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.

Saturday
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.

Saturday
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 4/12

Tuesday Tempo (Tempo pace is 5:00)

  • 10-min warm-up
  • 15-min tempo
  • 10-min cool-down

Distance covered: 5.8km
How it went: The week’s tempo was a wee bit shorter at just 15 minutes. Start was a little delayed due to cleaning up dog vomit (urgh!) outside our gate. As usual, a 10-min warm up phase precluded the speed segment. It was at a quicker (but still pretty comfortable) pace of 5:41. The 4th week finally got me to the 4:59 (down from 4:56 the earlier weeks). A quick cool-down comprised of drills wrapped up the morning run.

Easy Wednesday
Distance covered: 6.1K
How it went: Kicked off the easy day with a 6:46 before lowering it to 6:15, followed by 5:52, 5:53, 5:52, 5:56 before closing it out at 6:05. The red K8 which I upsized by half put in a strong contention to be included in the trip to GCAM.

Thursday MP
Distance covered: 2K Warm-Up, 10K (MP is 5:19)
How it went: Rain and lightning prevented the usual morning run, which provided me with a few more minutes of snooze. Was a little tired and as a result worried if I’ve caught the bug from a colleague. But there was no stopping the day’s program of a 10K at MP – incidentally the longest and therefore most significant session in the program thus far. Warmed up for 2K at 6:32 pace and then kicked off the 10. Toggled the treadmill to 5:19 and held that for 7K. First couple of Ks were not so easy but once the body and legs warmed up, the going was easier. There were niggle here and there but the more persistent ones were the right arm (which hasn’t felt good of late, tight and sore as if I’ve a pinched nerve or something). The inner thigh pulled for a few seconds but ran through it and the sensation went away. Then I increased the pace to 5:10 and held that for the next 2K before the final K in 4:58. The Garmin footpod and HRM sensor registered a pretty accurate readout for the final 3K but 2 secs slower for the initial miles. No matter. It was a great workout!

Easy Friday
Distance covered: 6K
How it went: With an eye on the heaviest weekend yet, I kept proceedings very easy following Thurs evening’s tempo. Wore compression socks to work.

Cruise Intervals
Distance covered: 12K

  • 2K Warm Up
  • 4 x 2.4K at threshold pace (5:10) with 50 secs recovery
  • Cool Down

How it went: With the day’s program packed, I had no choice but to start at 4:50am. Luckily CY and Rao were there. I started off in the Fastwitch but changed into the K8 midway and I think the legs thanked me for it! Its bounciness was immediately palpable and saved my legs from getting too trashed for tomorrow’s cruncher. I ran mostly to feel and the early miles were a few seconds quicker off the 2-second margin I set, so it was all good. Still, in a marathon, seconds can make a difference over the 42K, so I always strive to stay on-point the best I can. As with the recent MP workout, there was again a slight pull on the right adductors but I ran it off. I can see that if I don’t work that one out, I’ll have bad issues during the race. Other than that, I’m happy for the workout with the interval segments logged at 5:11 > 5:10 > 5:05 > 5:00. One of the best sessions so far!

Hilly 25
Distance covered: 24K
How it went: I was a little apprehensive prior to starting this. Firstly, it was to be my longest run in training. Secondly, the cumulative mileage in the legs has obviously increased. Thirdly, the route over which the long run was to be executed has a total elevation gain of 868 meters. While the number represents just a molehill to mountain runners, anything over 300m would be challenging to me and anything over 600m is just ridiculous, unless I’m training for something with this much elevation! But the aim was to toughen the legs, body and mind, so it had to be done even if the Gold Coast Airport Marathon is pretty flat. The only sane way to do that would be to run by perceived effort and pay no attention to pace. Overall, I did a good job if I may say so, keeping the average HR to 140 with the highest at 162. The last 4K were at increased pace as well. A good session to close the week. There was hardly time to rest as once I showered, it was time to leave home as well, with some back to back family activities for the entire day. Managed to catch Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 as well.

Number of days of running: 6
Total mileage: 67K
Notes: Holding at 67K for the 2nd week, 88.6K (over 8 days). I’m ready for Week 5.

Looking back: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3

Week 3/12

Tuesday Tempo (Tempo pace is 5:00)

  • 10-min warm-up
  • 20-min tempo
  • 10-min cool-down

Distance covered: 8.1km
How it went: Had doubts at the start of the workout if I could keep to the pace, so I stuck to the 20-min tempo segment instead of increasing it to 25. However as I got the warm up going, it began to feel better and for the 3rd week running, I achieved the 4:55 average for the 20 mins. Extended the cool down jog to cap the day at 8K.

