Thursday, December 3, 2009

finding the routine...

life outside of running is starting to get back into the normal routine which has made my training easier to fit it. so far i have managed to put in three double sessions of the four that were in the schedule which has helped with recovery between runs and helped to pad the weekly mileage closer to a target which actually makes me feel like i am training for an ultra-distance event.

training update -

monday am: 45min (10km) easy run
run to work carrying backpack full of food and clothes.
pm: 60min (12km) steady run
run home including a 3km climb. the ache in my quads which i've been carrying around for the last two weeks has finally subsided and over the last 10 minutes with a few strides thrown in they were feeling particularly lively.
tuesday am: 1h25min w/ 33 x 100m hill sprints with fast jog back recovery
early start for this session to meet up with a couple of other runners who were all performing their own form of hill tortue this morning. good session which i managed to hold a good ratio between the ups and downs.

pm: 25min (5.2km) recovery run (on grass)
planned to run 8-10km but the legs decided otherwise and i listened (for a change)...
wednesday pm: 1hr50 (24km) trail run
a great run in the national park from the gate to the lookout and back. stopped off at the end for a soak in the creek to cool down. beautiful day out in the bush...
thursday pm: 1hr15 easy run
dropped the car off at the mechanics and ran home to pick up the kids from school. it was hot, the climb was steep, i was tired...
friday am: 45min (10km) easy run
the usual easy run to work. still tired...
pm: 1h30 run home w/ intervals
plan is to run home and stop at the local grass oval and run the intervals that i was scheduled to do yesterday...
the plan for the weekend (subject to change) is:

saturday am: longish trail run (around 35km) with 30-40minutes hard tempo plus some hill repeats thrown after about an hour of easy running.

sunday am: long trail run of around 3 hours followed up later in the day with an easy run on the flats

summary: volume for this week should top out around 160-180km. happy with that!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

time for an update...

now that i have recently signed up for another ultra-marathon it's time for the serious training (and diet) to begin. i'll be recording my daily activities to see what works out and what doesn’t. my big focus is on diet is to try and drop 7-8kg (15-18 pounds) over the next six weeks to get to race weight. i’ve done it before and the way to do it is go back with what has worked for me previously.

on the recent training front things are starting to pick up. not quite where i would like the volume to be 43 days out from my next race but i’m happy that i've had a couple weeks focusing on quality rather than quantity.

training update-
after a couple of weeks in the 100-135 km range this week has been a little diffcult with a two day conference monday and tuesday along with a full day training on wednesday. not the typical week...

monday pm: 30min run @ 4:08 / km + strides
on the way home from the conference managed to slip in a quick loop of the river.

tuesday am: 75min run w/ 10 x 560m hill loop (average 5km race pace)
legs felt tired but managed to get the run in early (5am). loop included two tough climbs (180m and 100m long).

wednesday pm: 85min trail run (another hot day 35C)
planned to go out for 1h40 but by the time i reached the gate 8km in i was feeling toasted. turned around and headed back before hitting the creek for a little leg soak.

thursday pm: 95min run w/ 2 x 3’ (1.30), 2 x 2’ (1.30), 4 x 1’ (3’ easy), 30’ hill climbing (gradient 10-15%), 5 x 30” hard (1’ jog), 10’ easy
another hot day around 35C and i went out with the intentions of running 5 x 6min hard but 3 minutes into the first interval i was feeling the heat and starting to struggle to hold pace. changed the workout to something more manageable and enjoyed putting in the work. the hill climbing had my quads and calves screaming for me to stop and i was loving it.

still to come…

friday pm: 60min recovery w/ strides // 30min steady

saturday am: 10 km time trial (90% effort) w/ long warmup and cooldown

sunday am: long run 32 km/2:30 pm: 10 km easy

i’m working with a coach again and next week will be my first week back over that magical 100 mile target.

on the diet front i’ve starting eating more meat (mainly fish and eggs) again as my diet had gradually shifted towards a more vegan eating regime. while i felt amazingly healthy and vibrant my running and recovery were impaired.

yesterday’s food log-
breakfast: oranges (4) + nuts and seeds
morning snack: almonds, dates (4)
lunch: smoked salmon salad (spinach, carrot, cuke)
pre-run: banana
post-run: small protein drink followed up 30min later with yoghurt mixed with protein powder and LSA
dinner: porterhouse steak with roasted veggies and steamed greens

Sunday, October 25, 2009

back to basics...

the world masters kind of brought my season to a close and while it didn't go as planned (came down with chicken pox midway through) i decided to end the speed phase of my training and get back to re-building my base endurance. this time of year i usually just play around with my training but after some thought i have decided that in order to take my athletic ability to the next level i need to start my preparation a little earlier this time around.

my goals going into next year are all centred on the ultra-distance with maybe a quick marathon or two thrown in and a couple of epic journey runs to please the adventurer within.

my base building recipe:

  • build mileage over the next few weeks to around 160-200+ km per week
  • maintain mileage for the next 12 weeks
  • include double runs on at least 4 days per week
  • run 2 medium long runs and a run of 4-5 hours each week
  • maintain a hill/short repeat session, one longer interval session (6-10 minutes) and some threshold work on the trails each week
  • include a monthly mountain or trail race
flexibility & strength
  • perform at least 3 yoga sessions each week
  • start doing 2 strength sessions each week focusing on building leg and core strength
  • add in some cross-training and start riding my bike to help build leg strength and hill climbing ability
  • continue to focus on optimal recovery nutrition (waiting for a recent book purchase to help)
  • focus on ensuring that i hydrate sufficiently during the upcoming summer months
  • start running in my vibram fivefingers on my recovery runs
i'm starting out with a good fitness base and after a week off from running due to sickness my body is feeling ready to get back into it.

think i'll start with a 3 hour trail run before work in the morning... 

