Monthly Archives: August 2013

Limiting factors in the marathon

I’ve got a marathon coming up in October so I’m focussing on these sorts of things at the moment. A lot!
I’ve ‘bonked’ at the 19 mile mark before at its not fun, like ‘the worst half hour running of my life’ not fun, while waiting for a couple of gels and some sports drink to kick in. I learnt a valuable lesson about fuelling that day…

REKKLESS RUNNING

I attempted to do my 20 miler yesterday… failed miserably thanks to sun, heat, and humidity – also my mistake for running at 1pm. There was absolutely no shade. I’ll go into more detail later – I did make it 11 miles though. In the mean time, I found this article on Runnersworld.com by Jonathan Dugas, and he explains common issues during the Marathon, and how you can avoid them. It’s pretty lengthy, but very helpful.

These are issues that can suddenly appear after 18 miles of feeling great, or after 22 miles of staying on pace for a PR. (Which is exactly where I always hit the wall – between 19 and 22)

THE IDEAL MARATHON

There’s solid evidence that the optimal way to pace yourself over any distance longer than 800m is to run an even or negative split, i.e., running the second half of the distance at…

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Thursday Training Tip #2

Strength Training

Strength training is really important for improving your running and reducing the likelihood of injury.
Here is a set of strength training exercises for beginner runners from the Guardian Lifestyle running blog

Strong running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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Inspire me Wednesday #3

Wondering why people get inspired to run?

Wanting some of your own?

Here’s a great trailer with some snippets of runners and their inspiration for running!


Thanks to proactiveoutside and Imarunnerandsocanyou for finding this and sharing it!

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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Motivate Monday! #2

motivate-monday-#2-you-just-have-to-go

Happy Monday everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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Run With an Idea #4: Do Real Runners Walk?

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The fourth in the Run With an Idea blog debate series, this weeks topic is “Do real runners walk?”

Now, this is a topic that will probably generate a fair bit of commentary, but my guess is that most people are of the “of course they do, and what of it?” camp. I certainly am.

Being a ‘runner’ is not about the pace you go at, nor how far you can do it without walking. It’s about being someone who laces up and runs for exercise, for fitness, for friends, for loved ones, for lost ones, for challenge, to escape their problems, to solve their problems, for joy, or simply just because they can. Nowhere does it say that any of the above must be completed while running and only running.

Run-walk-run is advocated by many people who are serious runners, and have completed many a race just running. It is about getting people involved in a sport that can change people’s lives, not about how fast they do it. Every couch-to-5k programme I’ve ever seen has run-walk-run in it. Even if you aren’t following a schedule like that, most runners start out naturally doing run-walk-run simply because that’s the most they can do, and instead of stopping after one letterbox, one block, one mile, they walk for a bit and then push on for the next. Who can say that person isn’t a runner? Sure, they might not be fast, but they are running.

If you think people aren’t runners if they need to walk, then you are consigning a huge number of people to the wayside. And you probably either need to check your own ego, or have a bit more self respect and confidence.
First off – “ego”. If you think other people are only real runners if they don’t walk, get over yourself. Anyone who has completed any PR distance while running is a runner. Because someone completed a marathon and walked half of it are they not a runner? If you still say “no” then I’m sorry, I think you’re a w&%#€r.
Secondly – “self confidence and respect”. If you think you’re not a runner because you need to take walk breaks, pucker up and stop being so hard on yourself. A lot of people who need to walk when running do so because they can’t run the whole distance, and for some reason means ‘failure’ for them. It’s not a failure, it’s just what you need to do to make the distance. You still laced up and went running, so be confident to call yourself a runner.

I don’t know who first said this, but its an apt way to sign off:
“I’ve met fast runners and slow runners. But I’ve never met a fake runner”.

Now, I’m off for my long run. It’s a rainy day in York and I’m lacing up for a 26km run. And guess what, it’s a TLT session so I’ve got planned 3 minute walk breaks between tempo sessions. Anyone care to tell me I’m not a runner?

Happy running (and walking) everyone!
Bernie
Get Going, Get Running!

Thursday Training Tip #1

High Intensity Interval Training

You can improve your 5k and 10k times by increasing power and speed using HIIT as part of your running routine.

Done well, this type of training will boost your power and speed over short distances which will translate to greater economy and higher pace over longer distances.

This RunnersWorld article explains how/why. Check it out!

