Thursday, April 28, 2016

In Training

They used to be so cute, 15 years ago!
Coming home from Wicklow on Sunday my thoughts turned towards the following weeks. The next 6 weeks will see the major block of ultra training for Belfast, basically the weeks I had missed before the Spartathlon. It starts with a big jump in mileage this week, partially facilitated by running twice a day most days (at least on days where real life does allow), followed by a block of 3 marathons and then a 100k for funtraining. It's in many ways copied from the training I did 2 years ago because that's when I ran my best ever race, and obviously I'm hoping for a similar outcome.

I started incorporating a few things I had learned from Barry and Svein over the weekend. Each day I got up 10 minutes earlier that the running training on its own would have called for and did a few exercises barefoot in the garden. Squats, shoulders, lunges, kettlebells, throwing stones - fairly unstructured, just doing whatever came to mind at the time. As per Barry's advice, it will take a long time before this will make an actual difference to my running performances. I'm not doing that for Belfast, I'm thinking long term.

From Wednesday onwards I started skipping breakfast; that is, I had a coffee with butter and coconut fat dissolved in it. If you google for bulletproof coffee, that is basically it, though the marketing bullsh*t on the official website nearly made me reconsider. It doesn't taste nearly as bad as it sounds, though I admit it's not the finest cup of coffee I've ever tasted either. The things I do for fat adaptation!

Oh, and I didn't neglect the basic running either (and Barry was quick to remind me that specificity is still as important as ever). A fairly easy Monday was followed by doing some hill sprints on Tuesday, trying to get some neuromuscular developments going. I did not time the hill sprints nor did I count them at the time, just ran up to the same point each time, which happened to take about 15 seconds. Recovery was walking down the hill followed by a few more seconds of slow jogging at the bottom. After a few repeats my chest started to feel tight about 20 seconds after each repeat, and once that got uncomfortable I left it at that. I was surprised afterwards to count no less than 11 repeats on the GPS track, I would have thought I had done maybe 7 or 8.

I did my standard 10 mile morning run on Wednesday and a run up to Windy Gap on Thursday. That is, I intended to run up to the gap but the morning routine just took longer than planned and I turned around halfway up the steep final hill to get back home in time. With the marathon on Sunday that may have been a good thing anyway, though I am slightly conflicted about that because in some circles running a marathon on slightly tired legs is looked at as proper ultra training.

I'm still not entirely sure what pace I will run in Limerick on Sunday, something between 3:10 and 3:20 most likely but that's a fairly wide spread. I will see how I feel and adapt accordingly (or, as you might call it alternatively, I'll just wing it).

25 Apr
am: 10 miles, 1:10:50, 7:59 pace, HR 141
26 Apr
am: 7 miles, 1:01:48, 8:49 pace, HR 141, 11x15 sec hill sprints
pm: 5 miles, 38:49, 7:45 pace, HR 141
27 Apr
am: 10 miles, 1:20:34, 8:03 pace, HR 139
pm: 5 miles, 38:42, 7:44 pace, HR 141
28 Apr
am: 10+ miles, 1:28:10, 8:41 pace, HR 144, Windy Gap
pm: 5 miles, 38:48, 7:45 pace, HR 143


  1. I've been using diet as a training stimulus for a couple of years now... Never have had a "bulletproof" style coffee and never will, not being a coffee drinker ;-)

    On a serious note though, I don't buy into the a caffeine drink with fat in it helping with training adaptations. Consuming fat itself doesn't switch on or turn off fat burning - the key to fat burning is how long it is since your last carb or high protein meal, essentially how long it has taken your blood insulin levels to subside. An overnight fast will usually leave your body in a fat burning mode. You were already doing this so I doubt consuming a fat in drink will make any difference to the fat you burn during your run.

    Caffeine more or may not affect fat burning, science on this doesn't look conclusive to me. Caffeine can blunt adaptations though so may not ideal addition if you aren't already consuming it during training. Racing is different, as a stimulant Caffeine is pretty serious shit :-)

    What could make a difference longer term to fat adaptation is the overall carb intake through the day, the more carbs the more insulin is required, the lower your average fat burning will be. The lower the GI of those carbs the more insulin is required too and again the more suppressed your fat burning will be.

    Consider the case of going out fasted and a gentle run, you should be burning plenty of fat calories and modest amount of glycogen. If you then get back and refuel with more carbs than you actually used the body will restock your glycogen stores using the carbs, and what is left over will spike you insulin levels depress fat burning.

    The approach I now take is to roughly aim for my overall calorie proportions to match the energy balance that I'll need on my target race. For a 100 miler or 24hr race then half of fuel will need to come from fat, so when training I think it makes sense to eat around this balance as well. This way you know that when training, working, playing, sleeping the overall stimulus for energy utilization will on average be what you need when you run all day.

  2. I can't compete with Robert's comment, but in my mind, things besides running do help a soul feel stronger day to day. The thing is , do we put in all into THE RACE. While I want to do well racing, I would argue that we also want to feel good ABOUT and good DOING our workouts , since that's about 95% of our running life.

  3. Now no longer cute, and sufficiently embarrassed by having their photo on Dad's blog ;-)

  4. Portumna 100k? Two weeks before Belfast! I'd be interested in your thoughts as to how you intend to "race" and recover before Belfast.

    1. No, it's the Donadea 100k, 3 weeks out. I do admit that it's a risky strategy but I have seen it used successfully by others in the past

    2. Three weeks out is a bit better alright Thomas. Some of the elite 24 hours guys certainly had no problem with running/racing long before the main event. Pacing Cork that weekend so temptation easily resisted.