Saturday, 25 February 2012

Marathon training ramp-up & a weight loss flashback

For the first 4 weeks, the plan has been steady in workload.
Speed runs on wedenesdays were alternating 14x1 minute and 8x2 minutes, the next few weeks will be 10x2 minutes, 18x1 minute, 10x2 minutes, 7x3 minutes.
Tempos on fridays have been 4x4 minutes and will edge up to 5x5 minutes, 4x5, etc.
Sundays alternate in distance, trending up -  16k, 13k, 18k, 13k, 20k, etc.

3 weeks to Saint Patrick's Day 5k! It's mostly to avoid going crazy in March. Perhaps I should take to doing the Hypothermic Half in Februarys in future years.

I had a weight loss flashback recently. I don't do pull-ups all that often, just occasionally to break the monotony in the gym. I remember trying in 2007, and getting 3/4 of the way up while making a light screeching sound. Fast forward to early 2009 and 20% lighter. "I'll have a go," I thought as I stopped at the pull-up bar. Remembering that previous attempt, I felt I'd have to go all out. Gripping the bars and standing on tiptoes, I took a few deep breaths and counted down from 5. Before I know it, I am flying upwards like a helicopter. I end up having done the most complete pull-up ever, with my arms straight so my hands are at my waist. Still up there, I look around the gym for a good 5 seconds, and in a 2-tone bass/ soprano voice I announce "one!"

Saturday, 18 February 2012

If the shoes fit...

After the Ian Dury and the Blockheads album (which I haven't actually listened to), I was almost going to say "new boots & panties!" on facebook, but thought about it for a few seconds and held myself back. I got a touch excited when my 2 new pairs of runners showed up on my doorstep on valentine's day. I'm now confident enough in my shoes to order an update of the same shoes online without trying them on.
First of all though, look at this foot (please).
High arch and bridge or what? Over time I learned I am a "supinator" or "under-pronator" and therefore most likely need a more cushioned shoe to encourage my feet to roll more. In the early days though, it was more about not spending too much. I had a pair of New Balances for the gym, and a couple of pairs of Sauconys when I took up running.

The pair of Puma Ventis' I bought in Berlin mostly for the colour brought on a touch of ITB syndrome, but this was also due to size. My left foot is about 9 1/4, and my right foot 8 3/4. So the size 9s pinched my left foot, though it was my right leg with the trouble.

Having read up on shoe and feet types (see above) I went to the store armed with a list. The Adidas Response Cushions and my feet seemed to understand each other better than anything else - I also tried Nike Volmeros and Asics Gel-Somethings. The ARCs bounced me nicely forward, and also seemed to push up into my arches, in a way filling that space the way no other shoe does. 
Adidas Response Cushion 20s left & second left, then 19s and 18s

2011 was something of a breakthrough year - many things came together, the shoes being one small element. After the ARC 18s, the 19s and now the 20s. On my first run in them today, the toe box felt a touch roomy, although it still being rather cold this may not mean much. I believe that feet can shrink a little when cold? That's the impression I have from winter running anyway. Otherwise, just as good as the previous 2 incarnations. I was amazed that they were only $60 (Adidas website) a pair for 2 of the available 5 colours, though oddly $120 for the other 3. What price red shoes? It's great once you know what works for you, and can then get the best possible shoes and still be a cheap bugger in the process at a great price. These should see me to July or so, so marathon footwear is a go.

Another piece of equipment I finally got after 3 months in my new job was a height-adjustable desk. I'd had one at my old job. I sit in the mornings, and stand in the afternoons. After mid-week runs I'm no longer sitting down right after, especially good as wednesdays and fridays are speed and tempos. Heel raises standing in my socks ought to help boost stability. Every bit helps...

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Obscure learnings

I have done, and still do a lot of reading since I decided to make running a more serious hobby. Some of what could be called "tips and tricks" I have learned by myself, though - just through experience. A few of them do seem rather obvious now though.

