which with me can cause some bruising and calcium buildups.  Being a former Skechers Performance sales guy, I can compare the upper and fit to the Go Run 5.

Derek: I sized up a half size based on Sam’s initial impressions (see RTR article here)  to a US10. For reference, I wear a US10 for the Lunaracer/Streak 6, and US9.5 for the Pegasus 33. With thin socks, the US10 gives me just a little over one thumb’s breadth spacing in this shoe, which is fine for a trainer but I think I would probably go true to size if I were to use it as a long distance racer. At 248g for a US10, it’s a little over the upper limit of what I would consider for a marathon flat, but the ride is just so unique that I am sure many would not hesitate to use it as such, if they could not find it in themselves to pony up for the Vaporfly 4%.

The Flymesh upper is composed of two very thin mesh layers sliding over each other, with the flywires embedded between the two layers on either side of the midfoot. It is actually thinner and more ventilated than it looks in photos. In terms of thickness, it seems closest to the Zoom Elite 9. Similarly, the heel cup is not as rigid as I expected based on the pics, and does not extend as high up towards the heel collar as it suggests from photos; this was a nice surprise as I do not enjoy having very rigid heel support in uptempo shoes.

The tongue seems to have the asymmetrical appearance seen previously in the Zoom Streak LT3, and which I really liked because the bifurcation of the flap sat nicely on foot’s tibialis anterior tendon and that helped to “seat” the tongue and prevent it from being displaced during a run.

In terms of overall fit, I find it to be just the right width and volume in the arch and toebox, but with perhaps just a little too much volume for me at the heel. With the laces fully snug, I still feel a bit of heel slippage at faster paces. This is likely just a matter of personal preference, but I felt the heel volume in the Streak 6 to be perfect for my feet, though I know some people find it quite narrow. This is first flywire upper that I can lace up fairly snugly, without causing any hot spots or arch discomfort, so no major complaints there.

Sam: I was sized a half size up and fit is just right for me with cushion socks. With thinner socks, or if I used them as race focused shoe, I would go true to size. Overall fit is excellent, well held for such a thin upper over such a high stack shoe.

The toe box is wide open with no overlays beyond the Swoosh. The only toe bumper stiffener is the black rubber tab up front.

Peter: True to size for me. The upper wraps the foot really well, has room in the toe-box and I agree with Derek that the flywire works really well in this shoe. There’s no slippage and the shoe feels like part of my foot. The only issue I have, depending on what socks I wear, is the height of the arch collar at the achilles. Wearing a no-show sock led to some pretty bad irritation on the achilles. It’s a firm collar and rises up kind of high. That said, with socks that go a little higher there’s no problem. The tongue, while super thin, does a good job of staying in place and I didn’t encounter any pressure spots on top of the foot.

Midsole and Outsole:

Derek: On first wearing the shoe, I noticed a subtle bump just around the level of the met-heads and a quick dip and roll forward, as I lean forward from my heels towards my toes. I have previously experience this with shoes that sported a more pronounced forefoot rocker, e.g. MBT Speed, and less so with shoes like the Zante, which sports a graduated softness gradient from heel to forefoot.

Derek: The outsole rubber appears to be fairly thin and flexible, and I have already generated a little bit of wear at the forefoot after only ~25 miles, so I don’t expect this shoe to be a mileage hog, which is a shame given its price point, but I accept that there are trade-offs to be made in these instances. The rubber is quite tacky, and seems to offer sufficient grip for road use, but given the wear rate, I would be wary of taking it off-road.

Sam: The midsole is Nike’s Lunarlon foam with of course that embedded full length carbon infused nylon plate. The cushioning is outstanding, particularly in the forefoot where they truly have that “maximalist” cushioning comfort feeling sitting somewhere between a Hoka Clayton and Hoka Clifton but with less mush and more stability than the Clifton from the full coverage outsole rubber up front and a touch softer than the Clayton. I really full coverage forefoot rubber and the Zoom Fly’s is for sure full coverage.

Sam: The heel has a narrow pointed footprint on the ground at the very rear from of course that now famous “aerodynamic” pointed shape which I reckon is really more about reducing weight…

It’s not a particularly narrow heel over all, certainly wider than the Zoom Streak 6, but it tapers at the far rear sides. While the cushioning is fantastic at the heel, as a heel striker I wish for some more width back there, a more rounded less pointy far back of the outsole for landing stability. Elites and mid foot strikers will have less of an issue but for me the stack is high and the landing ends up narrow and a touch unstable at slower paces. I did find that expect for a touch of calf and achilles soreness my legs were remarkably fresh after shorter up tempo runs.

