Thursday, September 27, 2007

It's a sickness

Wow, thanks so much for all the comments of sympathy and encouragement. That's a good way of finding out the lurkers, just post that you have an injury, ha ha! I'm afraid what I have to tell you is going to wear thin your patience and forbearance.

Moving around this evening from work to Shibuya and up Dogenzaka to attend a kind of interview, involving a fair bit of walking, it struck me that there was not much pain or even discomfort coming from the sore bit. My mind got to working. Every day in September. Every day in September. Maybe you can still do it? I trotted a little bit in my work clothes. Hmm...doesn't hurt. No, don't be foolish! I tried to shove such thoughts to the back of my mind. So on the way back from the interview I popped into Tokyu Department Store 8th floor above Shibuya Station. There is an Osaka goods promotion (until Oct 2), and prominent among the stands was one from a craft brewery, Minoh Brewing. Their double IPA (9% ABV) was extremely tasty (both glasses), as was their real ale style stout. I got home at 9:30 and only Kohta was home and he was engrossed in his Play Station (Final Fantasy XII for those who are interested in such things).

"Hi Kohta!" I said. "Gomen ne, demo chotto atama ni byouki desukara, kore kara chotto hashitte dekakimasu." (sorry mate, I'm, a little bit sick in the head, so now I am going to go out for a little run." -- apologies to those who speak proper Japanese)

I thought that my 3.3 km loop would be enough to satisfy the "run day" requirement. But I moved well, the evening was extremely pleasant, I had a nice little buzz on from the Minoh beer, the leg wasn't too uncomfortable as long as I kept to an easy pace, so I added on a lap of Rinshi no Mori (forest park) to come up with 5.3 km at 5:18/km, HRavg 125.

It was definitely as much as I could hope for, especially considering I had tried so hard to reconcile myself to taking a day off, and I would like to think it did not set back the sore bit too much. At times I also had the thought that, well, you know, this is what I enjoy, this is what I get off on. Just the sheer pleasure of moving along, breathing easy, feeling alive. Kind of like 2P's happy place. So what if I endanger my marathon? Just as Naoko Takahashi said that running is about more than the Olympics, so too can I say that running is about more than a sub 2:55 Ohtwara. So I just enjoyed the run, sore leg be buggered.

Well, I know I am a SFI, but I promise that I am going to keep things very easy and next week really concentrate on cross training, just as some of you suggested in the comments, e.g., Toshihiko Seko. Sure I can get away with these little gentle runs, but if I am going to get to the start line in better shape, I have to give the leg a real chance to of coming good so I can fit in a couple more quality weeks down the line a bit.

Thank you for understanding this poor, sick, addicted runaholic.

Slipping onto the wrong side of the knife-edge

I have to acknowledge that I am now officially in injury management mode. I think I have a relatively serious problem, strain or inflammation, in the long head of the biceps femoris, hereafter referred to as the sore bit.

The sore bit was feeling good yesterday and otherwise my legs felt recovered. But as I got into my warm up last night I could feel some creaks and groans from the sore bit. This SHOULD have been enough to tell me to abandon my plans for running the monthly 5-k time trial as a tempo run (heart rate capped at 165). But I had done it for the past three months and was getting hooked on seeing the trend in the numbers. It was hurting a bit doing the T/T, but not really getting worse or hampering me. The numbers were coming out OK (1:29 to 1:33 per lap; not really any different to last month) and I was feeling quite comfortable at that heart rate. Then in lap 11 the pain went up a notch and was causing me to alter my stride, so I finished the lap and stopped. Today it is sore. There goes my hope of running every day in September. Only four days to go too...

I am kicking myself for not changing plans and just having an easy run in the park, that should have been a no-brainer. And I can trace the injury back to a couple of other strategic mistakes as well. Chasing Hadd's final time & intensity program before I had actually worked up to the weekly mileage involved at easier pace. Not responding more quickly to the realization that HR150+ was just too hard on my legs in the early morning (hence a couple of forced-pace runs when I must have laid the precursor damage to the injury). Of course it is easy to be wise after the fact, but in reaching for the highest fruit on the tree, it is pretty obvious you are eventually going to fall off the ladder. I should have been more cautious. Shoulda known better...

