Running by the numbers and setting goals

Running by the numbers and setting goals – was the title of the talk I did at our local running event RunFest held in Wellington, New Zealand over the last weekend (27th and 28th February).

For those who could not make it to RunFest or was attending James Kuegler’s trail running workshop during the day here is your chance to read all about what I was talking.

You can directly download the slides [ Running by the Numbers and Setting Goals 5 years of Data 5 MB ] and use that as a reference, the post will go into a bit more detail.

Watch this short video to get started.

The Runner from Mike Heydon on Vimeo.

Michael Browne is a (now) 83-year-old who likes to run. He likes to run a lot. 1951 Wellington mile-champion, 9 time marathon finisher, multiple 10km races and plenty of track racing, Michael should be an inspiration to us all.

Filmed with Sony FS100 and Nikon D800.

Filmed and edited by Mike Heydon / http://www.jetproductions.co.nz

Running Goals

As a runner you could start from anywhere, I started running when I was in high school back in Sri Lanka, this was way back in 1987. I wasn’t much good at cricket so I signed up for our athletics team who at that time consisted of a bunch of mis-fits who were somewhat the out casts of the school because we didn’t play cricket.
However we were lucky in that we got one of the best coaches in Athletics at that time who was assigned to my school for one year. I tried different events and found my comfort zone in running 400meters and 800meters. I never excelled at them but I was good enough to be part of the relay teams selected out of the few regional schools to run at school events and at regional level. Our coach had a very disciplined approach to training, I remember we used to meet at the school play ground at 6:30am every morning before school started.

The routine consisted of drills for about 20-30 mins followed by designated workouts for the distance. At that time we ran on a mixture of gravel grass playing field as our school didn’t have a track. The only track was at the main sports stadium some miles away and we only got to run there when a competition was on.

Training or “Running Practice” as we called it back then was about 90mins before school started and then after school we also had either strength work or longer runs. During two years our group of mis-fits became quite good and six of us including myself was selected to represent our region at national champs. Then I did something really stupid and played basketball and broke my ankle which put an end to my running. So this was back in 1990 and I never ran again until after I moved to New Zealand in 1999. My first few years in New Zealand was mostly about work and only around 2005 I started to realise I needed to do some physical activity, I was stressed at work, consistently tired and quite unhealthy with a fair amount of unwanted baggae around the waist. I bought a mountain bike and did a bit of that, then I started slowly doing jogs for 10-15mins. It felt weird/uncomfortable but almost somehow good and familiar feeling. So I continued on until I could run for 30mins without stopping. I also signed up for the Wellington Scottish 5k series during 2006/2007 and ran a few of these. Back then my 5k times were between 23-24mins.

Then my work and life got in the way again where I had to travel quite a bit and I fell off the wagon so to speak and got side tracked. After 2010 I started to be a bit more disciplined in my effort to be healthy and fit and thus began a somewhat deliberated and planned attempt to push myself to see where I could end up with running.

2011 to 2015 The Consistency Factor

In 2011 I ran a 5km timed race at the Scottish Waterfront race. The time was 27 minutes (00:27:23 – 11 January 2011). In 2014 September I ran my current personal best of 18mins and 25secs. http://5kseries.fedude.co.nz/participant/?pid=1346

This is the story from 2011 to 2015 and the progression with data collected over these years.

In early 2010 I started recording my runs on Endomondo, Endomondo was at that time quite new and provided a free service to track runs via an app, which I used on my iPhone. I also bought a Polar Running watch. This had no GPS capability so I used to time my runs and at this stage I was only interested in how much time I could run. I didn’t put any particular effort into running a particular distance but I kept using the app and the watch to check time and mapped the distance via the app.

In 2011, I upgraded myself to a Garmin (610) which boasted quite a bit of new features and also was one of the first “touchscreen” watches to hit the scene. There also was the ability to sync your runs to Garmin Connect and then export across to Endomondo.
Looking back at 2011 – my goal was to get fit, finish a half marathon and keep building a base. No big goals.I signed up for Wellington Round the Bays in 2011 and followed somewhat of a sporadic training plan. Which included about 2-3 runs per week with no target distances but rather time on feet ranging from 30min runs to 90min runs.

The numbers for 2011 was as follows:
Number of runs: 171
Distance: 1809 Kilometers
Elevation: 32,888 meters
Time on feet: 179 hrs
Average per day: 4.96 Km (assuming I ran everyday, but in reality once I factored in the days I ran an the average was about 10.5 Km)
Weekly Mileage: 34.80 Kilometers

During this period with the help of a Garmin watch I gathered a bit of data on how I was going. I also started to learn a bit about training and recovery by reading books by well known runners (The Runner’s Body). I learnt a lot about the Physiological changes and adaptation and goal setting.
To some degree this wasn’t new to me based on what I had done long time ago back in school but being an adult the absorption of this information helped a lot to formulate my future goals going forward.

