GCM18: Week 4

Despite the low weekly mileage, the plan still managed to have a “pull-back” week which saw us dropping back down to 33K. Ironically, this was the hardest week yet for me. Stress at work ensured that I only had a good night’s sleep last week. There were plenty of tossing and turning and the downstream effect was tiredness and the occasional lightheadedness (which could also be due to an inner ear issue).

Again, there’s nothing to report on the running. I’ve kept to the pace and distance discipline. Sore quads and glutes from the strength exercises ensured that I stuck to the plan. So all’s good.

Week 5, let’s get going already!

*I ran exclusively in the Lunar Tempo the entire week.

2018 will be the 40th running of the Gold Coast Marathon (GCM). I’ll be returning for my 8th GCM and training plans have been drawn up. Won’t you join me for some Good Times? Hit the image below to get to the official Gold Coast Marathon website! Do join the Team Malaysia Facebook page to get all the local happenings, updates on training sessions, tips on travel and running the race on the Gold Coast.

GCM18: Week 3

The week saw the highest mileage logged so far – a massive 37K😂 . After 3 weeks, I’ve managed to stay on track with the Hansons Plan. There’s an extra incentive to get it done, when you purchased your training plan, you see. Granted, it’s still honeymoon phase so there’s been no intensity, and no structure other than easy running and cross-training.

Nevertheless, I make it a point to celebrate every completed week because things are so stressful at work. It’s therefore necessary to my psyche to just take one week at a time.

Other than several days of stomach issues, there were some signs that the fitness level is on the uptick. Nothing extraordinary to report actually. I continued working on hip mobility, massage, rolling and also with resistance bands. Runners often look at the elites’ running form and nice running locales without realizing the many hours put into “behind-the-scenes” that make them run the way they do. These unglamorous work are not Insta worthy I guess, but if I can scrounge another 45 minutes each week, I’d spend them on prehab than logging extra miles. I’m at an age where benefits and improvements are going to be reaped from time spent on the floor and mat.

Here’s to Week 4!

*Photo shows the shoes I ran in this week – the unsung Zoom Span and cushy but flawed Clayton 2. I’ve logged over 200K in both pairs.

2018 will be the 40th running of the Gold Coast Marathon (GCM). I’ll be returning for my 8th GCM and training plans have been drawn up. Won’t you join me for some Good Times? Hit the image below to get to the official Gold Coast Marathon website! Do join the Team Malaysia Facebook page to get all the local happenings, updates on training sessions, tips on travel and running the race on the Gold Coast.

GCM18: Week 2

The week’s mileage is slowly nudging up but still very very low. After mixing in some quicker paced runs last week, on account of very low mileage, I’ve returned to keeping to the pace discipline per the program. There were lots more “in-the-zone” running for sure. The iPod (yes, the one which refused to die on me despite the cracked screen) and the Jabra Sport Pulse continued to keep me occupied. Other than the Sport Rox, I’m not particularly a fan of the Pulse, what with the latter proving quite an uncomfortable and even painful fit on my right ear. As such, I’ve ordered the ultralight JBL Reflect Mini. Again. The first one kaput on me after a year’s service and although I have trepidation, the RM230 price tag is more palatable than the RM560 Jaybird X3. Now, if the JBL quits on me again, I’ll have an excuse to get the X3. But until then…

Back to the training part.

Analyzing the past week’s data, I’ve noticed that there’s been an improvement to my running economy, form-wise. Going through the Garmin metrics, the footpod has shown an increase in stride length, lower ground contact time (GCT) and a very balanced distribution of left/right GCT percentages. I’m totally sold on the targeted mobility workouts as mentioned by Jay Dicharry in his Running Rewired book so much so that I’ve stopped doing those static core routines.

You’ll notice that I’ve added just a bit more distance to the prescribed 27K. And my rationale as follows:

  1. The 32K logged are still very low, only 5K more than prescribed.
  2. All of the miles were run at the prescribed easy pace. Just a few pick-ups within the easy miles.
  3. 32K will be a smaller jump to Week 3’s 36K.

On to Week 3!

2018 will be the 40th running of the Gold Coast Marathon (GCM). I’ll be returning for my 8th GCM and training plans have been drawn up. Won’t you join me for some Good Times? Hit the image below to get to the official Gold Coast Marathon website! Do join the Team Malaysia Facebook page to get all the local happenings, updates on training sessions, tips on travel and running the race on the Gold Coast.

GCM18: Week 1

Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.
Van Gogh

And so it has begun! The preparation for the annual Marathon time trial happening on the Gold Coast has kicked off. If you’ve followed this blog, I’m going with the Hansons Marathon Method (HMM), having purchased the Beginner 18-week Program from Final Surge.

