Tuesday, June 17, 2008

First Hills

I knew I would receive a few warnings when I mentioned that the weeks that I had chucked out of the schedule were mostly recovery weeks, and I also know that those warnings are both well meant and justified. But I generally seem to recover very quickly from workouts and think that I'll be able to handle the workload, especially as the mileage will be lower than what I had done last year. If I'm doing optimal training is a different question, of course, but I will definitely keep an eye on the way the body responds to the training and make adjustments if I deem them necessary.

The official marathon training cycle started yesterday, but with a low-key 6 mile run that was less stressful than the runs I had done prior to that. While the schedule prescribes rather precise paces for the tempo workouts, it has a very broad range for the base and recovery runs, and on Monday I felt a bit tired and ended up at the lower end of the scale. My main problem was with the proprioceptive cue that I'm supposed to include in every run of the week, namely "falling forward". The author suggests starting with an exaggerated forward lean (from the ankle, not the hip), and then dialling it back until you feel in control. Somehow I had troubles getting to grips with that, and for the first 3 miles I ran a) slow and b) with a raised heart rate. At the turnaround point I decided that this was not working and changed my strategy. Instead of pretending to fall forward I imagined someone giving me a very gentle push between the shoulder blades, and that seemed to work much better. I'm supposed to work on one proprioceptive cue on every training run from now until forever. I've only just started that kind of thing, and it is bound to be difficult, but at the moment I've got my doubts if I will be able to implement that strategy.

The first new workout was today, but two hill sprints of only 30 seconds duration were never too daunting. This is supposed to activate all your muscle fibres, and the hill workouts will be getting a lot tougher very quickly. Grellan knows all about those. The pace recommendation was a bit strange, at "relaxed sprint" pace. I don't know what that's supposed to mean, sprinting uphill doesn't really go with relaxation in my view. I ended up running fast but not all out; the hill has a gradient between 6 and 8% (according to the Garmin); the fastest speed I saw on the Garmin was 6:20, but checking afterwards the readout gives me a "Best" of 5:45. The accuracy of either reading is open to question, and keep in mind that neither were the average pace. Anyway, the workout was over before it had even started properly, and I felt like I hadn't done enough work. The first week is clearly a rather gentle introduction.

16 Jun
6 miles, 50:04, 8:21 pace, HR 140
17 Jun
4.5 miles, 40:18, 8:57 pace, HR 141
incl. 2x30 seconds hill sprints


  1. As long as you're keeping an objective eye on things... all the best!

    I love short hill repeats. I remember several years ago training with a coach who had us group doing 3x(5x10") at 98%.


  2. I imagine the speed on the hill sprints will sort itself out according to how you recover. In my case, when I backed off a little on my days with accelerations (from reaching absolute top speed at the end to instead hitting 90-95%), I found myself recovering much quicker.

    I would guess that "relaxed sprint" means about as fast as you can go while still controlling your form.

    When I try those proprioceptive cues I seem to have more luck cycling through a few during a run. I tend to get bogged down by focusing on the same one for too long.

  3. "Falling forward" sounds a bit like CHI RUNNING! After 15 years of running a friend lent me DANNY DREYER'S book, it was like finding the missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle I'd need looking for for years
    imagine running with the smoothness and grace of top Kenyan runner1 imagine gravity pulling you along and all you have to do is pull your feet off the floor! Try and get his book out of the library if you can!
    Good luck with your new training plan, its always very exciting starting out on a new journey1

  4. Those proprioceptive cues are difficult to concentrate on alright. On most on my runs i used to forget them. As Mike says it's easier to cycle through them during the one run as they are complimentary (although I couldn't get the point of some of them)

    Wait until you get to some of the longer hill reps if you want a harder workout.

  5. Thanks for your good wishes for Saturday Thomas! I'm going to keep doing this race until you join me!!!


  6. I was a bit surpised by what you said about discarding the recovery weeks but I just realsied I never do easy weeks either. Even now with a triathlon coach I don't have one easy week in 4 like many people do, I just keep training. I've always done that, it never does me any harm. I might have an easy day or two but that's it. Good luck with the hills Thomas, I love them!!

  7. I agree wit Ais. I tend to be poor at recovery and I love the hills. What works for me is long training runs in the hills interspersed with hills races. I've done that in the last 18 months and my PB has come done substantially. Why not check out some of the munster hill running races on www.imra.ie. You might even see living legend John Lenihan in action.