Friday, 27 February 2015


A change is as good as a holiday, variety is the spice of life. Insert any cliche you wish when it comes to change.

This is one of the beauties of my relatively newfound love of running and fitness in general, the paths it may take are endless and the structure of it all is quite malleable.

Recent developments have bared witness to a couple of new challenges that I will embark upon outside of running, both are very exciting and a little daunting at the same time.

Having grown up in a coastal surf beach region, it is natural to spend a lot of time in the water. I have never swam competitively but I have little trouble churning out a few laps. It was this, coupled with my increased cycling and solid running foundation that has led me to enter my first triathlon.

My partner has competed in a few and had a very heavy influence in convincing me to give it a try. The upside is that it is a very concise version. A 300m swim, 7km ride and 2km run.

The downside is that I have just one week to prepare. This will be followed a month later by our first bike ride.

We have entered a 70km event that runs from Blayney to Bathurst in the central west of New South Wales. We will be hoping to get a few miles in the saddle before then.

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Sunday, 22 February 2015

The Hard Grind

Approaching the penultimate week of my 5km training program I could assume one of two approaches. I could either dread it or embrace it.

I chose the latter, knowing that this week would be the major foundation for my performance in 14 days time.

I also began to heavily incorporate my bike into the regime for a bit of icing on the cake.

The week started well with my fastest easy run over 5km to date. I clocked 27:55 in a fairly laid back effort and felt good all the way.

I backed it up with a very tough interval session on the track a day later where I ran 8 x 400m.

On Thursday my partner, who loves trail running, convinced me to tackle a 4.2km out and back course with a nice elevation. It was very tough but a lot of fun, I really love the challenge of hills.

This particular out-and-back run has an elevation of close to 200m in the first 2km with the run home the opposite. Hopefully it will assist me in improving my climbing capacity.

Saturday saw a solid 8km effort which I completed in 47:42, this included a PR on a hill segment in the seventh kilometre which I was happy with.

The new ride
Sunday saw my final long run of the 5km program, which was the longest of the entire plan. It was an easy 11.5km which I completed in a leisurely 1:15:36. I was certainly glad to see the back of that run which was the culmination of a very intense week and also signified the beginning of a taper.

I also spent the week getting to know my new bike and beginning to learn a lot about cycling. It is something that I have never done other than as a teenager getting from A to B. The bike is a 2014 Jamis Xenith Comp and way better than anything I have owned in the past.

I am really enjoying riding and looking forward to improving and doing a whole lot more.

The totals for the week were;

Running - 39.1km in 4:11 with an elevation of 369m.

Cycling - 129.8km in 5:43 with an elevation of 672m.

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Ambushed By Euphoria

There may be no sport with individual results as immeasurable as running.

Sure there are winners but it is entirely possible that a person running in the back half of a field of thousands is performing better than they ever have.

They could be in a state of euphoria, oblivious to finishing 673rd. Because running is, more often than not, a battle between you and yourself.

I was lucky enough to experience this inner feeling of elation this week. Not only was it the best I have experienced since my running journey began, but it rated very favourably compared to all the sporting highs that I have been lucky enough to experience in my lifetime.

Competing in the Run NSW 5km
It occurred during the Run NSW 5000 metre track event that I took part in. Athletics New Sout Wales decided to invite community runners to run 5km as a part of the NSW All-comers state championships. 

The week leading up to this run had been a real slog. The return to shift work and training combination took some adjusting to. On my easy and tempo runs my legs felt like lead and my times reflected it.

I was heading to the track run hoping to set a personal best and, if possible, break the 25-minute barrier. It was an evening meeting and I had started work at 3am that day before a quick nap and making the hour trek to the track.

It was a nervous experience having to actually run in front of people as well as against people who were a lot quicker than me. I convinced myself that it was just me against myself and that I was the only one there.

Always make yure you have fun!
I intended to start the run fairly quickly to try and set up the sub-25 time. I not only did that, I ran the fastest kilometre of any 5km run I have done to date (4:33). 

I consolidated it by breaking 5 minutes again in the second kilometre (4:59). That allowed me around 28 seconds to lose over the final three kilometres in relation to a 5-minute split average.

As has been the case regularly, my third and fourth kilometres were my worst (5:08 and 5:10) which is something that I am really working hard on at the moment.

I finished the race off with a 4:52 which was highlighted by a good last 400m. At about the 200m mark I realised I was going to achieve my goal which is when the unexpected happened.

I was overcome with adrenaline and euphoria like never before. It was a feeling I'll treasure and something that I hope to experience again. It was even better to be able to savour it whilst I was still running.

This also meant that I had reached another goal that I had given myself a year to reach, it may be time to set a few more in that department.

In finishing 18th of 22 runners, my final time was 24:47, I had ran a best 5km, 2 miles, 1 mile, 1km, half mile and 400m. It would be fair to say I was pleased. The next challenge will be to carve out that sort of time on a course which is not dead flat. Perhaps with a fresher lead-up on race day, it is achievable.

I finished off the week with a long bike ride. I had recently purchased a new bike and was keen to incorporate it into my training. I plan to begin using it a bit more next week and, once this program is complete, possibly substitute one of the easy runs for a quality ride. Who knows, if I could pick up my swimming a bit, a short triathlon may not be out of the question.

The totals for the week were;

Running - 20.3km in 2:06 with an elevation of 141m.

Cycling - 89.5km in 4:13 with an elevation of 788m.

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Monday, 9 February 2015

Longer Runs And Bike Buying

After a three week working sabbatical I returned hometown kick off February. I was ecstatic with the way January had gone and was looking well and truly on target for the annual goals I had set for the new year.

