Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cooler weather .... cool LT Run

Temperature dropped down to 19C and some drizzle (!!!) so it was the ideal setting for my long(est) Tempo Run: 12k (7,5Miles).
I never made such a long Tempo Run before, as my past of "interval trainer" was more based on running 4x1000m at "burning legs" speed and felt duly exhausted after the 3rd interval ...
Also I felt very important to gradually increase the length of the tempo run because they really show the improvement of your aerobic condition.
A usual 20/25 mins effort involves pushing hard from the start and does not give a real indication of how fast the HR would drift from the ideal LT training zone to the "over the top" area.
While running at least 35 min let you settle into a good speed and observe the feed-back from the heart and legs more carefully. Ideally, you must rise gradually into your LT training zone (for me 170 to 180 bpm) and stay comfortably in that area.

to set a pace, the table from "Daniel's Running Formula" gave me a pace to respect of 3'39"/km (5'53"/Mile). (if you do not have this book, you are making a mistake...)

It all went very well ... I was running very easy and I avoided on purpose to push more than the target pace, even if the HR was still not in the target zone for LT training until Km8.
At the end, I totaled a 43'12" that is a very fine 3'36" pace very steady and easy. Still have stamina to push the last 2k into the 3'2x' area.
Could I have gone faster ? I guess that hitting earlier the 170bpm and than rising to 175/177 I could have been more in the 3'32" range ... but "train not strain" seems a good idea in this phase.

As I said before, I am now in the final tune-up stage of the training period and I find the workouts more and more easy to complete. Also the recovery is very good. It is a good indication that the training is going in the right direction, but I believe that for every runner at this stage there is a dilemma whether to push more and gain some little extra plus or just go with the current form ...

to close, I post also the HR curve (included speed and cadence) because it is really a nice graph!!
(AMENDEMENT: I am struggling to transfer the Polar curve into Jpg or Tif because I could not find a conversion SW that I hid somewhere ... the chart will be uploaded asap ... be patient)

  • Do you use the tables in "Daniel's Running Formula" ? (all Daniel's tables remove a lot of subjectivity in the training, perhaps it is no the right way to improve the sensibility to your own running feelings and physical conditions, but overall I find them quite challenging and sensible)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Only in China - barbed wire on the walkway

Only who has been in China long enough knows that in general, the attention given to the well-being of citizen is much much less of what is given to economic development, money or face or "looking good".
this morning I had a painful reminder of how a plot of grass can be more worthy than well-being of a passer-by ....

At dawn (still dark), I was running my usual route and the walkway was blocked by construction material, piles of gravel, etc (actually the stuff is there for over a month ...), so stepped over a strip of grass dividing the walkway from the road (as I have always been doing since the walkway was obstructed by the construction material).... and "Huaaaaaaa" ....
some idiot from the local government put barbed-wire (!!!!) to avoid the people stepping in the grass !!! My leg was wounded in several point and blood was flowing ... grrrr
I was really enraged, not really for the pain, but for the total disregard in this country for the ordinary people. They (the administration) did not cleared out the walkway of the material, but add a barbed-wire to simply put-off the people from their "precious" grass, that gives an impression of modernization to this dirty town and gives face to the "development" activity of the government ...
So anybody having to use that walkway, either make a U-turn, either climb over some construction material left there for the convenience of some home-build, either risk his skin slipping by the barbed-wire ...
everything was so typically Chinese that my colleagues understood my feeling straight away ... "the grass is taken care more than our lives" was a good comment.

Anyway ... this is my left leg after after the accident. Other cuts are in the right tight and right/left tibia ..

Sunday, October 28, 2007

How to spoil a long run

I was very determined to make a good long run Sunday, with 5x4k at MP in order to see how easily I could handle the 3'45" pace targeted for the Marathon.

that was the intention ....

the reality is that I started to run and after 15/20 minutes at warm-up pace I was already sweating like it was not supposed to be ....
I pushed through the 1st fast section, but the HR was already into the 170s territory, while it was supposed to be at a more comfortable 165bpm. The second fast slot was even worse as I was always off pace and feeling already deadly tired...

I called a quit and simply went on at a steady pace to close with 33km(21Miles) , including other fast stretches here and there....