Monday, August 10, 2009

recovery week

didn't plan for this week to be a recovery week but after making the decision to run 50km on the trails on saturday my quads are particularly smashed. luckily i didn't go the whole way and complete the 90km so hopefully i won't miss too much of training. steep descents though are unkind to the legs...

i took sunday off from running and just concentrated on eating plenty of good high nutrient foods to help speed up recovery - mainly green veggies, fruits, whole grains and protein.

waking up on monday morning to day two and the dreaded delayed onset muscle soreness, it was time to get active again. with this need i headed out at lunch, walking and stretching for the first 10 minutes and then jogged around the park for 20-30 minutes. legs felt sore but my running felt smooth and not as slow as i expected.

tuesday and another run for 45 minutes (about 9-10k) following the advice that i gathered from listening to barry mcgee's interview on imtalk and ran for 10 minutes at a steady pace and then walked for 1 minute. i repeated this throughout the session. i did find it hard to get back into a run after the walk but it got easier to do the longer i went. i don't plan on using this protocol for anything shorter than a marathon but i might consider training with it for the longer distances. today i just used it to ease the strain on the legs until i'm fully recovered.

hopefully tomorrow the legs will feel almost back to normal...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

going harder

yesterday i could hardly walk after three hard back-to-back days but today i'm feeling good. actually better than good. i had to stop myself during my recovery run today from doing something crazy which i'm known for doing. with my first higher intensity week almost behind me i'm looking forward to the next 10 week training block with a couple of races along the way. just need to get the volume back up to a respectable level. probably hit around 110km this week. a good start...

heading over to New Zealand in two weeks and i'm contemplating jumping in and running a 100km ultra race down near dunedin. probably decide next week. i'm not ultrafit but i'm good at bluffing my way through it fueled on gels and hornet juice.

psyched for a hard session in the morning... 1km repeats until i've had enough (at least 8 i hope).

on the diet front things have been going well this week and when i weighed myself yesterday and this morning my weight is down about 2kg from the weekend. the plan is to drop 7kg over the next 10 weeks. hunger is my friend.

my diet is not strictly primal but after spending a good portion of the last 6 months eating a largely raw fruit and veggie diet and reading about eastern philosophy, traditional chinese medicine and wholefood nutrition healing etc i have gone back to eating more protein and have reduced my fruit intake to help drop a little weight. my eating probably follows closely with the recommendations suggested in friels paleo book for athletes with changes made to focus on health and healing. typical post-exercise eating has included sweet rice (pre-washed/sacked brown rice cooked with raisins and spices) or oats (steelcut or whole) and a portion of protein - fish, eggs, nuts or seeds and/or maybe some fruit (a couple of pears, bananas or dates at the moment). breakfast this morning was stirfried chinese greens with 3 eggs and an orange. snacks have included carrots or apples with almond butter, a handful of goji berries and a lara bar. dinner will likely be a large green salad, some steamed veggies and will finish with some cooked protein.

training summary:
monday: 50min easy run
tuesday: intervals 2000-1000-1600-800-4x400m
wednesday: 90min steady run with half @ marathon pace
thursday: 40min fartlek (5-4-3-2-10x1min with 1/2 time recovery jog)
friday: 50min recovery run
saturday: 1k intervals @ race pace (tomorrow)
sunday: long trail run (2-3 hours - maybe more if i'm feeling ultra frisky)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

picking it up...

starting weight: 76.9kg (169 lb)

training this week (so far)- adding both volume and intensity...

monday am: 10km easy (44') // pm- 19.2km steady w surges + 3k hill climb tempo

tuesday: 14km easy (60')

wednesday am: 1h30' trail run - steep climbs // pm- 14km (60') w intervals 2x2000m (7'30"), 1x1000m (3'30"), 3x500m (1'35"-1'40") (2' recovery).

thursday pm: 19km (1h30) depletion run - 60' easy (75%HRmax) + 4x400m (av 79"), 4x300m (57"), 4x200m (37") w 60" recovery to 100bpm.

typical days eating-

breakfast: 3 eggs scrambled or hard-boiled w olive oil, turmeric, salt, pepper + black coffee + piece of fruit (apple, orange or banana)

snack: apple + almonds (before run)

lunch: salad (greek, garden etc) w protein (fish, chicken) + green tea

snack: fruit + almonds (before run) :: maybe another piece or two of fruit after run

dinner: lamb roast w steamed veggies + green salad

Monday, July 13, 2009

Body composition...

For my birthday last year my wife sent me to the Sport and Recreation Academy for a VO2/LT test. The test was undertaken two weeks after I ran the course record 90km at 12FT so aerobically I was very fit but I struggled to get my top end up as I was still struggling with fatigue.

I'm taking this as my starting point and following the recommendations of the testers I'm thinking about taking the test again in 15 weeks to see if I have improved on the results. At least I'm already 1kg lighter than last year.

Body composition

Height: 175.3 cm
Body mass: 77.2 kg
Body fat: ~8%

Body fat within ideal range for an endurance athlete. Reducing body fat will enhance your exercise efficiency and ultimately improve your running performance. Aim to decrease weight by 0.5-1.0kg over the next training cycle.

Aerobic Fitness

VO2: 4.84 L/min
MaxHR: 188
AT2: 87%VO2/90%MHR
AT1: 73%VO2/75%MHR

A good aerobic threshold is thought to be 70% of max heart rate. Your score of 75% well above this range, indicating that you have an excellent aerobic base. A good anaerobic threshold (AT2) for endurance athletes is thought to be round 90% of max heart rate and above. Your AT2 at 90% is just within the ideal range. You can improve your AT2 running speed with 40min or 2 x 20min runs @ 169 b/min. An improvement in AT2 running speed will enhance your 10km run performance. Aim for two of these sessions per week in the first 1-8 weeks. Your final lactate of 11.6mmol/L was not especially high for an endurance athlete.

