I’m between a rock and a hard place/marathon. A place some of you may have been before. It’s this place affecting the status quo; the smoothness of my final training prep before I race the Christchurch Airport Marathon, June 3rd.
The set backs initially started four weeks from race day, after the New Balance 15km. I had a niggle with my Hip Flexor, and only managed to run 79km for the week. In my schedule I’d planned to run close to 200km, so I was already forced on my back foot for the final few weeks.
With extensive help from my massage therapist, and lots of rest and stretching I managed to come right three weeks out. I actually had a pretty good weeks training, including two longish runs and two workouts, but by the end of the week I only manage 7km for Sunday. On the Saturday I tempoed a 10km at marathon race pace (approx. 34min). I felt utterly crap for the tempo, heightened by wearing brand new racing flats, which gave me pain through my feet.
By the time Sunday rolled around, I was completely exhausted and had come down with the flu too… brilliant.
So here I am, two weeks out from the marathon, with a slight niggle to my Hip Flexor, sore joints and a stuffy flu.
Running fast is all about confidence, confidence allows you the mental capacity to push harder on race day and attempt the daring. So understandably, with these slight disruptions to my final prep, I’ve been questioning my confidence somewhat. But what I’ve come to realise is I’ve just completed 20 weeks of over 140km per week, including my best workouts and best mileage ever! Yeah, the last two weeks haven’t gone completely to plan, but if I can recover to 100% by race day, then who knows what will happen.
Often when ‘the plan’ doesn’t happen the way you expected, you start to loose confidence. But here’s a solution; having the ability to be adaptive with training and planning give you even more benefit. I believe this is one of my strengths, every time in the last few weeks that I’ve been hit with a set back, I’ve been able to readjust, and have been able to figure out another way of training… That ultimately gives me confidence.
Earlier in the year (January 2012), I visited Wainui Bay for my summer break. Prior to my arrival, the bay and surrounding Nelson areas were devastated by torrential rain, prompting large slips and flash floods.
I was fortunate enough to holiday with a few close friends over in Wainui, and to also lend a hand with the cleanup. When we arrived there was still 1ft+ of water free flowing straight through the valley, and we had to navigate our way though carefully. Large hillside slips had also demolished many of the roads on the hillside, with particular devastation to the Totaranui road.
A week or so later as we left, I decided to film the drive out, with the intention of providing the community of people with a few memories, be it devastating even so.
For the second year in a row, the annual New Balance 15km road race was held out at Greenpark – Tai Tapu, on a two-lap flat course.
Going into this race I was confident I’d run well, with the past 18 weeks of training going smoothly with no real hiccups. I did however have a slight niggle, where on the Saturday (day before the race) my glut stopped firing and I was getting shooting pain through my Hip flexor. Obviously, I chose to ignore this, and turned up to the start line regardless.
Racing in New Zealand is often a weird phenomenon, as you have no real idea regarding who’s going to turn up on race day – how much better could it be if we arranged for top athletes to compete at the same races? Anyway, it was a good surprise to see Sam Wreford warming up. He’d been away in Kenya for the last 6-7 Months training at Iten, which is at about 10,000ft. Sam had been training specifically for the Marathon, so I knew he’d be in fantastic shape and would provide me with the perfect opportunity to run a quick time.
As the gun went off, I quickly learned that the first few kms were going to be fast. According to my GPS I ran 3:56 through the first 1km, and 8:58 through 3km. At this point there was a tight group of four runners: Sam Wreford, Blair McWhirter, Nick Rennie and Myself, and about 20-30m back Matt Ingram and Luke Hurring.
At about the 4km mark I knew I needed to consolidate and slow down as not to pop too early, as going out at 44:50 pace was a bit stupid. However, this turned out to be a stupid mistake, as I was about to find out… At about 6-7km Nick Rennie had popped and was going backward fast. As I ran past Nick I could see Blair 200m in front dropping off Sam, and indicated to Nick that I wanted to try and catch back up to Blair. Nick, however, was too far-gone, which left me in no-mans land, running directly into a headwind… At this point I turned off mentally. I was feeling great, strong with energy in my legs, but I didn’t have the confidence to try at catch Blair and risk my current 3rd position. So, for the final 7km I essentially tempoed, making sure Luke, who was now in 4th wouldn’t catch me.
I ended up in third running 49:31, which was 10sec slower that last year. But I honestly only run at 85% of my max. I’m frustrated I wasn’t able to push harder, and was too risk adverse to risk popping. As an athlete, the feeling you get from pushing through the impossible, gives you an addictive buzz. So coming out of this race, I had nothing. I’d essentially wasted a good opportunity to run fast, all for 3rd and $100 in prize money… Stupid.
