There was not much to report in terms of training from this past week, as I was tapering to get ready for the half-marathon on Saturday. Including race day, total mileage for the week was 56 kilometres (35 miles) with 644 meters (2113 feet) of climbing. This amounted to 4 hours and 19 minutes of running.
I kicked the week off with an easy day home from work in absolutely brilliant fall weather, which made for perfect running conditions. Tuesday I started the day with running into work, and it was a harsh reminder that darker days are upon us. I was not mentally prepared to run in the cold, wet darkness again. A bit of work to do with my psyche, no question, because I was feeling really sorry for myself that morning.
Wednesday and Thursday were both complete rest days, in preparation for the upcoming race on Saturday. This is a bit of an unusual taper strategy, but I have found that my legs tend to respond very well to complete rest, and I wanted to try the strategy again to see if it was a replicable strategy or merely a fluke. I got the answer on Friday afternoon when I went out for a quick shake out run where my legs felt fresh and ready to go.
Saturday was race day, which, as always, will be properly covered in a separate race report coming up later this week. (Now published, and you can read it here.) And on Sunday I rested, absolutely shot after the race. The focus for the upcoming week will, quite naturally, be to recover from the race, and to start preparing for the final race on my schedule this year; a 10k on October 22nd.
After feeling fresh and ready to race last week, this week brought me down to the earth again. I spent 6 hours and 43 minutes running this week, for a total of 83 kilometres (52 miles) and 956 meters (3136 feet) of climbing.
The signs were there when I kicked off the week with a 12k recovery session on Monday, where I felt quite tired. Despite that, I decided to give it a go with the planned workout on Tuesday, which was supposed to be 11k at around half marathon race pace (3:50 min/km). Having gotten through 9k feeling very well last week, I thought this should be doable even on an off day. I was wrong. Already a few kilometres in I was struggling, and after 5k it was all I could do to hang on and squeeze myself through to 7k before calling the session.
A real bummer, and not the confidence builder I was looking for leading into my upcoming half marathon on September 29th. Either way, the show must go on, and I progressed through the week with three more easy runs from Wednesday to Friday, before having a full rest day on Saturday.
On my Sunday long, my legs felt a bit more fresh again, and I decided to do a progressive long run on an undulating course to see how the legs would hold up. The composition of the run was the first 7k easy, before slightly increasing the intensity over the next 8k, while doing a natural fartlek-style final third. In this final third, I went more or less all out on the uphills, while maintaining a decent float pace (4:15-4:30 min/km) on the flats and downhills. Through the entire session, I felt quite good and recovered really well at a decent clip between the climbs. All in all, an encouraging end to a week where I struggled overall.
Fall is well and truly upon us, and the fickle weather that accompanies the season has descended upon us here in Norway. During this week I have run in amazing fall weather, with clear blue skies and perfect running temperatures, and in a seemingly neverending rainfall. My weekly totals were 86 kilometres (53 miles) run, 799 meters (2621 feet) climbed, for a weekly total of 6 hours and 56 minutes.
Monday and Tuesday were easy days to get ready for my half marathon specific workout on Wednesday. The conditions were absolutely perfect, and I got through the 9k threshold session at goal half marathon pace without too much trouble. In fact, I felt much better this time around than I did in the equivalent, but shorter, session last week. This was a very nice confidence boost, and I am starting to believe that I can get actually keep my goal pace for a full half marathon. As long as the conditions are favourable, at least.
Thursday was a rest day, while I did a 12k easy run on Friday. My weekly long run, which was 27k this weekend, was done on Saturday. I kept it easy, as I was a bit tired, but I was still struggling a bit muscularly towards the end. A timely reminder that neuromuscular endurance disappears quite quickly, once you cut the distance of your long runs.