Well, day one of the recovery starts today. Complete rest. Tomorrow morning I will head into a gym and see if I can do some cross training, like on one of those dang cross-country skiing type machines, maybe some pool walking or swimming. Tomorrow might even be too soon for that. But whatever the case, I have to force myself to let this thing recover...and need to downgrade my marathon goals.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Age shall not weary them ...

...but running 120+ km weeks certainly seems to do a pretty good job of it.

With the leg tiredness & threatening thigh injury I was talking about last week utmost in my mind, I backed off the intensity on the Friday and Saturday runs. I went into Sunday's long run with a little trepidation about the hot spot in my leg, but otherwise being slightly fresher than the previous two weeks. I also had a piece of toast & golden syrup before starting and a bottle of Pocari Sweat (sports drink) at 25 k. As a result I ended up finishing much stronger and was able to extend the run to three hours, 34.7 km. That brought up 125 km for the week.

I went to an extremely enjoyable BBQ party on Sunday evening, at which I somehow assumed grill duties and spent most of the time tending to briquettes, grilling chicken, lamb chops, blackened fish, lamb fillets and vegetables. And drinking some nice craft beers. In other words, I had a ball! Got to watch some of the Australia vs Fiji WC rugby on Dominic's high-definition telly before leaving too. The clarity of the picture was just unbelievable.

So with a touch of a hangover yesterday and another public holiday on the agenda I refrained from a run in the morning. By 4 pm though I was about to climb the walls, so I talked my two sons into accompanying me on their bicycles and we went for a nice slow and easy recovery run of about 9.5 km in 55 minutes, exploring the roads over to Musashi-koyama, Osaki, and back via Gotanda along the Meguro River (drain).

My run this morning again felt like the limiting factor was leg fatigue. I could still some tenderness in the quads from Sunday and other little yips and yaps, especially in the hamstring region of both legs. So again I didn't try to force the pace and just let it unfold at what felt a firm but manageable pace. Again, this meant that while the pace was quite satisfactory at 4:35/km average for the run, the heart rate was very low at 134 for the run and 148 max (hill-related and very little time was spent above 140-142). So, all this by way of prelude brings me to another extremely timely "ask Mystery Coach" post concerning the Lydiard 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 running efforts. The take-away message from this for me, and what I had been more-or-less gravitating to anyway, was that I do not need to push the pace and chase the 150-155HR. Certainly not on these morning runs when my body just seems to be operating at a lower HR. I also think that I'll make a more concerted effort to back off the distance this week, maybe bite the bullet and take a rest day...maybe...then come back for a couple more seeks of harder conditioning before starting the sharpening phase. I really need to sit down and plan it out.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Third Hadd Test

Finally managed to get the data all entered tonight. And the result is...GOOD! Yes, I have become faster at doing the Hadd test.

Hadd Test: Average pace of last two laps
HR 20-Jun 8-Aug 19-Sep
135 na 0:05:15 0:04:53
145 0:04:50 0:04:37 0:04:30
155 0:04:17 0:04:13 0:04:00
165 0:03:54 0:03:54 0:03:43
175 0:03:44 0:03:43 0:03:38

Total running time for each test was: 43:20, 43:00, and 41: 06.

While the changes between 20 Jun and 8 Aug were pretty subtle, they were much more obvious this time round. The improvements at HR145 and HR155 are certainly very encouraging and match what I have been noticing in training at around these heart rates.

I have made some good progress, but still tend to think I might be a little soft in endurance at the critical 145 to 155 range of heart rates. I do need to keep working at running at these heart rates for a longer time, especially over these critical next few weeks when the temperatures start dropping.

