Sunday, September 04, 2011

End of Hell Week

I am glad to say I survived Hell Week more or less in one piece. Along the way I tested out my new Adizero Ace and so far it's in the pole position for my marathon race shoe. Oh, I also broke new ground in completing my longest run since I started the plan and at the same time broke through the 100k per week barrier. All in all, I can't complain too much.

Sunday Long Run/Marathon Specific Workout 1
Jog to Youth Park
25k run (5k easy with 20k at marathon effort) - 2.07.35
4 strides at the car park
Shoes: Adidas Adizero Ace

Today's was supposed to be the first marathon specific workout of the plan and actually called for marathon PACE. Since I had no marathon experience and my target pace will probably kill me at this point, I decided to do it at marathon EFFORT, iffy as it may seem. I was slightly late to the starting point and the rest of the morning runners have all set off. This was probably a blessing in disguise as I could just relax and not be sucked into chasing after people.

I was a bit unsure about how fast to run when it was time to crank up the pace, so I settled for being relaxed but moving well. The effort I was aiming for would not leave me too breathless. As I approached the turnaround for the first 15k loop, I picked up Yeoh. He picked up his pace and we ran together for the next few k. Not long after, we surprisingly caught up with Tiger. He told me he wasn't sure which route he was going to proceed on, so I invited him along.

After refueling back at the Youth Park car park, the 3 of us continued on the remaining 10k. The plan was to run to Botanical Gardens and do the balance via big and small loops. With 4 small laps to go, Yeoh decided to call it a day, leaving me and Tiger to press on. Despite not pushing off too hard with my stride, my legs were hurting at this point and I even felt a few twinges in the calves. Thankfully, those twinges did not develop into full blown cramping and I was able to run till the end. Tiger was just too strong or perhaps it was the 100 odd km already in my legs, but I felt myself losing contact at the end.

Having done such a grueling week, I will be reducing the mileage a bit for this week. Hopefully the injury demons will continue to stay far away.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Start of Hell Week: Raya Run

In the nearly 1 month period since the last post, many things have happened in my running. My fitness had really picked up, only to plunge after holidaying in Taiwan for 9 days. The long road back to form was compounded by a bout of fever after arriving back home with a few new additions to my shoe arsenal. Still, I have to be grateful that the expected long journey back to my previous fitness turned out to be much shorter after the initial jolt to my body.

Easy steady run - Botanical Gardens, morning
Jog to the gardens
Light drills
14 small loops - 1.02.40
Shoes: Brooks Launch (newer, older pair retired)

With this week consisting of national and school holidays and rainy season wreaking havoc in the late afternoons, I decided to shift the main workouts to the morning. This way, the rains and holiday crowds can be avoided, somewhat. We avoided neither this morning, but they were still at a manageable level.

I woke up this morning to chilly temperatures with biting winds every now and then. It was a real struggle to get out of the door but the conditions were quite nice once I got warmed up a bit. I reached the gate of the gardens expecting an odd morning walker or two. Surprise, surprise the place was filled, especially considering it was 6am in the morning and it was dark as night.

Hoping to take advantage of this holiday week to log some serious mileage, I had early issued a clarion call to all my running buddies, but only 2 showed up today, Kok Leong and Andrew. Never mind, we just got on with the day's plan, at least 1 hour of easy steady running. This will be my longest run since before I left for Taiwan, so I was careful to not overextend myself.

The guys must have felt quite good though, as I constantly have to rein them in and remind them to control the pace a bit. A few laps in, it started to drizzled, but thankfully did not turn into a full blown downpour and stopped a couple of laps later. Right around this point, Boon, the veteran marathoner with a lifetime PR of 2.3x steamed by us. The temptation to ramp up the pace was really great at this point but I held myself back. There will be a time for that.

The pace got a bit faster the last few laps but still within relaxed levels. I threw in a few short surges as planned to break up the monotony. The last lap was supposed to be run as fast as possible while relaxed. Unfortunately, I felt my left calf start to twitch towards the end of the penultimate lap. That developed into jolts whenever I tried to extend my ankle forcefully on the last lap. Kok Leong took the lead and maintained a steady rhythm. Damage control was in order and I tried not to limp too much to the end. After we finished, Andrew told me that he was also suffering from similar twitchiness in his calf. I guess the cold conditions played a part.

