Wednesday, January 21, 2009

135 To 170 And Back

On Monday, the second phase of my Boston training cycle started with a long run. The first thing I noticed about this cycle is that the long run is no longer than 15 miles. Normally I would not class this as a long run (that starts at 18 miles), but I’m not going to argue with Ron Daws, he’s the expert and I’m following the prescribed workouts. 15 miles is still close to 2 hours of running for me, which may well be enough, especially at this stage.

Since 15 miles happens to be the length of the Caragh Lake loop this is my normal route. However, it was very windy on Monday, and when it started hail stoning during the second mile I decided not to head up into the hills but stay closer to home. I ran three different routes, and in the end they all added up to the required distance. I also got caught by the hail for a second time in one run, something that had never happened before (and hopefully will never again). The mixture of hail, snow and sleet created a thick layer of ice on the road which made for slippery conditions and put a stop to my plan of ending with a few strong miles. I simply did not have the footing to do so. I also let Niamh drive me to work; cycling would have been suicidal under those conditions. I even managed to get a lift home from work in the evening, which meant I didn’t have to add a second run that day.

Tuesday was an easy day. When setting the alarm I decided to cut the mileage from 10 to 8 and sleep a bit longer. However, Maia woke at 5:30 and since that got me out of bed anyway I decided to run 10 miles after all. I kept the effort easy, but was once again caught out by the hail, for the fourth time in 3 runs! At that time I was thoroughly pissed off with the weather conditions, but not in a position to do anything about it.

It got warmer today, which was proven by the fact that the precipitation came in the form of rain rather than hail. More importantly it was the day of my first hill workout. Last year I did them in the way Lydiard had described them, with high knees running and bounding. In no time at all I grew to loath that type of workout, and ended up skipping a few towards the end. With that still in memory I decided to try something different. I have just finished reading Running with the Legends, and the chapter about Rob the Castella describes his hill workouts. After a warm-up he would do 2-3 miles at tempo pace, followed by a jog to the next hill. There he would run the hill 8 times at a very strong effort. I quote from the book: “It is more important to run strongly and aggressively for a short hill than to go longer and lose form. … The greatest benefit comes from sprinting all-out at the start of a short, fairly steep hill, rather than running steadily and trying to sprint at the end”.

I followed this format; after 2 miles of warm-up I ran 2.5 miles at 6:41 pace, followed by a jog to a hill. I got slower and slower on that jog, not only to get more recovery but also out of apprehension of what was to come. Since this was my first try I decided to run as far as I felt I could and as often as I felt like and not worry too much about the numbers. Balls out effort on the hills it was. As it turned out, I ran 45 seconds on each repeat which was enough to get the HR from 135 to over 170, and in the anaerobic haze I promptly lost track of the count, but afterwards on the chart I counted 7 repeats. My legs were shot at the end, and the run home was a struggle, but I made it back in one piece. Cycling to work wasn’t easy either, but not as bad as cycling back home in the evening; the quads seemed to have turned into jelly during the day. I predict tomorrow to be a slow day.
19 Jan
15 miles, 1:56:53, 7:47 pace, HR 139
20 Jan
10 miles, 1:20:15, 8:02 pace, HR 140
21 Jan
10 miles, 1:20:16, 8:02 pace, HR 148
incl. 2.5 miles @ 6:41 and 7x45 secs hill sprints


  1. Nice Hill work Thomas. The way you're doing them now is the way I was told to do them by my coach.

    Run a few miles to warm up at a solid pace (although not quite tempo pace) and then hammer out the repeats. A jog down, and then right back up.

    Does it tell you in the text what grade you want for the hill?

  2. Amazing work going on there, Thomas!

  3. Deek was a monster on hills. His long run in Stromlo was on a very undulating course - I've run it and it's hard!

    I'm also interested in the grade. I was thinking about doing shorter (15 sec?) hills, but maybe steeper.

    For me, 10 miles is a long run!

  4. Do you think hill repeats would help prevent quad cramping in the later stages of a marathon? I had this happen so I've been adding hill work-not like this, though

    My friend SUPER vet Steve James [ who set a p.b. of 2.27 for the marathon at age 49]recommended to me to do downhill repeats, this makes the quads better able to handle the pounding of the final miles of a marathon!
    I you try the repeats start with only a couple and build up slowly!

  6. At last the real anaerobic work has commenced. That apprehension of the first hill, that dread, brings it all back to me eventhough it is a year since I last did those hill reps. Great feeling of satisfaction in getting them done though. A tempo run beforehand sounds even more challenging but at least you're properly warmed up. I'm sure the pain in the quads will lessen after each hill session.