Thursday, 22 January 2015

Rain Running And Records

A change is as good as a holiday, well so they say.

That hypothesis was to be put under the microscope as I started the second week of my 5km training program 830km from home and working very different hours to the ones I normally keep.

I'd had a taste of the local tracks with my first run on the Sunday I arrived and was very keen to explore a little bit more as well.

I had decided to use the local sports ground, Victoria Park, for all of my warm up jogs. With a circumference somewhere around the 500m mark, it was perfect.

Another major change to my routine was the fact that I would now be running in the morning. With long nights at work, it was the only option.

A well-earned rest day on Monday was followed up by an easy 5km. I used the run to explore unchartered territory.

Beginning near Dight's falls, where I had on my previous run, I headed in the opposite direction. I opted for a 5km out-and-back which was almost entirely uphill out and all downhill back.

The run was made more fun by the fact that heavy rain started tumbling down about two minutes into it and did not relent.

I have always had a love of the rain, I believe the official term is a pluviophile, whatever it is, I was happy and enjoyed the gallop.
Running home at Albert Parkrun, Melbourne.

The week continued with a 30 minute tempo run on the Wednesday. 7 1/2 minutes easy - 15 minutes at 10km pace - 7 1/2 minutes easy. It as a taxing but enjoyable run.

Thursday was an easy 5km, taking a shorter version of the 8km course I'd run the previous Sunday.

Friday was a rest day before Albert Parkrun which I had planned on taking part in on Saturday.

The Albert Park course is a flat run, winding around a lake. It was certainly the biggest Parkrun I had taken part in with a whopping 355 runners lining up at the start.

As a result, the first kilometre was mayhem, slowing for people in front of you, making mad dashes to an open space, slowing down again, then repeat.

It felt slow yet haphazard, it was anything but that. I completed that crazy kilometre in 5:14, very zippy for me and slightly concerning given I hadn't found any rhythm at all.

Slowly, a little bit of space developed and I was able to find a groove. Running by feel, I was surprised to see the second kilometre only took me 5:10. I felt good and was pretty sure that I could maintain my pace, or close to it. That augured well for my finishing time given that my best 5km was 27:55.

The third and fourth kilometres were into a fairly stiff headwind and a little taxing. I was able to churn out 5:20 and 5:22 respectively and knew by then that even a six-minute last split would see me set a new personal best.

I came home in 5:17 and my official Parkrun time was 26:28. almost a minute-and-a-half better than I had ever gone before. I had surprised myself to say the least, maybe all the training was paying off.

My partner arrived to stay with me for a week on Sunday and we ground out 8km on the picturesque Yarra Park course that I had run on a week earlier. It will be good to have a training partner for the coming week.

The weekly totals finished at 33.8km in 3 hours and 27 minutes with an elevation of 212 metres.

I am hoping to run in another Parkrun next week as well as another local Fun Run, more to look forward to.

Monday, 12 January 2015

A New Plan, Loving Hills And The Fabled Magpies

The start of a new 5km training plan had me both excited and nervous.

I was most certainly looking forward to the new challenge and variety but a part of me wondered how I would cope with the increased miles. The first week alone would see me clocking up a record distance.

Feeling that I have built a decent sort of foundation to do this kind of plan, I see it as a step in the right direction if I want to run a better 5km.

The week started on Tuesday with a 5km easy run which I ran on a new course that I had plotted on Strava, it included one short, but steep hill which found me out a little. It prompted me to work on my hill running technique which was much needed. 

Wednesday was a fun session. Having come from a sporting background that involves more speed and interval work, I enjoy those type of sessions. This week included 5 x 400’s at a mile pace. The break in between is the time it takes you to walk or jog 400 metres. I mainly walked but will make sure it is a jog in future sessions to gain maximum benefit.

Thursday’s run was another 5km easy run, I deliberately designed a route with a couple of decent inclines in it. After reading up on hill technique, I was keen to try it.

I am happy to report it went extra well. I concentrated on a point at eye level and not on the top of the hill, I also increased my arm cadence to help my legs keep going. I am now enjoying the hills (I never thought I would say that).

After a rest day Friday, it was to be another easy 5km on Saturday. I was unable to partake in Parkrun as I couldn’t hang around long enough.

I did manage to get there for a little bit and enjoy one of my other favourite things, photography. Here is a link to my shots from the Sandon Point Parkrun #88 - Sandon Point Parkrun #88 Photos.

I chose to run that very Parkrun course later in the evening as my 5km easy run. I registered a 30:54 effort. Way outside my PR of 27:55 but it was only a “conversational pace” type run.

I am finding the task of finishing a 5km run to be nowhere near as daunting as it was six weeks ago. I enjoy it and am always looking forward to the next one.

On Saturday morning I flew to Melbourne which will be my home for the next three weeks where I am working at the Australian Tennis Open. 

Despite some days at work being very long, I cannot wait to tackle some unfamiliar surroundings and new courses. I also plan to try and run a couple of Parkruns and also have my eye on one or two fun runs as well while I am there.

My first run was an 8km easy run on a route that I basically made as I went along. I warmed up from near where I am staying in Collingwood and started my 8km near Victoria Park at a place called Dights Falls.
A sunset run by the Yarra River.