You can help improve your peak lactate and running speed with interval style training (using hills or flat 200m – 3km intervals) e.g. 4 x 400m hard, 3-5 mins rest between sets.

Aerobic Power

Your aerobic power (4.84 L/min) is excellent. This may continue to improve with higher intensity training.

Weeks 1-8
It is suggested that the majority of your training be centred on your anaerobic threshold. Aim for two anaerobic threshold runs per week. You should also add one VO2max run per week (1km to 3km efforts @ 178-188b/min) with a long rest. Eg; 2 x 3km, with 4min rest. This will improve both your lactate tolerance and VO2max. Also include one to two long duration, low intensity runs.

Weeks 9 - 15
Increase the frequency and intensity of interval training to two long interval sessions per week (1km to 3km, close to maximum heart rate), one short interval session per week (400m to 1km, hard) and one anaerobic threshold run. Also include one to two long duration, low intensity runs to maintain your great base.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The North Face 100

On Saturday I had the much anticipated pleasure of lining up at The North Face 100 with 333 other runners. This challenging course takes in some of the most beautiful trails and views within the Blue Mountains World Heritage Park and surrounds. As I was to find I think it also included every set of stairs in the area.

In the minutes before the event starting I caught up with a few friends and familiar faces that I have come to know over the last couple of years and I was looking forward to possibly running with one or two throughout the race.

Just after 7:00am at the conclusion of the race briefing we moved up to the start area and I found myself a few back from the front just behind Dean Karnazes. I thought that was pretty cool and I hoped that I may get a picture running with DK to share with the family.

The race started out at a solid pace at the front and I immediately felt flat and lethargic but I was hoping that would pass quickly. We were led around the golf course and I slotted in comfortably a few steps behind DK.

Following the group we hit the climb out of the Resort and I started to move a bit more freely but I couldn’t believe how weak my legs felt. Tackling the first of the steps I was beginning to entertain thoughts that this was indeed not going to be my day and I was going to have to prepare myself for a long day out. I did however notice that I was moving a lot quicker on the flats and descents on the way to CP1 than the other runners around me. I believed that was my saving grace and I started to push the pace a little harder through those sections. Losing a little time to walking the steep climbs was where I would allow myself to get a little recovery and prepare myself to pick it up at the next opportunity.

While I have never really imagined quitting during an event I did contemplate it and I started running through a list of plausible excuses that I had been subconsciously working on over the previous weeks during a couple of bouts of sickness one after the other and other personal events which disrupted my planned long runs and high volume weekends (maybe a blessing in hindsight). But of course letting myself down would not be as bad as how I would feel facing my wife and children knowing that I didn’t gut it out and make it through this challenge before me.

So much stuff happens inside your head during long events when much of your time is spent alone and this day was no exception. I started formulating plans and playing games to get me through to the end but the one thing that stuck with me was my need to keep up with my nutrition and hydration strategy which I formulated a few days prior based around what had worked for me at 12FT the previous year and the simple strategy Ben employed in his stunning victory at Six Foot a few months earlier.

The climb up the Golden Stairs to CP1 was grueling and I was happy to put an end to it and get up there alive. I downed a few cups of sports drink, grabbed a handful of jelly lollies and headed off. I was surrounded by only a few runners and I thought it was likely that I was sitting in around 20th position (the results later had me in 14th). I climbed the first steep section while slowly eating the lollies hoping that the energy would somehow make it into my legs. It didn’t but I felt neither good or bad and I was happy to just keep slogging away while I could see that I was reeling in a couple of runners up ahead on the track. I was happy to maintain the effort and I was starting to think that I might just get through to the end. Waiting for Jo Blake to get off the ladder at Tarros I started climbing down a little carelessly and my foot slipped on the rung sending my shin smashing into the steel. I almost screamed out with pain but strangely it felt good and the adrenaline was exactly what I needed to kick me into gear. Stepping off the ladder and calling “all clear” I took off and found myself in the zone running quickly along the singletrack. I moved past Jo shortly after and before CP2 I had caught and passed at least another five runners.

The trail down to Dunphys proved a little frightening as the Mizuno race flats that I picked up on Mother’s Day gave little traction on the steep descent. Note to self: I need to find a good light racing trail shoe with a mildly aggressive tread.
Enough can be said for having the support of people you know out on the course cheering you on and when I came into Dunphys to see
Ben and Berro (both members of the Blue Mts Marathon Clinic) I was stoked to hear that I was in tenth place and that the few runners just ahead were close and not looking as fresh as I was looking. A quick refill and couple of pieces of banana and I was off.

I chatted with Prince Donges heading out of CP2 on our way to Ironpot finding out that he was another local Blue Mountains runner before moving ahead at the start of the long steep climb up the ridge. At the top I caught up to another runner and I followed him through to the turn around. On the return I was able to pick it up and run quite quickly through this technical section and following my new race plan I fanged it on the way down to the creek. At the creek and for the remainder of the course through the private property I hit another low point but quickly emerged from that at the start of the long climb up the road. I walked nearly all of this section except for the areas where it flattened out a little on the curves and as I crested the hill my legs started feeling nice and springy and I was able to turn over my legs without what felt like any appreciable effort. I reined in another two runners heading down Megalong Road getting high fives from Long Arms and Ben heading into CP3 at which stage ST told me I was in 5th or 6th position. I still couldn’t believe it.