Strong running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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Trail Running : a good way to clear your head and make new friends…

What do you do if a horse is standing in the middle of the trail you’re running on? Stop to pat it and take photos of course! While at the same time keeping it from stealing your energy drink…

Today my girlfriend and I were up in Doncaster for the funeral of her grandfather who sadly passed away last week. Needless to say it has been an emotional week for my girlfriend and in some respects I’ve experienced some of the ‘overflow’. However, there is nothing like a run to clear your head and get some focus, so this morning I went out for a 12km trail run.

doncaster-trail-run

Last night we stayed with my girlfriend’s aunt and uncle at their house in Sprotbrough, right on the banks of the River Don. This gave me the means and excuse to head out off the tarmac and onto the trail along the river this morning. I didn’t have a map, but I’d looked on Google maps before I went out to get an idea of distance and route and headed out. Of course, the first thing I did after getting onto the trail was take a wrong turn at a fork which resulted in me crossing over the A1 on a footbridge and ending up in a field if beets. However, I could see the river half a mile away so followed the tractor marks through the beets to the river.

Not much of a designated trail, but a trail nonetheless. And no, I don't know if they're really beets, they just looked like it to me...

Not much of a designated trail, but a trail nonetheless. And no, I don’t know if they’re really beets, they just looked like it to me…

After a ‘delicate’ negotiation of a barbed wire fence I was on the riverside track and headed off. A few wrong turnings and a backtrack or two and I found myself popping out back at the top of the field of beets! I’d made myself a little 4km trail circuit!

doncaster-trail-run-aerial-image

If you wish to see the run for ‘real’ – clicking on the Image will take you to the Garmin Player

Now knowing the ‘right’ route I skipped back over the A1 footbridge, took the correct turning at the fork and found the stairs down to the river (much better than risking the barbed wire fence again) and headed back out on the trail. On the second circuit I was able to keep a tempo pace up because a) I knew the route and b) I wasn’t stopping every 5 minutes to take a photo of beets, cows, ducks or whatever. Until the horse of course (of course…)

I know these are cows, not a horse. Cows don't really do much do they...

I know these are cows, not a horse. Cows don’t really do much do they…

I had just entered a new field and had run around the corner to find a horse grazing in the middle of the track. He looked up as I approached, but didn’t seem concerned about me, so I kept approaching and slowed to a walk. Seeing that the horse was friendly, and pretty much ambivalent about my presence I went up to it and gave it a pat on the head and a scratch on the neck. This was fine until he smelled my energy drink. I had spilled some on my hand and he could obviously smell the sugar! Suddenly he was pushing and shoving with outstretched neck and lips puckering for my bottle. Greedy little bugger! Anyway, in this merry little dance we’d managed to turn around and I found myself on the other side of him, with an empty track in front of me. Seizing this opportunity I bid ‘adieu’ to Mr Ed and went on my way with an extra photo for the blog and horse saliva all over my arm!

Mr Ed, before he found out I had an energy drink with me...

Mr Ed, before he found out I had an energy drink with me…

The rest of the run was pretty uneventful. A bridge, some cows, some people walking their dogs, a lock, and 2km at threshold pace to finish off the run. I returned back to the house to find everyone had risen and breakfast was being prepared. I made excuses for a quick shower because, lets face it, no one deserves to sit next to a smelly sweaty runner at breakfast. Especially not one with horse spit down one arm and mulberry stains across his white (stupid choice for a trail run) tech shirt!

Disused rail bridge over the River Don

Disused rail bridge over the River Don

I’m starting to think the idea of a trail marathon is a good idea. Does anyone do trail races, and if so, what do you love about them?

A small p.s. – I found my 2XU calf guards really useful for my trail run. They stopped most things from scratching my shins, including mulberry bushes. But not stinging nettles. Definitely not stinging nettles…

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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Inspire me Wednesday #2

Running Gear : 2XU Calf Guards review part 2

The other day I posted a review about 2XU Calf Guards, and the initial impression they made on me.

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I have now done a long run in them (a 26km TLT session) and wanted to top-and-tail my review to take into account for my experiences of them during, and after a long distance run.

Generally speaking the same feeling I described in my first review of a ‘warm, snug, squeeze’ was present for the whole run, along with the delay in onset of muscle pain in my calf muscles, particularly in relation to my quads, hamstrings and hip flexors.

As in my previous run, I kept the 2XU calf guards on for an hour or so after the run to see what the recovery was like. It is in recovery that I think these calf guards make the most difference. As anyone who runs knows, hard runs always result in a bit of DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). My TLT session was a hard run, and I was feeling it yesterday. Today, some 48 hours after my run was the worst stiffness and soreness, however my calf muscles were largely pain free!

Overall, I am very impressed with how much of a difference they make both during a run and afterwards. I’m not sure they would help you go faster, but I’m confident they help you go longer and with less time for recovery after long runs.

I will certainly be continuing my use of my 2XU calf guards, particularly on my long runs and races!