I was pretty depressed to have performed so badly until I gave a look at the website of the HK Meteo Service. they have a real time tracking of Humidity and temperature for each district, so you can have exact data : the conditions were 24C(75F) , 85% Humidity, 60 Air Pollution Index (High to very High) ...
so in these conditions, you can probably lose at least 10sec/km or more at the same effort. It is a reality difficult to accept, but when temperature rise over 20C, performance is impaired significantly, especially with high humidity and lack of breeze

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Awesome Video ....No Pain No Gain ...

the video comes from website . The site is a sort of blog about the daily life/training of a group of Kenians based in Boulder.
This video is awesome ... Stephen Baba Kiogora makes a 30k run at MP or faster (I guess..) and you can see his suffering.. very inspirational
Also the top runners suffers in those long runs ... marathon training is really a tough life.

QuickTime version click here

It also spells the last doubt about the "old" myth of "Long Slow Run' to prepare for the marathon: to survive the last 10k you must get used to run at "faster" pace for long time. Next week-end I plan a Long Run with at least 20k @MP

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Never felt as good as today - hard long interval session

the 2 days of slow run did have an effect !!

this morning I headed for one of those "tune-up" sessions for which we are usually very "anxious" because they give you a clear feed-back if the training plan is going in the right direction.

Personally I still did not devise a good "signature" workout that could give me an assessment of my form in a comparative manner (during the yearly plan) ... I generally monitor the HR in some key workouts and relate it to my actual speed. So a MP run gives usually a good indication of your aerobic form, since it does not involve that kind of exertion or effort that sometimes is influenced by poor recovery, temperature or else.

to cut short, I did a 2x4000m @ targeted MP (3'45"-3"50") with 2'30" recovery jog and later open the afterburner for 2x2000m @ LT effort.
The MP effort went very well because i barely entered in the HR typical of MP (for me, from 165 to 170). First 4k at 158bpm, 2nd at 164bpm. This gives me a good indication that at that pace I can easily handle the first 25k (hehehe.... after 25k , you are never sure until race day).
The faster intervals were in the 3'25"-3-28" range with an effort right in the middle of my LT zone ... also not bad

- I will start a poll, about what is your "test workout"

Monday, October 22, 2007

2nd Long Run in a week ...

Yesterday I throw my heart into a 2nd long run in 5 days. Actually this was a regular Sunday's long run while last Tuesday's one was to recover the missing one during the week-end.

I felt quite good, but lack of "sprinting legs" . At steady pace of 4'15" I was fine, but I inserted sections at MP pace (3'45") and I was feeling heavy legs.
Overall was a 32km/20Miles with 8Km/5M at MP pace + 2 long climbs (each 2k at 5,5% gradient) ... so not a stroll
the week has been very hammering on my legs and to say it plain .. I have now dead legs. But at least I feel confident that both distance and speed are up to the requirement and it is now time to sharpen the training.

With this run I close the 2nd phase of the training plan: "LT and endurance build up" and move in the finale phase of "specific endurance". From now on, only 2 serious workout per week, while all the other would be easy run.
It is important to have good feelings during the final phase and be fresh for each workout so that you can actually perform well during training.

Friday, October 19, 2007

3'38" (5'52"/Mile) pace

Weather is getting "chilly" (21C in early morning) and I felt quite good, so I decided to stick to my original plan of a 10k Tempo Run, even if my conditions earlier in the week were to be classified as "deadly tired".

At the end, It was a 36'24" (3'38" pace) with an average HR of 175. The HR went over 170 only after 2k and I always lift the throttle when it was surpassing 180, so I had only few spikes at 180 in the slightly uphill section of my 3,95Km loop (the usual one around People's Hospital and Residential Area).
So everything went right on target: If you read Daniel's "Running Formula", a Tempo Run of 40min for a VDOT of 63/64 should be at that exact speed and effort ....

This week I will therefore do 3 serious workouts, but there is around a very sounding philosophy of making only 2 Big Workouts in the sharpening phase of Marathon build up. Give a look at the website I like it very much and coach Tinman is very wise in his suggestions. So probably for this week I will overdo a little but from next week, I will stick to the "2 Big Workouts" philosophy, with a Long Run (with variations) + a TempoRun/Interval/marathon pace or similar.

Another thoughts was about the Polar Rs800sd calibration ... all my pace/effort was based on hoping the Polar was well calibrated. There are several websites speaking about the calibration of the Polar footpod, but at the end of the day, even with a perfect calibration you have a 1% error, that makes around 2 sec/km at that speed (not little, I believe). Also the issue of the calibration is basically unsolvable: I used the NB RC600 lightrainer shoe this morning, and my calibration was done several months ago in fairly accurate way. But my stride perhaps is changed a little and this affect also the calibration factor. And do not forget that the calibration is also affected by the actual speed so basically you should have a array of calibration factors based on the shoe and the speed of the training ...!!! Said that, I am considering to buy a Garmin Forerunner... at least I would be 100% of the average speed and distance (even if also the Garmin has his share of weak point).