On Sunday I only did a short 10k recovery session, after watching the magnificent Eliud Kipchoge absolutely obliterate the Marathon World Record in Berlin in the morning hours. 2:01:39 is the new, superhuman WR, and Kipchoge is now the undisputed greatest marathoner of all time. What a show that was! Hopefully, Eliud comes back to Berlin next year, and I’ll be able to catch a glimpse of the legend himself in person.
Having finally nailed down the races I will be running to end the running season 2018, I feel like there is some purpose to my training once more. In just a couple of weeks, I will be racing a half marathon, while my last race of the year will be a 10k towards the penultimate weekend of October.
As I don’t have much time to do much preparation for the half marathon, my training is now centred around trying to get ready for that. That means focusing on quality over quantity these weeks leading into the race. This week I ran 85 kilometres (53 miles) and climbed 811 meters (2660 feet), and this amounted to 6 hours and 37 minutes of running.
There is not much I can do in the way of improving my fitness in the span of a few weeks, so the way I am trying to optimise my chances of performing well is by running at goal half marathon pace. This week that meant a Tuesday workout with a continuous 7k threshold session at 3:50 min/km (6:10 min/mile). The next two weeks, I am aiming to repeat that session, but increase the distance. If I can manage 11k at goal pace a week and a half out, I will feel quite confident going into the race.
Apart from that session and easy running on the other days, I did a hard long run with one of my running buddies on Sunday. We went out with the intention of doing a half marathon at faster than 4:00 min/km (6:26 min/mile) pace, and I was able to do just that without going to the bottom of the well. And that was in less than ideal conditions, with constant wind and rain, and on a slightly undulating course. For me, this is more or less a marathon pace session, as this is the pace I will be targeting for my next marathon, and I was pleased to get through it. This tells me that my base fitness is still good at the tail end of the season, as I approach the time to wind down and take some time to make my plans for the coming year.
After a thoroughly disappointing 5k race just three weeks earlier, I felt the need to redeem myself at the earliest opportunity. Luckily for me, every first weekend in September, Skiløperne, a local run group I have run with a fair bit, put on a local race called Skiløpet. The race consists of a 10k, a 5k and two shorter distances targeted towards children. My original plan had been to run the 10k here, but that changed when I crashed and failed to go below 18 minutes during my previous 5k.
Training and Lead Up to the Race
As noted in my training log entries, I altered my training slightly after failing so badly in my last race. Out with the good-for-nothing in-between runs that were neither fast nor slow, which had characterised the month and a half after my marathon. Instead, I went back to running my easy days easy, and strictly adhering to heart rate zones to make sure, and then banging it all out during workouts two or three times per week.
The final two weeks leading into this race were obviously a bit special for me, given that my wife gave birth to our son a week and a half before the race. Thankfully, he seems to have avoided the ailments that sometimes trouble infants, and is overall a very relaxed baby. As long as he gets fed and changed when he pleases! This let me get back to running quite quickly after we came home from the hospital, so I very much felt ready for the race. As the start and finish of the race was just a five-minute walk from our house, my wife brought the little one along and came out to cheer me on, which I thought was pretty awesome. Perhaps next year he’ll participate in the shortest distance for the kids?
After a shakeout run in the morning, I warmed up with a couple of laps around the block before jogging down the starting area of the race with my wife and the baby. We watched the start for the 10k, and I ran a couple of easy strides to get my heart going before I jogged to the starting line. A little while later, the mayor of the town sounded the horn, and we were off.
1k (3:40 – 3:40)
Around ten runners shot ahead of me right from the start, and a group of three runners formed at the front. The first kilometre is hilly, with 20 meters (65 feet) net elevation gain, and I played it cool out of fear of blowing up once more.
2k (3:25 – 7:05)
Given that the race quite literally took place in my neighbourhood, I have run the course hundreds of time. This gave me the obvious advantage of knowing every single hill and turn. I knew that the second and third kilometre was where I had to make up for the hill at the start, and near the end. Soon after cresting the first hill, I passed a couple of people, and by my reckoning, I was in fifth place by the time I reached the 2k mark.