I ran last year’s PR using a derivation of the HMM, based on a 12-week plan. I undertook that coming off a funk, so there were very little base mileage. The resulting PR came off consistency and a dietary tweak of more greens, and less meat.

This time around, I’ve a very loose base program which started November, faltered in December and saw a rather mixed January and February. Many things conspired to test my resolve – work deliverables that constantly ran into challenges, home fix issues and a lingering case of the PF. Not to mention the loss of 2 friends and a friend’s family member.

I was in survival mode in January and February and 30K weeks were all I could manage. I wasn’t able to extend a very good first week into the second and beyond weeks of the 2-month McMillan Base Program. As I battled the daily stresses, I felt that I could still force workouts through but I wouldn’t have been pretty and downright risky. Illness, staleness, were all real dangers. The HMM is taxing enough and pushing an 8-week base training comprising of 60-70K weeks before HMM even starts would be just plainly asking for burn-out. Coach Luke Humphreys repeated that a runner would want to peak after 15-16 weeks of training, not 7. 60-70K weeks even before actual marathon training starts were just too much for me.

There were still plenty of positives during the last 3 months. I remained healthy, which is the most important thing. Through conscious choices of food, I was able to maintain a consistent 60kg, give or take 0.3kg. Not in training doesn’t mean one can simply throw healthy eating out of the window. In early February, I finally managed to put the PF away through self-administered Trigger Point Therapy.

And so, here we are early March, the first week of HMM, with the most ardous running yet to come, at least for another 4 weeks. The first 5 weeks are what I call the “bedding-in phase”. Very easy and very short runs, 2 days of cross-training and a 1 day of rest. No issues so far, with the scheduled workouts completed with little drama. I took the 2 cross-training days seriously, focusing on what Jay Dicharry said in his book, Running Rewired, “Complementary Training”.

On to Week 2 then!

2018 will be the 40th running of the Gold Coast Marathon (GCM). I’ll be returning for my 8th GCM and training plans have been drawn up. Won’t you join me for some Good Times? Hit the image below to get to the official Gold Coast Marathon website! Do join the Team Malaysia Facebook page to get all the local happenings, updates on training sessions, tips on travel and running the race on the Gold Coast.

What’s Next After Macao?

I’ve moved on after the recent Macao DNF. I’ve been back to running with greater frequency and consistency is slowly but surely getting re-established. Going through the Garmin and Buckeyeoutdoor logs, I discovered that despite this period of reduced running, I’ve been averaging more miles than the same period last year. Perhaps I’ve been a little harsh on myself.

With things slowly restored to business-as-usual, I’m just letting the consistency takes it shape over the next couple of weeks. Between now and the new year, 40K weeks shouldn’t be that hard to move up to. That will segue nicely into the 50K weeks accorded by the 8-week McMillan Base Plan. The Base Plan will have plenty of easy running, building on consistency and time-on-feet. I’ll be following the plan honestly.

Once the 8 weeks are done, it’ll be time for the actual training to begin and for that, I’ve subscribed to the 16-week Hansons Program. I’ve opted for the Beginner Plan which will peak at 91K with the longest runs at 26K. Due to the unique concept of the Hansons, the plan will only work if the runner follows the prescribed workouts to the tee. The first 2 weeks consist of low mileage work and will double up as cutback weeks following Base Phase.

Hansons Coach Luke Humphrey repeatedly says, “Don’t make it harder than it already is.“ He’s not kidding. The workouts will tax the body and mind to take on the stress of consistent weekly mileage, stressing the legs to simulate cumulative fatigue. Easy days must be kept easy. Long runs must be run at prescribed pace. Midweek SOS workouts must include warm up and downs. And I’ll have to get enough sleep as recovery.

Gear-wise, everything is good to go. Most of my running thus far has been in heavier, bulkier and protective shoes. That’s the Zoom Span, Glide Boost (mothballed 2 years ago in new condition but now recalled to active duty), and the 2 Hokas – the Clayton 2 and Clifton 4. With the exception of the Span and Clayton, the rest are over 10 ounces in heft. The odd one in the collection is the NB Vazee Pace 2 Protect. The weather resistant upper will ensure that rainy days aren’t excuses to skip workouts. They’re all shoes that I don’t typically run in but I’ve to protect my legs and feet. The firmer Ride 10 will have to wait in the wings.

For faster running, the ones you see below are my trusted ones, each capable of covering distances between 5K to the marathon. Even my GCM18 race shoes (not shown here) are good to go.

On the injury front, the PF is finally, FINALLY (!), brought under control. It has taken a lot of effort on my part, from 4 times a day trigger point massages, stretching and mobility exercises. More than anything, I’m hoping that the issue will be fully resolved by end February, and I stay healthy all the way through July.