A quick stop and a mandatory gear check and I was on my way. Running out of the checkpoint full of smiles, energy and on a high... that was until I rounded the corner and out of site where all of a sudden I hit an unexpected slump. I couldn’t believe it. I took in a big drink and started running and within a few minutes the feeling passed and I was happy to start running on familiar track (the Six Foot). After two successful attempts running the 12 Foot Track I was happy to find that my legs were good at this stage. That was until I jumped off the ladder crossing the fence to find that the instant my foot hit the ground my left quad seized into the worst cramp I have ever experienced. No warning beforehand either and I didn’t know what to do as my leg was locked and I wasn’t sure how to stretch it out. I started massaging it and I took two S-Caps in a hope that the cramp would pass and about five minutes later I was able to start walking again and then running.

By the time I hit the stairs both my quads were cramping up but I was able to use my arms on my quads to limit the strain and keep the cramps at bay. As always the climb up Nellies is tough and turning right on the track at the top I expected to be able to start running again with some relief that it was behind me but I was mistaken. Probably the least enjoyable section of the race for me and emerging onto the asphalt on the outskirts of Katoomba I have never been so happy.

I felt good again knowing that I was only moments away from CP4 and I would make first contact with my support crew Simon. Running into the checkpoint to see Sean and his partner Mel also lifted my spirits as they were obviously stoked on my performance. I was currently in fifth place and I was told there were a couple of runners not long ahead so with the help of Simon and Sean I ate some more banana and my bladder refilled, downed some coke and gatorade and the aid station volunteer handed me a couple of gels which I was relying on to get me through to the final checkpoint.

I sprung out of the checkpoint feeling absolutely magic – my legs felt springy and I felt like I was just starting out on what was promising to be a great run. I found myself picking it up even more when about a kilometre down the track I realised when I went to grab some scheduled fuel that I had left the gels on the table. Shit... no fuel except for the diluted 1.5 litres of sports drink and the few snakes I had in a plastic bag contained inside my pack. I did have two sports bars (mandatory gear) but I couldn’t bring myself to eat them. With 23 kilometres, at least 2 ½ hours and some significant climbing in front of me I was concerned how it would play out but I wasn’t about to back off while I was still feeling good.

I got down the giant stairs uneventfully and was excited to be running along sublime point as I couldn’t find this track during earlier course recon. I was powering along on the flats and downhill sections and I quickly caught and passed the fourth place runner. It started to toughen up through here as my energy levels starting falling and I started playing a game in my head trying to work out when the next marker would be. I kept hoping it would say 80km thinking that I had passed the 75km marker without noticing but when I came to the next marker to find that it read 75km I was shattered... but only for a brief moment. I shook the feeling aside and set myself the task of getting to Jamison Creek and the start of the climb up Kedumba which I was sadistically looking forward to all day. I slowly reeled in third place runner Clarke and after a brief chat I told him that I would try and start running where I could and said my goodbyes and good lucks. He hung with me nearly the whole climb up till I got to the park gate and I managed to put a bit more effort into it knowing that the hospital was only a few short kilometres away. Spurred on with dehydration and a need to get some fuel in I managed to put a couple of minutes on Clarke heading into the final checkpoint.

It was great to see Simon there along with Ben and Berro (they must have logged some kilometres in the car out there on Saturday) and after a quick refuel (water bottles only) and some more banana I headed off for what I thought would be a relatively easy 11km to the finish. I had already called my wife heading up Kedumba to let her know that I was running well and would probably finish a little over an hour (OK I was a little wrong) and she was already excited as she had been watching the live results and saw that I was running in fifth place at the last checkpoint. She was even more excited when I told her that I had passed two runners over the last 10km to move into third.

I was feeling great heading up along Tableland Road and down Hordern onto the trails but with the fading light my pace slowed. I pulled out the headlamp I had borrowed from Mister G to find that the batteries which I thought were new weren’t and quickly either the light faded or my eyes blurred (I wasn’t sure at the time which). With a few minutes between myself and fourth place behind me I decided to take it as easy as possible while still moving as quickly as needed to avoid rolling my ankle or worse through this section.

The last five kilometres dragged on and when I finally came up out of Lillians Bridge and started circumnavigating the golf course I realised I was almost there. Or so it seemed. The trail around the golf course went on and on and finally when I got to the point when I felt like I was running away from the finish it finally turned and started heading uphill. Seeing the glowing sticks were indeed a relief and I was thankful that a volunteer pointed my in the right direction to the finish line.
Finish: 11:39:22 - 3rd place (out of 333)

Sharing the finish with my wife and kids there was one of the happiest moments of my life. It was also great to have a few friends which made the finish feel like it had been put on just for me. A cherished moment!

Watching the other runners come in shortly behind and sharing their race experience with as they got warm and enjoyed some drink and food also made the event more special than any other event I have participated in.

Congratulations to the phenomenal performances of the ever humble Andrew Lee and Tim Cochrane – you guys are legends. I also want to take my hat off to and give my congratulations to Clark McClymont and Doug Grubert two of the nicest people I have met during an event of this magnitude.

Congratulations to everyone who endured at The North Face 100. I hope to see you all next year!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Primal for 60

Inspired by the fresh new look of MDA and a strong desire to get myself into shape I'm starting a new challenge in 12 days. Actually I'm never really out of shape - running 100km tomorrow but I just enjoy setting myself goals and experiencing the changes that occur along the journey. It's never really about the outcome for me.

This is nothing new for me. Over the last year I undertook the 30-day Primal Challenge, went on a raw food journey for almost 3 months and trained for and completed a number of events including running a marathon (Cities Marathon in a personal best time of 2:57), setting a course record at a 90km trail ultra and set another PB at the Six Foot Track. My wife has come to expect something new from me and she is also starting to ask me what's next. Better not disappoint.