Lastly .. the name "People's Hospital" for public hospitals in China is really misleading ... because basically patients have to pay everything. There is a very limited social security system with medical insurance, but cover only local residents and also it is common for hospital asking extra-money to boost their income, plus the awful habit of local doctors to ask for bribes to take seriously care of patients.

To summarize, 4 concepts on the table today:

- Speed of Tempo Run (do you follow Jack Daniels' tables or use a HRM o go by feeling o use McMillian's website pace calculator ?)
- 2 Big Workouts concept for marathon sharpening
- Polar vs Garmin (and why Polar's watches can not have their firmware upgraded ...grrr)
- Social Security in China and Medical Care (...a little off topic)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Long Run

4.56am and I am out the door....

the purpose was a long run, but not too demanding because next Sunday I want to do another long run with MP intervals (that is a real killer training for a marathon)

I was not at my best and the Polar HRM did not help either: it was not working properly and my HR was showing 195bpm at 4'30" pace... I also got the impression that pace measuring was also troubled... so I forgot about the HRM/pace monitoring and just run on sensation, with a chilly wind from North making my usual 4k loop a bit harder.
the loop is actually 3,9 km (more or less) and my benchmark is a 16'30": less than 16'30" means going fast, more ...
So I did 16'26" - 16'16" - 16'38" - 16'45' the last lap looked much better until i stopped the lap ... strange...
than headed to the school track and did a 4k @3'50" pace but I was a bit heavy.
total for the day: 29km

Did someone have other experiences with Long Run at Mixed pace ?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Incredible ... I won a race

this Saturday was the last race of the 5K series in Hong Kong.

I was slightly tired from the long run and little rest, but in 5K it does not make sense to have moments of fear...

Without boring the readers with a detailed report of every meter... I can summarize as follows:

- my original tactique was to stick to the leader of the series for my master category and see at the end of the race if I could outkick him and win the series (I was 2nd...)
- We started like crazy at a 3'10" pace and I felt better after 2k (warm-up)
- With 1 km to go, I was glued to Mr M and we were approaching to the race leader. I was obviously working hard, but the legs were still fresh. We eventually caught him with 500m to go.
- With probably 300m/400m to go, I made a terrific kick and no one was responding. I was not sure of the distance left (the course is very winding and narrow) so I pushed the gas until the final 5meters.

The course was 300/350meter longer than 5k, so the 17'15" time means something in the 16'10"/16'20" range. It will be forever my PB in the 5350 meters...

Since the purpose of the blog is to discuss training philosophy for competitive amateur runners, I think that we can take a good lesson:

- the key to strong performance is always a good aerobic training: aerobic base and aerobic power. This gives you the power to race 5k strong from start to end.
- it is not always necessary to train very fast to make a fast time. I kept a 3'10"/km pace (5'12"/Mile) without having made any single workout of fast intervals. Probably I never went faster than 3'20" in training (unless strides).
- A high LT means that you can keep a high cruising speed without accumulating lactate. The extra-speed needed to race a fast 5k come from anaerobic power, but ON TOP of the aerobic power

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Long Run

this morning I got up at 4.30 (Jesus...) and head for a long run...

My maximum frustration is to read all those nice blogs where people head for the trail or forest or some park, perhaps together with a bunch of friends who act as pace-maker .....

Who on earth would accompany you in a long run consisting of 5 loops around an industrial area in Dongguan, at 5am ????????

So I resigned myself to keeping a regular pace, keeping an eye to the HRM: HR in the range 70/80% of HRmax. The laps went smooth around 16'30" each (each lap is 3,90km). I was a bit tired from lack of sleep, but still paced consistently. For the final, I headed to my usual school track, where I struggled a little to keep the targeted 3'50" pace.
Total for the day: 31km and run back by 7.10 (shall I change the blog title) ?

Monday, October 8, 2007


just back home from a short holiday in Thailand.

since it is a running blog ...
I lost 4/5 days of training out of 8 days, so not very good.
I made some short runs over there. it was really hot and humid, even at dawn.
But it was very interesting to take those secondary roads and see the thai villages from close range. Different from Hong Kong and China, the dogs were very peaceful and did not bother about my presence.

Back to Hong Kong, I was deadly tired by the trip, but I managed to make a good track session

7 x 1000m in 3'25" recovery: 2'00" (200m jog).
Heart rate around 175/180, drop back to 120 in the recovery.
the purpose was to stimulate the upper limit of LT. I felt a little tired at the end. Probably 3'25" is my current 10k speed (this would be great...)