So as 2017 comes to a close, here’s wishing you the best in next year’s training and racing!

2018 will be the 40th running of the Gold Coast Marathon (GCM). I’ll be returning for my 8th GCM and training plans have been drawn up. Won’t you join me for some Good Times? Hit the image below to get to the official Gold Coast Marathon website! Do join the Team Malaysia Facebook page to get all the local happenings, updates on training sessions, tips on travel and running the race on the Gold Coast.

Gold Coast Airport Marathon 2017

Where do I begin? My 32nd marathon was a race that I truly prepared even if I didn’t initially set out to run the distance. The plan was to rebuild from the half before taking on the full distance this year end. But for some reason, probably rooted in a divine one, a friend planted some hope and a little confidence in me that the goal wasn’t beyond me. His positivity came bundled with a 12-week training plan which I ended up embarking. There were slight mods to it as the weeks rolled by. 
With the plan in place, I committed both mentally and physically to “The Cause”. Sweeping changes were made to how I trained. On top of that I reshaped some aspects of my diet (ice-cream and milk-based coffee were treats while vegs, seeds and nuts featured a lot more in my meals), largely staying injury and illness-free. My goal kept me focused and anchored. No problems with maintaining discipline and consistency.
Motivation, because you can’t succeed at a discipline based sport like distance running unless you’re consistent, and consistency is grandchild to motivation. “
Jack Daniels, Ph.D.
Over the course of the 12 weeks, I only missed 3 days of training, excluding the rest days, due to a mild flu. While I’ve the gang along for some of the longer runs, much of the extra miles were tackled alone. Weekday sessions started at 5:30am initially but were moved earlier to 5:15am when the need for more miles arose. There were only 3 double days over the 3 months. As I had no access to a track for intervals, I drove to a nearby location and ran the 1.2K reasonably flat rectangular loops around Tesco. Initially hostile stray dogs prowling the area learnt to ignore me as the weeks progressed. During the Muslim fasting month, I had more company on the roads in motorists who made their way to a mosque in the area. Some days, I had to outrun or outmaneuver garbage trucks out on their rounds. But all those inconveniences strengthened the mind and resolve, and many tough repeats were seen through with plenty of mental reinforcements.
One key workout was a simulator at Putrajaya which I ran faster than MP thanks to pacing duties by Jessie.
As the weeks rolled by and fitness gained, confidence and a sense of belief grew as well. But I remained cautiously optimistic simply because the marathon can humble a runner. A mental scar isn’t something that’s easily rid of. The only nagging issue was a recurrence of plantar fasciitis in the 3 weeks before race day.

Fast forward to arriving at the Gold Coast, with the customary group photos covered on Friday, Saturday was basically a warm-up jog. Nick and I wisely opted for The Star 5.7K Challenge instead of the Southern Cross Uni 10K.