The inspiration to attempt last year's 30-day Primal Challenge came from the inspiration found within the pages of
Mark's Daily Apple. Here is what I wrote about that experience...

30-day Primal Challenge Results (2008)

Wow! The month seems to have flown on by without me realizing. The main reason I hadn’t noticed was because nothing has really changed since the challenge finished up. I have continued along eating what I have been eating while following the primal challenge and even though I have given myself the freedom to choose to eat whatever I wish I still choose more primal options. I can’t seem to bring myself to eat the usual processed sugars, pasta, rice, bread etc that was a big part of my diet prior to the 30 day challenge.

My diet prior to the challenge was the typical of the endurance athlete diet consisting of cereal and toast for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, pasta and rice based dinners and throw in the several snacks spaced throughout the day that I consumed when feeling hungry or prior to or after a run. Snacks of course were of the processed variety and included sports bars, muesli bars, meal replacement snacks, pretzels, chips, cookies, chocolate etc.

With the challenge my diet drastically changed to include more fruit and vegetables but the biggest change was in the amount of protein and fats that I consumed at every meal.

While losing 10 pounds was an added result of the challenge, what I really discovered (almost day one) was that my energy levels where high throughout the day and replacing the fluctuations of low energy periods following my usual high carbohydrate feeds. I also noticed a reduction in post-run muscle soreness and enhanced day-to-day recovery. My legs almost felt like they were buzzing.

The final week:

Starting weight: 172 lb
End weight: 163 lb
Exercise total: 49 miles (including race 26.2 miles)
Marathon finishing time: 2:57:10


I followed the old school carb depletion-loading scheme which was popular amongst marathon runners a few years back. It made following the primal challenge easier during the depletion stage but I had to make some small departures in the form of added oatmeal, sweet potato and additional fruit (mainly bananas and dried fruit) in the days leading up to the marathon. I viewed oatmeal and sweet potato as being a good compromise.

Of course during the depletion stage the main challenge was getting in my runs and resting up for the race on Sunday. Actually stopping myself from going on long runs on the trails was my biggest challenge.


I stopped focusing on weight goals this week with my whole focus on being ready to go on race day. My weight probably dipped a little during the first four days when I eliminated nearly all carbohydrates but during the 24 hours leading up to the race I tried to top up my glycogen stores by adding in enough carbohydrates. The day before this ended up being around 600-700g of total carbohydrates.

Race day came and I woke 4 hours early for a good feed of oatmeal w/ honey, a banana and some apple juice (usually I eat two English muffins with jam and PB before a race). Two hours before I started drinking some sports drink (for the electrolytes) and just before the race I consumed the first of five gels. On the race I either drank water or sports drink.

I felt great at the start. Well rested and ready to run fast but by about 9 miles in I was thinking that I tapered a little short and was still carrying some leg fatigue. It didn’t get any worse and I was able to embrace the pain and fatigue over the final 6 miles to bring home a sub 3 hour marathon.

One mistake I did make was that I probably didn’t eat enough carbohydrates during the post-run window to help speed up my recovery in the days after and I suffered a little more than usual. Will rectify next time around.

As an endurance athlete it makes me aware that I still have a lot more to learn. While much of my learning will come from sites like this one and from books like the Paleo Diet for Athletes (although haven’t read it yet I plan on buying it) as an example I think much of the learning will take place while experimenting and finding what works best for me. So looking beyond this challenge I am going to continue on and for those that are interested I will continue to post my results and discoveries on my
blog. It will be an interesting journey as I get back into running what I hope will be 100+ mile weeks with my end goal of running a 2:40 marathon.
Thanks everyone for sharing your results during this challenge. It has been great that to read how others are going and knowing that other people are reading with interest or even taking part in their own personal challenges makes sticking to my challenge easier. The changes I have made to my diet have been taken up by friends and they are all experiencing good results also.

So what's next...

The next installment: 60-day Primal Challenge

Goal: to achieve "ideal race weight"

Race weight challenge

Dr George Sheehan and British running coach Frank Horwill believe that distance running success is governed by a runner's weight relative to height.

Stillman developed a height to weight ratio that stipulates that the non-active man's average weight for height follows this simple formula. He allocates 110 lbs (56.2kg) for the first five feet (1.524m) in height and 5 1/2 lbs (2.296kg) for every inch (0.025m) thereafter.

My starting point -
Height = 1.754m
Current weight = 77.0kg
Average weight = 77.3kg (from Stillman table)

So according to the Stillman table I'm currently at average weight for my height. Actually I might already be below this as my weight has been fluctuating between 76 and 78kg for the last few months.

So now having calculated the average weight for my height the next step is to find what my ideal weight would be for me to achieve my athletic performance potential. According to Sheehan and Horwill my ideal weight should be as follows:

  • Sprinters (100-400m): 2.5% lighter
  • Middle-distance runners (800m-10k): 12% lighter
  • Long-distance runners (10+ miles): 15% lighter as a long distance runner my ideal weight should be:
Ideal weight: 77.3 - 15% = 65.7kg (145 lbs)
Shaping up to the Stillman table has me at the same weight as the average person. Supposedly I can improve my performance dramatically by losing weight. As I document my challenge I'll be interested to see if and how my training, recovery and performance improves.
I'll part now with these words...
"if you are going to be an athlete - look like one." - Percy Cerutty

"When you become fully responsible for your life, you can become fully human; once you become human, you may discover what it means to be a warrior." - Dan Millman (Way of the Peaceful Warrior)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

New challenges

The joy of running over the last few days has continued to improve and the experience of running effortlessly has begun to creep into my legs. Ah, how I love taper time.