Peter: The midsole, made of Lunarlon, is not as soft as other lunar Nikes shoes. I’m guessing the plastic carbon infused plate takes the softness out of the shoe. The stack heights are high, but the ride is pretty firm. There’s cushioning under the forefoot, but it’s not in the least bit mushy. The outsole rubber has a surprising amount of traction (on all surfaces wet and dry) considering it’s pretty smooth. The forefoot does tend to pick up some tiny little rocks, but nothing like the Lunar Epic.

Dave: The Lunarlon foam in the midsole is totally on point!  I used this shoe for a variety of work over the past week, including a 2 mile warm up, 5 miles Progression (6:10, 6:00, 5:45. 5:35, 5:30) and 2 mile cooldown, in which this shoe really began to show its true colors.  Plain and simple, it’s freaking fast. Very Fast.  The forefoot cush, through the help of the carbon infused plate keeps mile after mile smooth.  I am coming off some down months from my past marathon (injured going into it) and even at cranked up pace, my stride was never out of control.  I did not have to search for the perfect landing.  At higher speeds in the Fly, if you get lazy, the shoe will remind you where your foot strike should be.  The Lunarlon foam kept my legs, fresh….never feeling beat up.
I do not see any signs of wear and tear on the Zoom Fly after a solid week of training.  I ran in all conditions including, high heat, humidity, road, gravel and some finely mowed grass.  The full coverage of rubber on the forefoot did not slip, even on the most humid mornings.

Ride
Derek: Running in them took a few minutes to get used to; the ride is unlike anything else on the market, and it is what I imagined an Altra Torin with a traditional drop would feel like. I do not notice the forefoot dip as much once I start running, but it is very obvious that the forefoot feels softer and bouncier than the heel and midfoot in this shoe (because of the proximity of the plate). Even though the shoe itself is fairly rigid, the relative softness in the forefoot allows my toes to bend a bit at the metatarsophalangeal joints and that gives the shoe a fairly natural feeling toe off. Landing on the heel or square on the midfoot feels more like a traditional shoe, but overall the road feel is significantly dampened, compared to pretty every other shoe in this weight category. It actually feels like a Pegasus 33 on heel and midfoot strike to me.

Dave: This is where the shoe gets a tad tricky.  The Zoom Fly is meant to go fast.  My only issues with the shoe are that I found a hard time on recovery days and easy long runs, staying smooth.  Even as a natural running teacher, I consistently had to continue to check my gait at slower paces of 7:30/7:45 per mile, making sure I was landing correctly and transitioning nicely from heel strike to toe off.  Note: I am a slight heel striker and supinator and have many years of low drop shoes in me, including Skechers M Strike Technology.  The 10mm drop in the Fly could have played a bit in this for me, when training slower.  After a few runs, I began to figure the Fly out a bit more.

When going fast, this shoe is smooth like buttah!  Even at higher stacks, which I am totally not used to, it provides plenty of cush, serious snap, and a quick transition rate from heel to toe.

Sam: The ride is cushioned, vibration absorbing yet at the same time firm. Stability is fantastic up front less so for me at the heel when run slow. That heel midsole outsole taper is not as friendly to slower paces. The ride is smooth and very fluid at moderately fast tempos, i.e. marathon paces but I found it harder at faster tempos, half or 10K paces, between 7 and 8 minute miles for me. I struggled to roll off the front of the shoe, up and away at those paces. This is likely due to my poor knee drive and lack of strength. This is not a shoe for shuffling along!

Peter: Firm, snappy and just enough cushioning. Over long miles I’m finding a bit of forefoot fatigue–perhaps due the stiff plasti-carbon plate.  The Zoom Fly does roll through to toe-off really easily and is a really enjoyable ride overall. I find them to be best at Marathon Pace +/- 30 seconds. They want to run at tempo and feel really good doing so. I don’t find them to be terrific when I push to HMP or faster.

Conclusions

Dave: I had some seriously epic runs in this shoe.  I’m also extremely critical with the way a shoe works with my foot.  It’s very, very nice.  After finally figuring out the higher stacks and running some slower miles in it, I think I have it nailed down.  It’s important to understand that the Zoom Fly can be for any type of runner.  Do not let the Fly fool you that it is for elites, only (I’m so washed up!) It will help you get the forward lean you are looking for in your stride.  Heel strikers will especially notice that even with all of the forward propulsion, the protection in the heel is there, but maybe Nike could add a tad more?  I know Sam was looking for a bit more back there and he may be right.  All in all, I’d add this to my rotation, any day.  (Saucony Ride 10, Go Meb Razor, Go Meb Speed 4, Zoom Elite 9)

Derek: The ride is extremely smooth with a wickedly fast transition once you figure out the sweet spot for landing and rolling through the shoe. For me, it’s almost Clifton-like with a Zante transition. The forefoot cushioning and bounce is right up there with the Altra Torin and Hoka Huaka for me. The shoe feels best at slightly uptempo paces. At slower paces, I find myself instinctively landing more forefoot to take advantage of the softer cushioning.