Looking at the positive side, I’m certain I could have run much faster, and I’m glad it was this race I was soft in, not the Christchurch Marathon in a months time. I’ve learnt that to be satisfied from racing, It doesn’t matter what place I ultimately get, but if I’ve run as hard as I physically can, I’ll ultimately be stoked.
I need to risk more, to be more!
The hundreds and thousands of miles we all do take their toll on our bodies… That’s the truth – running is a brutal sport.
The constant impact, the tearing of muscles, and the adaptation function we put our bodies through is outrageous. So ask yourself this; how many times have you found yourself being complacent with the 1%ers; the parts of training like: stretching, core exercises, massage, and general body strengthening exercises? The interesting thing about the ‘maintenance stuff’ is commonly amongst runners and athletes it’s treated as a secondary component, and almost treated as an afterthought. How many times have you stretched and worked on strengthening this week? My guess; not that much!
I guarantee you’ve all heard about this all before, but let’s face it, you’re probably being lazy and not doing it much. So without talking about myself too much, I’ll give you some insight as to what’s happened to me, and how I’ve learnt from my mistake.
I was injured for about 5months last year and couldn’t run at all. Slowly, I managed to get back running in December of last year. When finally I was able to complete some regular training, I had a wonderful idea to run a marathon; my first one. I was also motivated to incorporate more strengthening and stretching into my program, focusing on this component weekly as well as my standard training. So, from February until now, I’ve smashed myself with the focus on running further and harder for longer… but I forgot my intention to also incorporate the 1%er training into my program too. Yes, I stretch here and there, but I can probably count the number of times, on my fingers and toes, that I’ve spent strengthening over the last few months. I simply got carried away and wasn’t looking at big picture training. So now, three weeks out from the Christchurch Marathon, after running 3 months of perfect training, I’m experiencing pain from my Hip Flexor.
Now, it’s not too bad, but it’s really frustrating and will limit my final training before the Marathon. But what’s more frustrating is that I know I could have avoided this injury if I simply did a few squats and a few more stretchers per week. So that’s my point, it’s really easy to get caught up feeling good in training, thinking you’re bullet proof where nothing can impact you. But, reality is different. When you’re pushing it to the max and running hard, you need to look after yourself – the extra miles and workouts you’re doing at one end, need to balance out with body maintenance at the other end. Squats, calf raises, core and full stretching is a great place to start. Do it, and do it every few days.
To the millions of runners and sports people out there, this ad is incredibly humbling. My first thought after watching this was, ‘well, I’m damn lucky.’ Sometimes the simple and everyday things able-bodied people can do are taken for granted. But as this ad reflects, imagine the struggle, the commitment and the focused needed by paralympians to compete!
From a production POV, again this ad delivers; the dark colour pallet, the dramatically raw backing track mixed with the real ‘accident’ noises, tie in perfectly with the ads’ purpose.
My only neg is without seeing the video title, I had a hard time figuring out what the ad was meant to demonstrate -obviously it shows the life changing path taken by some paralympians, but what’s the ad really trying to achieve? -awareness?
Anyway, I love this ad, and I’m sure you’ll appreciate it too. You’ll definitely stop and think now won’t you!
The last week’s training was big! – Easily over 110 miles combined with my best ever workout.
Don scheduled a 10 x 1km workout on Tuesday with a 2min recovery between each rep. Warming up for the workout I wasn’t feeling fresh, and overall a bit sluggish. But it’s weird sometimes before workouts and races, when you’re feeling a bit off; sometimes you do your best workouts.
So as the first few reps flew by, I became more and more relaxed. I was running about 3:06 per km for the first reps. At this point I vividly remember smiling to myself and chuckling as I knew I was floating and managing to run the speed easily.
As it’s winter now in NZ, it becomes dark early and very quickly. But weirdly, as it became pitch black on the course I was running, I started to run faster, finishing the last rep off in 2:56.
The best thing about the work out was Don’s response; “you’re not a pussy anymore.” To give some context, in the 80s Don ran numerous sub 2:15 marathons, and achieved a PR of 2:13. So obviously hearing Don’s classic feedback has given me definite confidence going forward for the final few weeks before the marathon.
The rest of the week was good too, as I travelled over to the West Coast primarily to run some large k’s but also to catch up with my sister too. I ran around 60km in 2 days, with two staggering runs. The first was a 20km tempo next to the Paparoa River, over a ridge and back out down the Punakaiki River. The trail was off road, but I used it as a ‘light(ish)’ tempo.
The second run was my Sunday morning run, which took me up to Hokitika’s Trigg station, with an elevation of about 400m and complete 360degree views; beautiful!
All in all, a very good week, both in-terms of workouts and long runs. Over the next few weeks, I’ll compete at the New Balance 15km race, and will continue to build my kms per week too