Do you use calf guards or other compression gear? What have been your results with them?

Happy running everyone!

Bernie
Get Going, Get Running!

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Marathon training wk 10 : TLT training

TLT – sounds a lot like a sandwich filling, but it really stands for ‘Threshold-Long-Threshold’, a workout designed as a replacement for your long run that I first read about in a Running Competitor article.

Yesterday was my long run (social commitments meant I moved it from Saturday) and I decided to try out a TLT training session seeing as I had benefited from an extra rest day. In TLT, the basic premise is to do threshold/tempo running at the start and end of your long run, with a session of easy running at ‘long run’ pace in between.  If you’re not familiar with threshold running, you can read my earlier post and check out my training page on the subject.

This type of workout has two main benefits. The first is to burn more muscle glycogen early and activate your anaerobic pathway earlier. This will add more fatigue to the long run section and train your body to improve metabolism of body fat for energy, a crucial requirement for successfully going 42km. The second is to train you physically and, more importantly, mentally for the end stages of a race where you need to keep pushing on despite the onset of physical and mental exhaustion. 

In the RC article, Magdalena Lewy Boulet of the Bay Area Track Club (coach of Clara Peterson, 16th at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials) says that “threshold ‘cruise intervals’ need to be run at proper intensity. They are meant to be comfortably hard, or about 83 percent of your VO2 max.” This is all a bit technical for us ‘normal runners’ without access to VO2 max equipment, but you can approximate threshold pace to your 5km race pace, or about 85-90% of your max heart rate.  If you use a heart rate monitor and are reasonably fit and want to determine your max heart rate, I have used this very instructive Runners World maximum heart rate test to determine my maximum heart rate, and then used the RunnersWeb.com heart rate zone calculator to determine my personal training zones.

A typical VO2 max test

A typical VO2 max test

The TLT workout in the RC article was a series of 3x2mile threshold repeats done before an 8 mile ‘long run’, followed by another 2 miles of threshold pace. However, this is a workout for someone who came 16th at the Olympic Marathon trials – i.e. not really for mere mortals like us! Therefore, I edited it to reduce the amount of threshold running, and also the total distance, to something I thought would work for me. My workout went like this (MP means Marathon Pace):

  • 10 min Dynamic Stretching
  • 2km slow jog (MP+45 warm up)
  • 3km threshold run at 5k pace (roughly MP-40)
  • 17km long run with negative splits (first half MP+30, second half MP+15)
  • 2km run to threshold heart rate (equated to MP-10)
  • 2km slow jog (cool down)
  • 1.5km recovery walk

Unsurprisingly, it was hard! Significantly harder than the long run of the week before which was a straightforward 23km long run with negative splits (first half at MP+30, second half at MP+15). However, I could feel the supposed benefits of a TLT workout happening during the run. After the first threshold section I struggled to slow down to MP+30, showing that my body was still massively creating energy after the initial threshold session, and once I was in the groove of the long run, my body sailed along easily and comfortably. I found that in the second half of the long run the fatigue was greater than usual, and my heart rate gradually crept up towards my threshold level while keeping the pace constant. As it turned out, I had to reduce speed for the 2km before the last threshold element to MP+30 to get my heart rate down into aerobic levels. In that last threshold 2km I really had to push to keep going, both physically and mentally, all good training for the closing stages of a race.

Garmin-130819-TLT long runOverall, I consider the session a success, and very ‘instructive’ for reminding me what the closing stages of a marathon are like. However, one ‘negative’ point that I learned with this workout is that I designed it at least 2km too long. The need to slow down for the 2km before the last threshold session told me that I had fatigued too much in the long run component, i.e. I wasn’t fit enough to do the distance with the extra impact of the threshold running. In hindsight, that should have been obvious, but I had countered the extra kilometres with a rest day so thought it would be OK. “Wrong!” – However I still finished the session with all key components completed so overall it was a success.

Would I do this workout again? Yes, I will. It was hard, but rewarding, and I do think the additional physical and mental toughness needed at the end of the workout (when all you would really like to do is walk!) is very good training for race day.  I would however do the first threshold session at MP-15 as suggested in the RC article, instead of flat out 5km pace I did.

Would I add it to my normal routine? No, probably not. I think it is a good workout session for those peaking for a marathon, but for generally weekly running it is probably too much to ask to punish yourself like that week-in, week-out if you aren’t preparing for a race. It would just take the fun out of running! It’s also not a particularly useful workout for lower distances either. I think for a half-marathon it could still be applicable, but for 5km and 10km it is the wrong type of training and it would be better to stick to speed work if you are wanting to improve your performance over those distances.

Has anyone else tried TLT training? What was your experience?

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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