Sam: Nike is, pardoning the pun, breaking new ground with the Zoom Fly and its cousins. Taking a cue from Hoka, it is combining light weight with outstanding cushion.  It has a unique ride and a promising one.  By using the stiff plate, Nike not only stabilizes all that light foam and superb light upper but they are pioneering a new and radical underfoot geometry for what one might call “gait management”, to maximize running economy,  a key part of the strategy for Nike’s Breaking 2 project.
Dynamic, generally well mannered, light, and protective it deserves a close look as a race shoe by those whose race goals are in my view  sub 1:37 for a half marathon, have some strength and drive or as a faster days trainer for most all runners.  It does not seem to be as effective as a slower paces trainer for heel strikers such as me due to the pointed heel geometry and some difficulty rolling off the heel and also not as of yet for me at my sub marathon race paces rolling up and way off the front. It comfortably fits in at about my marathon pace which is kind of neat given the goal for the shoe.
As a slower older runner (about 1:40 half) the Zoom Fly has worked well for me as a faster trainer but given its weight, combined with difficulty getting it up to race paces I think I need to run them so more to find the groove, work on my core strength and speed or go all in for the Vaporfly 4% which my sense after my Boston Marathon hotel lobby jog is clearly much lighter and seemed to have a more pronounced fall forward effect which I think would help me at those race paces.

Peter: I’m not sure I’d classify the Zoom Fly as a race shoe. For me it’s an uptempo daily trainer. I know that might be splitting hairs, but it doesn’t have the same speedy snap of the Zoom Streak 6. It will be interesting to see how the Vapor Fly fits in to the equation. I do like the Zoom Fly. I just got back from 15 miles in them and they were a delight for most of the run. They flow through toe-off nicely, fit well and provide a pretty excellent balance of firmness and cushion.


Score 

Derek’s Score 9.3/10
-0.2 for durability (considering the price point)
-0.5 for weight

Dave’s Score 9.5/10 
-.5 for Ride at slower speeds
Sam’s Score: 9.4/10
-.3 for narrow, unstable landing at slower paces from the pointed rear heel geometry
-.3 for difficulty to roll past the plate at faster paces
Peter’s Score 9/10
-.5 for high ankle collar, causes some irritation
-.25 for forefoot fatigue perhaps caused by plate
-.25 for some early signs of compression in the cushioning, perhaps indicating durability issues.

 

Right , can’t leave a Yelo Progressive run post without an image of the mornings Yolo muffin, here it is and it was wonderful… always running, always improving, always eating Yelo muffins……

A thing of beauty, seems a shame to eat it really.

 

The only downside to these shoes is of course there is a better pair which do everything better, are they worth the extra $125 AUS, hell yes. As I said before you have two kidneys, do you really need both of them…..

 

The holy grail of running shoes….

A marathon in paradise.

Paradise Island with a “Mother of a Marathon.”

Next weekend I’m running the Rottnest Marathon for the 11th time. Without doubt this is my favourite marathon as it takes place in what I can only describe as ‘paradise’; from a runners point of view that is.  I admit some peoples idea of paradise may be a tad different to mine, maybe involving Casino’s , dancing girls, nightlife etc. For me it’s peace and quite, beautiful beaches and time with the family,  away from the hussle and bussle of life. Rottnest allows you and your loved ones to transcend back to a time before electronic devices (can we even remember that far back now?) when kids (and old runners) just enjoy being kids. How I miss the seventies…..

I’ve attached a few images of the Island but they really don’t do it justice, it really is so special you need to experience it yourself. The marathon itself it testing due to the heat and hills but the scenery helps, at least for the first couple of laps anyway , I’ve attached a post I wrote last year on the event below.

This weekend is the Rottnest marathon, probably my favourite marathon and one unfortunately this year I am going to have to miss. I’ve ran ‘Rotto’ ten times but being two weeks out from the World Masters marathon was just too close. I am big believer in a day a kilometre (‘ish)  to recover, at my age anyway. It normally takes me between 3-4 weeks to really get over a marathon. I know other runners who can recover a lot quicker. My mate Tony ‘T-train’ Smith takes about 12 hours and always winds me up on Strava the day following a marathon by running a sub 4min/k average run. Suicide but he seems to get away with it.

Rottnest is a small Island 30k from the Perth coastline. A pristine Island with numerous untouched beaches and no cars allowed so everybody bikes, or runs. It really is from a by-gone age and I’ve been holidaying there since the kids were babies. This year there is an inaugural half marathon so I have a race to keep me interested but it’ll be just two laps rather than the obligatory four I’m use to.  ( http://www.rottnestisland.com )

Each year we stay in the same apartment on the beach and as you can see from the photo below when I say on the beach I mean on the beach. A week at Rottnest is the perfect ‘down time’ after the Winter running season and the last marathon of the year. I have the 6 inch ultra marathon in December ( http://www.6inchtrailmarathon.com ) but that’s more of a long training run getting back to nature running some glorious trails. Next race of any significance isn’t until March next year when I race the Darlington half, then it’s Perth, City to Surf and Rottnest again. Maybe throw in an ultra or two, a sprinkling of shorter races and off we go again. Almost forgot the Australia Day Ultra in January ( http://australiadayultra.com ). I may race the 100k but I’m worried I’ll put too much weight on !!