But it wasn't this way during the last two weeks of training. Unfortunately my motivation to succeed and perform at a high level very often exceeds my rationality for incorporating rest and active recovery into my life. Knowing full well that taking a day off or swapping a run for a cross-training session (bike, swim, yoga etc) will help enhance my recovery and improve my long term athletic performance doesn't stop me from running into the next energy bonk (the dreaded wall) or potential injury. But hopefully this will change. I don't need to exceed 200km (120 miles) of running a week to continue to improve. Well I don't think so anyway.

In an attempt to improve my endurance and running ability over ultra-distances I have been enjoying eating primal again and with the 100km race only a few short days away I have already found myself looking beyond to set new goals for myself. New goals help me to keep going and maintain my motivation to continue to improve my running, fitness and health to achieve all sorts of athletic pursuits.

I'll discuss my new challenges (goals) in my next post.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

i've been gone...

sorry haven't been posted for a while.

i have been updating my
training blog but have neglected this blog for a while as my diet has been less of an interest to me as i've just been trying to get on with training for some upcoming ultras, long distance adventure runs and speed record attempts.

but with an event looming my focus has been switched back on as i attempt to get in to peak fitness and trim some unwanted baggage from my frame. being lighter will hopefully have it's advantages running up all the hills on race day...

my diet has been largely organic and raw but i'm feeling the need to get back into some good old primal food as my training exceeds 200 kilometres (124 miles) running per week...

food on the run...

i'm on the search across the web trying to find food that i can put together to carry while running or to have as a quick snack between meals.i'm building my personal resource page for links to various recipes and i'll update regularly.

to start with i came across the site
primal fusion and they have the following recipes i'll give a go or modify to fit with what i eat...

primal bar - lara bar (alternative)

from checking out the running raw site it seems he nearly lives of these things but eating processed sports/nutrition bars can get quite expensive. but as they are made from two of my favourite food groups (nuts and fruits) i'll be giving them a go shortly.

peanut butter powerballs

they are made with peanut butter but i might try substituting these with almond butter.

another great site i've found which i highly recommend is
vo2 maxxed and some samples of their recipes include:

oat power cookies

m&j's cranberry pumpkin power snacks

other inspirational nutrition and training sites include:

simon whitfield's blog - see this post

mark's daily apple

chuckie v

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Taper update...

While training during the taper is largely going to plan everything in life else isn't flowing so smoothly.

For those few who read this thing I thought I had better check in for the last time before race day and log what I have been up to...before I forget more of the details.

Thankfully I'm on the back end of life's current dramas that affected my training and everything is starting to sort itself out. Hopefully for the better so that I can resume my dedication to training to achieve whatever goal I set myself next. At the moment I'm in two minds about what I want to do. Go long or get fast? Or can I do both at the same time? Perhaps someone reading this can help me out there.

Coming off last years running highs and expecting my training to climb up and stand on the back of those triumphs was a little naive of me. I should have focused on the moment instead of trying to relive my training glory. With lifes ever changing processes I should focus on the NOW!! I'm beginning to see this reality and I'm learning.

With all that said and done I'll get into my training, which thankfully (but a little late) has turned a corner and I can feel myself improving (getting fitter) almost every day. Much of the speed that I had built last year has come back into my legs and the big question that is now before me is whether or not I'll have the endurance to go with it on race day. OK enough rambling and time to get down with the numbers. Actually now that I have looked at it maybe I have done a little too much. Time will be my witness.

Training log:

Friday: 90 minute run w/ repeat miles @ marathon to tempo pace
A great run on a glorious day. Ran out to the Nepean Lakes and ran the mile repeats around the 5km path. The effort felt comfortable during the faster running with the first few repeats at around 3:50 pace, finishing up with the last two repeats averaging around low 3:40 pace. Great run.

Saturday: 16k w/ MP (effort) tempo
Bit vague on the details here but I'm thinking that I ran about 11k+ at marathon effort (168bpm) which worked out to be around 3:50 pace. Felt good.

Sunday: 8km w/ 5-6km @ MP
Again can't remember too many of the details but another good effort at around 3:50 pace. My average heart rate during faster running was around 158bpm (79%MHR) which previously was the effort I ran my easy runs at last year. Perhaps I'm fitter now.

Monday: 17km easy in 1:12
I ran the same run that I ran last week and while it felt easy I improved the time by six minutes. I wasn't wearing the GPS on this run, only a watch as I didn't want to get too hung up on the numbers and start pushing myself. Big surprise to see that I finished the run so much quicker. Feeling great.

Tuesday: 11.5km in 0:48 - Treadmill session
Spent the day with my son so booked him into childminding at the gym while I put in my last speed session. Nice and short and felt great. Ran two 1600s at tempo (around 6:00) and two 1200s in around 4:00 flat (5k effort). Couldn't believe how easy they felt. Four 30 second strides at max (treadmill) speed to complete the session. Bouncing of the walls now. Had to convince myself to get off and stop running.

Wednesday: 7+km w/ 3.2km at marathon effort (~29mins) + 30min soccer coaching (before rain)
Really had to check myself during this run and stop running faster. During the warmup and cooldown I almost felt like I was stumbling along at an easy effort but every time I looked at my watch I was hovering around marathon pace. During the faster running I stopped looking at the watch and ran by feel. Post run the watch revealed that I was gradually increasing the pace each km split from 3:50-3:46-3:42. It didn't feel like I was running that quickly.

Thursday: The hardest day of the week - the day of rest.
A 30 minute run wouldn't kill me though would it?

Friday: 20-30 minute run w/ fast finish
Last run before race and the start of the carb loading

Saturday: Race Day
Having only run the race once I expect that I will at least set a personal best (as I have already run the course faster on two separate occasions - once as a training run and the second time when I ran 12FT last year).

Same carb loading protocol and pre-race routine as last time (see blog entry before Cities Marathon last July)

Next post: the race result...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

the end of the week...

