The Triple Bill
I have been modifying my training, with some research and discussions with my coach. So along the way as either I reached milestones quicker than expected (speed) or struggled in others (training volume), we have had to change things to accommodate my rookie legs. The last change we did was just before my week or reckoning and to accommodate the tune up half marathon, a sequence of long runs that I had thought nothing of lay ahead. In short it was a progressive build up, within the accepted 10% norm, 28km-30km-32km, the triple bill.
I'm sure you can imagine just how daunting that was.
Post Wanderers 10km I eased into the weekend with only 3 sessions. A casualty of my near meltdown was dropping down to two quality sessions, something I had planned to do anyway. I had been on a diet of a speed session, a strength session (hill circuits) and the long. A concept that I have been reading about and one that appeals to my scientific background is that of scientific background. I read about the training of Renato Canova, coach of some of the fastest Kenyans doing the rounds. His principle is that one should train specifically for the event that they are preparing for. As one gets closer to the event sessions begin to approximate, as feasibly as possible the event. So a standalone hill circuit is great for general strength. A long run great for endurance. A speed session great for leg turnover. But in the context of marathon training (or any event) these should be tailored for the event. He argues that we do our long runs to slowly and our speed sessions too short and quickly. Speed sessions should tends towards marathon pace or high volume short intervals, and long runs should be more intense but obviously should never turn in a 32km time trial. He advocates 5-10% slower than target/predicted marathon pace. The 10% mark conveniently falls right in the window of my predicted long run pace with any training calculator though closer to the faster end, eg 4:55-5:34min/km from Runner's World, and I typically do my long runs at 5:00-5:10.
Round 1: 27 August to 2 September
This was a low volume week. I did four sessions. I took Monday and Tuesday off then did my quality session, long intervals, 3X3km at predicted marathon pace or 4:20-4:30min/km, with moderate recovery or 600m at easy training pace, approximately 5min/km. I was struggling with pacing, going off to fast at the start of the interval but it got easier by the third repeat. An easy 8km on Thursday was followed by a rest day and the the 5km parkrun at Ebotse. I ran fastish, finishing second in 19:57.
The long run was a test, with that 26km run still at the back of my mind. I did a 14km loop, that has a bit of everything in it, nice flats and a bit of hills. The first lap was a breeze and I came through in 1:11. The second lap was tougher. A lot tougher. I felt it at 25km in particular approaching that distance record. Despite that I managed to negative split the run, doing the second lap in 1:09 and finishing in a neat 2:20 for 5:00min/km pace, right in my zone.
|Four sessions, 54km|
Round 2: 3 - 9 September
This was a very challenging week. My son was hospitalized with pneumonia on Monday so while I got all my running in it wasn't the main focus, juggling long hospital stays, little sleep and work. I got my first quality session in on Tuesday morning. The aim was after doing the 2km and 3km repeats on the track to put it together on the road. So I did the same 14km loop from my long run. I just start out easy and picked up the pace so by 4km I was doing marathon pace effort. I managed 4:27min/km for my effort period.
I did my easy run on Wednesday on the back of 36 hours where I got only 2 hours sleep. Stress busting but not fun. On Thursday we had out annual staff and postgrad fun run at WITS. The weather was an absolute misery, cold and wet. It was just shy of 4km, and I scored 2nd place in a surprisingly quick 14:25. The course forms the backbone of my hill circuit, and I had not done a lap faster than 16:20, though admittedly that was in warmer conditions with at least two laps. On Saturday I did a nice 10km run.
My long run route was again the same loop with 500m added to the beginning and 500m at the end. This time the toughness factor went up quite a bit. For one I felt the hurt from the start of the second lap already. It was more mental as my pace never dropped. If anything I was getting more determined as my body endeavoured to trick me into giving in. 1:17 and 1:13 laps tell me as much. After 25km there was this back and forth dynamic between body and mind. At the end it was a solid 30km in 2:30, another negative split run.
|5 sessions, 68km|
Round 3: 10 - 16 September
This was a great week. The confidence has been building and with each long run I have gotten more confident while also becoming more realistic. On Tuesday I ran on the grass at WITS, a very easy 10km. In the evening I went to the Comrades Road Show in Sandton. It was very interesting. For a brief moment I was considering reversing my pledge to become a better marathon for a few years before doing the ultimate human race. There were some eye popping statistics: only 22.4% of runners run 9 hours (Bill Rowan) or quicker, only 5% get silver (6:00-7:30) and only 0.2% each get gold (top 10 women and men) and Wally Hayward (sub 6 hours). Then Lindsay Parry spoke and while his talk should have put the fear of the running gods into me, it actually made the whole experience seem more manageable as long as there is sufficient planning. Anyway no earlier than 2014!
My marathon pace tempo was done on Wednesday evening and I must say I struggled. I'm definitely a morning runner, and even enjoy a tea time or lunch time run over the evening. With work I find I'm tired and evening traffic is less pleasant. I did 15km, with a 3km warm up and 2km cool down. I really struggled to get into pace in the firs 5km of the race pace portion but finished well and managed 44:50, but it was tougher than I would have expected. Mandatory rest on Friday was followed by 10km in 52:00 on Saturday.
My first 32km run was quite an event. I had a Pepperoni pizza the night before. Big mistake as I found out about 21km into the run. The weather had also taken a turn for the worse on Friday evening and it started out cold, dingy and wet. I had wanted to do a dress rehersal, so my Run/Walk For Life kit, Falke socks, Zoom Elites and trying drinks on the go in a cup. I had to wear tights and a compression vest. As luck would have it it got hot as the run progressed. I also had to vary my route which I had planned to approximate the undulating Soweto Marathon. Traffic increased, with (angry) people going to church, and some were total dickheads. I ran with my father for 27km and he got really riled by the idiots including one who was literally trying to get as close to us as possible. A few old church goers were even motioning for us to bugger off.
Anyway, with all the modifications the run ended up being 33km. The pace was slower than I usually run as I ran with my father but to be fair the solo efforts are tough anyway.We varied the pace, I surged in the middle and at the end once he stepped. At 30km the running gods delivered my package, my bag of hurt. I really had to work through it, and most of the last kilometre was hard work. That last 6 I ran on my own was at 4:50min/km. I was hurting at the end but felt better than I did the previous two weeks and now I feel great again. The body has adapted nicely to the distance and I'm feeling a lot better about my prospects for the race. There is still lot's of work to do though.
|5 sessions, 78km|
More to come
The following week is a cut back week, dropping back to 20km for the long run. Then there is the mini taper for the City2City half marathon. I really don't know what to expect there. I'm almost certain I will PB it's a matter of how much. The course is unfriendly at the start with three long pulls in the first half then it's downhill to the finish. I believe if I run smart in the first half and use the downhill for the last 10km I can run a good sub 90.
Post City2City I have my last two quality weeks with a 25km and the final 32km to come. Then it's three weeks to D-Day.