Thursday, November 14, 2013

Training update: Hansons Marathon Method

After 12 full marathons, I achieved my first sub-5 hours (hopefully is the first one). I didn’t follow any kind of training plan as I am not really good to follow thru the 16 weeks routine and all my training was ad hoc. But now I started to wonder if this will be my limit, or what will be my potential if I follow thru some training plan. And Nick introduced the Hansons Marathon Method to me.

I must say I am totally bought over to the ideas shared in this book. The layout of the information is very well and it’s explained the training program before jump into the training time table. I spent some time to first digest the information, and then I spend some time looking into my time table and an event that fit into the timing to test out the result. That’s why I register myself to my first ultra 50km. Back to the training program, it’s explained why the speed work, tempo, strength building and long run, and why the program layout into a full 6 days per week workout.

I picked to start with Beginner program, cause I needed the rest and I got not confidence at all after I looked thru the weekly mileages required in the Advanced program. Beginner program started with 25-35km per week, then step up to 55-68km when speed work kicked in. Then shifted to higher gear when strength building run kicked in, peak with a whopping 85km per week. I can tell you I never ran that much before in a week! Maximum in my records was 60km only, and that’s only happened once! I am sure if I can survived this training program, I will be running any marathon with a comfortable pace (sub-5 will not be an issue any more).
Pace setting for the training program is slightly less emphasized. For any target pace you wished to follow during your race, a set of training paces recommended. So you can move up the target pace (together with set of training paces) if you later found that the pace is too easy, or slowing down if the program is getting too hard for you. Anyway, in order to identify one target pace, the past racing pace should be used. If you ran a 5.5 marathon previously, probably starting with the relevant training paces will be good. For me, I check out the easy pace (7:08 min) that I usually do, then look up to the target pace (6:24 min), which is a 4.5 hours marathon finish time. May be an ambitious target, but let give it a try and see how far I will last in the training plan, and adjust later.

The first test will be the 10k race on 1st Dec. It is recommended in the book to reconfirm the training pace if you have no completed any marathon, by doing a 10k race full out at around 7 week into the beginner training program. Hence I will try to match or better the training pace of 5:52 min. I was doing a 5:22 min pace last year on the same race (pushed hard due to company assignment to win in cooperate category), hopefully I can repeat the same result this year. And then I will comfortably use this set of training pace for the rest of the program.

Anyway, the final test will not be a marathon, but a 50km ultra @ Titi 100. I will need to adjust my 5 hours target for 42km to something like 6.5 hours for the 50km. The target looks great! Let see how far I can go with the training program for the next 94 days.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Race Report: Salomon X-Trail 2013

My 3rd barefoot race, and the first one on trail. The decision to barefoot on this event is mainly just for fun. I didn’t put in any training on trail and my last trail run was January 2011 (was only less than 2km on trail plus other in Lake Garden area, in a Cross Country event by FTAAA KL), it’s not even in my blog :P  I don’t have any target, just planned to have some fun and play with some mud.

It was hot in Saturday, but the early morning rain before the race start made the race more interesting. Arrived the MAEPS site around 6:20am, and it already packed with runners. Preparation was simple, just took off the sandal and walked to the starting point. Hang around the area to chatted with some other barefooters (I am not the only crazy one in this race) before we headed to the flag off point. Flagged off on time and we are heading towards the trail which is about 1.5km away. I just kept a comfortable 6.5 min pace.

Once I entered the trail, ops, I felt regretted to barefoot as there is a trail filled with lots of stones & pebbles. No choice but to slow down to brisk walking and needed to be mindful to put down every step. Lots of runners overtook me, I started to get used to this humble feeling. I only ran when the trail surface is dirt, mud or grass. Uphill is relatively easy for barefoot, but descending on the stones/pebbles filled trail barefoot is really painful. So most of the time I did the reverse compared to other runners, running uphill, walking down hill. The pace is awful 10-11min walking pace for that whole 4km trail section.

Finally the trail ended at about 6km mark. All runners heading back to the finish line via tarmac. I slowly pick up some speed here and finish the under distances (7.18km only) race with 1:09. Luck, no damage on both soles (only the usual water blisters formed and gone).
Thanks Dexter for the nice photo towards the finish line.
Overall the race is very well organized. Organizer and volunteers did great to make this happened and everyone had fun. Overhead some one said the route cut short due to rain and some section is not safe to run. It will be great if the organizer can announced up front the short in distances.

With out sufficient trail training and the race was jam-packed with another thousand plus runners on the trail, I don’t think I could run any faster even if I went in with VFF/sandal, hence the decision to play with barefoot still a great choice. With this race, at least I confirmed that I am not really for trail running (at least at this point of time, hard to say never especially after you read the story about the road racing Carboman Jamie also started flying over those trails).

No matter on what surface, keep running :)