3k (3:31 – 10:36)
At this point, I was really starting to feel it. Which is probably par for the course during a 5k. But, as I was still scared of blowing up, I took the foot off the gas a little too much during this stretch, and it probably cost me a good few seconds in the end. One of the guys who went out with the leaders was now being caught by the two kids between us, and he looked to be fading fast.
4k (3:39 – 14:15)
The guy who was previously fading was now blowing up, and I thought “been there, done that!” as I passed him. I was heading into the final climb of the course, which is about 25 meters (82 feet) and spans the second half of the fourth kilometre and the first half of the fifth k, in fifth place. Two kids, a girl and boy who I later discovered were just 14 and 13 years old respectively (and both ran sub-18!) were between me and a podium finish. Knowing that they’ll both probably smash me in any race a mere few months from now, I thought to myself that I needed to dig deep and come out on top today. So I dug deep, and I passed them both as we started the final climb.
5k (3:35 – 17:50)
Nearing the end of the final climb, I saw the back of the guy in second place but knew he was too far off for me to catch him. So I glanced back and saw that I had put a fair amount of distance between me and the girl who was now my closest competitor for a podium finish. Running down the final descent, and the homestretch, this probably made me a bit complacent. And, unfortunately, I didn’t have the necessary mental fortitude to leave it all out there during the finish, which was a bit disappointing. This made my wife unnecessarily nervous during the finish, as the girl in fourth sprinted all out and ended up finishing just two seconds behind me.
Stepping over the line and stopping my watch, I was a bit disappointed to see that I hadn’t been able to run faster than 17:50. I had been hoping to get close to 17:30. As the race unfolded, however, I felt it became more a race for places than a time trial, and I was happy to grab that third spot.
Looking back now, it is clear that I became too cautious in the middle part of the race, and the third kilometre especially. I think I could have pushed quite a bit harder here without it affecting the rest of my race. Between that and the lacklustre finish, it feels like I could’ve been capable of going around 10 seconds faster. But, as I am learning, 5ks are a special distance to race. It takes practice and trial and error to figure out just how hard you can push without going over the limit, and this was another learning experience for me. That said, this was in all likelihood the last 5k I will be running this year, which means that I won’t realise my 2018 fall season goal of going below 17:30.
After the race, I went home for a quick change into some dry clothes, before going back to the finish area for the award ceremony. It was a lot of fun to get up there on the podium for the first time and receive a giant symbolic cash cheque, and definitely something I hope to repeat in the future. The cash prize for third place amounts to something like $60 USD. In other words, nothing that will let me claim a pro badge on Strava, but it is a nice addition to my shoe budget as we near the release of the Vaporfly 4% Flyknit.
Check out the race activity on my Strava profile if you want to see all the nitty, gritty details.
There is a feeling that only comes around on Sunday evenings. Those precious few hours of the week when you can look at your training log, and feel content. You’ve done the job, and the current week’s numbers in the log confirm it. There’s no time to dwell on it, because just a few hours from now, the counter is reset, so you need to enjoy the feeling. My numbers for this week were alright. I ran 90 kilometres (56 miles) with 946 meters (3103 feet) of climbing, which amounted to 7 hours and 31 minutes.
I kicked off the week with easy runs on both Monday and Tuesday, 12k and 8k respectively, before having a go at the first workout for the week on Wednesday. On the plan was a VO2Max 1000 meters interval session. As I would be racing again come Saturday, I decided to cap the number of intervals at just four, compared to the six or eight I would normally do for this session. The session was good, and I was able to progress the pace of the intervals as planned.
As with most weeks, I followed the workout with more easy days, this time sticking to easy runs on both Tuesday and Friday. On Saturday I participated in a local 5k race. I did a short 5k shakeout run in the morning, and with the race plus warmup and cool down that took my total for the day 16k. A complete race report will be published later this week, but the short of it was that I managed to improve on my lousy 5k performance from three weeks back, but not with as much as I had hoped. My chip time was 17:50.