Following a cycle path, I wound my way along the Yarra River and crossed it with a nice little step workout in the middle of the run. It was then a beautiful sunset trundle up some nice hills where I turned around and headed back to finish at Victoria Park, the home of the Collingwood Magpies AFL team.

Running along the banks of the Yarra.
It is actually said that the name of the club was inspired by the magpies from Dights Falls (well so Wikipedia says).

I carried an old GoPro camera on the run and shot a few pics while I was moving, they are the ones you see on this blog.
The gates at Victoria Park

In total, the run took me 55:29, the good thing being that I felt great after it and am certain that I can go a lot further. Bearing in mind that I had been on a flight and walked around 5km already through the day, I was happy.

I will definitely be revisiting that route if I get the chance.

Sunset through the posts, Victoria Park
My weekly totals were all the highest figures I have achieved so far. 33.6km in 3 hours 56 minutes with an elevation of 237 metres.

Next week will see a very similar pattern with the only change being a 30 minute tempo run in place of the 5 x 400’s. I cannot wait to get into it.

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Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Taking The Next Step

It has only been a little over six weeks since the initial “jog” that saw me become hooked on running.

It has been a progressive period that has gone from “crash and burn” style 2km runs to measured, even 5km and beyond. It has also means that the initial six-week running plan I embarked upon has come to an end.

While scouring the web for my next plan, I had a couple of things in mind. I had decided to stick to 5km, I believe there is plenty of scope for improvement yet and that I am not really craving more distance, although I expect that it will come with time.

I felt that my new program had to be a progression from my initial plan but I now also had a target; The Orange Colour City Running Festival.

The festival includes a 5km run which is run on March 1. That is exactly eight weeks away, so it allowed me to also look for an eight-week plan.

I have elected to go with a plan put together by Hal Higdon. He refers to it as a plan for intermediate runners. It is a step up from what I have been doing as it has an extra day of running on most weeks.

The pattern of the plan is basically four easy runs most weeks and one speed session with the occasional variation to two speed sessions or an extra rest day. The mileage increases to distances that are well beyond anything I have run so far which should be a great challenge.

The program works up to some relatively hefty distances (seven miles) on the long run in week seven, before a taper in the final week.

By my calculations, the eight weeks will see me running around 223km. That will be a significant increase in my current average weekly distance.

There is also a 5km test run at the end of week four which should give me a gauge of where I am at with it. The full plan can be seen here - Hal Higdon's 5km Intermediate Plan.

The program should give me the perfect opportunity to work on my “conversational speed” during my easy runs. To this point I have been running at a pace much closer to moderate but am hoping to improve on that.

Weeks two through to five will be while I am away in Melbourne for work, so it will be a lot of fun tackling unchartered courses during my runs down there.

I am looking forward to embarking on this next chapter and, hopefully, it will allow me to keep improving.

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Monday, 5 January 2015

A New Year Begins

The dawn of a new year means that there is plenty to look forward to.

I decided to welcome in 2015 with Sandon Point Parkrun, It was to be my third run over the course.

New Year's Day fell on a Thursday and I had began the week with a 25-minute interval run two days earlier.

After staying up late on New Year's Eve, I felt a little flat come the morning of the run and certainly wasn't expecting to set the world on fire.

It was a hot and humid morning with the mercury encroaching the 30 degrees celsius mark during the run. Even the warm up seemed to take a toll.

The final time for my 5km was 28:36, which was better than I expected given the way I had felt going into it.

I most definitely hit a bit of a flat spot towards the end of the fourth kilometre. It includes a slight incline which I would normally consider as one of my stronger sections. However, the hotter conditions had taken their toll and I struggled before mustering a little more effort in the final kilometre.

I topped off the day with a bike ride in the afternoon, I had not been on my bike in years but may use it for a bit of cross training when I can. I managed to get 14km done and am unsure at this stage as to how much I will continue to ride; time will tell.

The New Year's Day Sandon Point Parkrun Group.
This week also signified the end of the original six-week training plan that I had chosen. I have decided to continue to stick with a 5km plan rather than look for more ground just yet.

I finished off the week with a longer, easy run on Saturday followed by a gentle shorter one on the Sunday.

Saturday’s run took place in very hot conditions. I had mapped a very flat run aimed at going a bit further at a slower pace. I am trying to work on being able to travel at a more “conversational pace” on the easy runs as I believe I am going a little bit too hard at present.

It was a tough run and, while I wouldn't say I achieved the slowish pace I was after, I certainly made a step in the right direction. It took 49:34 to traverse the 7km course at an average pace of 7:05/km. The splits varied from 6:45 to 7:35, in hindsight I'd prefer them a little more uniform which will hopefully come with time and discipline.

I am trying to work towards the 80/20 training principle and have found my current “easy” workouts to be closer to moderate or above. I am aiming to wind those back a little to maintain freshness and avoid carrying fatigue into runs.

Sunday’s run was much easier. Just a tick over 4km at a moderate pace (6:15/km average), ideally I'd prefer to have done it a little easier, but it was consistent and not overly hard.

The running summary for the week was 26.1km in 2:49 with an elevation of 97 metres.

The bulk of next week will be spent training at home before I am off to Melbourne for work for three weeks where I will continue to train there.

Follow me on Twitter - @robsrunblog