All in all, it was an enjoyable run, as I told the guys halfway through, just like riding a bus.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Make Hay While the Sun Shines...

... or rather run while the sun ain't shining that brightly. The decent rainfall yesterday night did help after all. Today's weather wasn't that hazy and got less so when it was time to run. In any case, I left the house a bit earlier than normal in a bid to get in some extra strength work. That plan wasn't entirely successful.

Hilly medium long run - Botanical Gardens
Jog to Youth Park, 5x short strides, proceed to the gardens
Light drills
10x big loops - 1.35.41
Light exercises
Jog back
Shoes: Brooks Green Silence

I had planned to follow up my strides at the Youth Park with some exercises, but ran out of time. As for the strides themselves, I didn't really feel smooth or fast. Oh well, the main work was still to come. At the gardens, I found out that I was going to have more pacers than usual with Siao Tieh and Ah Choon joining me and Ah Yeoh for the run.

For once, I managed to complete my run as planned. To give myself a better chance of finishing the punishing 10 laps, I decided to designate a few hydration breaks. It would be wise anyway to practise that for raceday. I had planned to drink up every 3 laps or so, but in the end we decided to drink every 4 laps as it just felt 'right'.

Mindful of the long road ahead, I was focused on running easy. With the super-fast Siao Tieh along, I needed to keep reminding myself to run easy. Even after he stepped off after the sixth lap, the pace threatened to get out of control. That's just the momentum at work. Still, we will probably pay for that at the latter stages.

Yeoh managed to hang on till the 2nd hydration break at the end of lap 8. After that, I had to make a monumental decision, one that will make history or collapse and fold instead. Nah, not really. The choice was whether to suffer alone for 2 more laps or give in and shoot the wind with the rest of the guys. Of course I chose to suffer. The lap immediately after rehydrating wasn't that hard. But as the gardens got darker and lonelier, the last lap felt like forever. Once again at this point, I didn't really sweat much anymore. I wasn't lying when I said this would be monumental though, since this is the first time I have done that many big loops. With that in mind, I forged on.

All in all, I was really pleased with this run. Nevertheless, there are much longer training runs up ahead. For now though, I prefer not too think too much about them. They are scary.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Suffocation and Suffering

The skyline from my apartment looked a bit blurry and I feared the worse. Luckily, the haze cleared up a bit by the time it's time to run. Or so I thought, I was greeted with smoky looking air when I approached the gardens. To compound things, the bright sunlight and sweltering humidity did not abate.

Medium run - Botanical Gardens
Jog to the gardens
Light drills
17 small loops - 1.17.08
Light exercises
Jog back
Shoes: Brooks Launch (newer)

The original plan was to do 16 small loops with the last 7 at 15k to half marathon pace. Barely halfway through the first lap however, I decided to scratch that. The heat and humidity coupled with Ah Yeoh feeling the effects from yesterday's run made me change the run into a medium run of 20 small loops. Throughout the run, I kept the pace quite slow. Still, I found myself running into a heat wall for the last few laps. Ultimately, I cut the run short at 17 laps. By the end, I wasn't even sweating much, a sign that I need to hydrate.

The weather seems like it will hang around a bit and that's surely not welcome news. Nevertheless, training must go on, I just gotta slot some hydration in my runs.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Short and Sweet

After taking the past 2 days off, I decided to turn today's rest day into an easy day with some speed thrown in. The effort level wasn't supposed to be too hard and it's supposed to be a prep for tomorrow's harder workout.

Fartlek+Hill strides - Botanical Gardens
Jog to the gardens
Light drills
3 small loops - easy-fast-easy
5 small loops+lilly pond - fartlek
8 short hill strides/sprints
Light exercises
Shoes: Nike Zoom Speed Lite ST+

While the workout got broken up into a few parts, I actually wanted to follow up the 3 small loops with a fartlek. The plan was to do the first lap easy, something like a warmup, then run the second fast with the third lap a bit slower but still fast. In other words, laps 2 and 3 were meant to simulate a race, partly done because there will be a race this Sunday. For this part of the workout, I have my usual pacer Ah Yeoh for company. Things didn't exactly go to plan. I ran the fast lap too fast, or rather my engine hasn't fully started up, and then tanked the third lap. I had to pause after those 3 laps before continuing the fartlek.

