Running in groups

As a runner you sometimes prefer the solitude of running alone with the ability of going on your own routes & running at your own pace. There are times where you want to explore a little bit more unknown territory and new routes, you aren’t really sure if that trail that you saw while driving is runnable or even where it may lead you. Is it safe? Will there be mad rabbits and or farmers chasing you if you venture out to the unknown? Exploring new routes is all part of the fun of running. When I first started out running I did what most people do – stick to known roads and areas that I’m familiar with, however after a while it becomes a bit boring, yes you can zone out and listen to music or whatever but as soon as running becomes a chore the fun of running is gone!

Some of my best experiences in running has been discovering new routes & trails that’s around in Wellington! (Literally hundreds of Kilometers) Even after running for 3 years I keep discovering new trails. The only reason that I’ve been able to find new trails/routes is because I try and run at least once a week with other runners.

We as runners are always apprehensive when someone else asks us “Hey you should come running with me!” – Our immediate reaction most of the time is – “oh no I’m going to hold you up I’ll be slow” or inside our head we go “oh god! I’ve seen your times you are freaking fast – I’ll be gasping for breath to keep up” – Believe me – I have been like this many a time when others first approached me to join their groups for runs. The reality is if another runner or group is asking you to run with them is not to poke fun at you for running slow or anything else, they are either wanting some company or want to show you some new routes. Now I absolutely love going running with others. I have made these runs to actually work to my advantage and also fit in with my training runs.

So here’s what I did. (And what you could do..)

  • From runners that you know (friends, colleagues, strangers you meet on the internet via twitter) identify a few that you know that you can hold a conversation with (It helps to get over that awkwardness of having nothing to say for a few kms while running).
  • Also if you are wanting to try out new routes you’d want to make sure that they themselves are familiar with the new trails. (It’s no fun for both of you to get lost exploring a new trail!) This is a tricky one, it’s happened to me, Lucky for me she wasn’t an axe murderer. 🙂
  • Join a running club or group – there are quite a few around and this is by far the best option since you are guaranteed to find runners who are in the same pace as you! – Clubs organize weekly “Pack runs” with experienced runners setting various group paces and no one get’s left behind in the trails woods to be eaten by rabbits or wolves. There are other benefits of joining up such as mentoring, coaching and also participating events that you might not otherwise go by yourself.

Things to watch out for.. (and rightly avoid as much as you can..)

  • Run every single day with the same person – unless they are your immediate family, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife and you have no choice!
  • Talk endlessly about how awesome you think they are or you are or your BF/GF/Dog/Cat/Family is – stick to some general conversation and give the other person some room to talk (and room to run too)
  • On narrow trails – one of you will have to go in front – be sure you know the trail if you are or let them lead!
  • Avoid running with complete strangers whom you met on twitter or Facebook! Unless of course they are ‘known’ runners and have been twitter stalking you for a while telling you how awesome you are!
"Now you wouldn't believe me if I told you, but I could run like the wind blows. From that day on, if I was ever going somewhere, I was running!" - FORREST GUMP

“Now you wouldn’t believe me if I told you, but I could run like the wind blows. From that day on, if I was ever going somewhere, I was running!” – FORREST GUMP

Marathon Training starts – next week..

After three years of running I think I am ready for the next step and that is to complete a Marathon. I know that some people do marathons within a year or even six months of training which is great. My focus has been to gradually get there and this year (2013) feels right to me. As some of you know I finished my sixth half marathon with a personal best of 1:33.54 on 17th Feb 2013. Based on that the McMillan Running Calculator tells me that I should be able to complete the Marathon in a time of 3hrs:17mins!! (Yeah right!) However I have no time goals since this is my first Marathon, the goal is to finish the 42.2km distance with a smile on my face (well not while running maybe). 🙂

McMillan Marathon Prediction

McMillan Marathon Prediction

If you haven’t tried the McMillan Running Calculator – do try it. It is fairly accurate. Example when I entered my half marathon time it pretty much calculated my 5km time spot on! It also gives you guidance on at what pace you should train on in order to race a certain distance under a certain time goal. For me this is what it means. Although I am not going for a time goal I will still train at these paces since they match my current training runs leading up to the last half marathon. And theoretically this should provide me with a good base improvement overall on other distances.