On Sunday morning I felt the impact of running too much in racing flats throughout the week, as I had done my interval session plus all my race day running in my Adidas Sub2 shoes. My plantar / heel was tight and a bit painful, but I hopped into my Pegasus Turbos either way and got out on the road for my Sunday long run. The plan was to keep the effort level comfortable and controlled until I reached the 3k climb near the end of the course that I had chosen.
I stuck to the plan and was able to get in a very decent 10-minute climbing session, before just cooling down on the final stretch back home. The reasoning behind a session like this is that putting in a hard effort towards the end of a good week of training, presumably on tired and beat up legs, is very specific training for the final stretch of a marathon. If you can close out a long week with a strong and prolonged uphill effort, preferably towards the end of a decent long run, that will help get you ready for the tail end of a marathon.
This week kicked off with a bang, as my wife gave birth to our son on Monday morning. As such, running got pushed to the back seat on my list of priorities for a while. Luckily, the little guy is a calm and tempered one, and is generally pleased with his existence as long as he gets to sleep and eat, and have his diaper changed every now and then.
That meant I could get back to running quicker than I had thought, and I got in a couple of runs at the tail end of the week. The weekly total was 33 kilometres (21 miles) run, with 319 meters (1047 feet) of climbing spread out over 2 hours and 46 minutes.
My first run was Thursday, and it was just an easy 12k. The morning after, I did another, even shorter easy run at 8k. On Saturday I got in a proper workout, and it was a good one. Inspired by a couple of other people over at r/ARTC who had nailed their LT sessions earlier in the week, I decided to do a threshold workout myself. Having not done one of these in a while, I decided to take a page from Jack Daniels’ book and split the LT session into two parts, separated by a 1k float to not let my HR drop too much. According to Daniels’, this offers more or less the same physical stimuli as a continuous session.
The goal of the session was to do two times 4k at around half marathon-pace, which I think is around 3:50/km (6:10/mile) while running a 1k loop which is slightly undulating. For the float, I wanted to keep the pace at around 4:30/km (7:15/mile). I more or less nailed the session, running the two threshold segments just slightly faster than goal pace, while the float was a tad bit slower.
Coming through this session unscathed has given me confidence with regards to my physical shape, and I now believe that my time goals for this fall are within reach. To recap, I want to go below 17:30 in the 5k, 36 minutes in 10k and 80 minutes in the half marathon. The first chance to realise one of those goals is the coming weekend, as I’ll be racing another 5k on September 1st. Very much looking forward to a chance for redemption after my previous 5k fiasco!
After a poor showing in my recent 5k race, I took some time to reflect on my training in the weeks and months following my marathon. I came to the conclusion that, even if I obviously had a bad day on the day of the race, a loss of focus in training over the past month or so has definitely contributed to my lack of sharpness. I have put in the time, but not been anywhere near enough disciplined with regards to what is the purpose of each session. The number one goal for this week, therefore, was to get back to easy runs easy, and banging it out on harder days.
The numbers for this week were good. I ran a total of 130 km (81 miles) with 1331 meters (4367 ft) of elevation gain spread over 10 hours and 58 minutes of running. This is the most mileage I have ever run over the course of a week, and I am happy to have gotten through it without any noticeable pain or discomfort. This tells me that my body is ready to put in the work.
The week kicked off without much fanfare, with just a 10k recovery session on Monday, followed by a 12k easy run on Tuesday. I made a point of staying within my easy and recovery HR zones on both of these runs. This resulted in the pace dropping a bit compared to most of my recent running, which is a strong indicator that I have been running too fast on easy days.
My first workout for the week came on Wednesday when I did 6 x 800 meters on the track with a running buddy. Because I was still a bit uncertain about my own shape, we ran these progressively, increasing the pace for each interval. We ran the first 800 in 3:00, and the final in 2:45. I felt really good on the day, and believe I could have repeated the final interval a couple of times without going down on the steel. A great session!