Siao Tieh joined us for this portion. Since I didn't wanna do anything too killer, I kept the fast parts short with each lap having only 2 or 3 of them. Recovery between those fast stretches was an easy jog. There were a few instances where I was tempted to blast the fast stretches, especially when Siao Tieh ramped up the pace, but I was able to rein myself in.

The final part of the workout were the hill sprints. Again, nothing too hard. The length of each rep was probably about 50 metres with generous recovery in between. The idea is to be able to run fast but relaxed. I gradually increased the speed of each rep, beginning with something like a stride to near all out sprints for the last few.

Overall, I was quite satisfied with the day's training. Hopefully this is the sign of things to come for this week's training.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Green Silence: Unsealed

I was hoping to clock a long run today and decided to give my errant pair of Green Silence a shot. It was bought to be my long distance racer, but after a couple of underwhelming runs which resulted in my calves tightening up, I temporarily shelved them. Hopefully, they will prove their worth in today's run.

Botanical Gardens - medium long run
Jog to the gardens
Light drills
10 x small loop + 4 x big loop
Light drills and exercises
Bonus lap
Shoes: Brooks Green Silence

I actually woke up with sore leg muscles despite taking yesterday off. During the jog to the gardens, I did suffer a bit. Thankfully, the soreness subsided by the time I was ready to begin the long run. My pacers for the day were Yeoh and Neoh. My initial plan was to do 20 small loops from the other direction. Regardless of direction, the sheer number of laps meant we would have to be mindful of the pace.

Whatever plans for careful pacing quickly went out the window. Neoh's loud footsteps were messing up my rhythm. Imagine someone scratching their nails on a blackboard, loud and jarring footsteps probably have a similar effect on me, especially when they are shadowing me throughout my run. I was getting agitated and annoyed. Normally if this was a race situation I would have just put in a hard surge and dropped the offender, but doing that now might have toasted my training. I needed a plan fast.

Subconsciously I was already cranking up the pace, perhaps in hopes of getting away from the nasty sound. That didn't work, so by the third lap, I decided to switch things up. I turned towards the large loop. Hopefully I can gain some rhythm. And so it went, I alternated 2 small loops with a big one. Somehow, doing the big loop from the other direction helped. The long downhill at the end of the loop helped a bit in recovery. Since each big loop is about twice as long as a small loop, I was starting to feel the strain at the equivalent of lap 16. I decided to do 2 more, with the last lap being a fast but relaxed effort.

By this point, only Yeoh stuck around, in fact he was still right on my heels halfway through the last lap. The competitive side of me panicked a bit, I didn't wanna get outkicked. Somehow, I managed to widen the gap a bit after that as his footsteps fell away. I was able to relax a bit. To his credit, he surged again near the end but I managed to hang on.

Since this was my longest run since my 21k in KL, I am quite pleased with today's effort. Other than that, my Green Silence finally came through! They felt much better than both the Launches. It might be my marathon shoe yet, that is if it survives the training...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Boot's on the Other Foot

Since I was laid low by sickness more than a week ago, I have not set foot in Botanical Gardens. With tigers baying for my blood, it's time to answer the call.

Botanical Garden - Aerobic run
Jog to the gardens
45 min easy pace
Jog back
Shoes: Brooks Launch (newer)

Like the previous runs post-illness, the jog to the gardens was a slog. I don't think my gym soreness was the main reason, I just felt really heavy. At the meeting spot, Yeoh, Siau Tieh, Neoh were already waiting for me. I was a bit worried about being able to stay the course.

I planned to follow the workout prescribed in my programme, that meant 16 small loops with the first 9 easy and last 7 at 15k to half pace. I didn't really know how I would fare jumping into the deep end, but at the very least I must last longer than the other 2 post comeback runs.

The first lap was really really slow, the slowest I have run there in years. I picked up the pace for the subsequent laps, though they were still slow. Despite that, I could feel a bit of strain. Once I got past the halfway mark, I did feel a bit hopeful of completing the run. That hope got stuck in the pipeline a couple of laps later though. After 1 lap at a faster pace, I was toast. I stepped off just after completing 10 laps, leaving Yeoh and Siao Tieh to forge on.

Kudos to Yeoh for outlasting me this time. Anyway, today was still an improvement so no complaints.