Training diary: 27th January to 2nd February

Sunday 27th January: W/U exercises + 2 hour River run with the last 30 min faster

I have fondly nick-named Sunday, “Survival day”. After a 90 min run with hilly tempo work on Friday and a 4 hour hilly run on Saturday, I feel that Sunday’s session is as much about the mental side of training as it is the physical side. The torrential rain and relentless wind from ex-cyclone Oswald meant that today’s session also provided me with an excellent opportunity to practice my impersonation of a drowned rat. All my years swimming laps as a kid must be stored somewhere in my muscle memory because I actually felt the strongest I’ve been on a Sunday run in ages. Unlike most of my other weekly runs I tend to purposefully avoid Mt Coot-tha (my usual playground) on Sundays and instead run along the Brisbane River from Long Pocket into the City and back to practice running on flatter ground. I’ve found that swapping one or two hilly runs a week for a flatter alternative has resulted in feeling much more comfortable running on flat ground than I use to (this was exemplified at the recent Hares and Hounds race). I am hoping that this will pay off at TNF100 and the Kokoda Challenge since both courses have some very runnable sections.

I would like to thank past-Ben for all those swimming lessons!
I would like to thank past-Ben for all those swimming lessons!

Monday 28th January: Strength and Core exercises + 60 min easy cycle

I often feel a bit tired by Monday, but I seemed to have more energy than usual today. Hopefully this is a good sign that I’m adapting to the long runs. The exercises I do are designed specifically to strengthen my legs and core for the rigors of running ultramarathons in the mountains and also to address my biomechanical imbalances. After a couple of months of being prescribed personalised strength and conditioning programs I am really noticing the difference that it makes in both injury prevention and management and also performance (especially on hills).

Tuesday 29th January: W/U exercises + 90 min including 60min power-hiking reps and 15min barefoot

I was feeling strong again today, which is a good sign that whatever-it-was that forced me to abort this session last week is no longer an issue. Although many runners probably don’t associate speed work with walking, my coach has incorporated such a session into my training because on a course like the Kokoda Challenge there are hills that nobody runs up. Due to the wild weather of the last couple of days, fallen trees and branches littered the trail so I spent part of the first couple of reps clearing off what I could.

Wednesday 30th January: W/U exercises + 90 min Mt Coot-tha run including 3 x 15 min surges and 20min barefoot

I was pleasantly surprised out how fresh my legs were feeling today after yesterday’s session. Tempo runs are my favourite form of speed training because I love the feeling of going fast for extended periods of time while covering a variety of terrain. Trying to run fast along single-track covered in fallen trees and running streams certainly was entertaining to say the least. This combined with the thick fog at the top of the mountain gave the place a ‘lost jungle’ feel. Afterwards,  I felt inspired to enter myself into a steeplechase event, but during the entry process I discovered that I would be required to carry a jockey on my back. I thought this was a bit excessive so I decided against entering the race.

Thursday 31st January: Strength and Core exercises + 60 min easy cycle

Same session as Monday but I was feeling really good this morning and got through the exercises several minutes quicker than last time. My legs were feeling great after the recovery ride so I’m hoping that I’ll be able to knock out a solid training session tomorrow!

Friday 1st February: W/U exercises + 90 min Mt Coot-tha run including 3 x 15-20min continuous up & down hill-reps and 15 min barefoot

Same session as last Friday but all the reps were quicker this week (which is always a good sign!). I find this is a really effective session since it works on running hard on both the up and down hills and would best be described as somewhere between traditional hill-reps and a threshold session. There were a lot more people out on the trail today than last week (when it was pouring down with rain), which meant that I had extra motivation coming from constant cheers and words of encouragement from friendly strangers. I often wonder if it is the trails that make everyone so friendly or that friendly people simply are the ones attracted to the trails?

Saturday 2nd February: W/U exercises + 4 hour Kokoda Challenge track run

Met up with (most of) the KSR team for a long run out on the track today (namely: Caine, Dan and Dave). It was great to run somewhere different, especially since many of the climbs are longer and steeper than what I have access to from home. More importantly though, running with others is a lot of fun as the camaraderie (or should that be competitiveness?) seems to help me perform at a higher level than when I’m by myself. Watching Caine being chased by a snake (unbeknownst to Caine at the time!), was definitely a highlight (in hindsight)! I only wish everyone could have been out there the full 4 hours  but the other guys had other places to be and were only out there for 2 hours. This meant that I was going a bit quicker than I would have otherwise been for the first half the run, which I certainly felt on the climbs in the second half! We only headed out in the late afternoon so it was dark for the last 30 minutes of the run. I had to laugh to myself afterwards about how odd I must look standing around my car parked by the side of the trail, covered in mud and sweat and eating leftovers out of a container illuminated by a headlamp and sipping water from my camelbak.

© Heath Jones PhotographyEnjoying one the early climbs during last year’s Kokoda Challenge
© Heath Jones Photography
Enjoying one the early climbs during last year’s Kokoda Challenge

Overall this was a great week of training and I am hoping that it holds me in good stead for the 22km Mt Glorious trail run next weekend. I am really looking forward to this race as it looks like a great course. It will also be my first non-ultra-distance race for over a year so I am looking forward to finding out if I can remember how to race fast! As always, my training program was created by Andy Dubois from Mile27 Personal Training.

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