Monday, December 10, 2012

Almost the Perfect 10!

Post-marathon running has been all about chilling out and letting my legs do what they enjoy. That means (relatively) low mileage and high intensity. My biggest week thus far has been 54km, the longest run mo more than 15km and my average run is in the region of 8-9km. Looking at my dailymile profile another major change is the average pace of my runs which has has dropped from ~5:00/km at the peak of my marathon training phase to under 4:30/km. It's still hard work but honestly I love it! This is just so different from the (relatively) slow high volume training I did for over three months. I'm rarely out for more than 40 minutes, I work up a sweat and I feel energised after each workout.

Last week was a revelatory week for me, that wonderful feeling when you work through something in training, and struggle a bit but come race day, the moment to deliver, everything clicks.

One kilometre at a time

This past Tuesday so the return of my favourite track workout, 1km repeats. I don't know what it is about the session but 5 x 2.5 laps of a standard 400m track is the sort of workout that challenges my resolve yet remains completely and always attainable. It takes me a while to get inot 400m reps while mile reps are just too long, 800m comes close, but 1km hits the sweet spot. Right now I'm not too fazed by what pace I do them in. I'm concentrating on even effort and good form. I find it hard to work off a pace target right now because I haven't reached any kind of peak or plateau phase. I also respond well to speed training so find that week on week, my comfort level can shift dramatically.

1km Interval Time  Recovery (600m)
1 03:30.8 02:46.1
2 03:23.4 02:38.3
3 03:22.4 02:50.3
4 03:22.7 03:01.6
5 03:23.7 -
Average 03:24.6 02:49.1

The first interval was just me getting into the swing of things but I felt good so decided to push a bit harder on the next four. I was really happy with my consistency, and that was I able to hit 81/82s laps without straining too much. The fourth and fifth intervals were tough but I maintain the pace. This session really hit home how much I have improved this year. Early in May I did a session of 1km repeats, where I couldn't even do the 5th and I was hitting around 3:53-3:56. Seven months later I have managed to average 3:25 for the same session off shorter rest, less than 3 minutes compared to 5 minutes then

Special Blocks

I have this morbid fascination with elite athletes and their training, where even though I know I will never train like them I don't think it hurts to apply some of their principles to my own training. The best in the business are Kenyans, so I have been looking to them for some inspiration. Something I came across was doing special blocks to simulate the demands of a race without sabotaging your training by doing the whole event. The principle is more applicable to marathon training but I tried it with my 10km training. 

Thursday is my double up day, I usually do a hard session in the morning and a recovery run in the afternoon. Last week I instead did my tempo as usual in the morning and ran my 5.2km run as a hard effort. In the morning I did 5km of hard running at target race pace and added to the afternoon effort made up ~10km at race pace.

The morning session was tougher than I expected, a combination of the warm weather, the monotony of lap running and the fact that I did it on grass. My 5km effort was in 18:46, 3:45/km, bang on target! The afternoon session was better, out on the road, and I hit 5km in 18:33 before easing back to the end. So my combined 10k m effort was 37:19.

The trick of course is to put those sessions together come 29 December.

Race Day: Great Challenge Series 10km

I'm working off a 3 week cycle, repeated twice, with the goal at the end of the six weeks to hit around 37:30 for 10km. So I did the Kolonnade 10km 3 weeks ago to see where I was post-marathon, and the Great Challenge 10km fell neatly into my three week cycle. I had heard the course was fast but tough, like Tom Jenkins a flat course with one steep climb thrown into the mix.

To be honest while I was hoping to break my 38:22 PB from Kolonnade, I wasn't expecting to run much faster, my goal was to be between 3:48 to 3:50 pace, good for 38:00 to 38:20. And of course that tough but fast description really had me scratching my head, but as you can see from the course profile it is actually completely accurate:

That's what a tough but fast course looks like!
Unlike the past two races where I ended up bogged in the pack. I positioned myself in the second row at the start and got off to a good start. The pace at the beginning was hot! I found myself around some speedy looking runners but I was feeling comfortable. Another than the short climb at the beginning it was plain sailing but I was worried about the pace and tried to settle down. I was through 2km in 7:00, and 3km in 10:35 and then calmed down a bit to go through 4km in 14:23! 

Then we climbed. And we climbed. And we climbed. It was a solid kilometre and suddenly I was through 5km in 19:04 after a 4:41 split. There was still a bit more mild climbing to the turnaround point, before the descent. You generally think you can make up time but even though I cruised back down the hill, my little legs can only turn so fast, and my return split for the 7th km was a 3:28 according to the Garmin, not much time gained back! 

I didn't pay too much attention to my splits as I hurtled back down the monster hill, but I hit 8km in 29:54, which would have been a PB for the distance, and as my thighs started to burn I just focused as I did during the speed sessions before in just maintaining good form and effort. Even a couple of 4:00/km splits would get me through and I pushed hard, but wishing for the end! And as I ran past the timekeepers and stopped my clock I was alarmed to see the time!


I was really blown away by the time. I know I am in the best shape of my life, I can feel it in training but I wasn't expecting to run a time like this just three weeks in, and only five weeks out from that first marathon. The special blocks was tough and I was still thinking three weeks down the line to get into the 37s.

My dad always tells me that if the last two kilometres are not challenging then I haven't raced hard enough, so I know I really gave it everything. Additionally I managed to negative split the race, 19:04 and 18:42, so it was well paced too despite me thinking I had gone out too hard!

Breaking into the 37s also took my cumulative tally of improvements over 10km to more than 10 minutes for the calendar year. The tally now stands at 10:14 or 21% improvement. I know this rate is unsustainable and in fact since breaking into sun 40s, I have dropped two minutes over 6 months, while the previous three months saw me drop more than 3 minutes. Minutes will become seconds will become parity but I hope to carry on into 2013 still chipping away.

So looking forward, the goal for the Cid to Cid Old Year's 10km on 29 December is still 37:30 (3:45/km or 16km/hour) as my A goal. If things go well on the day I would love to try for a sub 6:00/mile pace, which is 37:11 or faster as a B goal. Otherwise just another PB to end what has really been an awesome year!

EDIT: Official results are finally out for the Great Run 10km, 37:34 for 23rd place!

No comments:

Post a Comment