Frankly I just don't accept that I can train myself to run a marathon at 165. Maybe it is physically possible, but 165 still feels like 5k/tempo pace...the kind of thing I could keep up for 5 to 10k, 20k maybe, but not the greater part of a marathon. Perhaps eventually, with continued persistent and methodical Hadd training, but it would take another three months at least and freedom from injury, which is the killer when trying to run longer distances at these kind of paces.

This time around the best I am can do is aim at getting myself prepared to spend a lot of time at HR155 and the kind of pace that will deliver. Based on the current status, that would deliver a very nice marathon time, but I repeat, I think I need a lot more endurance at that HR to come anywhere near a low 4:00/km marathon.


I don't know whether I am addicted to running or addicted to writing entries in my run diary, but when I got home from yesterday's meeting earlier than expected, and nobody due in the house for an hour and a half, it wasn't difficult to decide how to kill some time. But I did make sure that it was an easy run. Enough to stop me taking a blank on the log and not so much or hard as to feel guilty about it when I know I need some recovery time (11k in 57 min, HRav 129).

Similarly, this morning I decided not to go chasing the upper aerobic heart rate of the Hadd schedule. My whole framework for the run was to just let it unfold and see what happens. As it was, nothing very startling. Slow at first, gradually came up to about 4:15 to 4:20/km pace. Heart rate was only gradually inching upwards and I wasn't going to force it. I got up into the top end of the lower aerobic zone and only just touched on the lower end of upper aerobic a couple of times. So bagged 16.5 km in 1 hr 15 min (4:33/km) HRav 135). I again didn't feel like I was bursting out of my skin to keep running, yet wasn't all that shagged by the run, either. So I suppose that is still consistent with dragging some fatigue around.

On a not very bright note, I've developed a little pain in my right lower hamstring, just above the rear right side of my knee. It reminds me of a very similar pain I had on the left side I little while ago. Iced it and put some magic cream on. I guess I will not be planning anything overly ambitious for tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Wow! Fantasmagorically helpful comments from all concerned on that last post. I think you all made some great points. I had seen Mystery Coach's post about low heart rates and it was on my mind, for sure, but I needed to read it properly to recall the stuff about the different fibers, so thanks for the link. I think we are generally all in agreement that I have tuckered out my poor little muskel fibers. Tonight I did the Hadd heart rate test. I haven't even looked at the data, but I am pretty sure it is going to show some significant increases in pace for some of the heart rates. Most interesting was that at the last set, trying to run at 175...fergeddaboudit! Seriously, I was all but up on my toes sprinting, but the highest I could get the damn heart rate up to was about 173. If I'd gone into an all out sprint for 200m, maybe I could have briefly lifted up to near 180, but it sure was sticky around the low 170s. breathing like a steam train and really trying hard I was too. I am sure it will be a faster pace than the last test, but what it all really means...

Anyway, out of the office all day tomorrow so it will be Friday at the earliest before I can post the results. And I am 95% sure that tomorrow will be a work-enforced rest day.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Listen to your body

Lydiard underpinned all his training advice with "listen to your body". Similarly, Mike's Mystery Coach says, "don't be a slave to a heart rate monitor. Use it as a guide to see how you respond to different workouts."

Well, these words are ringing in my ears at the moment as I try to figure out what is going on with my body and how to adjust my training. The simplest analysis and solution is that I think that I might be accumulating fatigue and in need of some freshening up. Which is probably no great surprise after the last post.

This morning's upper aerobic run was a bit of a disaster. Just as in recent upper aerobic runs, I had to work really hard to get my heart rate up, and this morning I was even breathing hard. It felt like a tempo run. Then, once I did manage to get up over 147, I started feeling heavy and the pace slipped and heart rate quickly followed it down. It was just physically too hard to run at the pace required to achieve a heart rate over 147. I don't quite get it because the idea is that when you are stressed you have an elevated heart rate, and as you fatigue your heart rate stays fact you have to slow to keep the heart rate at the same level. Well, I didn't have to force myself to slow, I couldn't really help it, but not with heart rate racing away either. When I slowed, through sheer inability to keep the legs moving at pace, my heart rate also fell. It was just as though my system was saying "No! we are not going to run at that pace, fella!"