I followed that by doing a medium long on Thursday, adding another 22k to my weekly tally here. This run was pleasing because I managed to progress the pace nicely, despite the workout a mere twelve hours previous and the challenging weather with both wind and rain. Friday I did the first double of the week, two recovery sessions at 12k and 8k respectively. On Saturday I had another easy run at 15k, to get ready to go a bit harder again the following day.
To close off the week, I went out on Sunday morning with a friend for a pretty hilly (422 meters / 1385 ft of elevation gain) 25k trail run. The numbers don’t necessarily show it, but this was a pretty hard run on the day. Going out, I felt pretty good for the first 10k or so, but after that, my legs really started to fade, and during the final steep climb it was all I could do to keep my turnover at a running trot. Still, I managed to keep up a decent pace throughout, and I was happy to be able to do this near the end of a 130k week. Later in the day, I went out for a 6k recovery session to bring my weekly total above 130k, because I like round numbers!
The coming week will be a recovery week, in terms of running anyway, because my wife and I received our second child on Monday morning! That is, of course, also the reason why this weekly report is being published late. Given the story of our first child, we feel lucky and blessed to be able to say that both our son and his mother are doing really well, and as of the time I am writing this, they are resting together in bed. This will obviously make training even more of a challenge for me in the future, but that is one challenge I welcome with open arms.
Summarising my goals for this fall season of running is simple: PR on the road in the 5k, the 10k and half marathon. First out was the 5k, and I had found what I thought was the perfect race to grab a convincing PR. Hytteplantesten is a small 5k race run on wide forest trails, and the 2018 edition, which took place on August 11th, fit perfectly into my schedule.
The course is more or less flat, with my Strava activity showing as little as 10 meters (33 feet) of elevation for the race. With this in mind, I was looking to obliterate my old 5k PR of 18:56, which I ran during a time trial on track over a year back. Since then, I’ve run high 17 minutes 5ks twice this year, while finishing a 10k and a half marathon. Targeting a 17:30 finish time during this year didn’t feel overly ambitious based on my performances earlier in the year.
My training over the past couple of months has been all about trying to bounce back from my marathon debut in June. It has been harder than I thought it would be, but over the past few weeks leading up to this race, I had started feeling much better, compared to the first few weeks. Over the four weeks leading up to the race, I averaged about 85 kilometres (53 miles) and thought myself ready to race close to my potential. I just didn’t know better.
As always, you can check the Training Logs for a more detailed overview of my training on a week-to-week basis.
As with most 5ks, this one was a short and sweet affair characterised by never-ending suffering. My race plan was uncomplicated: Go out at goal pace (3:30/km – 5:38/mile), and try to hang on until the end. If at all possible, kick at the end.
1k (3:24 – 3:24)
It can be difficult to race smart, especially if you’re hoping to be near the front of the race. Some people will go out harder than what you are planning, and you will get caught up in the moment and hang on. That probably happened to me a bit here, because if I was being honest with myself, I felt pretty early that this pace was probably not sustainable. But it was more or less according to plan, and I didn’t think much at this point, I just ran.
2k (3:35 – 6:59)
I wish I could say that after the first split, I made a conscious decision to adjust the pace a bit to explain the eleven-second drop in pace here compared to the first split. Unfortunately, that was not the case. I was simply slowing down because I was already feeling it. Still, I hopefully thought “I just need to cover the last three kilometres in 3:30 each to make 17:30 happen” to myself, optimistically, as I noted the split on my watch.
3k (3:49 – 10:48)
Before reaching the halfway mark, I realised that this was not going to be my day. My pace was slipping further after a slow second kilometre, and there was not a fibre in my body that would let me respond. I capitulated at this point and realised that my goal time was out of the question.
