Sunday, 18 March 2012

London Marathon : just 5 weeks to go

Last week was exhausting and this week both better and worse for different reasons. I've had some reason to pause and reflect. Just how selfish is the pursuit of a marathon or triathlon ? Sarah Morice-Brubaker thinks it's hugely selfish moreover it's a crime against God - really .. (here). She insightfully points out "That some Nazi's used to do distance running." Compelling stuff Sarah. Sadly most of the folk I follow on Twitter are connected in some way to swimming, cycling or running - so there's a lot of us hell-bound. Dear help Lance eh ? This stuff is what I admire and there's an infinity of genuine health reasons to do it. But is 8h a week of tramping over hill and dale simply self-indulgence ? When I think of some of the stuff I'm actually paid to do for 40h per week it hardly seems that way. I could use that time in the community ? I could spend more time interacting with my family ? I could varnish doors and dig gardens. But I choose to run. Seems to me that running (or triathlon) gives me something really precious - a clear clean crisp equation: What I put in I get out. I can't think of practically anything else in life that's like that. Relationships are so vulnerable to interpretation and mis-understanding, communication too often almost random : what you thought you said, what you actually said, what they thought you said and what they thought you meant when they heard what they thought you said. It's too wretchedly complicated. Wheels within wheels ; truth simply a relative concept in the mind of the thinker. Working lives too often a set of compromises and fraught with 17 levels of complexity. Thankfully running is just like a dog - it's simple, it's natural, it has no agenda's, it gets you outdoors, it's got a largely meat diet, you can trust it, it helps you meet really nice people, if you're good to it then it's good to you. A companion for life. Ok maybe there's less licking.

I found this on the subject and the DareToTriLife podcast referred to Ms Samuelson previously (here).
"While a senior at Bowdoin College, Joan Benoit Samuelson won the 1979 Boston Marathon as a virtual unknown and set a record for American women. She won it again in 1983. In 1984, Samuelson won the first ever women's Olympic Marathon. She continues to be a role model and ambassador in distance running and women's athletics. Here are some quotes from this running legend:

  • "The challenge and the energy running requires may be a selfish one, but it actually motivates me to be stronger in my relationships."
  • "As every runner knows, running is about more than just putting one foot in front of the other; it is about our lifestyle and who we are."
  • "Those long runs cleanse my system, physically and mentally."
  • "Love yourself, for who and what you are; protect your dream and develop your talent to the fullest extent."
  • "Keep varying the program. Your body will tell you what to do."
  • "Every time I fail, I assume I will be a stronger person for it. I keep on running figuratively and literally, despite a limp that gets more noticeable with each passing season, because for me there has always been a place to go and a terrible urgency to get there."      
Running and Triathon have given and still give me some of the most precious relationships and memories I have. I get older but in some absolute measures I somehow actually get better ! In 5 weeks my family will take a house in London for 4 or 5 days and we'll have the London marathon as a focus - but the real deal is the time we spend together. I took my son to Ironman Canada in 2008 - we had a great time and renewed family friendships that even this year sees my Mum heading back to Vancouver. My sister ran 5k last year in Paris and it's a life-memory for me (and her !) The race is a simply a passport to a lifestyle and training is the price we pay. 8 hours in a 168 per week. Time for context : how much TV does the average UK citizen consume ? According to this : here : US citizens spent (on average !!!) a staggering 34h a week in 2009.  Oh Sarah - there's your next blogpost ! I don't watch sport - I do sport. Not hugely or even vaguely well but well enough to bring balance to my life, to make me think about nutrition and to put me in touch with great people. I think my 8h makes me more of whom I want to be - and gives me more interaction with those I want to interact with. So Sarah - I'm leaving the doors unvarnished and lacing up the trainers - Get Over It - It's Who I Am.

Rant over.....

