Monday, 22 September 2014

Training for the Great Scottish Run (Glasgow Half)

Today my race number and timing chip arrived for the Great Scottish Run, time to reflect on what my goals and training will be!

Curiously the number comes in two parts, one for the front - my number 2581, and one for the back with a blank area for "I'M RUNNING FOR" for me to fill in. So what should I fill in.

My heart says "Scottish Unity" after all the divisions that Referendum created/highlighted. While the sentiment is how I feel, I'm not sure a running vest is the time or place for it. 

At a personal level I could just say "Personal Best" as that's why I signed up for the race.

If I was doing the Kielder Marathon again I could always use the tag line "A BUS" as nod to the daft bugger who skipped the last six miles when I ran it back in 2011, and yes I ran the whole way.

Chasing a Personal Best

So a half marathon "Personal Best" is what this race is all about for me.  My thoughts are primarily about Ultra-marathons these days, all my shorter races are fillers or as training for the Ultra's.  It's still nice to see progress with my fitness across the board though.  I've had a run of PB's this year across a full spectrum of distances, so it's only natural I'd want to a full set and have a go at bettering the 1:28:58 time I set back in November 2010 at the Buchlyvie half.

With PB's this year at the Killin 10k and Kielder Marathon one would expect the distance in between to be an easy target to achieve.  However, I ran a blinder at the Buchlyvie half, running much faster than I ever expected that frosty, still morning back in 2010.  Even now I still don't know quite how I kept up 6:47 pace for 13 miles as this wasn't much slower than my 10k pace back then.  Some days everything goes right and you run out of your skin.

I can't assume this will happen this time around, but I'll need to train and taper pretty flawlessly if I am to achieve my goal of PB.  My training for the Killin 10k last month went really well till the last 7 days when I over stretched myself and then screwed up the taper.  I did pretty well the same thing for the River Ayr Way Challenge (RAW) - injurying my calf in a 21 mile long run just 7 days before race day.

This time around I have to get the taper right, and this is dependant on the training I do now as well.  To complicate matters I ran a 41 mile ultra just 9 days ago, and there are only a totally of 22 days between the RAW, so within this three week block I have to recover from the RAW, training, then taper.

If I get everything right, then I think I should be able to get a few minutes under my old PB, but this means aiming for a sub 6:40 min/milling, this pace is right around the fastest pace that I can manage tempo runs at.  Hanging on at this pace for a full 13 miles rather than just the 8 miles I during tempo runs feels pretty daunting but doable.

The following is roughly how  I'm breaking my preperation for the Glasgow half up:

Ultra marathon race recovery : 1 week.

The classic rule of thumb for marathon's is that it take you a day per mile to recover fully from a Marathon, so 26 days.  If we use this rule of thumb for the RAW I've just done then it'll be 41 days, which is 19 days AFTER the Glasgow half.  OK. We'll bin that, it just won't do.

If we make a small adjustment from 1 day per mile, to 1 day per 6 miles than we have just under 7 days to recover.  Yep that's sounds doable.  What's a factor of 6 between friends?

So I've done my recovery week.  I took two full days off, just walking a mile the first day, then two on the second.  For the rest of the week I ran a four mile recovery run, then a couple of six milers and then last Saturday I ran a lazy 13 miler along Loch Venachar and had a lovely time in the sunshine.

My run on Saturday went really well, my legs felt relaxed and comfortable most of the way, just a little discomfort in my left calf and left quad in the last couple of miles.  Pretty amazing really, one week after an tough race and not far off fully recovered!

Training : 1 Week

My training started yesterday (Sunday) and consisted off at Fartlek session where I did a combination of 20 second hill and flat sprint intervals with a gently job in between.  I would start the next sprint when my heart rate got back down to 150, run fast but not fully flat out counting to twenty then easy off.  My aim was to maintain my running form at speed, keeping relaxed as much as possible as fatigue built up in the last 5 seconds of each interval.

I managed 10 of these sprints before my left calf felt a bit too uncomfortable to risk doing more.  I jogged the final three miles home and nice gentle 9 min/mile pace.  On my return leg I was caught by another runner and we got chatting and he said he recognized me.  Eventually he asked whether I had a blog... Small world!  It turned out that he'll also be doing the Glasgow half too.  Doubly small world!!  (Hi to David if you're reading)

After the speed session I took the whole family down to Loch Venachar to enjoy the sun and go for a walk along the loch side.  What I way to wind down. ;-)

Loch Venachar walk and chill

Classic Paragliding style selfie in my F-Lite 232's

Today I did a 6 mile recovery run at 10 min/mile pace to help build some aerobic fitness and also loosen us muscle tensions created by the faster running.  After a 10 days of elevated heart rate when resting and running today was a pleasant surprise - I'm already back to where I was earlier this month before the RAW and in the run up to the Killin 10k back in August.

To help with adaptations I had a hot bath right after my run rather than a shower.  Studies on mice and athletes have found that heat stimulus can help stimulate the immune system to improve aerobic fitness as well as providing adaptations for handling the heat itself.

The recovery run did it's job and since the run my legs have felt much more relaxed and ready for more training.

The next run I'll need to work around will be a possible 10k race next Saturday - the Trossachs 10k in Aberfoyle. While my focus is the half marathon this local race is always friendly and fun to run so it'd be a shame to miss it.  Training wise I can use it as a tempo run.

This gives me four days till the 10k to fit in any other training, which provisionally I'll break up into a Tempo run on Tuesday, Recovery run on Wednesday, Fartlek session on Thursday and another Recovery run on Friday.

This is potentially four speed sessions in one week which is a lot of stress to place on my body.  Sleep will need to be a priority, avoiding stress and eating well will all need to respected to make sure my body has the chance it needs to recover.  My recovery runs will be just that too, they'll be kept very slow, and down to four miles if I need it.

I will also listen to my body, if I'm not recovering quick enough I will either cut out the speed sessions or cut down the length, number or intensity of the speed segments to avoid overloading my body.

My aim with these training sessions is primarily to tune my body up rather than build a great deal of fitness.  You physically can't built that much fitness in a week, but you can adjust your blood volume and muscle tension and tune in the central nervous system (CNS) so that it's primed for running fast.

Taper : 1 week

The key things I need to achieve with the taper are:
  1. Recover fully from training week
  2. Maintain heat adaptation required to keep cool while running fast
  3. Maintain blood volume and aerobic fitness
  4. Maintain Muscle tension appropriate for 6:40 pace
Item 1 means that I need to cut my mileage down and the intensity of the training runs.  To do it would probably be best to do a series of recovery runs at the beginning of the taper week to iron out any niggles.

Once I'm recovered from the hard training runs I'll then mix easy runs with short stride sections at around race pace.  These race pace sections will be kept short to avoid creating a training load, but be enough to keep my muscle tension and CNS tuned into race race.

Finally to maintain blood volume and heat adaptions more hot baths and/or sessions in the sauna will be required.

Also staying relaxed, sleep well and eating well will all be a priority as well.

Race Day: Go FAST!!!

I'll there to get a PB, anything less and we'll... my PB streak will be at an end and where's the fun in that :-)

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