Easy Wednesday
Distance covered: 8.5K
How it went: After 3 weeks, I can safely say that I’ve successfully transitioned to morning runs. Wednesday morning was no different. But as laid on the bed enjoying the extra 30 seconds after the alarm went off, I didn’t feel quite right. Regardless, I was downstairs lacing up not 10 minutes later. But as I was doing that, I was struck with a pain stomach ache that had me breaking sweat. Those intense types that have you clenching your butt cheeks. Resisting the urge to run it off, I instead rushed to the loo and not a moment too soon! To save you the crap-fest description, it felt much better right after. The whole morning had me thinking what I ate that could’ve caused the issue. I initially put it down to the sambal (chilli paste) the night before. Yet it was unlikely, since I had very little of it and if it was bad, I’d have run into problems the very night. Then I realized that it was the iron tablet which I took (on top of my regular fish oil capsules and antioxidant tablet) that probably messed me up. Ordinarily, it wouldn’t have been a problem but after laying off them for months and retaking them, it’s probably the way the body is adjusting. Iron supplementation isn’t something I do normally since I’m not anemic. But with increased training intensity, there are iron “leakages” from the capillaries, from all that pounding (foot-strike hemolysis). Best way to replenish it is via natural foods (dark leafy vegs and meat are most common sources) which I get plenty of, but last night’s dinner being rather little and plain, I thought I’d pop a pill.

Thursday MP
Distance covered: 9.3K (MP is 5:19)
How it went: The plan called for Yasso’s i.e. 5x800m with 400m recovery (similar to 2 weeks’ prior). On account that Wednesday’s run was in the evening and I got home late, I thought it was better to stay on the conservative side and not push it. I could grit my teeth through the Yasso’s but at what cost? I wasn’t about to find out the hard way.

Started the MP segment, after a 2K warm up. It was tough working up to the MP the first 2Ks, but once the body got into the groove, it was a go. I avoided checking the pace (just like during the tempo workouts) and just tried to run by feel. 5:28 > 5:21 > 5:12 > 5:17 > 5:13 > 5:11 > 5:11 which meant I’d gone into LT zone. Analysis showed my HR to be in the 2015-2016 marathon race pace readings which doesn’t really confirm anything. To conclude that I’m now running quicker at the same HR of last year won’t be accurate since this is just week 3. In his podcast, Luke Humphreys (of Hansons Marathon Method) warned about peaking too early, and there are still over 9 weeks to race day.

If anything, this workout showed that I needed to balance the speedwork with more marathon specific workouts such as MP, LT and Tempo. The legs are a little tired and with a 6 day/week plan, there are certainly cumulative fatigue at work here. I’m sensitive to how the body is adapting to the stress and will continue to monitor all the signs and readings.

Easy Friday
Distance covered: 7.44K
How it went: After running in lighter shoes most of the time, I pulled out the Triumph for an easy session. If taken as a swap with yesterday’s MP, this morning was supposed to be the Yasso’s. But I’m letting the body recover just a little more yet retain the “time on feet” factor. I’ve been late getting back home the last 2 nights and as a result of the late dinners, I didn’t get to bed as early as I wanted to. 6:30 used to be my easy pace but now it’s 6:13.

Saturday Yasso’s 
Distance covered: 12.5K (5x800m, including warm up and cool down)
How it went: Shuffling the Thu to Sat workouts around due to work meant that this morning I had to repay my Yasso dues. 4K of warm up before hitting 5 reps. Once again, went by effort and post run data showed 5-10 secs improvements (4:18 > 4:16 > 4:18 > 4:15 > 4:09) over Week 1’s Yasso’s. Rest assured it was mental and it gave me the chance to exercise the positive affirmations during those hard laps. While the 4:09 was my quickest in a long while, it doesn’t prove anything at this stage. So much more left to do.

Long Sunday
Distance covered: 21K
How it went: Generally good. Main goal was to complete the distance, which I did. Kept to a comfortable and easy pace till 12K point afterwhich the pace quickened considerably. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to hold till the finish with last 2K quite a struggle.

Number of days of running: 6
Total mileage: 67K
Notes: With 3 weeks done, the weekly mileage has been climbing. I will control the intensity next week and bring into play the longer sets and also some running at LT pace. It’s clear that the long runs need some working out. All said and done, I’m just glad a quarter of the 12 weeks are wrapped up, with no missed workouts!!

