Making adjustments and staying positive

It’s exactly another 8 sleeps to my first Marathon on 23rd of June (in case you didn’t know that already since most of my previous posts have been on that subject). It had been a good stint of solid training runs up until Saturday 8th June when I pulled a thigh muscle in the first lap of a club cross country race. Yes, I do occasionally (read very rarely decide to show up) participate in races with Wellington Scottish Athletics club. Anyways it happened about 2kms in to a 8km cross country race. I had to stop with a rather painful strain on my left thigh. Incidentally the same leg had a bit of discomfort just under my left knee after one of my longer runs the week before. I wasn’t too concerned about that since I get all sorts of pain after long runs. So whatever this new strain was it was rather painful and bit of a shock to the system that I may not be able to start my first Marathon. I was pretty gutted and it was hurting even to jog so I expected the worse. However after coming home and a self massage with the foam roller and some ice the pain went away. I decided not to run the final Xterra trail run on Sunday 9th and give it time to settle. As it turns out the last Xterra race was made tough with lots of mud and some tough hills. I was sorry I missed the fun of Xterra it but I knew that I had to be sensible and be focused on my goal and stay on track to completing my first Marathon goal.

One of the best pieces of advise I’ve had about injuries and running is that if you are injured STOP RUNNING! I am the worst person to take advice that I give. This time however I didn’t run on Sunday even though the pain had gone away and just rested and massaged my legs with the foam roller like a mad man.

The next day (Monday 10th) I decided to go for an easy run, I started slowly and there was no discomfort so I gradually increased my pace until I was running steady and ran 8k without any hint of pain. Yeai I’m all good – I thought and was in good spirits again. Did more foam rolling.

Next day Tuesday 11th I wanted to see if I could add a bit of pace and went for a steady 10km run and added a bit of pace at the end of the run which got me to the pace about where I wanted to run my Marathon in. I could feel a slight twinge building after I had finished the run. Hmm not so good, that was just a 10k. So more foam rolling and massaging.I took Wednesday 12th off and did no running. Made sure I kept off my feet and more foam rolling ensued. There was no pain as such and I was back in good spirits.

Thursday 13th I decided I will push it a bit to see if it will start hurting. It was also my regular morning group run which is usually a 14-15km run around the bays. Since I was running with the group I kept up steady pace and around the 11km mark my leg thigh strain started again! Yup it was back and it was back with more pain. I stopped immediately and I was about 3km from where I usually stop so had to slowly jog/walk back. The pain eventually went away after walking. So guess what? more foam rolling!

Anyways that was Thursday 13th and today is Sunday the 16th and I have not run for the last 3 days. I went for a walk on Saturday morning and rest of the time I’ve either being resting or foam rolling! Not running is the hardest thing to do when you are getting ready for an event. I resisted even going for an easy jog. I am going to attempt an easy run tomorrow (Monday 17th) (Last week of training before Marathon).

In any case I have nothing to really be concerned about (yet) although it can be demoralizing to know that you may be not 100% to start the marathon (or may not be able to start) after 15 weeks of training I am pretty much into my taper phase of 2 weeks, so maybe it was my body’s way of stopping me from going too far. I had done all my long runs that I had scheduled that were over 30kms (3 runs in total) in the previous weeks in training. My regular 10milers (16km) tempos were getting faster. Looking back at my training log I know that I’ve got a good endurance base come next Sunday to finish the Marathon. I have nothing to gain in this final week so I’m going to stay positive and take it easy, eat well, rest and be ready to tackle 42.2kms come Sunday 23rd!

With that – if you are still not entered go and enter my Marathon giveaway! Look forward to updating you all on how it all went post Marathon!

“Life requires us to make adjustments, less is still something”

8 weeks to the Wellington Marathon

It’s been 8 weeks since I started my 16 week training plan aiming to complete the Wellington Marathon on 23rd of June 2013. So I’m exactly half way in my training schedule. On Saturday 4th of May I am running the Rotorua Half Marathon. This is essentially a time trial of sorts to see how my training has progressed. Ideally I am hoping that I can run a PB and beat my previous half marathon time of 1:33:54. The Rotorua course is known as being hilly so this might not be the case that I beat my PB. In any case I want to try and maintain even splits for the whole 21.1kms and see where I end up!