With all the walking and photo-taking interspersed between speed pick-ups, I ended up with a Personal Worst (PW) timing for a 5K. I’d said before I boarded the flight to the Gold Coast that I’d run a PW and a PR at GCAM17. The only thing left to do then was to run a PR on Sunday! Before that, there’s the Garmin Legends Lunch to attend. Suffice to say that there was plenty of gawking at the presence of runners we don’t normally see up close and in the flesh. Too bad we weren’t lucky enough to grab photos with Kenneth Mungara, Yuki Kawauchi, Brett Larner (famed blogger of the Japanese running scene) and Jess Trengove. The petite elite women are proof that long legs aren’t necessary to running super fast 😀
With Sara Hall, who won the Asics Half Marathon.
With Desiree Linden, who finished 4th in the Asics Half Marathon.
With Kevin Hanson, one half of the founding brothers of the Hansons Marathon Method.
We wisely chose to head out at 6pm for dinner on Saturday since the crowds would be big. True enough, our first choice for ramen was packed and 15 deep line. We settled for an alternative, also a Japanese ramen shop and I somehow finished a bowl of tonkotsu ramen and gyudon! The gear, including the drop bag, had been laid out earlier back at the hotel and I opted to go light – the heaviest load being the usual 8 gels in my belt. I hydrated well the entire Saturday.
After a good 6 hours’ sleep and a cup of noodles (out of convenience and salt) and a banana, I was already out queuing for the G-linq to Southport at 5am. I didn’t opt for the provided coach to the start as it was just too early. The trams were so packed that in normal circumstances I’d be accused of indecency – such was the close physical proximity to fellow commuters! On arrival at Southport, I got myself a small cup of long black from the usual café along the way and ventured to the race precinct. For the first time, I’d arrived before the HM start! Nick along with many Malaysians were already somewhere in the start pen along with 9,000 other runners.
The mood while waiting was relaxed. There was no pressure. I knew that whatever the race outcome, I’ve had the best training ever which itself was already a success. The time to enjoy the race had finally come. See, mind games at work right there! After meeting up with fellow Malaysians and conducting a toilet visit, it was time to warm-up done before checking in my bag.
Morning temps weren’t that bad. I’ve encountered colder stuff during the past GCAMs. It helped that the wind died down and after wishing everyone a great race, I made my way to the starting pen and discarded my layers. I embedded myself with the 3:50 pacers as the plan was to start the first Km slower before easing into goal pace.
My mind was refreshingly unencumbered by doubts (a little of which crept in during the taper phase) as Rob De Castella dished out last minute advice to the runners. My goals were simple: Primary: 3:45, Secondary: 3:48. Don’t think too far ahead, just focus on every 5K, get to the 30K mark feeling good and I’ll be in with a good chance. Gels every 5K, hydrate at every station – 2 cups minimum.
A GCAM playlist was already set up on my iPod but strangely found myself putting Enigma’s Sadness on repeat. It was no doubt a strange choice but I found the track to be meditative and its calming tempo suited the relaxed state of mind I was in. It would astonishingly stay on repeat until the 37K mark!
5:30 > 5:23 > 5:18 > 5:14 > 5:18 for a 26:49 at 5K (avg 5:21). It was still early in the race and I dialed it back a little. When we got to Surfers, I was pleasantly surprised to find a bigger crowd cheering us on than the previous years. It was around here that I passed the 3:50 gun time pacer.
5:15 > 5:18 > 5:18 > 5:17 > 5:25 for a 53:37 10K (avg 5:21). At this point, I was a minute ahead of 3:48 finish, and firmly lodged in between my primary and secondary goals. The 3:50 gun time pacer, Erin Wallace, was about 120m ahead and I took a mental note that I need not be concerned since the difference between gun and chip timings was about 2 minutes. If I kept my consistency, it would be a matter of time before I drew close to her.
5:20 > 5:22 > 5:20 > 5:21 > 5:18 for a 1:20 15K (avg 5:22). I was still a minute ahead of 3:48 finish, thus very consistent. Again, I was cautious not to get carried away because it would be the easiest thing to do, what with the amazing support we were getting from the crowd. This section will be where you get to see the elites zoom by on the other side of the road, just a few yards from you.  I only caught 3 seconds of the lead and chasing packs.
5:16 > 5:23 > 5:20 > 5:24 > 5:24 for a 1:47 20K (avg 5:22).  A few Kms laters, I did spot Choo Hooi and Francis. Burleigh Heads ah… Fantastic crowd and noise! I high-fived a few along this stretch and felt relieved that I still kept pace discipline. It’s just so easy to get carried away by the crowds here.
5:20 > 5:19 > 5:19 > 5:19 > 5:21 for a 2:14 25K (avg 5:22!). 1 minute advantage maintained.  I remembered silently congratulated myself on reaching the halfway mark in good shape and looked forward to getting to the Southport Bridge (30K). Sadness continued playing, keeping tempo.
At Surfers, on the way to the 30K mark.
5:24 > 5:22 > 5:20 > 5:16 > 5:23 for a 2:40 30K (avg 5:18!). This was par for a 3:45 finish, if I held on to the end. This 5K was interesting, in that it’s the quieter section of the route, after the raucous Surfers Paradise area. The sun would be sapping some of the energy off and it would be where for the first time, some tiredness will creep in. I was for the most part, running alone. There were no one to pull me except for Enigma but I was in the flow of things. That was until I finally caught up with Erin, the 3:50 gun time pacer. She and her posse were moving at around 5:18 pace, so I hung with them for the next 1.5K. It was an amazing experience. Truth be told, I rarely run with pacers, preferring to dictate my own progress. But Erin was amazing. Her charges ran in a tight pack and I drafted right behind her – so close that her 2 red balloons were bumping off my forehead! And because we were a pack, I was able to feed off the cheers from the supporters – pacing teams are natural magnets for attention and shouts of encouragement. Plus with Erin herself gave out team talks. It was easy, almost effortless running with her. In fact, I had to hold myself back and stayed in her wake – didn’t want to be pushing this early. We were a pack and we were out to kill the race!
30K at the Southport Bridge and just ahead of Erin’s posse.