Resting heart rate this morning was 41. It has varied between 39 and 43 over the past couple of weeks since I started tracking it, so there is nothing there to suggest serious over-training or anaemia or anything. Maybe it is just tired legs.

Mystery Coach talks about the need for balanced training, typified by this statement on Mike's blog today: "It is better in the conditioning phase to see 1.25 hours and 45 minutes the next day than 1.5 hours and the next day off."

Maybe I have reached a bit too far trying to hit those numbers from the Hadd document. Maybe I am just going that bit too far or bit too hard to allow enough recovery. Maybe I am just being too much of a slave to the heart rate monitor (and Hadd) and I should put it aside for a few days and just run to how I feel. If I had tried to run to a target pace today, I probably would have found it tougher than expected, perhaps slower than target. I'd put it down to some residual fatigue and have a couple of easy days before making another attempt at that pace.

So, I think that's all I can do here too. I will take tomorrow morning off and do the Hadd heart rate test and some easy distance tomorrow night. I might be forced to take Thursday off completely because of an all-day meeting in Tsukuba, and then I'll perhaps have an easy run Friday morning and then another crack at an upper aerobic run on Friday evening (to see what difference morning vs evening makes). Seems about the best way forward. Listen to your body. Is it saying have a step-back week? Probably.

But right now, Hadd's theoretical HRmarathon (160ish) versus my envisaged marathon pace (4:15/km which I am hitting at HR147 but not maintaining) just doesn't make sense at all.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A solid week

133.5 km...

I think that was my longest ever week. Two years ago during my buildup I think the highest I got to was about 125 km. And this didn't really seem all that hard, in the sense that I felt like I was recovering from each run by the next day. Sort of. However I again struggled in the last 10 km of the 30 km long run today and feel a bit embarrassed about the slowness of the pace...I need to get faster as soon as the temperatures come down. It was warm today, but I'm also sure the legs were pretty full even before the start.

So in some ways I cruised, but I think all in all it has been a tough week and definitely a step up. So the most ambitious goal I could have for this next week is to consolidate. Do much the same and hope to find the hardest runs of the week, like Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday, feeling just that bit easier.

Following closely the same plan as I posted last week, and getting much closer to it than last week, here are the stats:

Mon: easy 12 km in an hour (forgot heart rate monitor)
Tue: UA 18.5 km, 1 hr 22 min, HRav 143, 4:28/km
Wed am: LA 14 km, 1 hr 06 min, HRav 131, 4:40/km
Wed pm: 2.5 km easy, 5.2 km on track alternating 200 m at 5k pace, 200 m easy, total time 22:49, 4:24/km, average HRav 141
Thur: LA 16.5 km, 1 hr 13 min, HRav 137, 4:28/km
Fri: UA 19.5 km, 1 hr 25 min, HRav 141, 4:23/km
Sat: fartlek, 14 km, 1hr 03 min, HRav 142, 4:29/km (included about 6x500 m at 5k pace)
Sun: long, 31 km, 2 hr 47 min, HRav 133, 5:27/km
(N.B: The Blogger compose window needs a table function)

Definitely needed a nap this afternoon and my feet are feeling a bit weary tonight. I think I might be in need of new shoes. I'm also nursing blisters on a couple of the calloused parts of my toes, one of which is infected and rather hurty. I'm glad tomorrow is a holiday here. I'll do my recovery run in the morning and join a dinky little ekiden in the afternoon that consists of 1-km/leg.

