Friday, 21 June 2013

First month of run streak! Fitness Friday

On the 21st of May 2013 I started a run streak, which will involve running everyday for a year. The goal is to average 10k a day for a year. With one month gone I am slightly below average, on week 1 and week 3, I didn't quite manage to run 70km. 

Week 1 
Goal distance 70km
Distance ran 64km
Total goal distance 3,650km
Remaining distance 3,586km

This week went pretty well in terms of running, I didn't hit the full 70km but I was close and it was my first time running every day for a week in quite some time. I know I can reclaim the deficit before the month ends. 
I also realised this week that running in the summer months is so much easier than the winter months. I need to bank some much larger run weeks this summer because 10k a day during the winter is not something I can envisage my self doing at this point.

Week 2
Goal distance 70km
Distance ran 70km
Total goal distance 3,650km
Remaining distance 3,516km

This week was enjoyable, it was easier to get out and run down the kilometres knowing the remaining distance is only going down. The challenge is still a novelty and I am still enjoying running everyday. I haven't had any real difficult runs yet and I haven't been presented with any major excuses not to run. So a fairly straight forward easy run week. 

Week 3
Goal distance 70km
Distance ran 59km
Total goal distance 3,650km
Remaining distance 3,457km

This week started out very well, I was enjoying my run each day and I was hitting the distance I had planned each day. I had 2 double run days when I ran with a client early in the morning but hadn't ran the distance I had planned so I clocked up a few more kilometres that evening after dinner. Up until now most of my running has been at a nice steady pace around the high end of zone 2. I've ran a few short distance runs at zone 4 and at least one run a week at zone 1.
On Sunday (the second last day of run week) I flew back to Ireland. I had planned to run home from the airport. This meant being picked up from the airport by my dad at 22.50, getting changed in he back of the car and being dropped off 7km away from my parents house so that I could get my run done before midnight. I chose to do this so that I could spend the morning and afternoon with my wife and kids and my wife's brother who was visiting that weekend. I also like to mix things up and I love running at night, plus I got a change of scenery. 
I was presented with my first major challenge on Monday eve. I was driving back from work when my car broke down. It was 21.10 and I hadn't ran yet that day. I was about 50mins drive from home. After making arrangements to get my car and myself home it was 23.25, I was starving and in no mood to run. So without really thinking about it, I got changed and did the minimum 3.65km.

Week 4
Goal distance 70km
Distance ran 74km
Total goal distance 3,650km
Remaining distance 3,383km

The goal for this week was to bank a few extra kilometres, since I ended up a little short last week. I started this week in good form but on Thursday evening when I laced up, I was spent, my goal was to run 12km and I barley made it 5km. My body felt ok, I had no pain or injury but it seemed like all my energy was going into every footstep.
The next morning (Friday) I felt amazing and ran an easy 4.5k with a client and then I ran 15.8k alone, which I did at the same pace I ran the Paris marathon in last spring. I wasnt trying to push the pace, and I stayed in my zone 2. This was the first noticeable effect of running everyday! 

At the beginning of the month I weighed 75kg
I now weigh 73kg

Some photos taken while out on the run!

You can follow my progress at


Friday, 14 June 2013

How to run 10km faster!

The 10k is probably my least favourite distance to race. It is short enough to run it hard and really fast but not long enough to get comfortable in your fat burning zone. My body is a pretty good fat burning machine, which makes running a 10k really fast, quite difficult and often nauseating. My PB is 38.30 and to get faster than that I'd have to change my training around quite a bit and do all sorts of things I don't enjoy. All of which would compromise my ability to run farther which is what I enjoy.

So how can you improve your 10k?

To begin you absolutely must avoid the common mistake of trying to run every training session harder and faster than the last. The mantra 'go hard or go home' must be kept for race day alone. Lets take an example of a person trying to run a sub 40min 10km for our example. 

The 10k is a completely different beast to its junior 5k. 

To run a faster 10k or a sub 40min 10k you need to hit about four training runs per week. 

Run 1
An over distance run in zone 2. This run is used to develop new muscle cell mitochondria (power stations) and open new capillaries (highways for traffic) that carry blood to and from the muscle cells. Both these factors will raise your lactate threshold and allow you to perform much faster without running out of energy or over heating. Your primary source of fuel will be fat and the intensity should be quite easy.
You'll need to start at about 12k on this run and build it up to 22-25 over a 3 month period before tapering for the race. Be strict on your intensity and time. You will be running about 4.45-4.30 splits per kilometre. 

Run 2
Hill repeats! During this session you will vary between different training zones. Find a hill of appropriate length, about 300-400meters. Warm up with a light intensity run for about 5mins, then hit the hill. Run up in zone 4 and use a very light jog or walk back down as recovery, repeat 6-8 times. Cool down with a 10min easy run. 
Obviously if this is new to your training then you need to begin with 2-3 and build up to 8 over a few weeks. 
This session will burn and you may feel nauseous but push through and you will become stronger. This session will build great leg strength which will aid you in the latter stages of the race, when you would usually feel tired and lose technique. It will help you push that lactate threshold up, especially after the over distance run and it will develop the Kreb's cycle to deal with lactic acid much quicker. 