5:21 > 5:25 > 5:26 > 5:24 > 5:29 for a 3:08 35K (avg 5:28). I lost 7 seconds per Km here but still held a minute’s advantage over a 3:48 finish. The minute drop wasn’t great but I was still generally OK. Right after the Southport Bridge is a gentle elevation drop. The road was very wide here. I veered to the left to grab a couple of gels from the table (in retrospect, I should’ve maintained a straight trajectory) and lost some yards as a result. I kept a lookout for Nick who mentioned he would be there to take some photos, but couldn’t spot his bright orange Nomad jacket. The 3-deep crowds worked hard and runners were the beneficiaries. As a result, the sharp but short incline just past the finish on the other side wasn’t felt that much. The 5:29 split was a slow down up the bridge over Biggera Creek.
5:23 > 5:21 > 5:24 > 5:27 > 5:23 for a 3:35 40K (avg 5:27). I was definitely slowing down and Erin passed me early in this section, right after the u-turn at Runaway Bay. I had to dig deep to not let her get away. At this point, I needed a push and with the quads burning and in pain, I was afraid that they will lock up. Somehow, I was able to catch up with her. Her group had broken up, leaving only a handful with her. Then she said something which put some life back into the legs and spirit. “If you’re feeling good, you can push for a 3:45 with a 5:15 pace to the finish. Otherwise, stay with me and keep it steady. If you’re pushing ahead, this is where I say goodbye to you. You can do it!” Somehow, that got me going again. I ran knowing that the PR was mine, just a matter of how much. The pressure was completely off. I just needed to make sure the quads didn’t cramp up.
Quads were in a bad shape. Coming off the bridge, I was afraid they would seize up. Erin, with her red balloons, was just behind.
5:55 > 5:40 > 4:51. After 3Ks of clawing back into the race, I found myself at the 41K mark. Right across the road was McDonald’s that marathoners knew so well. At this stage, with the personal battle won, I opted to turn off my iPod, slow down (the 5:55 split) and take the cheers in, applauded the supporters as I ran down Marine Parade. The execution has been almost according to script, save for a couple of lost minutes. A left turn towards the GC Aquatic Centre. and the familiar 250m to go sign came up. Rounded a few curves and spotted Nick, as he had promised, to the right and waved. In the finishing straight, I passed 3 more runners and a few seconds later, it was job done!
I congratulated a woman who I tailed and basically grinned my way through the misting tunnel before collecting the fruits and drinks, medal and tee. This year, the organizers threw in a small towel as well which was sweet. The area wasn’t as crowded yet, so I took my time around the area before wandering off to the designated meeting point.
There was no one there, so I quickly collected my baggage and thanked the volunteers there and just about then, Nick arrived. Waited a little more but since no one else came along, we left and coincidentally linked up with Jeanie and her colleagues just after they wrapped up their wonton noodles at Southport!
The PF and legs held up all the way back to the hotel. The soreness would come later in the evening and would not go away for another 3 days.
Removing the PF taping back at the hotel.
The little 3:48 pace slip I tucked under my watch strap.
Now that the dust has settled, I’ve had the chance to review the race. It was executed largely to plan. A bit of slippage occurred after the 35K mark which meant I’ll need to tweak the long runs to include fast finish. I could’ve tapered better but I’d put the fast finish long runs on a higher priority. Overall strength regimen, often overlooked by runners, is one area for improvement. I didn’t encounter any cramps and hydration was good. I peed around the halfway mark too. I won’t change anything I did on race day, only the preps will need some tweaking here and there.
Late-stage pace is something I’ve to work on.
Sometimes, all it takes is a breakthrough performance to bring about a new level of belief. Remember that first sub 60-min 10K or sub 2-hour half? The first sub-4? It was only impossible until it’s done. GCAM17 was that to me. I had thought that 3:55 would be all there is for me. GCAM16’s 3:57 didn’t help either. It needed a review of my past 3 years’ training logs to convince me that my past underachievements were due to training inconsistencies – too many hills and vales in the charts.
Developing consistency alone will have already yielded improvements. GCAM17 training started with a weekly mileage of mid-50s before climbing to the 60s, 70s and 80s, with cutbacks every 3 weeks to allow recovery and prevent staleness. There was much less pressure on absolute mileage and greater focus on quality.
I can only hope that I’m able to build on this and see where I end up. It may take me a longer time compared to the others but this is my race. What made GCAM17 sweeter was the fact that my training was undertaken alongside what is now a stressful job, something that won’t change for the easier anytime soon. The value of mental fortitude can’t be played down. Like the saying goes, “Where there’s a will…” or “If you want it bad enough…” Whichever works, right?
Thanks to TEQ, EMQ and HTT for the hospitality, help and looking out for me as always. With their support, and with those from the GCAM Training Group, we were able to extend our assistance and experience to those looking to run their first GCAM. My GCAM adventure wouldn’t have been possible without these groups of nice folks. To the friend who planted the belief in me and sent over the training program, thank you. And where would we be without our family support?
EMQ outdid themselves this year leading up to the GC2018 Commonwealth Games. During the Garmin Legends Lunch, race director Cameron Hart said that this year’s edition was a test bed in preparation for Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games and the improvement shows. From the increased number of spectators, inclusion of several misting stations, finisher towels for the marathoners, the event was overall even better – the best I’ve experienced in my 7 years of participation. The many PBs set are testament to the route, volunteers, crew and city. GCAM provides a course geared towards running your best time. The number of PRs recorded are super high, just ask around the Malaysians who travelled there. If your goal is that, make it your destination. If your plan is to experience a scenic and overseas race, GCAM should be right there at the top. 2018 will be GCAM’s 40th running and I heard big plans are afoot to make it an even more memorable one.
So, congrats all around to everyone – from the runners to the organizing teams!
Looking back: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 |Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10