Note to Robert Song: the runs on Tues and Fri are "hard" in the sense that it is really hard to get he body up to working at that level so early in the morning. I run what feels fast, but am still at HR137 or so, targeting 148-153. I hit the park I do laps at and have to really work it up an uphill section to get the heart rate up to 147 or so (by about the third lap) and then I can hold it there, but I admit, I do feel like I've worked darn hard by the end of the run. I know I could keep going, for sure, but not necessarily all over again at that pace. But I am not exactly running on fresh legs either and it is not race conditions...hmmm...anyway, we'll see how it feels in a few more weeks.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Almost a Week of Pure Hadd

In the Hadd document there are some time-based (rather than distance-based) schedules that Hadd used for Joe to progress from 50 to 80 miles per week. I found my training was starting to approach the third of these tables, and without a clear plan for my continued progression, I decided it would be a good thing to aim at. It goes like this (with adaptation to remove the references to Joe-specific heart rates):


60 min easy

easy side of lower aerobic


90 min

incl. 70 @ upper aerobic HR


75 mins easy

lower aerobic


75 mins easy

between lower & upper aerobic


90 min

incl. 70 @ upper aerobic HR


75 mins easy

lower aerobic


3 hrs easy

lower (w/60 min @ upper aerobic)

Approx 80+mpw

All those "easy" descriptors are a bit misleading f you ask me. That schedule is by no means a stroll in the park. I actually got off to a bad start with only 5k easy on Monday morning. Then Tuesday I approximated the Hadd run, but only got to about 75 minutes (17.5 km) before knowing I'd had(d) enough. On Wednesday (15.75 km) and Thursday (16.4 km) I met the Hadd prescriptions pretty much spot on.

I was hoping to do all the runs before work, but a passing typhoon ruled out running on Friday morning. I got out in the evening for three laps of the Palace and again fell a bit short on the time (18.2 km in 1:20, with a couple of slow km at the start and finish). With that run still fresh in my legs, I went out for what should have been an easier run on Saturday morning, except for the little matter of six reps of my 700-m hill circuit. It was a warm, humid morning, and I was a totally different (as in wasted) runner leaving the hill circuit to the one I was when I approached it. So that was 13 km in 65 minutes, some of it tough, compared to the 75 min "easy".

During yesterday's long run I felt OK to start with and moved at decent but not fast pace. But my legs were definitely full from a fairly hard week, particularly the previous two runs. By 15 km I was feeling fatigued, and by 25 km I was almost ready to quit. I battled on to 29 km, at which point I decided enough was enough, and I resisted the lure of doing another 1 km for the sake of round numbers. So 29 km in 2:32 it was. Total for the week, 115 km. My longest week since October last year.

Overall I fell a little short of the time-based Hadd prescriptions. This is good because it says the schedule is achievable, but still gives me something I have to reach for. The Hadd workouts are also far from easy. The Tuesday and Friday with 70 minutes at upper aerobic are hard runs! And Sunday's three hours with 60 min at upper aerobic...what!? That seems almost insane, at least under current weather conditions. Insane, but not out of reach with sensible building. So as long as I take a couple of weeks to work up to completing this weekly schedule, I think it will be a really good basis for continued progression of the base-building phase.

I've managed to back up from yesterday's long run with a steady 12 km in one hour this morning, so this week is off to the right start. I have a sense of dread about tomorrow though!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Parse the ansar

As Scott said, it is a matter of realizing that the various words have different meanings. There is an entry with the answer to the buffalo one on Wikipedia. Basically it goes something like this:

buffalo=the animal aka bison
Buffalo=the town in upstate New York
buffalo= a verb meaning to bully
Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo (that other) Buffalo buffalo buffalo.
It is easier if you substitute alternative words:
Buffalo bisons bully bisons (that other) Buffalo bisons bully.

For the had one, it becomes a bit more contrived. Let's use the seven-had version. In this case I imagine one "had" could be one person's name, another can be another person, and another one can be a type of food. So let's imagine that the person is actually called Malcolm, another is called Billy and the food is called pizza.

Had Malcolm had pizza Billy had had? (..hmm, not sure... it seems wrong without a "the" in front of "pizza")

For the longer version I was thinking of something more like a short conversation...