Looking back: Week 1 | Week 2

Week 2/12

Tuesday Tempo (Tempo pace is 5:00)

  • 10-min warm-up
  • 20-min tempo
  • 15-min cool-down

Distance covered: 6.46km
How it went: Easy jog followed by 20-min tempo segment. Target was 5:00 but I averaged 4:56. 1-sec quicker than last Tuesday’s average. Wrapped up with a cool down of skips, high-knee plyo drills and short jog.

Easy Wednesday
Distance covered: 7.5K
How it went: Relaxed run. Kept the average HR to 134. Wrapped up with some high knee drills, butt kicks and stretching the adductors, hams, quads.

Thursday Hill Repeats

Warm-up: 5K, progressive pace.
Repeats: 5x400m Hills @ 5K race pace; 400m recovery
Treadmill setting: 4% inclines the first 2 reps, 3% inclines the second 2. Speed: 13.4

Dist/Time/Pace

Run1: 420m / 1:56.6 / 4:38
Recovery1: 390m / 3:54 / 9:57

Run2: 410m / 1:53.7 / 4:35
Recovery2: 410m / 3:34 / 8:42

Run3: 390m / 1:48.1 / 4:34
Recovery3: 430m / 3:28 / 8:05

Run4: 410m / 1:51.5 / 4:34
Recovery4: 430m / 3:48 / 8:51

Run5: 410m / 1:51.2 / 4:32
Recovery5: 470m / 3:46 / 8:03

Stretching, skips, form to wrap up the session.

The legs really got a good workout. It was tiring but not to the point of exhaustion. Was still in control towards the end of the final rep. Finishing a tough workout is always an empowering experience and I’ve more than once called upon the memories of such tough sessions to pull myself through the sticky parts of the marathon. This was just the first of 4 hill sessions alternating with Yasso’s and Week 2 of 12. The fitness is certainly back but I’ll need to review if there are enough Threshold sessions available. I may also need 2x5K tempo intervals 5 weeks out from race day.

Good Friday
Heavy rain put paid to the morning run. Taking out the rain jacket was an option but I didn’t want to risk catching a cold. It was, after all, an easy day. The 6K was finally logged on the treadmill in the evening.

Easy Friday
Distance covered: 5.2K
How it went: Kept it easy @ 6:22 pace

Tempo Saturday
Distance covered: 5.9K
How it went: Packaged together with the Saucony Group Run. The runners broke up into few pace groups, with June and I taking the 5:00 group. But thunder, lightning and rain put paid to the full plans. Traffic on Saturday was horrendous as well. So the group started late and covered just close to 6K. Jogged right up to the Kinrara Residence junction before heading back at tempo pace. What a shame, since the weather was perfect for a longer workout. Rushed home for C1’s 14th birthday. Fast & Furious 8 was very entertaining but check your brains before entering the cinema.

Sunday Long Run
Distance covered: 18K
How it went: Averaged 6:08 the first 12K, before progressively moved the pace to 5:40 > 5:32 > 5:22 > 5:16 > 5:05 before cool down. It was a struggle and I certainly felt the effects.

Number of days of running: 6
Total mileage: 53.9K
Notes:
Week 2 was essentially a duplicate of Week 1. The adaptations should be surfacing next week, so things are about to get interesting.

Week 1/12

In order to be a coachable student, one has to adopt a few good practices:

  • Be accountable.
  • Be humble. Reading volumes of books and plans do not make for a good runner. You’ve got to be able to take feedback.
  • Maintain 2-way communication. Work with your coach. I keep my CM apprised after every workout, from actual pace metrics to how I feel. This blog is also a medium for him to check on my progress.
  • Stick to the plan. If it calls for 10 Easy, don’t run a 10 Tempo. A little deviations are normal but there’s a reason why some runs are easy and some are harder, and where they’re scheduled within a week or training cycle.
  • Be smart. Understand the purpose of the workout. This is where book knowledge helps a little but it may not be the case every time. A coach will be able to detect nuances in performances and adjust the plan accordingly. This is where the open communication bit comes into play.

Tuesday Tempo (Tempo pace is 5:00)

  • 10-min warm-up
  • 20-min tempo
  • 10-min cool-down

Distance covered: 6.46km
How it went: Easy jog and dynamic warm up, followed by 20-min tempo segment. Target was 5:00 but I averaged 4:57. Close enough! Lost a bit of form towards the end but this is still early in the training. I’ll get stronger. Wrapped up with a cool down of skips, high-knee plyo drills and short jog.

