Thursday, 25 February 2010

Dropping The Kids Off At The Hills

There are never any dock leaves around when you need them. For the first time in years I found myself 'running the precipice' halfway through my hill session with guts in utter turmoil . In the end, to be able to continue, I had to bow the inevitable and emulate Laetoli man. Unfortunately for the county of Cambridgeshire my workout took place on the outskirts of a reservoir, so my heartfelt apologies if your drinking water has a slighty nutty aroma for the next month or so.

The hill repeats (hill pictured) alternate on a weekly basis with the 1500m pace sessions, the effort in the last set being similar to the track session but with a more significant strength component. The session involves 3 sets of 4 * 300m on the hill with a jog down recovery. The first set focusing on form / technique, the second at medium effort with the last set done hard. Delighted with the last set, averaging 53 seconds - although it certainly helped that I was considerably lighter than for the previous (see paragraph one).

As my fitness progresses there is an interesting dynamic during workouts; my legs and breathing alternate as the workout limiter. In my previous hill session, my legs couldn't work hard enough to maximise my breathing. This time, the honours were equal - the conclusion being, as the rep times were quicker, that my leg strength and / or speed has improved. At this stage of the season the hill isn't too steep. Later on I will switch to harder repeats on a steeper hill of 80 to 120m in length.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Progressions (1500m)

A dull fact for those of you who were fans of 80's TV's more esoteric sports. Geoff Capes, Olympic shot putter, World's Strongest Man and voted locally as the most miserable special guest at the St. Neots Mini Rugby Festival is a budgerigar breeder. Rhino racer, valkyrie breeder or bear wrestler I could imagine - but budgerigars? It reminds me of Hightower's first forays into florist-hood.

Had a good track workout today and it leads nicely into the topic of the day - 1500m progressions. The goal of 1500m pace progression sessions is to slowly acclimatise to racing pace whilst nudging the sessions towards workouts that increasingly resemble the race, so when your peak finally arrives you aren't thinking "oh, bollocks" after 2 laps. There are two components to this: session structure and session pace.

So, for example, my 1500m sessions are sequenced as follows (today's session in red):

2 * (4 * 300m) w / same stand. recovery; 400 jog between sets.
2 * (3 * 400m) w / same stand. recovery; 400 jog between sets.
4 * (2 * 300m) w / 100 jog; 400 jog between sets.
3 * (2 * 400m) w / 100 jog; 400 jog between sets.
6 * 400m w / same stand. recovery;
4 * 600m w / 2 * stand. recovery;
3 * 800m w / 2 * stand. recovery;
2 * 1000m w / 2 weeks in Corfu recovery.

This is not all - there are other race simulation and change of pace sessions at 1500m pace, but this effectively serves as the road map from current to goal fitness. Starting back in January one of these sessions is scheduled every fortnight and a seperate pace progression is used to determine how fast they are run:

- Feb: 67 secs / 400m (4:11 pace)
- Mar: 66 secs / 400m (4:07 pace)
- Apr: 65 secs / 400m (4:03 pace)
- May: 64 secs / 400m (3:59 pace)
- Jun: 63.5 secs / 400m (3:57 pace)
- Jul: 63 secs / 400m (3:55 pace)

If at any point the speed / session combination becomes unmanageable I will stay at the last achievable pace until there are signs I can complete a session at a faster pace. Alternatively it may mean 2010's ceiling pace has been established. In which case I train at that pace within a more searching array of sessions.

Easy, right? Now all I have to do is turn up.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

The Mighty Empire

The Great should have been dropped as a prefix to Britain years ago and I also wonder whether there is anything united about our Kingdom. I took a tour around HMS victory in Portsmouth docks today - it's the ship in which Lord Nelson died at the Battle of Trafalgar. It left me wondering what Nelson would be doing if he lived currently. No doubt sitting on his sofa in soiled underwear watching Eastenders and living off disability benefit awarded by virtue of having one arm. Churchill would be overdosing on pork scratchings and Speckled Hen at his local whilst recalling the glory days to his whippet Josef.

Being famed for my romantic side the tour of the ship allowed me to indulge my maritime fantasies - so instead of flowers and chocolates I ordered the missus around like a powder monkey for Valentines Day. Amusing at first but went rapidly downhill when I threatened flogging for being too slovenly running up the mainsail. I can be a really sad bastard sometimes - but a disciplined crew is a happy one!

I have every 4th week off as a cutback week in my schedule, although I hadn't planned to have 3 days off as I did this week. This was attributable to an unprecedented attack of the DOMS after introducing some 40m accelerations into my Tuesday session and a particularly gruesome mauling from the masseuse yesterday. She meant well (the bitch).

For those more technically minded the speed session alternates weekly between 4 * 100m fast relaxed, 6 * 40m accelerations and 1 * 200m @ 800m pace one week, and 8 * 150m @ 800m pace the next. Both sessions are proceeded by a 3m warm-up, drills and 2 laps of jog turn / stride straight.