McMillan Training Paces

McMillan Training Paces

All the advice I have had is that training for a Marathon should not be taken lightly, meaning that it is very important to get the mix of running, recovery and nutrition right. Also there is no point in going hard out and getting injured. Key is gradual build up and maintenance of core endurance and stamina. After the RTB half, in the last two weeks I have reduced my weekly mileage to about 40-50k with some easy runs. This is so that I have a break and be ready for the start of my training program towards the Marathon.

I created a plan consisting of 16 weeks – and this is posted on under the heading “16 Week Marathon Plan” on my blog. So officially my training starts next week on Monday 4th of March. I won’t do a week by week update as I did for RTB but rather do maybe fortnightly updates on my progress leading up to the Marathon day of 23rd June 2013! The Marathon I chose is my local marathon in Wellington. June in Wellington is not the best time of year for running (early winter/cold) but it’s local and in familiar surroundings plus I don’t have to travel far to get to the start!

Also during the training time frame of 16 weeks I am doing a few events as well. So the plan is largely also accommodating these events.

And of course the 5k races on the waterfront and Lower Hutt Park run. These provides me with the motivation to keep going. We have been lucky with great summer weather locally in Wellington and with autumn and winter on the way this will change. Having some events to focus on will keep me motivated to get out the door and run!

I’d love to get feedback from others on their first marathon experiences! If you are like me and love watching running documentaries check out “Spirit of the Marathon” on YouTube below. This is a full length movie of 1hr 45mins about a bunch of runners elite and non elite on their marathon training for the Chicago Marathon! Connect your PC to the TV and watch it on the big screen!

Happy running!

Wellington RTB Half Marathon recap

As I sit here and write this I am pretty stoked on how today went! Most importantly I am pleased that my training (self coaching) was just right to get me to achieve today’s personal best time of 1:33:55 (unofficial time) 1:33:54 (official time). In any case I broke 1:35 which was my primary goal! If you were following my previous updates on the 5 week race specific plan I did for RTB head over here and have a look.
Just to give you all a recap here are my previous half marathon times from previous years.

What this shows is with the correct level of training (gradual) you can continue to improve overtime. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts I increased my mileage gradually and my main goal is to be relatively injury free so I can run pretty much all through out the year.

So how did today go? When I woke up around 5:30am first thing I did was check the weather forecast! I live pretty much in central Wellington so looking outside I could see the bays and water was pretty calm and still, It was just perfect. Not much wind and not sunny with a slight southerly breeze! Then I had my usual pre-event breakfast – 2 Crumpets with Peanut butter & a banana. That’s it. No coffee! I usually don’t drink coffee for 24hours if I am doing an event. This BTW makes it all the better when you finally have a coffee after the event!

Put on my running gear got a bag packed for post race and off I went to the start leaving home at 7:30. For this run I decided I not to have music with me – I was more ficused on maintaining my own rhythm and decided to ditch the music (not the first time I’ve done this). Just as I was walking along the Waterfront I saw Hinano was already there and she was warming up! I gave a high-five to her as I passed (I was semi-jogging) and said good luck. Checked in my bag and saw a few of my club runners and chatted for a bit. Then did the final all important pit-stop before starting a slow jog to get my legs moving. I don’t go into a full warm up routine if I am running anything more than 10k. Just a light jog and some easy stretches.

I chatted with a few of the other club runners and I saw Dave (fast runner usually about 1:20 PB) was one of the pacers for the 1:40 group. Just had a general chit chat and said to him “Well, Dave, this would probably be the only time I’d have a chance to beat you eh!” 🙂

Headed over to the start and another of our senior club runners Glen was there, he was aiming to run 1:35 so I said great! Let’s pace each other! There was about an 8min delay at the start and you could see everyone was anxious to get away. Glen and I were just in between the 1:30 pacer and the 1:40 pacer. My aim was to stick to 4:30ish pace no matter what. The race started and off we all went!