Easy Wednesday
Distance covered: 6.5K
How it went: Relaxed run. Kept the average HR to 134. Wrapped up with some high knee drills, butt kicks and stretching the adductors, hams, quads.

Thursday Reps
Distance covered: 7.8K (5x800m, including warm up and cool down)
How it went: Key was to run 5×800 (Yassos) in 3:45. In order to have a smooth execution, I had to drive out to where Tesco is located. The large plot of square accords around 1.2K, which means a loop will cover the 800m and the 400m recovery jog. The rep block was sandwiched between warm up and cool down. Ran by feel rather than the watch and was able to cover 3:25 (approx 20 secs quicker than planned) sustainably over the 5 reps.

Easy Friday
Distance covered: 5.2K
How it went: Kept it easy @ 6:22 pace

Tempo Saturday
Distance covered: 10.4K
How it went: Instead of 30 Tempo, a deal was struck with C-M on maintaining MP for the Peace Run at Cyberjaya. Started too quickly but eventually, slowed down (in part due to the route and unpreparedness for a 10K) and completed the distance at an average of 5:20 (MP!)

Long Sunday
Distance covered: 17.01K
How it went: Great. Legs were good despite the torture the day before. Compression wear will continue to feature greatly in this #GCAM17 training. Very humid morning and drank a fair bit. The final K was aborted as the track was closed for an event.

Number of days of running: 6
Total mileage: 53.5K
Notes:
A good start to the program. Looking forward to Week 2!

New Direction

Oh how quickly the plans change! It was only 3 weeks ago that my mind was set. Focus on improving my HM performance, reap the benefits in a year-end marathon. Races in the pipeline are the SCKLM Honda Half Marathon (registered), functioning as a tune-up for GCAM17’s Asics Half Marathon (not registered). Then there’s the Route 68 84K ultra before SCKLM which I registered in support of my friend and Race Director, Jeff.

I picked the FIRST program as my training – thinking the 3 days of running per week would fit into my increasingly busy work schedule. Inserting the spinning sessions into the cross-training slots while boring, is something I could grind myself into.

And then a message from another friend changed everything. For the sake of anonymity, I’ll call him my Coach-Mentor (CM). He drew up a training plan leading towards the Full Marathon in the Gold Coast. I had my doubts but I guess his confidence ensured that I didn’t wave the idea off outright.

I let the idea simmer over the next few days, but boy, were there signs nudging me on! For some reason, I kept seeing “Fearless”, from a Kathrine Switzer autograph message to a Bad Lab shampoo bottle! Then, there was case where the time on my phone showed 3:45 when I received a text from my CM. Finally, the fact that my GCAM entry was yet to be submitted meant, I could still run the Full instead of the Half Marathon. Coincidences? They couldn’t have been since the race has yet to be run.

I can’t describe the relief I felt when the decision was made. For some reason, it was as if a heavy burden has been lifted off my shoulders. The objective is clearer than ever. There is now an assurance that someone is validating your workouts and is in some ways also accountable for your success. Every session from Day 1 feels more purposeful. I transcribed the 12-week plan into a worksheet and re-plotted my Garmin Calendar. Next, I spoke to Jeff about dropping out from R68 to which he understood.

What of the plan? Here are some key points:

  • The plan is simple to follow and understand – K.I.S.S.!
  • There are no double workouts and pressure of piling on the weekly mileage.
  • Emphasis on tempos and strength. Options to run the last segment at a quicker pace.
  • Tempos are geared towards minutes run and pace, rather than distance.
  • Longest runs of 21, 25, 28, 30, 32Ks (some over hilly routes) to put some steel into the legs. Options to run the last 4-5K of the long run at MP.
  • 12 weeks, which will not be as drawn-out as a 16 or 18-week plan. Risks of staleness and overtraining should be minimized.
  • Since it’s plotted by a countryman, the plan is more relatable than if it was designed by a foreign-based online coach.

And this is where I hope everything will unfold.

Goal race: GCAM17 on July 3
Goal time: 3:45 (5:19 pace)

The Nine Inches

“No matter how it’s run, whether it’s uphill, downhill, or flat, a marathon is 26.2 miles, and you have to respect the distance. There are a lot of guys who are going to be in great shape. I just want to run my own race, relax, stay in the mix, and be ready to react. That’s the beauty of racing. You do all your training to prepare the rest of your body, but coach Joe Vigil used to say what counts on race day is the nine inches above your shoulders.”
Meb Keflezighi, 36, winner of the US Olympic Marathon Trials.