Week 10/12

Easy Tuesday
Distance covered: 8.25km
How it went: Most have entered tapering but in terms of mileage, the week’s total will be kept in the 60s. To work around the wife’s schedule I had to swap around the Tue and Wed program. Kept it comfortable throughout.

Wednesday Double
Distance covered: 16.02km
How it went: AM run: For progression workouts, I’ve been relying on workouts programmed in Garmin Connect and synced to the watch. This has proven reliable when it comes to executing Intervals and segmented runs. This morning’s session was supposed to have been a 6-5-4 Easy-MP-HMP progression but I completely missed transferring it over. As a substitute, I went with a “run-as-long-as-I-could” at a pace between HMP and Tempo.

While the 7.3K average was 5:07, the actual pace was much quicker following a 5:55 opener. I noted several 5:00 flats. Surprisingly, the entire thing feel good and I was always in control at “comfortably hard” level. I could’ve gone the full 10K at that sustained effort and for a moment or two entertained the fantasy of running a 3:26 marathon (the watch said so when I hit sub 5:00 pace).

PM run: This was a much needed 2nd run of the day, not for the mileage but for stress relief. I’m not sure how one copes with the stresses of daily life – work especially – without an outlet such as exercise. There are plenty of examples all around us of those taking it out on substances that ironically mess up their bodies even more. I’m grateful for my running. I’m grateful for being able to find the meaning in doing it. I’m grateful in still being able to keep at it all these years, albeit with several breaks. It’s something I won’t be giving up as long as I’m mobile.

Treadmill Thursday
Distance covered: 8.38km
How it went: Quick light strides and loving it until the footpod went bonkers from 5.2K onwards, calling out wrong distances. A good workout nonetheless!

Treadmill Friday
Distance covered: 10.61km
How it went: I’m very mindful of how I’m feeling lately. I don’t intend to over-extend myself going into this stage and rather stay fresh and light. Spreading the day’s mileage across 2 shorter runs seems to work better. But this move is just temporary as the morning workout still holds priority.

PM 40-minute run. Lower legs and the right PF were quite sore. I’ve been self-massaging nearly every night for the past 3 days. I reckon the faster running which calls for a more forward-upright lean put some stresses on the lower legs. My running form has been good waist down. 5:00-5:16 paces have seen noticeable knee lifts, translating to longer strides. But damn, I’ve got to sort out this discomfort.

Distance covered: 9.5K
How it went: Kept the Saucony Group Run session very gentle all the way. Wasn’t about to over-extend the lower legs, so I was content just shuffling the entire distance. Fantastic weather, cool, overcast and the predicted heavy traffic due to schooling Saturday didn’t turn out bad at all. Got home and fixed myself a second breakfast of oats, soymilk, berries, bananas and a long black. Looking forward to tomorrow’s final long run.

Sunday Simulation
Distance covered: 19.6K
How it went: Glad to have Jessie as pacer the first 14K. After a 6:23 warm-up click, we got down to business right from the 2nd K. Keeping to average of 5:10, I was able to maintain conversation throughout. We realized the pace was 10 seconds quicker than goal pace though but pace discipline was better than during SCKLM, with the quickest 2Ks at 5:07 (back to back) instead of sub 5’s. While I was able to hold the pace for the remaining miles, I felt myself tiring towards the end. The 5:17 average for the 19K was very decent but should still slow down a tad.

Number of days of running: 6
Total mileage: 72.36K
Notes: As much as I wished the 5:10 pace would be realistic and sustainable for the marathon, it isn’t. I will almost certainly crash and burn around the 25K mark if I went with that. 5:10 will take a couple of years’ consistent development – that’s looking forward. The current objective shall remain a conservative one. I’ll need absolute discipline and patience to execute it. Regardless, I shall enjoy a little of the tapering process!