My effort to post an entry everyday failed quickly. Nearly through the first week of my two week taper and I'm starting to feel aerobically fresh. Of course my legs are still sore and I have some niggles and a small injury which concerns me. My achilles are particularly sore but I'm hoping with some reduced volume next week and less running in my flats they will heal up.
My small injury is not of major concern but I managed to hurt my upper hamstring/glute and shin when climbing (and falling) over a steel fence on Wednesday. Should be OK though.

Training update (from memory):

Wednesday: AM) 70 minutes w/ ~7k @ threshold 1x3k, 1k, 6x500m + 15 minutes hill running @ 12.5%
Felt stronger as the session progressed.

Thursday: Noon) 75 minutes steady ~17km
Great run out to the Whitewater stadium and back. Took it out at a relaxed pace and gradually picked it up on the way back. Starting to feel my fitness coming on.

Friday (planned): Noon) 90-100 mins w/ 5 x 1600m @ HMP w/ 400m steady


Decided not to carb deplete for this event after feeling like absolute crap during my runs on Monday and Tuesday. With the addition of some carbs (fruits) I have started feeling much better and my runs have continued to improve. Thinking about targeting a race in May which I would like to peak for instead.

The diet has been very simple and something along the lines of:
Breakfast: handfuls of nuts and seeds, and a little dried fruit (apple, dates, raisins) + black coffee
Snacks: Fruit - Bananas, etc
Lunch: salad with more nuts and seeds + green tea
Dinner: some protein with more salad and veggies

I'm trying to watch how much I eat as my training volume tails off as I get closer to the event.

Monday, March 2, 2009

tuesday 3 march


noon) 46 min easy w/ surges (about 10k)

While I planned on running 3 x 3k at lunch it ended up not fitting into my schedule. I had forgotten about a mandatory work function that I have to attend over the next two days which will make finding the time to train somewhat difficult. During my second run this afternoon I'll give the session a go if I'm feeling up to it.


Breakfast: scrambled eggs (3) w/ spinach in olive oil
Snack: carrots (2), walnuts & sunflower seeds
Post-run: small yoghurt, peaches (2), banana - note: kept carbs to 1g/kg of bodyweight (~70g)
Lunch: sardines, carrots, cherry tomatoes
Dinner: Meat w/ steamed veggies

Sunday, March 1, 2009

sunday to monday 1-2 March


Sunday - Long run 36km in 2:40 - Blaxland to Hawkesbury Heights LO out 'n' back

Felt terrible during the start of the run and I wasn't thinking that I was going to make it through but about 10 minutes in everything fell into place and the running got easy. I started feeling good and the pace picked up. Hit the turn around right on 1:20 and came back in the same time. Groin started feeling a little niggly at the turn around but was no trouble after. Have to keep an eye on it. Smoothie and ice bath helped with the recovery.

Monday - 1 hour easy w/ 4.5km @ marathon pace + 6 x The Sanctuary Drive Hills

Legs felt loose and relaxed but my left Achilles was a little sore before warming up. Parked the car at the River Road carpark. Ran easy for about 5 minutes then decided to pick it up to marathon pace running along the eastern river bank. Crossed over the river, headed for the hills and then ran six fast repeats up the notorious road (rise between 12 and 15 percent). Legs felt good during the repeats (averaging 3:30-3:40 pace) and the cardio was worked before heading back along the river for the cooldown.


Breakfast: oats cooked in rice milk w/ 3 eggs and maple syrup (last carb meal)
Snack: peaches, walnuts
Lunch: sardines w/ chilies, avocado, cherry tomatoes, carrots + 4 fish oil capsules (immediately post-run)
Snack: carrots, walnuts
Dinner: porterhouse steak w/ fried peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes

Taper time again...

Yesterday's long run signaled the start of the taper period leading into my next race. A hilly off-road 45km ultramarathon. Usually not my happiest time as it usually brings around a lot of self-doubt and worries that I haven't done enough or perhaps I have done too much or.... well you get the idea!

My plan is to follow what worked for before the Cities Marathon in July last year but with a few tweaks here and there with my training. I'm going into this event a little under-trained compared to last time so I'm going to try and hold a little more volume in the first week before a big reduction in race week volume trying to freshen up.

Training plan:

sun - 36k in 2:40 (1:20 out/1:20 back) - already run
mon - 1h easy + 6 x short fast hills
tue - 20' warmup + 3-4 x 3k MP-LT + 1 x 2k fast (am) // 1h easy (pm)
wed - 45' easy (am) // 16k w/ 8k @ MP (noon)
thu - 90' easy (am)
fri - 13k w/ 10k MP
sat - 1h easy + 12k MP or 5 x 2k LT
sun - 90' easy
mon - 45' easy (am) // 1h w/ 4 x 1200m @ LT + 6 x 100m hill sprints (noon)
tue - 8k w/ 5k MP
wed - 6k w/ 3k MP
thu - REST
fri - 20-30' easy w/ last 2.5' fast/ 30" flat out (before carb load)
sat - RACE

Taper Diet:

- 9 days carb depletion
- 2 days start adding carbohydrates while reducing protein and fats
- 1 day carb load (10-12g carbohydrates per kg of bodyweight)

During the carb depletion phase I'll eliminate all carbohydrates except for a small amount in the post-exercise window following longer and hard workouts to allow for some glycogen replacement to provide for some recovery between sessions.

Pretty much the same taper program as last time which I felt worked and I hope will give me a similar result in two weeks time.

I'll try and post a daily account of my training, diet and thoughts leading up to race day as I did in the past.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Rest day?