Another glorious day on Rotto.
Another glorious day on Rotto.

Right back to Rottnest. A four lap course, with four good hills, runner unfriendly in my view. i.e. long undulating up sections with sharp down sections where you seem to get to the bottom too quickly before the next rise. It also gets pretty warm and windy. Finally did I mention the four hills, remember you need to times that by four for the four laps. So 16 runner unfriendly hills, 4 laps, it gets hot (and humid!) and windy. I’m not selling this am I, but the reason I love it so much is because of all the aforementioned issues. It is a hard marathon and these days there are fewer and fewer hard marathons where everybody is looking for a quick course. Rottnest is more about finishing rather than a time. It’s about going back to a by-gone age where life was just simpler and enjoying running a small marathon with good friends. There’s even a good pub on the Island where everybody congregates afterwards with the compulsory marathon war stories which get wilder and wilder the more they drink. This is then followed by the obligatory run to the last ferry when you realise you’re late.

Rottnest really is special and I urge you to click on the link at the start of this post to see the Island for yourself if you are not in Western Australia. You never know next year we may be lining up together at the start line together.

Assuming you didn’t sign up last year here are a few more images to try and convince you to come along in 2018, it really is worth the trip, big time !

On the new course you actually run past “the Basin”

 

The local wildlife, the friendly and adorable Quokka.

 

Rottnest even looks good in black and white. Briefly in the lead in 2015, didn’t last long.

 

How to run a perfect 10k, without selling a kidney.

The title of this post may elude to the possibility I have actually ran a perfect 10k. Unfortunately I have not and today was another example of poor pacing but luckily sheer stubbornness , as always, got me over the line. As the Rottnest Marathon is two weeks away I decided discretion was the better part of valour and avoided the Fremantle half but instead ‘downgraded’ to the 10k instead. I have ran the Fremantle half on numerous occasions , including last year where I was leading the event with 3k to go before being cruel overtaken by two runners to finish 3rd. (I actually felt great just before I was cast aside by two quicker runners and was working on my victory speech. Probably why I was taken by surprise, that and I had nothing left in the tank for a sprint finish, c’mon people I was 49 , at that age we’re glad to be near the front , no mater at the front leading….it was nice to dream , albeit briefly, of Fremantle glory.) So back to the 10k.

After my last race where I was completely cooked by k2 in a 7.5k race, mainly due to my friend Zac and his blistering start, I decided this time I would go out and run myself into the race, maybe even a negative split. Of course this went out the window as soon as we started and yet again I was running with Zac, although this time he was running the half . This was my plan, surely if Zac was running the half I could keep up with him for 10k. Nice in theory but unbeknown to me young Zac was going to run a blinder and this included the first 2k @ 3.19k/min pace. So yet again I was cooked early in the event, thanks Zac, again ! I was actually able to sustain a good pace to 5k which I hit in sub 17minutes, actually quite respectable. The second half of a 10k is a painful experience and this one didn’t fail to deliver. I managed to hold onto 2nd place (Roberto Busi, our local gun-runner, was running a tempo 10k and finish in just over 32 minutes, oh to be that good. He is Italian , if that helps?) until mid way through the last kilometre where I was caught and passed, so third it was and a good time 34:35. Actually , for me, a very good time, my second fastest  ever, so very happy.

I credit the time to my Nike Vaporflys 4% shoes, people these really are that good. If you are serious about your running you need to buy a pair, we all have two kidneys and really only need one; you’ll probably be faster without the weight of the second kidney and you get to sell it for Nike Vaporflys 4%; which will also increase your pace; people it really is a win-win situation. Apparently there is a market for quite a few organ parts that are saleable,  without doing long term damage, I’ll let you google it but it you can’t afford the $350AUS fee for the shoes then it’s off to the surgeon’s table you go, quick smart, before everybody buys a pair and we all lose the advantage off being an early adopter.

Worth a kidney, probably?

 

Of course I am joking about the kidney thing, there are other easier methods, maybe a go fund me page ? ( https://www.gofundme.com ) or ask a friendly Nigerian to send a cry for help email to half the worlds population, somebody will probably bite ? Of course all of this doesn’t help with the Nike Vaporfly 4% harder to find than the Tasmanian Devil. Nike seem to have got the supply and demand just right, i.e. no supply and massive demand,  equals nice profit margin for Nike. I can’t imagine they cost that much to produce and I’m sure the labour used by our caring multinational will be paid minimum wage , at best, bless ’em. Anyway I digress again, this post is about running a perfect 10k not Nike and it’s morals.