A: Had Malcolm had pizza?
B: Malcolm had had pizza, had Malcolm.
A: Had Malcolm?
B: Malcolm had! (I said!)

Which with the originals subbed back in would of course look like this:

A: Had Had had had?
B: Had had had had, had Had.
A: Had Had?
B: Had had!

Aren't you all glad I shared this with you? And if you see any flaws in the above, and if you are still awake, shout it out. There is probably a better answer to the seven-had version, but I am too sleepy to think about it any more.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Parse the sentence, please

The frequent references to Hadd keep reminding me of this sentence parsing problem that my Year 12 (or was it 11?) English teacher gave us all those years ago. You have to punctuate the following to form a semantically correct sentence (or sentences):

had had had had had had had had had had had had

I couldn't get it at the time and I'm not even sure if he ever gave us the answer. And...I think the original might have only involved seven "hads". But I can now think of an answer that works for all those hads, and I think that it is likely there is more than one answer.

I never really understood the concept, to be honest. But a couple of us came across one recently that, now I understand it, allowed me to nut out the had one. The recent one is:

buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo

Let me know if you can do either of them. Answers in a day or two.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Hadd training is not all easy!

The weather has cooled a bit and I have gained a lot of adaptation for running at heart rates in the low 140s. My pace at this HR, at least while fresh, is actually very healthy at around 4:30/km. When the weather is mild I also seem to have pretty good endurance at that HR. So I think its time to start in with some more serious upper aerobic runs (HR147-153 or 79% to 83% of HRmax). From now on I will do them on Tuesday and Friday morning, aiming for about 90 minutes total run (just like Joe!).

So this morning I cranked out this. Reaching for the upper aerobic heart rate brought the speed up to a point that after completing 17 km, including some slower warm-up and cool-down distance, I was still 14 minutes shy of 90 minutes. I wasn't prepared to up the distance any more though as it was already 3 km more than recent Tuesday runs. But to get to 90 minutes means this run is going to have to be about 20 km. Should be interesting. Two things I got out of this run: 1) pace at this heart rate is very respectable, better than three-hour marathon pace (before fatigue sets in anyway). 2) the endurance needs a lot of work as evidenced by the slower fourth lap. I guess the temperature was still a little warm, but I think that after four to six weeks of these runs I should be just about cranking out 20 km at 4:05 to 4:00/km without getting over a HR of 153 or 154. Will be interesting to see if that comes to pass...

Monday, September 03, 2007

The Last Week of August, 2007

Not a bad week of 112 km. Nice and consistent with a decent run of some sort every day.

Mon: 10 km easy
Tue: 14 km lower aerobic
Wed: 17 km with 6 km easy, 5 km evaluation, and 6 km upper aerobic
Thur: 11.5 km easy (PM run home)
Fri: 16.5 km upper aerobic (AM before work) in 1:14
Sat: 13.3 km including 5 loops of a 700-m hill circuit
Sun: 30 km in 2:38

The cooler weather last week, especially Thursday to Saturday, meant that I had to (or could) run significantly faster for given heart rates. I enjoyed running around the hill circuit on Saturday and the cumulative effect of this run and Friday's quicker longish run made the legs feel heavy for yesterday's long run. I ran the whole thing in Yoyogi Park, which created its own , mainly mental, challenges (12 laps). However I persevered and got there in the end and was able to finish the last 10 km fairly strongly.

August ended on Friday leaving me with just over 400 km for the month. And today marks 12 weeks to Ohtawara Marathon. I think I've done a pretty fair job of laying a solid base on which to start adding some harder mid week aerobic runs. I don't really think I need to worry too much about specific speed sessions yet, but I might start adding little bits here and there to start getting the legs ready for some speedwork sessions towards the end of this month.

On my other blog I posted some pictures of the brew day on the 25th. My reference to it last week had some people thinking I was talking about homebrewing. It was a recipe I had first brewed at home, but this was most definitely not a home brew.