Training again

Going to run the Wellington marathon again this year. Have been quiet on the running since our second son arrived in August; and quiet on the blogging since I got a Garmin GPS watch. So it’s all logged and graphed and mapped to death over here.

Ran a half recently around the Wellington bays in 1:39:30. A slight improvement on the last half, and not bad given the lack of focused training. Should be able to go under 3:30 for the full marathon if I can stick to the training and avoid injury. Using Matt Fitzgerald’s beginners programme on top of regular commute runs into work. (It’s about 7k one way and I’m trying to do it five or six times a week.)

Heel boy!

So, it’s been a quiet last month on the running and blogging, but perhaps it’s safe to say that I’m on the mend from the calf strain. Physio released me last week, but not without plenty of stretching, thigh and glute strengthening, and balance exercises (the latter especially round the ankle). Her take on what caused it was a combination of too much crossing over and using a front-foot strike.

I’ll concede two out of three: yes my feet were crossing over a lot, and yes I was using a front-foot strike, but the front-foot strike isn’t bad in itself, but it might be bad if you switch to it too quickly or don’t have the bio-mechanical strength to support it. So I’m now back to a heel-to-mid-foot strike, which is feeling ok so far. Picking up the distances over the last couple of weeks and finding a 5-minute kilometre is currently pretty standard. Done quite a few 10km runs, some 12, and a 16 on Sunday.

Thinking now about the Harbour Capital run at the end of June; do I aim to do a faster half-marathon time or try to train for the full marathon? Is it too late to aim for the marathon? Maybe if I take the Hal Higdon novice approach and just aim to finish I could do it. It’s about the last real chance to run a decent-sized marathon before the 40th birthday… The full marathon is the tempting option.


Ran 28km today, longest run ever for me. Exhausting. And probably wouldn’t have made it without the constant ministrations from my running partner: Powerade, water, oaty bars. Took 2:36; big jump up from last longest run of just 3km less. Rest day tomorrow and recovering at the moment with TV and beer.

Speed and sprint training

Last post on the types of running outlined by Greg McMillan*, this time on the effects of speed training and sprint training. Speed training is a step up in pace, around a 3000m to 5km pace. Sprint training is as the name suggests, sprinting, or around 800m to 2500m pace (not that I could sprint for that long).

Speed maximises some of the physiological effects of stamina training:

  • better fuel extraction
  • coping with lactic acid more efficiently
  • improvements in fast twitch action
  • better extraction of oxygen from the blood
  • overall efficiency of movement and breathing

During sprint training there’s not much room for any physiological changes as things like breathing, heart rate, oxygen consumption, etc, are all at their maximum. There are two key benefits:

  • neuromuscular changes where groups of muscle fibres get in sync and start firing en masse; the body just gets better at moving your legs faster and faster
  • at this pace there’s lots of lactate acid so training at this speed trains the body to deal with it and remove it as efficiently as possible

On top of that there are more improvements to the feel of your run – it’s smoother and more efficient and employs more of the body (from the torso down) to generate more power.

* The information on the benefits of different types of running in this and a few other posts is cribbed from Greg McMillan’s Six-Step Training System, Step #2: The 4 Key Training Zones – Endurance, Stamina, Speed & Sprint. For others, see posts tagged Greg McMillan.

Endurance training

In my mind these are long slow runs. Greg McMillan* defines it as between 30 seconds to 2 minutes slower per mile than your average marathon pace. So go figure what that really means (I have no idea). Key benefits are:

  • Increases stroke volume (i.e., the amount of blood pumped by each heart beat) while in in the muscles there’s a increase in the number of capillaries that the deliver blood. The net result is more blood pumped and delivered to the muscles more efficiently.
  • The body also becomes more more efficient at using fat as a fuel source so there’s less reliance on limited carbohydrate stores (muscle glycogen). Conversely it stimulates the muscles to store more glycogen, which can then fuel long or high intensity workouts.
  • Changes to the nervous system include much more efficient use of slow-twitch muscle fibres (helps improve running economy) and some re-orienting of fast-twitch fibres which become more “endurance-like”.

*The information on the benefits of different types of running in this and forthcoming posts is cribbed from Greg McMillan’s Six-Step Training System, Step #2: The 4 Key Training Zones – Endurance, Stamina, Speed & Sprint.

More training needed, damn you lad

Have been playing catch-up all week to get back to the training schedule. A couple of slow runs out to Point Jerningham and a decent 60 minute run to Greta Point and back. Starting to look ahead to the next half-marathon and might do one in Marton with a friend who’ll be out from the UK.

Meantime I’ve got some reading to get to soon:

Recent runs
Monday 15 June: 6km, 33 mins (slow to Point Jerningham and back)
Tuesday 16 June: 7km, 37 mins (slow to Point Jerningham and back up Boulcott St with AJ)
Wednesday 17 June: 11.5km, 59 mins (Great Point and back Terrace) – close to 12km