So to run a perfect 10k you need to start at a pace just below what you think your average pace , overall, should be. Hold that for the first 2-3k and then accelerate up to your overall pace for the next 5k before a finish ‘spurt’ above your overall average to make up for the slow start. How easy is that to actually achieve, nigh on impossible. You’ll go off at your 5k pace and then at 5k realise the error of your ways and lock yourself in the pain box in the foetal position enjoying the ride for the last 4-5k and trust me people that doesn’t sound like a lot but in the pain box time can sometimes feel like its stand still. ( I wonder if it hurts more with two kidneys or one ? )

Ways to improve, read this post and learn by my mistakes, something I never do and also run more 10k’s, it really does help if you run the race more often, funny that ? Today I was 15 seconds off my all time PB set last year and as it’s only my second 10k of the year so I am pleased with the time but maybe not the pacing ; although I never really blew-up but my last kilometre was 3:32 compared to my first of 3:19, they should be closer than that for a perfect pace.

Funnily enough another running friend of mine , Clement, had his appendix out last year and never ran so well afterwards. He is well into his fifties and ran a 73 minute half at a World Masters event, taking out his age group by minutes. Clement swears blind his appendix ruptured but after his form post-operation I’m not so sure, maybe I’ll get back to my google search, if only I had some ovaries……

3rd place in a 10k, a rare sight.

After distance comes pace. The next step to faster marathons….

After my last post on the simple activity to get faster, basically run more ( http://www.runbkrun.com/2017/10/02/the-secret-to-running-a-marathon-faster-really-is-quite-simple/ ) my running buddy Ken ‘The Duck’ Dacre summed up my post in a few sentences; basically…..

Hi

For people with limited time reading it.

To run a marathon you need distance

To run a good one you need quality on top of the distance.

hahahaha

Ken Dacre
Systems Administrator

 

I replied to Ken and highlighted his rookie error when it comes to blogging, you need quantity and quality,  not one of either. He has so much to learn but he did have a good point . Distance will get you cardio fitness and allow you to run a marathon but, as he rightly points out,  (which if you know Ken you’ll know this is not the norm!) to run a good time you need to add pace.

There are many type of ‘pace’ runs that will help towards your goal including tempo, thresholds, VO2 max, fartlek’s, intervals the list is quite long with many variations but the one session that every marathon runner needs to take on is the long run at MP (Marathon Pace). This is when the magic happens and you can dial in your goal pace. There really is no point aiming for a finish time and then never running the required average pace for any length of time. A long run at MP allows you to test out what it will feel like on the big day , and although you will be better prepared come race day, after a good taper and a few muffins (gotta’ love carbo-loading) , this run allows to get some quality race practice and also give you some confidence.

When I was training with Raf in 2015 ( http://www.therunningcentre.com.au ) the MP run was a 15k warm up at 4:15min/k pace and then 20k at 3:50min/k pace. I remember struggling with this session as it looked beyond me but on the day I ran the required time and distance and felt great afterwards. It was a real confidence booster. These are the sessions that make the difference, ones you see coming in your training plan and actually worry about completing them , knowing the pain time coming your way.

Another one of Raf’s favourite sessions was the 3 * 5km, at 5k pace, with 3 minutes rest in between. I christened this bad boy the ‘pain train’ session because as you complete each of the three 5km’s  (at race pace) ; you know the next one will be even tougher and more painful. The last one is as much an exercise in pain measurement as running. The benefit of these is when you have finished them you feel awesome and this alone is worth the pain you will embrace while running.

A similar run is one of my all time favourites the Mona Fartlek. Names after its inventor the great Steve Monaghetti and described below :-

Steve Moneghetti is set to leave a lasting legacy that goes beyond his set of marathon medals. As a young man from Ballarat he and coach Chris Wardlaw devised a session that fitted in with his usual stomping ground of Lake Wendouree helped him become a four-time Olympian.

Steve Moneghetti

The Session:Mona Fartlek: (2x90sec, 4x60sec, 4x30sec, 4x15sec with a slower tempo recovery of the same time between each repetition. The session takes 20mins in total.

Distance Mona covered: The session was most often used on Tuesday night at Ballarat’s Lake Wendouree. The first time Mona did it as a 20-year-old he did not complete the Lap of the Lake (6km) in the 20minutes but in his prime he completed the Lake in 17.19 and then continued on to finish his 20min session. He still does it most Tuesdays and even at 52, covers 6km.

History

Mona devised the session with his coach Chris Wardlaw over the phone back in 1983 when he was just 20. He wanted a solid fartlek session, one that would help improve his speed as well as endurance and stimulate an ability to change pace mid-run, something that helped later on his career when tackling the Africans, who had a habit of surging mid-race.