In 2011 I ran my first half marathon (on road) – which was at Wellington Round the Bays. My time was 2hrs and 02minutes with an average pace of 5:47 min/km. This was what was possible given my level of fitness at that time.

Now fast forward it to 2014 August – My half marathon PB is 1hrs 26m with an average pace of 4:06 min/km.

So what happened between 2011 and 2015?

During this time there have been many set backs, things that didn’t go according to plan even when they should have. But all these things makes running interesting.

The data I was collecting helped me in many ways, which included

2011 to 2015 Running

2011 to 2015 Running in numbers

Snapshot from June to August 2015

A typical conditioning phase of 8 weeks of consistent high mileage (Snapshot from June to August 2015)

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Same period with some Cycling also included

You can download the complete slide deck here Running by the Numbers and Setting Goals 5 years of Data (5 MB)- and if you have any questions please do get in touch.

Keep smiling, keep running! Thanks to Mike, Ewa and Brent for the opportunity to speak at RunFest.

Speaking at RunFest in Wellington

Now this is really exciting stuff! On the last weekend of February (27th and 28th) a group of runners in Wellington have organised this great running event which I have been invited to speak.

If you are a local runner in Wellington or actually anywhere in the world there is a great line up of runners who will be doing talks on various topics.

The top 5 reasons to attend RunFest according to me are:

  1. Beginners and experienced runners – understand the running journey and how to approach your running goals holistically to enjoy running as an everyday habit as opposed to a chore
  2. Meet and hear stories from some of the most inspiring runners, coaches who are both local and global – go check out the speakers page
  3. Trail heaven that is Wellington, yes if you’ve never ventured past Oriental parade you’ll get some insight to go off road and why most runners when they switch to trails never go back on road – yes you get a guided tour on some of these
  4. The Reel Wild Film Festival – awesome running movies, Pizza and Beer – go sign up!
  5. You get to run with some awesome bunch of runners and get first hand advice on injury prevention and improve your running!

All this and much more for the all-inclusive price of NZ$175! That’s a bargain if you ask me! Go sign up! http://www.runfest.org.nz/

Galician Running Adventure

Last September (2014) I left to Europe for a change of scenery. My first stop was Germany for the Berlin marathon which I had been preparing for over the New Zealand winter. Which was also the last time I actually posted something here on the blog. A lot has happened since then (obviously) and this is an attempt at re-kindling this blog into action again.

Continue reading

Wellington Half Marathon 2014 recap

If you are looking for an entertaining recap of this race STOP right now and head over here to see what my yellow fancy pants wearing friend has to say. If you want something boring then read on – I have warned you.

Right – it’s been 7ish weeks since running the Rotorua Marathon. That was after a pretty good block of training and life circumstances. I was riding a wave of highs then. Also after Rotorua I dropped my mileage right back. Bought a mountain bike (did a total 3 grand rides) – probably not the best investment but nevertheless. Wellington Half was always on the plan but I was pretty much taking a break form high intensity and high mileage. Leading up to the event my base mileage had dropped to about 65kms per week average from a usual 85-100km average. So in fact I was well rested if anything. I had no expectations and mentally I was also at a low point probably because of the reduced mileage and some other life stuff that happened.

Anyways I went into this race with no expectations and decided I might as well get among the crowd and see what happens. I got to the race start at WestPac stadium in Central Wellington about 45mins before the start. I don’t usually bother with too much warm up other than walking jogging to the loo or talking with others whom I bump into. Then maybe a couple of strides at a minimum. This time I did no warm up apart from the usual last minute business. A stiff southerly breeze was blowing that pretty much chilled you to the bone. Before the race I had a couple of Icebreaker tops on to keep me warm. Underneath I had my Wellington Scottish singlet on and arm warmers and running gloves. Just before race start at 9am I ditched the Icebreaker tops with a mate and made my way to the start line. There was a bit of a jam going into the start area through the stadium doors. Eventually I made my way to where the 1hrs 30min pacer Huw another club/running mate was doing pacing duties. Since this was also doubling up as the NZ Half Marathon Champs the leading men’s and women’s runners were right at the front. Then I spotted my yellow fancy pants wearing friend Amanda. Since I had no particular interest in racing my guts out today I just though hmm I’ll just take it easy and hang with her. After the usual pre-race announcements, the gun/hooter can’t remember which exactly went, everyone surged off. The elites bolted.