There was a massive surge and a whole bunch of people flew past me and Glen in the first km. We were like what the hell? Surely we are NOT that slow? First Km split was 4:22 pretty easy going and I was not going to fall into the trap of going too fast. Second was in 4:24, the third in 4:19 and we go to 5k in 21min 50secs – so far so good we were into a pretty good rhythm. By about the 7km mark we were passing a lot of people and guess what.. they were the one’s who went out like bats out of hell at the start and struggling a bit to keep up the pace. By around the 9km mark I was into a very good rhythm and kept going around the 4:25ish pace which was exactly what I wanted. I had one Gu Energy Gel with me so I took some of that with water as we passed the next water station. I passed 10k marker just shy of my 10k PB! At this stage Glen had fallen back a bit.

About the 11k point some of the Elite runners were heading back! I yelled out encouragement to a few of them that I knew from our club. I passed 13.7kms in 60mins which was also the turnaround point!

After 14km marker I was running at max and fighting the usual pains that comes with running at max. I just kept telling myself that It was only a another 1km to go and so forth! By the 17th Km my left leg felt really stiff and my ITB started hurting this was bearable but my pace dropped to around the 4:30ish mark. I kept pushing and by 19th Km mark Glen caught up to me again! I just ignored the pain and got right behind him and upped my pace. The last 2km was pretty hard and painful but also good because I pushed and was able to run the last Km in my fastest split of 4min 16 to a sprint finish with Glen just slightly ahead of me! Final time : 1hr 33mins 55secs (unofficial) with an average pace of 4min 23secs resulting in a new PB shaving off about 4mins from my previous best time!

RTB Time 2013

RTB Time 2013 on my Garmin

2013 RTB Official Time

2013 RTB Official Time

Looking at my splits here is what happened. It was pretty even and my strategy to try for even splits worked well. I am glad I went through enough tempo runs in my training as well as my almost weekly 5k races. These are all important in training.

RTB 2013 Splits

RTB 2013 Splits

So all in all a great day and pretty happy with how everything worked. Next week it’s going to be an easy week and I am looking forward to just hitting some of the local trails and do some easy running! Next weekend 23rd Feb (Saturday) I am running with the Round Lake Taupo relay with the Wellington Running Meetup group. I am looking forward to that which will be pretty fun!

After this event my main goal is the Wellington Marathon! This is essentially what I’ve been building up for the last three years. I am creating a 17 week training plan starting from 4th March 2013 leading upto 23rd June 2013! In between I’ll be doing a few other events as well. Check out my Races and Places page for these!

Happy running!

1 Week to RTB – Recap of week 4 and final update

I posted my 5 week plan that I made for leading up to Wellington Round the Bays half marathon and the update on the third week on how things went. This is my fourth week training update leading to the next weeks Wellington Round the Bays half marathon! I’ll post how it all goes next Monday!

Week 4 was a week where most runs were in ‘maintenance mode’. Target was to run a total of 60kms for the week.

Monday – 04th Feb – Rest day  with some strength work in the afternoon. Mostly involving some stability work and Plyometrics including Box Jumps, High Knees, Bounding and Single Leg hops.

Tuesday – 05th Feb – It was a pretty windy day, probably the first one in quite a while after the great weather we’ve had. Easy 12kms. To avoid running into the wind I went up Carlton Gore road on the waterfront and did a reverse loop out to Evans bay and back via the waterfront with the wind behind me. So bit of a small hill run at around 5:30 easy pace.

Wednesday – 06th Feb – 11k run with a tempo session. I was able to push about 35mins at tempo pace. I use a HR monitor with my Garmin watch. This gives me a good indication when I need to push and when I can ease off. Once you figure out your HR zones it works to your advantage and helps in maintaining the right effort level on each workout.

Tempo session

Tempo session

Thursday – 07th Feb – Initially I had Thursday down as a rest say. However we had plans to go away this weekend so I decided to go for an easy recovery run today. easy 12ks and lots of stretching and foam rolling to relax leg and ITB muscles.

Friday – 08th Feb – A steady 12km run around 4:45 pace and post workout stretch.

Saturday – 09th Feb – Rest day!