The session became a Tuesday-night ritual for Mona and while it was set up for Lake Wendouree, he’d use it whether training at altitude at Falls Creek or overseas preparing for a championship marathon.

It is still widely used today with Ben Moreau and a host of Sydney athletes doing the session. A recent feature in the UK has led to a number of British runners adopting the session along with a number of runners in the US, although some are calling it the “Mono” session.

A good idea is to set your watch to beep every 30 seconds, so that you don’t have to look down at it all the time.

Mona says

“I was always a stickler for routine and I feel that this session, coupled with my usual Thursday night session of 8x400m with 200m float set me up and gave me continuity with my training.

The 15-second reps came at the end and really forced me to concentrate on accelerating hard when I was fatigued. One night when I was in top shape I covered nearly 7km with Troopy (Lee Troop).”

Tip for other distance runners

For many runners, the session will be too demanding initially and you will need to build into it.

Mona recommends just walking or jogging the recovery as you adjust to it.

Middle distance runners may wish to reduce the length of the session, halving everything (ie: 1x90sec, 2x60sec, 2x30sec, 2x15sec) to make it a 10minute session.

The benefit of a Mona is the session is over in 20 minutes, the same time for all runners. The distance travelled of course will vary depending on ability. Personally I can get to around 5.6k, normally with a tail wind if I can find one!, so I’m a long way of Mona at his best and even Mona now.  Surprising that given his pedigree of World Record holder, Commonwealth Games Champion and Olympian, while I won a couple of WAMC club runs ?  There is a striking resemble mind, as shown below, when we met at a photo shoot for the Perth Chevron sponsored City to Surf. (I’m the pretty one with the beard…)

 

Me and Steve Moneghetti, a running god!

 

So to sum up this post we have addressed Golden Rule no2 in my 9 golden rules of running. :-

  1. Run Further. Add distance, not speed.
  2. Run Faster. This is about adding pace after you have got your foundation after rule 1.
  3. Don’t get injured. This is the hardest rule to obey as you always want to do more of rule 1 and 2 which can result in an injury. (I even hate typing the word!)
  4. Nutrition, nutrition and nutrition… Did I mention nutrition. It’s all about the proper fuel.
  5. Weight. So important, use to believe because I ran 100k+ a week I could eat what I wanted. Not true.
  6. Baseline, document and evaluate everything. If it isn’t on www.strava.com it didn’t happen. Once you set a goal you have to be able to know how far you have come to achieving this, small steps but constant feedback. So buy a Garmin and start recording , everything !!!
  7. Sleep. So underestimated but the bodies way of refuelling and preparing for the next day of running. Common sense but so often ignored.
  8. Consistency. No point running 100k one week and then nothing. Marathon fitness is built up over time and this works hand in hand with rule number 1.
  9. It’s all in the mind. After 32k a marathon is down to mental strength and the ability to persuade your body you can still perform at your desired pace without falling to fatigue, which is the minds way of protecting itself. Never underestimate the power of the mind in long distance racing

Apparently people take more notice of odd numbered lists according to my good friend and triathlete  coach extraordinaire Phil Mosley.  ( http://www.myprocoach.net/ ) We discussed this on a medium long run earlier in the week but that is a story for another day…

Phil giving his best Zoolander ‘blue steel’

The secret to running a marathon faster really is quite simple.

Boat Shed Sunrise by Paul Harrison. If you lay in bed you miss these views… why wouldn’t you get up early ?

After my last post about the marathon being two separate distances , encompassing a 32k warm-up before a 10k ‘sprint’ to the line,  I thought I’d share one of the sure fire ways to improve your marathon finishing time.  As readers of my ‘ramblings’ will know I have some golden rules to improving your running , summarized below.

  1. Run Further. Add distance, not speed.
  2. Run Faster. This is about adding pace after you have got your foundation after rule 1.
  3. Don’t get injured. This is the hardest rule to obey as you always want to do more of rule 1 and 2 which can result in an injury. (I even hate typing the word!)
  4. Nutrition, nutrition and nutrition… Did I mention nutrition. It’s all about the proper fuel.
  5. Weight. So important, use to believe because I ran 100k+ a week I could eat what I wanted. Not true.
  6. Baseline, document and evaluate everything. If it isn’t on www.strava.com it didn’t happen. Once you set a goal you have to be able to know how far you have come to achieving this, small steps but constant feedback. So buy a Garmin and start recording , everything !!!
  7. Sleep. So underestimated but the bodies way of refuelling and preparing for the next day of running. Common sense but so often ignored.
  8. Consistency. No point running 100k one week and then nothing. Marathon fitness is built up over time and this works hand in hand with rule number 1.
  9. It’s all in the mind. After 32k a marathon is down to mental strength and the ability to persuade your body you can still perform at your desired pace without falling to fatigue, which is the minds way of protecting itself. Never underestimate the power of the mind in long distance racing