Last Sunday I ran one of my first longest runs in the 16 week plan on one of Wellington’s classic training loops. The 34km Makara Loop is the play ground of many a famous Wellington distance runners. Known for its hills and the nice flats passing through Ohariu Valley it’s regarded as a must do loop in Runners Guide to Wellington. So anyways I was joined on this loop by a few of my running buddies from Wellington Scottish Athletics club and Wellington Running Meetup Group. This was a pretty hard run I must say, although previously I had run a similar distance on trails (Rakiura Track) the Makara loop was pretty relentless. It was a steady pace all the way. By about the 28km mark coming through Johnsonville I started questioning myself! “why the hell am I doing this” and the last 5km was the hardest 5km I’ve ever run. Suffice to say I lost my confidence in myself if I’d be ever able to run a full marathon. This some say is what it’s about getting ready for a marathon and hitting the proverbial WALL! So it was first hand experience that even when you feel good at 25km and think ah it’s another 7km to go within a space of few Km’s things can change and change rapidly! I guess I should just take a teaspoon of cement and carry on with the next 8 weeks!

Here is the map & profile of the loop for those who are interested. We started from Karori Park and went over Makara hill towards Johnsonville and back to Karori Park.

MakaraLoop34k MakaraLoopProfile

Running with the group kind of helped but was also tough as trying to catchup when you dropped off pace. In any case I’m glad I was able to finish the loop. And I’m determined to run the same loop again at least once before the Marathon.

So in the last 8 weeks I’ve managed to hit 100km weekly mileage twice. Once at the start and also at in the 8th week. So it’s a classic Hard, Easy, Moderate, Hard cycle as you can see from the below training log.

8 Week Training Log

8 Week Training Log

The last 8 weeks in numbers:

Total KM run: 651km
Average Km per Week: 81km
Longest Run: 34km

The next 8 weeks my plan is to incorporate some key conditioning sessions along with some speed and strength workouts to my schedule. Then I’ll start a 2 week taper starting from week 14. The 16 week plan has changed again somewhat based on what I’ve done and it’s going to be updated soon.

Also this is the club cross country season so there are a number of club events that I am interested in doing. I am no where near fast compared to some of the other club runners but I’m going to give some events a go to at least get some experience. All going well I’ll be able to improve my time over distances like 5km and 10km.

If you are training for any running event I would like to share this documentary with you. It’s a two part series and something that will inspire you in your running goals.

If you are training for the Wellington Marathon or any Marathon for that matter leave a comment and share your thoughts! How is your training going?

Chasing an elusive 5km personal best

Since the (second) start of my running endeavors I have been able to improve my 5km racing (well pedestrian when compared to elites) time from 27mins to a current personal best of 20mins & 18secs on the famous Wellington waterfront 5km course. Some might say that I should be very happy and content with the fact that I have been able to improve my times over a course of about 2 years by 7mins but that’s just not the point! I want to run sub 20 meaning I want to register an official time of 19mins 59secs (well 19:50 or 19:30 secretly). I actually ran sub 20 in a recent relay event but that was mostly due to the fact the first 3km of the run was a net downhill, so in my mind It does not count.

So when I look at my progress from over the years relatively I have been able to improve my 5km time (meaning run faster) over a certain period and now it seems that I have hit a plateau.

5Km Race Times

5Km Race Times (recent history)

I seem to be floating in the 20+ to 21+ min range and not actually getting any faster. Also another great comparison is another 5km race that I run but not as regularly as the above race. This is Parkrun which is also a flat course but there is a difference in terms of surface that there are two sections that go over grass. In the Parkrun course my PB is 20:42.

Parkrun 5km results

Parkrun 5km results

Parkrun 5km Grading

Parkrun 5km Grading

The advice I have got is that in order to improve my times in the 5km I now need to start doing some targeted ‘speed work’ sessions. As such one of my side goals whilst training for my first marathon is to inject some speed sessions and improve my 5km race time. Last week I went down to the Newtown park athletics track and did a ‘mini’ speed session. During this session I was able to run a fast 1km time of 3min 28secs. These sessions however needs to be carefully balanced so that I don’t get injured by doing too many speed sessions. The main goal is the marathon and this is secondary, but running sub 20 is also something that I want to do before May 2013. In order to run under 20mins I need to sustain 3min 50/km splits for my 5km targeted race. The annoying bit is I was oh so close when I ran 20:18, slowing down in the last 2km cost me. 😦

5km PB Splits

5km PB Splits

Now I need to target another race and get everything into play! Hopefully with a bit of perseverance and specific speed sessions I’ll get that sub 20min 5km soon!



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

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!