Wellington Half Marathon Start

Wellington Half Marathon Start – Photo credit – Ben Terry

Me and Amanda got into an easy rhythm to stick to about 4.15mins/km. In actual fact we were a tad faster but pretty well in control and just taking it easy. It was easy running with not much effort. Pretty soon we were just ticking away the Kms as we passed familiar surroundings around the Wellington Bays.

Fast and Yellow..

Fast and Yellow.. – Photo by Ange

 

We also strategically shielded ourselves from the wind by using others as wind blockers and also did our own part by putting on a few surges just to keep a group going. Eventually we settled with another guy who seemed to be happy to stick with us. Just before we went through the half way point we saw all the 70min (fast) runners already heading back. We hit the half way point and started to up the tempo a little bit. We were hitting 4min K’s quite easily and kept on a good steady rhythm. The last 5km for me was a pretty good effort in hitting sub 4min kms to the finish (Felt great and didn’t blow up). Amanda did an amazing time – go read her race report. My net time was 1:27:37 which is a PB by about 3 mins with the least amount of build up I’ve had. Unexpected and pretty happy in the end.

Tina Harris (1:21:57) 4th Female, me (1:27:37) and Amanda (1:27:48)

Tina Harris (1:21:57) 4th Female, me (1:27:37) and Amanda (1:27:48) – Photo Ben Terry

Till later.. keep running.

 

Rotorua marathon and a long overdue update

It’s been quite a while since I last updated what I’ve been up to since running the Wellington Round the Bays half marathon in February. So here is a quick summary of what I’ve been up to in terms of my training preparation for the 50th Rotorua Marathon since that event. Rotorua Marathon is actually only 6 sleeps away on 3rd May 2014.

March and April 2014

After Wellington Round the Bays I was straight back into full training mode with some solid back to back weeks of 100kms plus of running. This meant a total of 10 weeks to do some strength endurance based work as well as targeted speed work to be marathon ready. The highlight of March was a solid team effort at the Tarawera Ultramarathon in Rotorua where my team placed 12th in the relay of 70km. My buddies Nick, Aaron and Daniel who are part of my club did really great in tough conditions on the day. The course was altered at the last minute due to a tropical cyclone that was coming towards the forest where the original trail went through. In the end everyone who participated had a great time. This is certainly a great event to be part of in the New Zealand trail running calendar. I got to meet Vera (aka Supergeneric girl!) BONUS!

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Team Lost in the Woods charging through the trails of Tarawera.

The weekend was spent running in some of the best trails in and around Rotorua. I also got to meet Sage Canaday (DOUBLE BONUS) who is now the two time winner of the Tarawera Ultra marathon.

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Meeting Sage Canaday in the Redwoods

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Great times with great running buddies

My friends who did the Ultra Distance kicked ass with some of them being in the top 10 of both the long and short courses.

After Tarawera it was pretty much back to a lot of training involving some solid mileage and tempo and interval work. I also included a 6 week block of strength conditioning twice a week.

10 km Personal Best (Road Race)

On 5th of April (incidentally also my 40th birthday) I ran a 10km club race for our running club Wellington Scottish Athletics. My aim was to run a steady conservative effort and I was not aiming to go all out. Somehow this day I felt really good and strong and my conservative effort actually felt pretty steady and easy which resulted in me shaving off a full 2 mins off my previous 10km race time and running a 40:22 – 10km race. This was a great indication that my marathon training was paying off. Not only could I maintain avg 4min per/km pace I felt really good afterwards and didn’t need a long time for recovery.

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Racing in Wellington Scottish colors. Waterfront 10km club race in April.

Overall I feel I have done a pretty good chunk of training and my average mileage has significantly increased from last year. If any of you are on Strava check out my profile and connect.

Easter/Anzac Weekend

Last week was a long weekend (Easter and Anzac) which provided a great opportunity to travel and explore some great trails. Although I should have actually cut back on mileage and gone into a taper I ended up running in some great trails in Tongariro National Park and Kinloch in Taupo. This included the following trails.

  • Old Coach Road from Horopito to Ohakune and back (25kms)
  • Whakapapaiti Trails in National Park (14kms)
  • Tongariro Northern Circuit (46kms) – one of the Great Walks of New Zealand
  • Huka Falls to Aratiatia trail (10kms)
  • Kinloch W2K Trail out and back (22kms)

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With this amount of running I am taking this week before Rotorua very easy and resting for the Rotorua Marathon. As usual watch out for the post race update next week and I am hoping that it will be a positive one – but it’s a Marathon and no matter what you have done what you feel on the day and during a marathon is what makes the difference. I am staying positive that I will be able to run a great marathon. The place is going to be buzzing with over 9000 people participating in the full and half marathon distances.