Looking back: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 |Week 8 | Week 9

Week 9/12

5-4-3 MP-HMP Progression
Distance covered: 12.57km
How it went: A variation from Josh Harris’s session where the body is “taught” to progressively operate at an increased pace even as the miles clicked by.. I’ll leave the reversed (3-4-5) version for maybe next week, where the distance is increased as the pace goes up. As for this morning’s workout, I ran without music, felt good but will need to stay relaxed. Warmed up @ 5:55; MP @ 5:16; HMP @ 5:00. Looking forward to Thursday’s Cruise Intervals to practice just that.

Easy Wednesday
Distance covered: 8.28km
How it went: Some easy running to keep the momentum going. Very humid morning. Focused on keeping the arms and upper body relaxed.

Thursday Cruise Intervals
Distance covered: 14.98km
How it went: AM: Went to a wake for a friend’s mother last night and got in just 5 hours of sleep. Totally insufficient! The plan was a cruise interval session of 4×2.4K @ 5:10, with 50 secs recovery. Kicked off with a 2K warm up averaging 6:16 pace. 1st rep @ 5:06; 2nd @ 5:00; 3rd @ 5:08. Didn’t feel in control nor smooth and decided to stop at 3. Finished off with a short jog. No excuses but the still and super humid air didn’t help a bit.

PM: Since the morning session wasn’t on par, I decided to put in a 2nd one on the treadmill in the evening. Keep it relaxed and maintained good form. I think it was only my 2nd “Double” in this training cycle. I believe, Doubles should be used sparingly, and only during peak mileage weeks before the start of taper on the basis that the body would’ve been conditioned in the months prior to handle the extra loading while serving the purpose of continuity and a bit more mileage. And also for older runners, Double days should be a mix of Easy-Hard and not Hard-Hard.

Treadmill Friday
Distance covered: 10.17km
How it went: Moved today’s workout to the evening to simulate the leg fatigue effect for the weekend – less recovery time between sessions. Utilized the treadmill session as a mental workout, focusing on concentration, positive reinforcements, visualization of the various parts of the GCAM course, and staying loose. Started 3K @ 6:00 before gradually lowering the pace to 5:44 > 5:33 > 5:24 > 5:06 for the final K.

Distance covered: 10.12K
How it went: Legs were fine this morn but was just so sleepy despite a 6 hour one. As a result, had to suffer for it thru an early evening run. While the weather was fine, the only route that I don’t cover during the weekdays presented the only option. The need to stay extremely focused on traffic was harder than the run itself. Nothing much can be said of the folks that ply the route helmet-less. They seem hell bent on taking along as many as they can to purgatory.

Intense Sunday
Distance covered: 15.33K
How it went: After a languid opening of 6:25, things decidedly turned quicker. By 6K, the pace was already at 5:03. The pack somehow fed on each other’s energy and pace and with the sync’d sounds of our foot falls, it was easy to cover the distance. Last 3K were fast from 5:00 > 4:48 > 4:33. Decided to cool down another 700m to close it off. I’ve pace but can I go the distance??

Number of days of running: 6
Total mileage: 71.5K
Notes: The highest mileage thus far. I don’t think it’ll be taken up higher with next week being the final week before a 2-week taper. At this point, I’m in 2 minds about running a 30K next Sunday. I’d rather stay fresh than pursue another run that long that close. May just settle for a 22-23K. But this week has been full of quality sessions. Even the 10Ks were progression types. The legs are feeling good despite the volume and intensity. Like I mentioned, it’s the engine that will be the decisive factor.

Looking back: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 |Week 8

Week 8/12

Tuesday Recovery
Distance covered: 2.05km
How it went: I continued resting on Monday since it was a designated one. But by Tuesday, I felt that I was ready to sweat a little, however short. It was really a countermeasure against settling into too many days of inactivity. And so it was… a couple of Ks at 6:25 pace to really ease back into training mode.

Easy Wednesday
Distance covered: 10.34km
How it went: In hindsight, yesterday was a good call because I took the first steps in getting back into the regimen. No complains with the effort, pace and distance on the cool, windless yet humid conditions. Actually I was surprised that after 3 days of being off the rails, I was still able to average a 6:05 pace. No sooner had I ended the run, and feeling good about it, the lower back soreness felt over the 3 days due to the flu returned. Looks like I still need to take another ibuprofen just to survive a day on audit.

Thursday Test
Distance covered: 4.1km
How it went: Getting better but decided to keep it short in view of the much more important 30. Wanted to see how the body responds to a bit of pace injection. Started languidly before progressing to 5:53 > 5:31 > 5:00. Have lost it a bit in terms of comfort level but if all goes well the next 2 weeks and into taper I shouldn’t worry too much about it. There’s no guarantee in marathoning, so it’s just a matter of keep doing the work.