Love the quote and I think it resonates on so many levels. Not only would you need some common sense and keep a level head during the race but also in the preparation for the big day. Like many, I’ve been often caught in the thrill of logging workouts after workouts in the name of umm…. working out. The purpose and goal of the workout seemingly lost in the whole scheme of things. It’s an easy vicious cycle to be caught in. Here’s why. After several weeks adjusting to the increased stress of training, the body has finally adjusted. It becomes easier for you to check off the miles, hitting the pace and so on. All well and good.

That’s when things can swing the other way. Unchecked, the body may be stressed to the point where even a 15K feels like late miles in a marathon. The legs may be feeling OK but the heart rate reading is just telling a different story. You find it increasingly difficult to roll out of bed. The niggles are taking longer to go away. You get a bit of the sniffles. Now, you know where this is headed right? You don’t need medical nor physiological explanations to tell you that these are warning signs of burn out. You feel it. Choosing to ignore or ride this wave may not be doing your training or race preps any good. Remember that the pros have a team to make sure they don’t get into this situation, from a coach, a masseuse, dietitian, and the luxury of naps a couple of times a day (in a RunnersWorld article written about their training – will try to look them up again – the Kenyans nap twice a day). Contrast to working stiffs in Malaysia who spend 3 hours a day caught in traffic, long working hours, late dinners, it’s so darn easy to get into a rest/sleep deficit. As dedicated, passionate, hardy and resourceful endurance athletes are, the whole mix is as delicate as a lit match among drums of fuel. There’s the risk of premature peaking to contend with.

It’s 2 Sundays to race day and it’s time to start my own recuperation mode. Last week has been so tiring that I abandoned my plan to run a fast 21K as part of the Brooks Half Marathon simulation as the final long run. Instead, I’ll be taking 2 days off running and thereafter sprinkling a few 8-10K tempos right up to the end of next Sunday. In his marathon taper article Pete Pfitzinger mentioned of a 11-13 mile run the Sunday before the race and it’s certainly something I’ll be doing, provided I’ve rested up.  Hopefully all these will allow me to finish the race on the 26th, as Pfitzinger put it, “pleasantly exhausted” :) .

Originally published: February 12, 2012

Going Long. Very Long

“The only true wisdom lives far from mankind, out in the great loneliness, and can be reached only through suffering.”
Igjugarjuk, Caribou Eskimo Shaman. One of the many quotes in “Extreme Running” by Kym McConnell & Dave Horsley

To a non-runner, the word “marathon” other than being the name of a city in Florida, town in Greece or Ontario, typically refers to something that’s very challenging, that which takes a large measure of effort and time to accomplish.

Therefore it’s common to come across terms like “food marathon” or in food-crazy Malaysia “makanthon”, “TV marathon” and so on. In fact, by just attaching a “-thon” to the end of a noun and sometimes verb instantly transforms a random thing and into a major undertaking usually involving large participation. Think “Walkathon” and “Telethon”.

The definition of difficulty is very subjective of course. A couch potato may find running 2K a marathon. Many iPad addicted 6-year olds may find running 800m impossible.

The longest distance I’ve covered – be it walking or running – has been 55KM. Not that far if you asked me since the roundtrip for my day’s commute to work is 60KM. And even though there’s some considerable amount of pain (admission of weakness!) over the last 5KM of the 55, I’ve never considered the distance to be an ultramarathon and therefore myself an ultramarathoner, much to the amusement of those in my running circle. It’s a matter of semantics and titles I know, and I’m not taking away the amazing accomplishments of others who have achieved that milestones.

Since an ultra is a very personal journey to be undertaken in one’s own terms as opposed to being peer pressured, here’s my own definition:

An ultra needs to be more painful and life affirming that what I’ve gone through in that 50-55KM journey along Singapore’s ECP, MacRitchie Trails and KL’s Putrajaya pavements. Painful and extreme enough to my mind and body that overcoming it will trigger some sort of enlightenment, realization and epiphany (hopefully not along the lines of never to do it again!). For all the expected discomfort, I want my journey to be meditative, a form of penance, acceptance of my limitations, and fully aware of my thoughts and emotions that I’ll be battling. It sounds like a romantic notion of an ultramarathon and I’m not sure if that’s even what a runner goes through in such an event, what more in sleep deprived mode!

I don’t know a lot of things about finishing an ultra (21 marathons under the belt means nothing), nor about the art of preparing for one in the first place. I don’t know if I’m lucid enough midway to recognize and appreciate the changes to my mental and physical state. However if one comes out a better person at the end of the journey, it’s an undertaking worth embarking on. Even if it requires being run over by the proverbial truck at the 70K mark.