91k this week (Rest Week - No ! Just kidding). Was a bit preoccupied /demotivated and dropped some distance through the week. There - I confessed. Seem somehow to have clocked up 800k since the campaign began on 1 Nov 2011. The landmarks this week were the Yasso 800's on Weds : these are taking a bit of getting used to and are mentally horrid when you are starting 1 of 6 repeats ; in fact 6 of 6 is not much better actually. It's amazing how long 3min can be. However it's good to get a little speedwork and that makes me think of future triathlons later in the year - so good crossover. These things are supposed to be good predictors of a marathon time - I have no idea but you gotta believe I'd take 2:59.48 right now.
13.1 Miles - Today. 
Today's long run was 22 miles again - but the plan asked the lonely runner to attempt the last 3-4 miles at race pace. This is obviously a new interpretation of "long slow miles". Tried hard to improve my nutrition from last week and really did much better - with very reduced nausea. It was : 2 Miles = water ; 3 miles = Gell ;  6Miles = sports drink ; repeat * 3.5 :  Sadly some sod nicked my water bottle - I think it was a cyclist ! Could you believe that ? Rural Argyll at 10am on Mother's Day and you get your water stolen ! What is the world coming to ?

13.1 Miles - 5 weeks today. Notice it is dark !

So how did I do today ? I would be disingenuous if I didn't say I was pleased. I did surprize myself and actually did the last 6k quite quickly (for me). I don't know what this means but the nutrition was so much better and if "mood is food" then that's probably the main reason. Note : almost certainly you have enough muscle glycogen to finish when you start the race but BLOOD glucose is a different matter - the brain needs pure glucose via the bloodstream - be sure to feed that brain. It was also a beautiful spring-like day (which certainly helps). I'm in new territory here - so lets hope we all stay injury free.

Today was Mother's Day in the UK. We miss Averil's Mum very much and we thank Dylan (and his mystery accomplice) so much for his card. We still managed flowers and gluten-free chocolate cake for Dearly Beloved. To all of you have a great week of training and racing (stolen from Bob Babbit) : here do take care ...

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Week 9 of Training. 7 Weeks to Race Day

Sorry it's been some time since I updated the Blog .. you'll see why shortly. But let's explore where we are. Stats : Since 2nd Jan I have "run" 585.9k V a planned distance of 630.9k : I have thus achieved 92.8% of the planned distance and dropped just 4 of 54 workouts. This week was over 90k of running !
Very happy creature in snow.

Last couple of weeks have been a  bit of a washout with fairly stressful and demanding domestic situations. Poor old Tilly (in the snow with Frisbee left) had some serious issues post surgery so both Dearly Beloved and I have had to cope with gently nursing her back.

Unhappy creature in Funnel !

Dearly Beloved also in need of much nursing at the same time - and she's still recovering from the Haunted Ford Kuga episode that Ford eventually fixed (much to their credit outwith the warranty period - many thanks to Greenock Ford for sticking with us). At the time of writing Tilly's making great progress but is so very very bored. She has a protective funnel thing (above)which actually she's been great about. But she's a smart and active dog - who has decided to make a new career out of running up the stairs. I'm using up loads of leave - which is just how it needs to be - and in honesty work have been great about that.

Had a great trip in early Feb to visit Grandson, Son and his Partner. Did the marathoner's trick of starting early and running down the road to met by dearly beloved. Got the timings almost perfect : and it was the longest distance up to that point : 26k ! Probably a bit pungent though - sorry Tom. It was a great lunch.

Also during Feb took the plunge and attempted the British Triathlon Level 1 Coaching Course and (I'm sooooo proud of this) ... on the 1st Sunday of Coaching I did my 23k long run before the tuition began !!! How's that for hard-core ?
That was ....running at 06.38am - IN FEB - IN ARGYLL !
The morning was icy where I live and my A3 was skidding along to Paul Simon's "Slip Sliding Away" blasting on the radio - you couldn't have written the script. Sadly 2 weeks later it was impossible to run the 18 miler before the final Coaching exam so I took the Monday off instead - did that workout just fine but was subsequently attacked by a MAN COLD !

      It's just about at that point that Dearly Beloved asks about my elderberry extract supplement. Of course - they ran out weeks ago. I took these faithfully last year while training for Paris and I swear by them. You should too ..Wikipedia says ...