Treadmill Friday
Distance covered: 6.45km
How it went: Woke up all ready for a 2-6-2 MP but the eagerness was dampened by a thunderstorm. Waited patiently in bed as I still had some time buffer for at least an 8K. The rain subsided a little a few minutes later, lending hope to my plans but alas, as I sat up on my bed, it resumed again. Having just recovered from flu, heading out albeit in a jacket would be plain foolhardy. And that’s that. I couldn’t let the rebuilding momentum slip away again, so I snuck in an evening run on the treadmill, bearing in mind tomorrow’s hilly 11K with the Saucony group. Pace was progressive, from 6:27 down to 5:15.

Saucony Saturday
Distance covered: 10.27K
How it went: Good run with the Saucony running group. Felt like a fartlek due to the fast-slow running managing the large group. The best run I’ve had since being hit with the flu a week ago.

Crucial Sunday
Distance covered: 29.7K
How it went: This was a must-accomplish workout after being waylaid by flu last weekend. A very bad storm at 2am threatened to scupper plans again but thankfully subsided when I left the house at 4:30am. Drizzled very lightly a few seconds here and there as I drove to Peremba but rain was a non-event by the time we kicked off. Morning was cool with lower humidity than the last few days, which made running quite pleasant. Happy to have a few friends for the 30, even if only one ran the entire planned distance. Pace was at a comfortable 6:10 from the start and we progressively tightened the pace from 18K onwards. Suffered some towards the end but was so glad to have completed it.

Number of days of running: 6
Total mileage: 62.9K
Notes: I’ve absolutely no complains coming back to the 60’s after a poor 2 back-to-back weeks. In the past, that would’ve put me into severe deficit, almost back to square one. However, thanks to the consistency put in over the weeks prior to the illness, I was able to rebound back almost to the pre-illness state by the end of the week. Granted, I was pragmatic enough to stick to conservativeness the earlier part of the week (the HR readings were a little on the high side as I made the tentative first steps back to full on running).

Looking back: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7

Week 7/12

Tuesday Recovery
Distance covered: 10.07km
How it went: Quads were very tight and sore yesterday which wasn’t helped by by seated most of the day due to meetings with the auditors. This morning’s run started almost at a crawl but everything loosened up after 5K. Glad to start the week with a 10. I’ll keep the focus to longer easy runs until the legs are fully recovered.  Judging from the HR, I’ll need a few more days.

Easy Wednesday
Distance covered: 6.38km
How it went: Eased back into pace work. Left quads were more or less recovered while there’s still some soreness on the right. Felt ok generally. Quite satisfied with the recovery rate. Should be able to carry out a 5K MP tomorrow.

2-6-1 MP
Distance covered: 9.4km
How it went: Quad soreness was absent at the start but returned a bit when the MP phase kicked off. Otherwise it was a decent run with a little too fast midsection. In actual fact the quads is an issue I must resolved through some strengthening regimen. I noticed that they were prevalent whenever the pace picked up directly related to the ground impact as I land and push off in greater force. It will certainly be a factor over the course of a marathon.

Easy Friday
Distance covered: 8.34km
How it went: Bad sleep. With the work stress, fighting 3-hour pre-Ramadan traffic daily, trying to stay consistent in training and staving off a cold, quality sleep has been sadly lacking. As a result I found myself awake 4:30am recent mornings. I was this close to staying in bed and trying to salvage a bit more time on it on account of such poor nights. But I couldn’t convince myself to do so. I told myself that since it’s all upper respiratory I’ll feel better once I get moving. Some miles are better than no miles, I kept repeating in my head.

Indeed that’s true. Got into a rhythm quickly and was clicking off relaxing easy ones when it started to rain. With the cold I told myself to wrap up the loop and head in. After all I got my run in no matter how short it was. But 5 minutes later it stopped and I was able to put in another 2K. Sometimes you just don’t know. Resolution may just be around the corner or mere minutes away. Persistence and patience pay off. And I hope I’ve shown to the powers that be that I’ve earned my share of good times on July 2.

Number of days of running: 4
Total mileage: 34.12K
Notes: Due to 2 days of layoff, this has been the worst week I’ve had. It started off very well, coming off the recovery days following the Honda Half Marathon, but work stress caught up with me. The 5-hour daily meeting sessions with the regulators meant my fluid intake were minimal, subsisting on coffee. Add in disrupted sleep and infrequent bowel movements, I was a walking recipe for illness. I was lucky, the symptoms were flu-like without any fever, which on paper, meant my downtime wouldn’t be as long.

Looking back: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6