4k (3:55 – 14:43)
What was strange, and quite frankly a bit worrying about this race, was that in addition to being physically unable to keep the pace I wanted, I was mentally shot as well. I could not muster any sort any sort of response to my slowing pace, and all I could think about was that it would be over soon enough. At this point, I am basically running somewhere between half marathon and marathon pace, which is obviously not just a physical thing.
5k (4:02 – 18:44)
The slide continued all the way through to the end, and I basically ran the final kilometre in marathon pace. And it felt excruciatingly hard, too! At this point, I had no idea what the final time would be, and I had essentially stopped looking at my watch. I just wanted it to be over, and I didn’t care in the slightest whether or not I would set a new PR. My goal time was so far off that it meant very little when I crossed the finish line and saw that I had beaten my 5k time trial time from a year back with 12 seconds. In fact, it felt more like an insult to see that I had barely improved after running 4000 kilometres (2485 miles) over the past twelve months.
My dejection was palpable, and I got some comforting words from my wife, who had joined me on the three-hour round trip to watch me run for a few moments. I gave myself the drive home to just sulk, but I quickly started contemplating what went wrong and tried to reason why my physical shape had not suddenly vanished like dew before the sun.
So what went wrong? Well, first and foremost, I had a bad day. It happens from time to time, and when it does there is little you can do to counteract it. But, I am not entirely comfortable writing this off as a freak occurrence. Some post race introspection has made me realise that I have probably not been diligent enough in my training after coming back from my marathon.
Yes, the mileage has been around where I want it to be. However, how you run those miles matters, and I have simply been far too lackadaisical with regards to how I approach my runs over the past months. Instead of running my easy days easy, and really giving it all on hard days, I’ve spent most of the time in that comfortable no man’s land intensity that is neither hard nor easy.
As such, this race was a very important wake-up call. And I have every intention of making the necessary adjustments to my training in order to sharpen my shape, and hopefully run the rest of the races this fall closer to the level I know I’m capable of. In fact, I have already identified another 5k I hope to run the first weekend of September, where I am anxious to prove that I am better than what I was able to show here.
This past week was all about trying to get ready for my first race since running my debut marathon. And I failed, miserably. I will talk more in-depth about my race in a separate race report, coming later this week, but the short of it is that I went out looking to run the 5k faster than 17:30, and ended up finishing in 18:44. But, what’s done is done, and I am here to talk about my training for the week, so let’s get to that right now. The totals for the week were 92 kilometres (57 miles) of running with 1056 (3464 feet) of climbing over 7 hours 24 minutes. I did not do any cross training this week.
I started the week with an easy run home from work on Monday. On Tuesday, I did my first real workout since before the marathon (this is probably a clue as to why I stuffed up the 5k) which was four bouts of two minutes on at around (estimated) 5k pace, and two minutes off at easy pace. It felt too hard, and I lacked any sort of rhythm.
On Wednesday I finally got to test out my new shoes, the Pegasus Turbos, with the short route to work, which is 11k. Tuesday I once again started the day by running into work, this time the trail route, which is about 15k. This run was another omen of what was to come on Saturday because my HR was high, my legs heavy, and I once more struggled to find my rhythm. On Friday I just did a short 8k shake-out, with five strides. Surprisingly, my legs felt alright here, and I was hoping that I feel ready to race the next day.
I wasn’t ready, of course, and I’ve already mentioned how it went. For a more detailed account, check back later in the week to read the full race report. The week was closed out with a very decent hilly 23k progression run with a friend, where we finished the run with a hard 2k climb. To illustrate, I kept almost the same pace through this 5% climb as I did for the final kilometre of my 5k the day before! The body works in mysterious ways.
Either way, I was happy to end the week on a relatively high note. I have the coming week off from work, and I will be looking to take advantage by bumping my mileage quite significantly. One takeaway from my poor race, though, is that I need to get back to properly polarised training. This means I will be focusing on sticking to the mantra of running easy days easy and being fully prepared to give it all on the hard days.