Run

Run08Things are hotting up here with the big sell off. My flat is starting to look pretty sparse as I get rid of the vast majority of my furniture. The big news is I’ve accepted an offer my flat … so fingers crossed the sale will go through and Jo and I will be able to live the dream for the next couple of years or so ! It has proved so distracting of late but come the 5th Jan, when we’re on the plane to New Zealand I should be able to get some serious focus.

This entry is looking at my run training, performance and plans. This is probably the trickiest one for me to do. I’ve had really  great run performances and finally this year I’ve run really poorly on two occasions. Prior to that it seemed that running sub 3:30 in an Ironman was more or less a given, in fact, till Kona last year I’d never run over 3:30 but since then I’ve managed it 3 times in 5 races. This needs correcting.

Like last time lets start with some numbers:

Run08-3

To make sense of the numbers I need to decide when I was running well. 2005 I did PBs at Marathon (2:44), half marathon (1:15) and 10k (33:58). I was racing alot of Olympic distance races and consistently ran 36 minutes or under. At the Waikiki world champs I ran 35:39 off the bike in that heat and then ran a 3:23 marathon at Kona. I was running well without any effort. I’ve never since managed that. Just writing this hits something home – that year I focused on the London Marathon, sacrificing all other training to ensure doing the right sessions for that. Since then I’ve felt that tapering for London encroached on Ironman training, especially the speedwork. Judging by my running since then perhaps this is a mistake. I think a regular speedwork session is something to add in next year.

Looking at 2005 you can see it’s the most miles I’ve done in a year and the only time I’ve averaged more than 50 miles per week. This is despite not once going over 100 miles in a week. Compare it to this year which by a long way is the worst years running I’ve had. Having said that it’s important to note the lack of consistency – New Zealand and Wisconsin I ran so strongly yet at Germany and Kona I had the worst runs of my life. Anyway – this year I’ve had more than double the number of days over 25 miles than any previous years and have done more than 100 miles in a week on 6 occasions having only done that twice before (ever). Having done that and yet had my lowest mileage in 4 years indicates just how erratic my training must have been. The standard deviation of my weekly miles this year is 30 compared to 21 in 2005.

Yet again it would seem consistency is key.

Run08-4

This graph illustrates it. Firstly 2005 had only 1 week of less than 3 miles whilst 2008 had 8 weeks ! Thats 8 weeks without running in effect. Not good. 2008 clearly shows how there were alot more big weeks. If you’re a real believer in periodisation (I’m not particularly)  especially the idea of fairly short cycles of say 3 weeks getting bigger and then an easy week this should not sit comfortably with you. I’ve never really periodised when it came to swim and bike but felt that for running it may be sensible as that trashes your legs most. The evidence for me is that this is just not a good approach. My swim and bike have been pretty consistent across all races with a non periodised approach but my run hasn’t. When I had most consistency in my running is when I ran best. The plan for next year can be seen to be aiming at consistency without needing the monster weeks.

Run08-2This graph shows the daily week to date mileage for the 60 days preceding the following races:

  • BLUE – New Zealand 2008 (felt strong throughout run)
  • RED – Germany 2008 (terrible run)
  • YELLOW – The Longest Day 2006 (best run ever)

I raced alot of Olympic distance preceding the longest day hence the drops in mileage every so often but I quickly got back to an underlying 50-60 miles. Germany saw me up at 120 miles in a week before collapsing to next to nothing ahead of Epic camp and then collapsing again before the race. Ahead of New Zealand saw the most consistent high mileage running I’ve ever done. I had 4 weeks of over 100 miles per week. It showed in the race.

That said, it’s clear to me that consistency is the key. Consistent high mileage is great but it’s not worth getting the odd big week in at the sacrifice of underlying consistent steady mileage.

A final graph looking at wtd mileage for 2005 (yellow) and 2008 (blue):

Run08-1

This shows how this past year had some periods of monster running interspersed with low levels – incredibly low for me. There are huge chunks of time where I’m not even hitting 40 miles a week. Why has this happened ? I feel a huge part of this is that over the years of doing Ironman I’ve succumbed to this idea of needing vast recovery from sessions. There’s not a clear source of this influence but I feel it comes from almost everywhere. From most Triathlon press that bigs up Ironman so much and is so conservative about training approach / recovery. To triathlon friends that may react in a way that subconciously makes u feel it’s crazy to do what you are doing. There are very few sources that say – yeh 4 Ironmen in a year is a good idea. Yeh get back in to training nice and quick. Back in 2005 I was approaching Ironman like I did mountain marathons – u just did as many as you could. Perhaps have a day off after but then just get on with it.

In 2008 I took nice big recovery after races and then struggled to get back into training (especially running) – hence the extended periods of low mileage before I got close enough to the next race that I’d be shocked in to action and knock out a 100 mile week. At least looking towards the end of the year (ie now) you can see I’m managing to get some consistent steady mileage. Though I don’t feel I’m running well at the moment, hopefully it’s setting me up for next year.

So goals / targets on the run front for next year:

  1. Sub 3:10 in an Ironman Marathon
  2. Tick over at 50 miles a week (yes – 50 miles per week is something I think is easy but the evidence shows I’ve struggled. Even so I think this is a good target)
  3. Add some speedwork. (hopefully in NZ Jo and I will do a track session together each week)

Another big factor in my run performance has definitely been my weight. I’m considering covering this in my next entry which will look at total hours, gym and other factors.

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