Sunday – 10th Feb – 14ks of easy running around the bays. Final long run and warm down!

RTB Week 4 Recap

RTB Week 4 Training recap

So here’s to the next week of running leading up to Wellington Round The Bays.

Also if you haven’t entered the giveaway go and check it out – “Keep running and you’ll be winning” I’ve changed the rules, means all you have to do is enter the competition if you are running AMI Round the Bays.

With only a week away I am looking at running a PB by aiming to better my previous time of 1hr:37mins. What are your goals?

2 Weeks to RTB – Recap of week 3 and Sahara Challenge

I posted my 5 week plan that I made for leading up to Wellington Round the Bays half marathon and the update on the second week on how things went. This is my third week training update leading to the next two weeks before Wellington Round the Bays half marathon!

Week 3 was another week of medium to high mileage week. With the The Tussock Traverse 26k trail run out of the way and a day of rest leading onto the week of running starting Monday 28th January. Target was to run a total of 80kms for the week.

Monday – 28th Jan – 12kms steady pace – it was pretty warm even at 6:30am when I did my run. Finished my run with a swim at oriental bay to cool off. The ‘unusual’ summer we are having is pretty good but sure does make it a bit uncomfortable because of the higher than normal temperatures in Wellington.

Tuesday – 29th Jan – 5k race @ 80% effort at about 4:10 pace and a 5k warm down jog post race. Managed to do the 5k race relatively easily with even splits. Jogged 5k so total of 10ks for the day. Again a fine warm day with high temperatures.

Wednesday – 30th Jan – 16k run at about 4:30 per Km pace. I did about 14kms at this pace and slowed down the last 2km to recover. Total 16kms done. This run was a bit of a test run to check how I can get into ‘race pace’ on the day of the race. Pushing 4:30 pace felt good and no major concerns. Did some core strength and foam rolling in the evening.

Thursday – 31st Jan – Rest day!. Lots of stretching and foam rolling to relax leg and ITB muscles.

Incidentally January 2013 was my highest mileage for the last 3 years of running. In January I ran a total of 308km (191miles) in total. This was a steady build up for over 5 months of slight increases in my weekly Kms. If you are planning to increase your running mileage make sure that you increase gradually and back off when things start hurting.

Monthly Increase Kms

Monthly Increase in Kilometers.

One of my goals after this half marathon is to start training for my first Marathon. So this increase in Km is an important step to get my body adopted to the coming high mileage training. I’ll update on this in another post. 🙂

Friday – 1st of February – A steady 20km run. Now this was a special run! I ran with Greig and Willy, two local fitness experts/runners who are training for one of the toughest races on the planet. “Marathon Des Sables 2013” is a 6 day stage race across the sahara desert and these guys are doing it this year!

“The MdS is a multi-day ‘ultra-marathon’ or ‘ultra’ run in six days over a course of between 150 and 156 (254km) miles.”

Basically they set themselves a goal of running 5 marathons in 5 days in different parts of the country as part of training, their 5th marathon was scheduled in Wellington on Friday 1st Feb. They sent out a message to local runners to come join them for the run and I gladly joined them for 20kms.  They are fund raising for the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research. So please visit the Sahara Charity Challenge fund raising page and donate if you can.

It was great to run with them and they certainly were pushing a steady pace so all in all my 20km scheduled run was done with them out to Chocolate Fish cafe and back.

Willy and Greig just before heading off to complete the 5th marathon! Photo credit - Malaghan Institute.

Willy and Greig just before heading off to complete the 5th marathon! Photo credit – Malaghan Institute.

Saturday – 2nd Feb – I had a 10k interval session scheduled for the morning. I ran this at the Lower Hutt Park Run – 5k + 5k, 2 sets of intervals.

Sunday – 3rd Feb – 12ks of easy running with a few hills! I headed up Mount Victoria and explored some of my favourite trails and did a couple of hill reps and a total of 14ks. Stopped on Oreintal bay and cooled off in the sea with a swim!

RTB Week 3 Recap

RTB Week 3 Recap

So here’s to the next two weeks of running leading up to Wellington Round The Bays and remaining injury free!