Without doubt the most important rule, in my opinion, is number 1, ‘Run Further. Add Distance, Not Speed’ This is the foundation on which you build success. Whatever distance you are currently running, do more,  with the caveat of avoiding injury of course (Golden rule number 3)  I have said many, many times ‘running is an honest sport’ , there are no short cuts, to really improve you need to run more distance and more often. For a runner there are no Zip wheels, Death Star helmets or mega-buck carbon-fibre bikes to gain an advantage , it’s just down to physical and mental strength and who wants its the most. ( This may now not be as true as the new Nike Vaporflys 4%  do seem to give the wearer an advantage over your Asics Kayano’s type marathon runners, albeit only a 4% efficiency improvement if you believe the hype; which I do.)

I believe there is no such thing as ‘junk miles’, every run you finish has helped and thus if you run more, and more often, it stands to reason you will improve quicker. Another way to turbo-charge your improvement is to run twice a day. Most runners struggle with this concept but all the professionals run minimum twice a day. Of course, I hear you say, they have time on their hands and it’s what they are paid to do but even us mortals can find time for a second run with a bit of time management. Personally I am lucky enough to be able to run every lunchtime in near perfect conditions , the curse of living in the colonies. I then normally run mornings, pre-work,  as for most of the year this is the best time to run anyway. In summer especially it can be the only time to run as my home town , Perth, is situated in a desert and for three months of the year can be unpleasant after the early morning sunrise.

Some runners find is hard to find time in the mornings with family commitments etc. so will need to step-up in the evenings and this may involve running in the dark. I personally find no enjoyment from this but understand you have to put in the hard yards to continue to improve so take one of my David Goggins ‘suck it up’ pills and off into the night I go. ( http://www.davidgoggins.com ) What I found was, in the evening, if you’re sitting at home watching rubbish on TV you should be running. This is where you can get your second run, substitute sitting down at the end of the day wasting time to doing something constructive towards your next goal race, it really is that simple, go for a run. The second run of the day is all about time on feet anyway , there are no objectives bar the actual time spent running. No pressures, no time constraints, the second run of the day can be liberating because it is running for running’s sake, nothing more , nothing less.

The second run is where the magic happens, this is the reason the professionals run minimum twice a day. It allows then to add the distance needed to see the improvements required without the risk of injury, if they are careful and the run really is a time on feet exercise. Recreational runners will also see the same benefit and probably more because they will starting from a lower level with greater opportunity for improvement.

Of course it is to be noted that this is only one of the jigsaw puzzle that is running improvement but it is one I feel every runner needs to embrace as much as possible. I understand most runners will not be able to hit the 14 times a week goal,  that is a double run a day, but any additional run to your weekly schedule will be beneficial. Small steps for big gains, maybe try one double day a week initially and then build up. Of course if this puts too much strain on you then move back to the single run but maybe try and add weekly distance before trying a double day later. Remember adding distance is all about adding to the foundation of your running and this foundation needs to be stable and strong before you start to add pace.  There are several coaches who support the distance theory of running including the late, great Arthur Lydiard ( http://lydiardfoundation.org/ ) Phil Maffetone  ( https://philmaffetone.com/ ) and Matt Fitzgerald. ( https://mattfitzgerald.org/ )

So next time your sitting at home watch that mind-numbing soap or a reality show making overweight people exercise to the brink of death maybe think ‘I could be doing something more constructive’. Go and do what you love and ‘smell the roses’ (or whatever wild flower is available in your area?) with a relaxing second run. Payback will be so sweet when you rock up for your next race and find you’ve fitted a turbo-charger and leave the pack behind as you explode towards the finish line.

 

Christine Junkermann sums up the Lydiard method below from a Runners World post in 2000. ( https://www.runnersworld.com/

)

 

Forty years ago at the Rome Olympics, athletes guided by legendary New Zealand coach Arthur Lydiard made history. Among Lydiard’s protégés were a total of 17 Olympic medalists, including Peter Snell (800 and 1,500 meters), Murray Halberg (5,000 meters) and Barry Magee (marathon). Lydiard, now 82, toured the U.S. last fall, speaking to runners on the Lydiard method of training. He was as passionate as ever about sharing the methods he developed 50 years ago.

Lydiard hasn’t changed his training advice over the decades, and why should he? His ideas work. Moreover, if you look carefully at the most popular and successful programs today, most have a Lydiard emphasis. For Lydiard, running to your potential is about having a substantial mileage base and not overdoing your anaerobic training. There are no shortcuts.

