Thursday, January 23, 2014

Getting There

Yesterday marked exactly 4 weeks since I resumed training on Christmas Day, and at times it has been a very frustrating month. Having done no running at all for two weeks, my old achilles tendons had started contracting, and training (and even walking) was a pretty painful experience for a while as they began to stretch out again.

As per normal, once my weekly volume got up around the 100k, they started to improve rapidly. They are still pretty sore and tight in the mornings, and for the first 3-4k of a run, but once they warm up they are OK. I am doing lots of calf stretching and eccentric heel drops to assist with strengthening them, and I think within another couple of weeks I should be fine.

The actual injury that sidelined me - lower leg tendon inflammation - has been good as gold, without so much as a niggle, but I am being pretty careful with the downhills, and paying particular attention to my form, as I think getting sloppy with my action was a major cause of the injury.

Several things have changed with my training. I used to carry my phone all the time, listen to music, and use a running app - Endomondo for Android. Since collecting my prize for winning the 30/50 Challenge 50k in November - a brand new Garmin Forerunner 220 from Highly Tuned Athletes - I am training almost exclusively with just the watch. I only take my phone now if I need to for safety reasons, usually when I'm running trails known for Tiger Snake sightings, or if the trail is technical enough to worry about a broken ankle! This has been a big improvement, as the app used to drop the GPS signal all the time, and running without music lets me focus on form and cadence.

My Watch! The Garmin Forerunner 220

The other thing that changed is my footwear. For Christmas I got three (yes three) pairs of the same shoes in different colours - the Adidas Adios Boost. These are lightweight racing flats, worn by some of the top marathoners in the world, including WR holder Wilson Kipsang, but are great for the hard-packed trails around the peninsula. I am using these shoes for most of my training runs, and probably all my races this year. The only exception will be if it gets too muddy, or I decide I need a bit more cushioning when I step up to 100k at the GOW100 Heysen 105 in October.

My Shoes! The Adidas Adios Boost

I am also using a two month break from work in Jan-Feb to up my training volume. Last week I topped 100k (109) for the first time since early December, and this week will be around 115k. My highest total last year was 124k three weeks out from 30/50, but plan on being up around 135k within the next couple of weeks, then having a low k week, before stepping up to 141k three & four weeks out from Maroondah Dam, then tapering. This means my Wed & Thu runs will be run at a slower pace than last year, but hopefully by gradually upping my Tuesday interval pace, I will still improve my speed.

My Training Program for the Next 8 Weeks

I feel like I'm venturing into the unknown a bit here. I'm coming off an injury, and still not totally trusting my body, yet at the same time attempting to cope with a training workload I've never achieved before. It's a risk, but with Maroondah Dam doubling as the AURA National Trail Championships this year, I think it's worth it.

If I get through in one piece, then I will probably run Rollercoaster again since I missed Two Bays, and that will give me my four races for the season. If it all blows up in my face and I get injured again, then I will just lick my wounds, and start again. At least I will be coming from a place far ahead of where I was this time last year.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Goals for 2014

2013 exceeded all my expectations, and despite getting injured at the end of the year, I feel really satisfied with what I was able to achieve. To go from middle-of-pack in my first two ultras, to competing at a high level, was reward for an incredible amount of hard work, and I don't think I could have trained any harder.

Obviously with the injury, I am still learning what my limits are, and at 45 years of age, I probably only have a small window where I can still improve - maybe two years tops. I will have to be a bit smarter with my training, make sure I keep listening to my body when it needs a break, and start doing the 1% things like better diet, compression & recovery.

My immediate target is the Australian Trail Championships 50k at Maroondah Dam in March. I'm not sure if a top ten is achievable, but that is my goal at the moment. After that, I will train hard again during winter to get ready for the 2014-15 season, with particular attention to interval work. I definitely still need more speed to keep from getting blown away at the start.

From there, it will be Yurrebilla again in Adelaide in September, followed by my first 100k race - the Great Ocean Walk 100 in October on Victoria's Surf Coast. Then, depending on how I recover, I may defend my title at the 30/50 Challenge in November.

Although a relative newcomer to this sport, I have gained an incredible amount of enjoyment from it this past year, not only from my own racing, but also from following the elite level both in Australia and overseas. And of course, I love reading the blogs and twitter feeds of the everyday runners, who simply enjoy the freedom of getting out on the trails, getting close to nature, and testing their own limits.

May you all have a wonderful 2014.