January had yielded 145km of running and saw my 5km best drop to 25:15. Both way ahead of where I expected to be after just four weeks.

The first week home included two easy mid-week runs with an interval session of seven 400’s in between. All three went well and I was even managing to break 30-minutes on my easy 5km runs.

Sunday's 10km run.
The weekend was to be a fairly solid one. Saturday was a fast 6km run which, despite a toilet stop, I completed in 34:16. It was a tough run and good to get some quality distance into my legs beyond 5km.

Sunday was an easy 10km run; further than I had ever run. I did it with my partner in warm conditions. It was relatively painless and I was quite content with a 1:04:32 for the trip. I felt like I could have gone further.

Something else I had explored during the week was the notion of cross-training on a bike. I own an aging, cheap mountain bike which I had taken for a 16km ride. I followed that up with a similar ride on my partner’s newer road bike, it was that ride which made me make the decision to update my own and do a little bit more.

I managed to pick up a brand new 2014 Jamis Xenith comp which I will have late next looking forward to the diversity of riding which will hopefully also be another factor to improve my running.

I also have an event to look forward to next week with a 5km track run at Olympic Park in Sydney. It is an event that encourages runners to try and set a PR with pace runners involved to allow you to see how you are going. It should be a lot of fun and, while I will not be disappointed if I cannot produce a new best, I will certainly be trying to.

This week’s totals were 36.8km in 3 hours and 47 minutes with an elevation of 239 metres.

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Remaining Consistent

The final week of January 2015 was to be the last of my three-week stay in Melbourne. I had developed quite a routine and produced a 5km result 2:45 quicker than I had before I left.

The week was all about consistency and seeing what I could manage in my last ParkRun of the trip.

After a nice and gentle 5km on Tuesday I took a different approach to my 35-minute tempo run on the Wednesday.

I had been warming up at Victoria Park every day and decided that I would complete the trek exclusively around that field. It was made even more interesting when the irrigation sprinklers came on in different sections of the park as I ran through. I copped a couple of drenchings.

After another easy 5km on Thursday, I had a rest day before Albert Parkrun on Saturday. Based on a week earlier, I thought I might try to put myself in a similar, if not better position to try and break the 25-minute mark.
Albert Parkrun #166

I had pretty much achieved that after around 3.5km only for my left calf to tighten up a bit. There was no way that it would have allowed me to run home fast and I took the safe option of finishing the run off steadily.

My final time was 25:51 which I was more than happy with. Only eight days earlier I was hoping to break 26-minutes; I had now done it twice. It will be interesting to see if I can go anywhere near that on my more hilly home course next time I run it.

The gallop had also been very consistent with the five splits varying between 4:59 and 5:18.

The week finished with a rare rest day on Sunday before I flew home to start another week.

The totals for the week were 26.3km in two hours and 40 minutes with an elevation of 153 metres.

I had enjoyed my tenure in the southern state but was looking forward to getting home.

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Sunday, 1 February 2015

Belief Is A Wonderful Thing

Albert Parkun, Melbourne
There is a lot to be said for mental barriers or the belief that you can break through them.

It seems like only yesterday that I thought I’d take forever to break the 30-minute barrier for 5km, yet almost as soon as I did (and only just), I was able to break the 28-minute mark a week later.

Last week I registered a personal best of 26:24, I knew that the next chance that I had to put in a solid 5km, I should be able to give a sub-26 time a good nudge; as it turns out, I did - and more. 

It was a solid week of training and having my partner there was a great boost.

Tuesday consisted of a gentle 5km run in which I incorporated a few hills. 

Wednesday was speed work, six 400m interval runs. Victoria Park was perfect for these with around three-quarters of a lap being 400 metres. I was happy with the way they went, I really enjoy interval work.

FunRun Pink participant's medal
Thursday was another 5km easy run with a rest day Friday before I would tackle Albert Parkrun again.

Having finished around the mid-26-minute mark, I was keen to see if I could break 26 this week. I had felt the week earlier that I probably had the ability to produce a little bit better cruising speed.

The fact that I had run the course before was also a big help, not so much in the intricacies of the layout, that was simple, but more so in negotiating the crowd. After being caught on the outside a week earlier and running all over the shop, I decided to stick to the inside and try and get a rhythm up earlier.

The plan seemed to work. I zipped through the first two kilometres in 10:09. I knew that, if I could keep it going through the next two kilometres, I would easily break the 26-minute mark.
Finishing FunRun Pink

My third kilometre was 5:06, my fourth 5:11. My head was now saying that, if I flashed home, i might give the 25-minute mark a nudge. It was too much of an opportunity to at least not have a go at it.

I knew I’d need around a 4:30 last kilometre. Tough? Yes, but not impossible. I usually reserved my run home to around 500 metres, I attempted to push hard for the full kilometre. 

It was taxing and I fell just short. I was ecstatic with the fact that I had put myself within striking distance. I’d run my last kilometre in 4:47 for an overall of 25:14. 

To be just outside a goal that, less than a month earlier, I had given myself a year to achieve, had surprised even me. My partner also ran a new best, so it was a good day all round.

We backed up the following day for a charity run in the same precinct know as FunRun Pink. The 5km course was a little longer than advertised and I was no chance of me reproducing the efforts of a day earlier. 

I was still more than pleased with a 27:51 for 5.2km and it was a lot of fun too. 

It was a good end to another solid week and there was definitely good progress being made, even if it did hurt at times!

The totals for the week were 29.6km in three hours and one minute, with an elevation of 143 metres.

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