A Revolutionary Method

Lydiard discovered running for sport when he struggled to run five miles with a friend. Forced to confront his own unfitness, he self-experimented with training, including running more than 250 miles in one week. He developed a plan that he felt confident in using with other runners. Central to his method was the importance of training in phases and peaking for major events.

According to Lydiard, any successful training program must culminate in a goal race or racing period. This means planning several months. The ideal training schedule is at least 28 weeks: 12 weeks for base conditioning, eight weeks for hill training and speed development, six weeks for sharpening and 10 days for tapering/rest.

Phase 1: Base Conditioning/Aerobic Training

This three-month period is the most important in the Lydiard system. If you want to give yourself every opportunity to reach your goal, you must commit to developing your aerobic capacity, says Lydiard. Why? Because although every runner has a limited anaerobic (speed-building) capacity, that limit is largely set by one’s aerobic potential—the body’s ability to use oxygen. Thus, the aerobic capacity that you develop determines the success of your entire training program.

The foundation of Lydiard-style base conditioning is three long runs per week. These are steady runs done at more than recovery effort. To determine your pace, choose a relatively flat course and run out at a strong pace for 15 minutes, then run back. The goal is to return in the same time or slightly faster. If it takes you longer for the return trip, you paced yourself too fast. The objective of these runs is to be “pleasantly tired,” says Lydiard. Running slower will produce positive effects, but the results will take longer. Do not run to the point of lactic-acid buildup.

An ideal training week during this period includes a two-hour run and two one and one half-hour runs. On the other days do short, easy runs; one run with some light picking up of the pace; and one 5K to 10K tempo run (below lactate-threshold pace). Decrease the times and distances if you don’t have the mileage base to start at such high volume, then build gradually.

Phase 2: Hill Training/Speed Development

Lydiard-style hill training, the focus of the first four weeks of this period, involves a circuit that includes bounding uphill, running quickly downhill and sprinting. These workouts develop power, flexibility and good form, all of which produce a more economical running style. Ideally, you should find a hill with three parts: a flat 200- to 400-meter area at the base for sprints, a 200- to 300-meter rise for bounding and a recovery area or moderate downhill segment at the top. Alternatively you can work out on a treadmill with an adjustable incline.

After a warm-up, bound uphill with hips forward and knees high. Lydiard describes the stride as “springing with a bouncing action and slow forward progression.” If you can’t make it all the way up, jog, then continue bounding. At the top jog easily for about three minutes or run down a slight incline with a fast, relaxed stride. Then return to the base of the hill for the next bounding segment. Every 15 minutes (after about every third or fourth hill), intersperse several 50- to 400-meter sprints on flat ground. These sprints mark the end of one complete circuit. Lydiard recommends a total workout time of one hour (plus warm-up and cool-down). Do this hill circuit three days per week.

On three of the four remaining days, focus on developing leg speed. Lydiard suggests 10 repetitions of 120 to 150 meters over a flat or very slight downhill surface. Warm up and cool down thoroughly.) The seventh day is a one and one-half to two-hour steady-state run.

During the second four weeks, shift from hills to traditional track workouts. The objective here, says Lydiard, is to “finish knowing that you could not do much more nor any better.” This sensation of fatigue matters less than how many intervals you do at what speeds, though the workout should total about three miles of fast running. Perform these track sessions three times per week. Use the remaining four days for a long run, leg-speed work and sprint-training drills traditionally done by sprinters to develop strength, form and speed.

Phase 3: Sharpening

How many times have you died in the last half of your race? Or alternatively, finished with too much left? Sharpening allows you to test for your strengths and weaknesses as you prepare for your goal race. Three workouts do not vary. The first is the long run, done at a relaxed pace. The second is an anaerobic training session done at a greater intensity and lower volume. Lydiard suggests five laps of a 400-meter track (about seven to eight minutes of running) alternating 50 meters of sprinting and 50 meters of easy, but strong, running.

The third consistent workout is a weekly time trial at or below the distance for which you are training. A 10K runner would do a 5K to 10K trial; a 1,500 meter runner would do 1,200 to meters. Ideally, do this workout on a track and record every lap to determine your weaknesses, and work on them throughout the rest of that week and the following week. For example, if the second half of your trial is slower than the first half, run a longer tune-up race that week and a longer time trial the next week. If the pace felt difficult but you were able to maintain it pretty evenly, work on your leg speed.

Round out your training week with a sprint-training session, a pace judgment day (4 x 400 meters at goal race pace), a leg-speed workout and a tune-up race. All these workouts should be geared to your goal distance and pace.

Phase 4: Tapering and Rest

Lydiard calls the final 10 days before goal race “freshening up.” This involves lightening your training to build up your physical and mental reserves for the target competition. Train every day but keep the faster running low in volume and the longer runs light in effort.

Unquestionably, Lydiard’s program tests your commitment and desire, and it requires a solid understanding of your individual needs. If you are serious, start counting out those 28 weeks.