Run 3 
Track session. This session is carried out on a running track, if you can't make it to a running track use a football pitch (that's what I do!), the intensity will vary as will the overall distance. Warm up for 5mins with an easy run. Then you can use these;

4-6 x 400m OACI (on any comfortable interval)
6-8 x 200m OACI
8-10 x 100m OACI
2-3 x 800m OACI

You should be hitting 17.5-20kph on these sprints (speeds can be adjusted if you goal is to run a 45min or 50min 10k).

This session is used to develop leg speed and leg turn over. You should try going all out on each sprint and try as well as you can to use good technique. As you get tired the technique will suffer but week on week you should get further and further before you lose control of your technique. This type of training will also push that lactate threshold up.
Cool down with 10mins ver easy run. Try each session out and then put them together in your own formation once you feel. Comfortable with them. My last tack session looked like this;

2 x 400
2 x 200
4 x 100
1 x 400
1 x 100

Run 4
Recovery or Tempo run. Depending on how the body feels you get to chose which run you do on day 4. I would try and do the tempo run 3 times a month if possible and use the recovery for a day I'm feeling really tired. 

Tempo run. Chose a distance between 8-12km, put your race gear on, find a quite route where you won't have to stop at too many traffic lights or road crossing. Run the chosen distance at the high end of zone 3. Be strict and stay out of zone 4, particularly if its a 8k or 9k run. Zone for is anaerobic and impossible to sustain for long periods. Training in zone 4 for 2-3km of a tempo run will not aid your race pace, it will increase your risk of injury dramatically. 
Your speed on the tempo should be between 14.8-15.2kph, so long ass you can average 15kph you'll break the 40min barrier by throwing down a sprint finish. 

Recovery run. On the tired days or at least once a month pop in a recovery run. Run 8-10km in zone 1-2. Take it really easy and use this session as a way for your body to develop good connective tissues, which will prevent injury. It's also a great session to maintain and back up the work of previous months. A day off is 2 steps backwards if you are not injured, remember this is a 4 day training week so there are 3 days of rest from running in the week.


Friday, 7 June 2013

Run Streak! 3,650km in 365 days

On the 21st of May I decided to start a #RunStreak. The plan is to run everyday for a year, ending May 20th 2014. I hope to cover 3,650km, which would work out at an average of 10k a day for 365 days. I've set 3.65km as the minimum run per day. Training and racing in events longer than 10km will keep the overall average at 10k,,, I hope.

I'm not sure if I will meet these goals. Running everyday for a year will not be easy, let alone trying to maintain an average of 10k a day. I imagine this will be more of a mental endeavour than a physical challenge. My major worry at the beginning is finding time and motivation when the winter months arrive but that's a long way off and I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.
Two phrases spring to mind when I question my ability to do this and the necessity to maintain the average distance.

It's better to have loved and lost than never to ave loved at all.


The greatest journey starts with a single step.

So why am I run streaking 10k a day for a year?

Over the past year I've been searching for a challenge that would test my limits. I've raced ironman triathlon before and that race definitely ticked the limit box, however the training is long. Bike sessions consume so much time during the week and weekend, not to mention training all three disciplines. At this stage of my life I'm not sure I have the time or the will to put my family through an IM training program. When you train for an event like that it inevitably affects everybody who is close to you including family and friends.

I ran the Paris marathon last April and this kick started the desire to race more. I didn't train particularly well for this race but felt great on race day and afterwards. I decided I wanted to really work on my running and achieve a sub 3hr marathon, a feat I know I am capable of with correct training.
During my training for the Paris marathon I discovered the world of ultra running. I stumbled across the Rich Roll podcast when searching for something to replace the mundanity of music I had on my iPod. Rich Roll is a 2 time top ten finisher at ultraman, a double ironman race performed on the big island of Hawaii over two consecutive days. I was led to the and from there I was hooked.

I found a couple of people on twitter who were doing similar run streaks of varying distance and I was completely intrigued. I had found something that was going to push me to places I hadn't been before, which also had me intrigued with what other humans can do and are doing everyday.

When I run I am a better person. I feel better, I eat better and my mood is better. I am fortunate that health and fitness has always been a major aspect of my life and I've seen from a very early age the benefits of exercise.
A major question most people have is "won't you get injured?" And my response is "No", at least I hope I don't. If you read my previous blog posts you'll see I don't buy into the whole world of mechanical strain causing running injuries. There are far too many people in this world who run way way way further than I ever could who don't get injured. I attribute most running injuries to 3 main reasons:

Either you are running too hard on every session

You are not getting enough rest, recovery and sleep

Or you are eating way too much junk and not getting your essential nutrients

In terms of rest and recovery, I need to go to bed a little earlier and if I run one day from 6-7am and don't run the next day until 6-7pm then I've had more than a day rest.
The majority of this running will be performed in Zone 2, which is not going to cause a huge amount of body breakdown so long as my nutrition is good. This should prevent or at least limit injury and sickness.

I've been edging towards a plant based diet over the past 2 months, for me it's going to be a long slow metamorphosis from bring an omnivore to an herbivore. I completely eliminated dairy 2 months ago and the benefits of this alone have been immense. I have at least one green smoothie everyday which will ensure good nutrient balance. These factors should cover my nutrient requirement and stave off the looming perils of injury and illness.

Weekly updates will follow!