 A small study published in 2004 showed that 93% of flu patients given elderberry extract were completely symptom-free within two days; those taking a placebo recovered in about six days.[9][10] A 2009 study found that the H1N1 inhibition activities of the elderberry flavonoids compare favorably to the known anti-influenza activities of Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and Amantadine.[11] A 2004 study found that symptoms of influenza A and B virus infections were relieved on average 4 days earlier and use of rescue medication was significantly less in those receiving elderberry extract compared with placebo. The study stated, "Elderberry extract seems to offer an efficient, safe and cost-effective treatment for influenza. These findings need to be confirmed in a larger study".[12] Elderberries were well known to Native American medicine people, who described the fruit as "strengthening the inner warrior".

Well if anyone needs their "inner warrior" strengthened it's yours truly. Ordered supplies from Revital (here) and they arrived next day. Dropped 3 workouts - missed travelling to Blackpool for the Half-marathon test but was able to support Dearly Beloved with Tilly and that was more important. Feeling back in form and have a spare stash of elderberry if needed.

Loved the Triathlon Course and really hope I pass. The on-line resource was comprehensive & excellent and a lovely lady working for Argyll & Bute Active Schools (Jillian) was able to support the costs through funding. I thus need to repay her by coaching over the summer & am looking forward to doing that. She's a power-house of positivity and is keen to spread the triathlon gospel into local schools. A junior Tri is scheduled for April 2012 in Argyll and I hope to help. The other folks on the course were just fantastic : Will, Babs, Shona, Harry and Martin. They were so impressive and accomplished. Great role models. If you love to run, swim or bike - don't wait - you too can coach. There is so much great stuff on YouTube and the web. Just do it - people need your example.

So what about the training ? OK well now we're over half-way in the plan there's a change - hills might be "out" and "marathon pace" runs might be "in" get a load of this ....

...this is from Friday. Note the 11.8k @ 4.16 pace. Nearly killed me ! But it's in the bank and who knows. The trick would be to do that pace from 30k to finish in the marathon - think I could ? I think you're right. No chance. But I have 7 more weeks to work on it so who knows. You can follow the gory details of todays Long Slow 32.5k run by clicking on "View Details" below ... If you are going to "play" the run I dare you to play this audio at the same time click here then click back on this page to play the run.
What I tried to do was "chuck in" one of these "marathon pace" splits into a 5k zone from 20k-25k. See what happened ...

... it's Split 5 ... and I did manage 4:15 pace. I'm pretty proud of that. The section was flat though - but all the same a 21:16 5k split after 20k is OK. But look at the collapse from 25k-30k ? That's in part due to a steep climb but mostly as I wanted the world to end. It was tough. But the 4:15 wasn't too bad and maybe on race day ? Buoyed by the crowd ? Perhaps that's a pace I could keep in the last 10k ? And that's interesting. It would probably mean a "negative split" race - but that seems unfashionable now. Check out here and Rick Moris writes (here) ...
I know that most coaches recommend negative splits in a marathon but I believe that running negative splits in a marathon may be very difficult. A better choice would be even pacing. Negative splitting in a marathon usually does not happen for several reasons. The marathon is performed at a pace that is well within the “comfort zone” of most runners. The pace does not feel hard. It is very difficult to remain patient and keep your pace down for the first 13 to 15 miles of a race. In addition your pace usually slows in the last half of a marathon due to decreased muscle resiliency, hypoglycemia and neuromuscular fatigue. Studies have shown marathon performances are generally better when a runners pace does not vary by more than 2 to 3 percent during a marathon.

So that's just about where we are - I'm too afraid to look at the plan for next week in case it's 22 miles (just did and it is !). At least rest days are now Mondays. Need stretching. Best of luck to Claire who won the Ebay auction for my 310XT - I now have traded up to a 910XT - with every intention of remembering what a triathlon looks like ... You should consider this too - check out the following (incredible) review here and view the item in my Amazon portal. More soon, take care.