Training Log for Week 43 of 2018

My totals for this week were zero. I spent zero minutes running zero miles with a total elevation gain of zero. Cross training? Zero. Many runners, both more and less accomplished than myself, will scoff at taking a full week off from running. And that is fine because what works for me might not necessarily be the same thing that works for someone else.

Despite the fact that I count running as a net contributor to my overall well being, I have come to the realisation that I need substantial breaks every now and then to make sure that I don’t burn out. The solution for me up to this point has been to schedule in two full weeks throughout the year where I do not run at all.

These breaks always follow a big goal race, and I spend the week recuperating, reflecting on my performance in the race, and my training cycle overall. And, then, a couple of days in, when I start getting restless and itchy to get out there and run, I start planning my upcoming training cycle. Planning out a block of training, thinking about goals and how I approach each and every week to try and maximise my chances of realising those goals, turns my motivation up to eleven.

Marathon training plan illustration
A peek at my training plan for the upcoming marathon training block

The result? When the week comes to an end, I am at the edge of my seat with a plan in my hand, and absolutely aching to get out there and the do the work laid out in the plan. Sure, I lose a bit of flow from the extended break from running, and those first few days I don’t feel very comfortable running. But that extra bit of motivation is well worth it to me because at the end of the day I need those breaks to remind myself of why I choose to run.

Training Log for Week 42 of 2018

With the season coming to a close with this week’s 10k race on Saturday, this what a bit of a taper week in an attempt to reach race day feeling fit and fresh. I ended up running just 57 kilometres (35 miles) with 567 meters (1860 feet) of elevation gain, which amounted to 4 hours and 33 minutes of running.

I am starting to get a decent idea about what works for me leading into weekend races, so I try to stick with what I know for the most part. An extra rest day, two easy days and one slightly faster, before a short and quicker run where I touch in on marathon pace on the eve of the race has been the formula for me this year. I followed that to a tee this week, resting on Monday, an 11k recovery run on Tuesday into work. Wednesday I also ran to work, a bit faster, which really gets the heart pumping through some of those hills, before I did another easy morning to work on Tuesday.

Man walking in the woods with a stroller
Out for a “recovery walk” with the baby in the stroller

On that Friday run, which was only 6k, I should note that I relax the pace significantly in all hills. The idea is to just loosen your legs by shaking out a bit, but you don’t want to go hard on the hills and possibly lose some freshness for the race the next day. Some people prefer a slower run with added strides, which I’ve not experienced too much with yet.

On Saturday I didn’t do anything apart from a warm-up and a cool down before and after the race. If you keep up with my Instagram, you know that it’s no secret that the race went very well! Stay tuned for all the details in the full race report coming later this week. This upcoming week is also a full rest and recovery week for me, with absolutely no running, and I will be going into detail about why I like to take an extended period totally off from running in next week’s training log.

Training Log for Week 41 of 2018

One more week to go before the final race of the year, and I am mentally feeling very ready for a break at this point. With the coming week being a bit of a taper week, in an attempt to maximise my freshness for the upcoming 10k, this was my last full training week before the season break. Total mileage for the week was 95 kilometres (59 miles) and 1088 meters (3569 feet) of elevation gain across 7 hours and 45 minutes of running.

I kicked the week off with an easy run home from work, before I reintroduced the mid-week medium long run on Tuesday, with an up-tempo 20k morning run. These runs are staples of Pfitzinger inspired marathon training, and I like to keep doing them every now and then, even if I am a few weeks away from starting back up with another marathon training cycle.

Fall running on a road surrounded by trees.
Scenic views are one of the the perks of being a runner in the fall 

Wednesday I did a very slow recovery run, before following that with a slightly faster easy run on Thursday. The big session of the week took place on Friday when I had a 10k predictor workout scheduled in the form of a very demanding VO2Max session. The session is 3x2k with just 90 seconds rest between the intervals, which I have found to be a very good predictor for what I am able to do in a 10k race. The hope was to run each of the 2k intervals in around 7 minutes, which I believed would indicate being capable of going below 36 minutes in the 10k. In the end, average split for the 2k intervals was 7:02 (3:31 min/km or 5:40 min/mile pace) which was a little slower than I wanted. Still, it leaves me with a slight hope of sub-36 this weekend, and anything slower than 36:30 will be a disappointment after that session.

Saturday was a rest day before I ended the week with a solid long run on undulating trails on Sunday afternoon. I came dangerously close to bonking towards the end of this run, which was an important learning experience as I am attempting to dial in my nutrition strategy as I start a new marathon training cycle.

Training Log for Week 40 of 2018

After my half marathon, this week was all about trying to recover as well as possible. I still have one more race before I call it a day on the 2018 racing season, a 10k on October 20th, so I wanted to recover quickly in time to get in some quality work ahead of the next race. My mileage for the week ended at 62 kilometres (38 miles), with 686 meters (2250 feet) of elevation gain, for a total of 4 hours and 58 minutes of running.

Monday was another rest day before I followed up with easy running the next three days. Come Friday I started to feel better, and I decided to push the pace a bit on my way into work. This was a nice confirmation that I was now ready to do some higher quality work again.

Saturday was another rest day because I don’t want to get too eager while bouncing back from a race, even if I felt alright. And then, I closed the week out with a very short “long run” with a friend. We ran at a decent clip, especially considering about half the run was on trails, and I felt really good on the day. I was very comfortable, close to effortless, at that pace, which was another indication that I have now bounced back from my race.

This coming week will be all about getting in some last-ditch mileage and intensity ahead of my season-ending race, where I am hoping to better my 10k PR from earlier in the year. Anything less will be a big disappointment.

Training Log for Week 39 of 2018

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.

Early morning sunrise
Some fall morning runs are easier than others!

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.

Training Log for Week 38 of 2018

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.

Cloudy over a trail perfect for running
I am now back to work, which means most of my runs will be part of my commute.

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.

Training Log for Week 37 of 2018

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.

Beautiful weather for running.
The conditions for my long run were absolutely beautiful.

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.

Training Log for Week 36 of 2018

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.

Great weather for running.
Some great autumn weather this week made a few easy runs a breeze!

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.

Training Log for Week 35 of 2018

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.

Light clouds over a country road an early morning.
Another early morning shot from the road.

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.

Training Log for Week 34 of 2018

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.

Baby feet
The tiny future runner attached to these feet has kept my running to a minimum this week.

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!