Shoe tightness:
- if I stand in my shoes before doing up the laces, my feet settle into them better and I won't have to re-tie them.
- if I tie my shoe laces while resting my foot on a bench, I'll have to re-tie them later, but not if I'm standing firmly on the ground.
- if I wear my running shoes from door to start line as opposed to waiting until I arrive at a race to put them on, my feet are perfectly settled into them.
- if I run longer than 2 hours, my feet swell, so if I'm in a marathon I'll bring tylenol to stop it.

Mini-bounces on your toes are the best way to keep warm if you have to stay still, for example at traffic lights or volunteering at a cold race (learned this from being a course marshall in November).

Hands get cold long before the head does.

-25 is not too cold to run, as long as there's no wind and bright sunshine.

After a couple of winters' running, you become an expert in the physiology of snow and ice, knowing in detail what it'll be like from texture, colour and memory of the previous 2 weeks of weather.

Speaking of winter, dogs have no idea what the temperature is.

Windy conditions don't just slow you down due to increased drag, your stride is effectively shortened by being blown backwards (yes it's obvious, but so much more noticeable when running).

Drivers, when turning right, only look to the left for what's coming. If the driver looks both ways, that's a runner behind the wheel.

Calgary is an ideal place to race if like me you have trouble with the heat - even if the day high is going to be 25 or more, it's still only 7 or so at start-gun time.

I get my best race times and have less perceived effort if I start near the front, stick close to the leaders and go "too fast" for the 1st km, then dial it back to target pace thereafter.

I believe standard running tracks are 400 metres long if travelling in the middle of the inside lane.

My self-image of how I look while running doesn't match most of the photos I see afterwards.

If I need to run less (due to injury, etc.), the exercise bike is good replacement for speed and tempo runs if like mine those workouts and runs are time based (rather than distance).

The "Macmillan calculator" doesn't apply to me all that well. Based on my half marathon time, my 5k time should be a whole minute faster. I am overall disproportionately slow in the shorter distances.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Marathon training & other random thoughts

So, marathon training is finally here. Not too eventful, great to get the countdown started. My off-season running follows the same basic pattern, but less intense. I've adapted my half marathon schedule, taking an idea from the Hanson brothers of not making the sunday run too long, and doing the recovery run the next day while tired. Each sunday alternates between long and shorter runs rather than backing off every 6 or so weeks, and not longer than 26k so as to not be too fatigued for the rest of the week and affect speed runs.

Last week and this:

Monday 23rd easy 10K
Tuesday gym
Wednesday 2.5K warm-up; 14x1min repeats sub-3:50/km pace with 1 min recovery, 1.5k cool-down approx 9K.
Thursday gym
Friday 2.5K w-u; 4x4min repeats 3:50-4:00/km pace with 90 sec recovery, 1.5k cool-down approx 9K
Saturday exercise bike 45 minutes (9k equivalent) after gym routine.
Sunday easy 16k

Monday 30th easy 10K

Tuesday gym
Wednesday 2.5K warm-up; 8x2min repeats sub-3:50/km pace with 1 min recovery, 1.5k cool-down approx 9K.
Thursday gym
Friday 2.5K w-u; 4x4min repeats 3:50-4:00/km pace with 90 sec recovery, 1.5k cool-down approx 9K
Saturday exercise bike 45 minutes (9k equivalent) after gym routine.
Sunday easy 13k

Enough of the technicalities. Being Chinese new year, I went with my wife to a big group dinner. I managed to control myself, even faced with barbeque pork.

What got me was the other white guy there, considerably overweight, advising me that I'd enjoy myself better next time if I didn't drive and had a few more drinks. I diplomatically said I'm not a big drinker any more. The voice in my head was thinking more along the lines of "drinking like a fish, having a BMI of 35 and being a prime heart attack candidate is not for me, so keep the advice to yourself." I got quiet in the last hour or so as I'm now used to getting a good night's sleep and get tired after 10:30. It's become another tool in my training, and while it sounds dull to some, the feeling I'll get at this year's finish lines will have no comparison.