Full week with no excuses next week - only 8 weeks of the base period to go before the fun really starts.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Root Canal For Runners

This blog can't live on solely as a repository of puerile excretia gags and second hand Clarksonisms, so it's time to include some training content. Timing is everything and it's a bit like closing the stable door when the horse has bolted, but better late then never. Plus, a Guinness World record for most cliches in a sentence to boot.

If your eyes glaze over at the first sign of VO2 max on the horizon now's a good time pick up your new magazine and box the jesuit. This year's racing goal is to medal at the European Masters Track Championships at the 1500m in Hungary - I have to give the 800m a miss as a good friend believes his wedding should take precedence over my running!

To that end I've periodised my year as follows:

Base 1: 9 Weeks at average of 51 per week.
Primary Focus: Base Mileage & Aerobic Threshold.
Secondary Focus: Basic Speed & Stamina.
Comments: Building up mileage after break, some hill work and non-anaerobic 3k pace work.

Base 2: 9 Weeks at average of 64 per week.
Primary Focus: VO2 Max & Early Season Race Pace Work.
Secondary Focus: Basic Speed, Mileage & LT.
Comments: Increasing VO2 max.

Base 3: 9 Weeks at average of 67 per week.
Primary Focus: LT & Basic Speed.
Secondary Focus: VO2 max & Strength.
Comments: Mileage peaks, more intense basic speed (800m race pace, short accelerations).

Pre-Comp 1: 5 Weeks at average of 64 per week.
Primary Focus: Repetitions at race paces.
Secondary Focus: VO2 max & LT.
Comments: Fast, hard with complete recovery. LT and VO2 maintenance.

Pre-Comp 2: 5 Weeks at average of 60 per week.
Primary Focus: Race pace reps, lactic acid tolerance & all-out speed.
Secondary Focus: VO2 max & LT.
Comments: Fast & hard often with partial recovery. LT and VO2 maintenance.

Competition Period: 5+ weeks at average of 45 per week.
Primary Focus: Racing.
Secondary Focus: Recovery and race simulation workouts.

This week is the first of base 3 and the intention is that each phase builds on the previous and once a particular area of fitness has been maximised it goes into 'maintenance mode' while a new system is stressed. Let's hope it's well aimed as it's an awful lot of time to invest building a plane that doesn't fly.

For those if you who enjoy prolonged sessions in the dentist chair this thread gives you all the workouts week by week:

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Aces High

"Bandits at 8 o'clock move in behind us,
10 ME-109s out of the sun,"

Friday's high-end aerobic run was interrupted by a pitbull hurtling down the slope from my blind spot and launching itself at me (the little fokker). Fortunately it was a result of enthusiasm rather than aggression, but it hassled and mauled me like a skint whore.

I've always been a dog lover, but have never owned one because I couldn't be arsed to train it and I speculate my shite picking would be inconsistent at best. This doesn't stop many dog owners who happily allow their untrained canines to trip pedestrians and spray the park with brown depth charges. If you can't be bothered to train the mutt keep it on a friggin' lead or better still don't exacerbate the over-population problem in the first place.

The pitbull was pleasant compared to the trio of miniature collies, whom I have named "Napoleon Complex", which are the bane of my morning runs. One day I pray they charge me during a BBQ - I won’t hesitate to end to end them with a spit and forcefeed them to the shreaking bitch who owns them together with a bag of dog shit garnish.

Running has a way of punishing hubris. The original topic of this post was going to be an inspiring forlorn hope-type heroic description of my first 80 mile week for years. Unfortunately a back strain has scuppered that, done during a bout of stretching. No good deed goes unpunished as they say and that's why I don't give spare coins to lepers. So today's training was curtailed and tomorrow will see who wins the contest of the long run - my back or the diclofenac overdose.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Plight of The Bumblebee

I remember, as a child, a few of life's initial disappointments: some teachers couldn't spell 'definitely', doctors weren't infallible health sentinels and Kenny Everett enjoyed a bit of sausage pitch and catch with the pool boy.

Nowadays I understand the incompetence of society in general must be assumed and that it is no respecter of profession or rank. Therefore on the few occasions that you do cross paths with one of life's accomplished experts you are best sticking with them.

I unearthed one of them in a recent sports physio appointment. I'd initially booked the appointment because I suffer from chronic stitches, but in the interim priorities have changed and my sore knees took point. I've given them a chance - about 8 years actually - and had finally decided that perhaps they weren't going to magically cure themselves.

After a few flexibility, stability and strength tests followed by a video treadmill session we arrived at the conclusion that I resemble one of NASA's bumblebees more than their space shuttles. It appears that foot and glute weakness combined with horrendous ankle inflexibility means that everything is pointing in contrary and incorrect directions. The result being that my knee, achilles and plantar are being pulled in all directions at once which has turned me into a one man knee-wrecking machine.

Better the devil you know and armed with a repeat appointment in 4 weeks I'm now embarking on a series of seemingly full time correctional exercises.