After running about 400 miles in the last month and finishing up another hard running workout yesterday I am contemplating taking a day off. Off as in no running whatsoever. It is a hard thing to do as a running obsessed individual. Even knowing that taking a day off to allow my body to rest and repair itself will undoubtedly help me run faster and/or harder in the long term I struggle with the thought of not having a run today. Perhaps I'll just go out for an easy 45 minutes tonight after work.


After reading the Paleo Diet for Athletes I have made a few changes but nothing too drastic. Just a few compromises in the primal diet to ensure that I restore my glycogen levels and aid recovery between sessions.

Today's diet:

Breakfast: scrambled eggs, bacon, mushrooms + black coffee
Snack: carrots, sunflower seeds
Lunch: garden salad w/ chicken
Snack: apple + green tea
Dinner: fish and veggies


Weight: 167 lb - weighed myself for the first time in months
Legs: 4/10 - Achilles tight and sore
Sleep: 6hr - poor

Training update:

Last four weeks have averaged 90-110 miles per week with 2-3 quality sessions per week. Struggled for a few weeks with the higher mileage but have started feeling better during the last two weeks. The diet has helped with the recovery but I still need to focus on some other areas of recovery including hydration, ice baths, compression clothing, stretching etc.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A down week?

Last week was another hot week of training. Every day saw temperatures exceeding 35C. It made training much tougher...


I've gone back to eating a more primal diet with the inclusion of protein and fat at every meal and it has made an immediate improvement to my ability to recover between sessions. During the transition period while adjusting to the changes in my diet I'm finding my endurance and energy are lagging behind. Previous experience ensures me that it will only last a week or two before I see an improvement in my running.

Recent additions to diet: eggs, nuts (almonds and walnuts), lean and not-so-lean meat.

I've finally read the Paleo Diet for Athletes which I purchased over Christmas and will modify my primal diet to ensure that my glycogen levels are replenished between workouts to ensure a fast recovery. I do believe that working out in a semi-depleted glycogen state over a period of time can have significant performance gains in the short and long term but I will have to go over my old training and diet notes to work things out.


Another good mileage week but after a few bigger weeks it feels like a recovery week.

AM) 6 mi Easy run - to work
Felt a bit during the morning's run to work.

PM) 7 mi Moderate run - work to home
Any run that starts out when the temp is hovering around 40C is always going to be hard. Throw in a 2 mile climb towards the end and you can see where things can go wrong. Actually legs felt stronger on climb.

Three runs today -
AM) 8.8 miles - Easy run
Ran to work but took a longer route.

Noon) 5 miles w/ strides

PM) 7 miles
Another tough run home as it was hot again.

N) 5 miles - Easy run
Planned an easy run during my lunch break with the ambitions of running a longer 13 mile run after work with some friends but ended up bailing out because of the heat.

AM) 6.2 mile Easy run

PM) 12 miles w/ intervals (7 x 4min w/ 2-3min easy)
Hit the trails with a friend. Ran the first four intervals running uphill before turning around and running the last three downhill back to the start. Felt stronger and averaged a good pace.

AM) 4.4 mile Recovery run
Just an easy run around the shortest home loop.

AM) 22 mile Long run (2:50)
Started out running easy for the first hour before adding in some sections at marathon pace. After two hours of running the heat and humidity finally kicked in which hurt making the climb back home.

AM) 7 mile Fartlek run
Felt good on this run and decided to try and run with a little more intensity and see if I could add some life back into my legs. Felt good to be running fast again.

Total running: 90.4 miles

Monday, January 26, 2009


I've noticed people having been stopping it to check things out so I thought I had better get back to this blog thing. So here we go...

Diet has been very good over the last few months. I have been eating mainly raw uncooked food and have even enjoyed the very primal activity of foraging for my food while on a long run in the urban fringe. Carrying a pack enables you to fill it with all sorts of goodies.

Weight is hoverying around 166lbs and with an important race only 6-7 weeks away I hope that I can get my weight around 155lbs by then. I'm confident that I'll get there. Race fit and ready!


AM) Trail run - 12 miles (1:40)
After a steep drop down to the river the trail climbs for a steady 5 miles before swinging back onto the road for the return journey. Feeling tired.

AM) Easy run - 15.8 miles (2:02) - 145HR
Good run in the rain. Legs starting feeling fatigued over the last 20 minutes. Need to work on that...

PM) Easy run - 7.5 miles (1:00)
Easy run home. Hot!

AM) Easy run - 6 miles (0:42)
An easy run to work before the day gets hot although very humid. Legs felt a little fatigued from yesterday's run but about 20mins in they started feeling better. Finished up running the last 15mins around marathon pace.

PM) Will be the run home via the long way ~12 miles
The plan is to run hard for the first 6 miles before the start of the hills and then push myself on the climbs to work the legs. Already 33deg Celsius and rising... better start drinking water now!

AM) Recovery Run - 3 miles (0:22)

PM) Workout: 5 x 6mins hard w/ 4min easy - total 11 miles (1:40)
Ran the workout on the trails. The first three intervals were run uphill and the last two were run downhill back to the start. Tough session but one I need to repeat weekly if I'm going to run well at next month's race.

AM) Easy run - 11.9 miles (1:31)
Met Simon early to run a few quarters at the track (cracked a fast one in 66 seconds) and followed up with 8 x 100m striders before heading off to run to work.

PM) Easy run - 6.2 miles (0:54)
Death march home. Another hot day left me baked on the exposed hill.

AM) Easy run - 4 miles (no time)

AM) Long 19.4 miles (2:30)
Ran down to the National Park to spend some time on the trails. Felt tired during the first hour, good in the second hour and then things went downhill quickly from there (although the course went uphill).

Total running: 108.8 miles

Day 2: Early start

After discovering that my wife's bike had been stolen from the bus stop where I had chained it up for my ride home last night meant that...