Final week of summer and things are looking hot here in The Flinders. It’s now into my eighth week of training in this block and just as the temperature is heating up, so is the intensity of training and racing. Stacking weeks of good solid back-to-back workouts has improved my running ‘form’ (posture), my ability to change between the gears and my comfort level when running at 3:00-3:30/km pace. The workouts I’m referring to are things such as:
- 6*1km at 3:10-3:20/km pace, with 75 sec jog between, followed by 6*200m at 2:30-2:50/km pace with 30 sec standing recovery between.
- Good old Mona fartlek
- 10*400m at 3:00-3:10/km pace with 200m jog between
- Hard or tempo parkruns working on either 3:00/km pace or 3:20-3:30/km pace.
- Twice weekly consistent 1.5-2.5 hr long runs for the past 5-6 weeks.
Sprinkle in plenty of easy running, easy bike riding, easy walking and some strength exercises and it’s no wonder I’m feeling confident in my body’s ability to handle some more races and this continual workload. The added heat at times in the last few weeks has made some runs more taxing than others and this weeks consistent 40-42 degree forecast for the next five days is a good challenge. I could continue my normal scheduling of runs (easy in the morning, hard at lunchtime) but, this is also risking a lot of heat stress. Hence, being the adaptable Outdoor Athlete I am, things will be a bit more flexible around timings and temperature this week. The added heat is a big plus for overall training effect though as it almost has as many benefits to it as does training at high-altitude. When I venture back down to cooler climates for races it’ll feel like a walk in the park.
One way I’m able to monitor the effect the heat stress is having on my training is by assessing my overall training load. If the red line in the figure below climbs too quickly then I’ll abort mission and return to under the aircon (not instantly but just take it easy a bit). From the two graphs below it’s good to point out that in this last 8 week period (the one on the right) my Chronic and Acute training load numbers have been pretty steady, except for a small blip at the Robe Marathon time, showing I’ve been pretty consistent.
I could try and up the ante a bit more in these next few weeks but instead I’m looking to shape my fitness into the right race-specific fitness. Adapt the paces I run type thing. Use the races as big workouts and keep the week-week stuff pretty constant. The other option would be to increase either my volume (risking injury and staleness or no pizzaz in the legs) or my intensity (risking becoming flat before races from going too hard) and then back off regularly into races (risking becoming too tapered). Instead, I’ll be keeping things fairly constant and keeping my volume and intensity fairly similar as I continue the slow adjustment to trying to run a bit quicker and stronger for races and workouts.
Approaching these races, and some of these workouts, can at times feel quite daunting. I know it’s going to hurt, it’ll take some time to warm up, and I sometimes think will I be able to complete them at the pace I want, and if not, what does that mean? As a runner, I wouldn’t have much hope in quelling these thoughts. As a climber though, where the daunting feeling of am I good enough is ever present before every difficult climb, I have a much different mindset. It is this mindset that I then use, as a runner, as my trump card to remind myself of what it means to execute a difficult task.
Before climbing something difficult, you’re visualising the moves, going over the routine in your head like a pro dancer or gymnast would and imagining your success. Each move is reliant on the move before it being executed well. You have to take it one step at a time. You also have to believe you can do it or else there’s no point in getting off the ground. Transposing this over to running a hard session or workout, instead of as a runner just trying to roll through the warm-up and hope you’ll get through the workout, I’ve been trying to picture myself running at the right speed I want to. Executing that 3:10/km pace. Talking to myself like I’m rousing myself up for a climb is another strategy I’ve found useful. I feel less like an idiot doing it for running knowing how commonplace it is in the climbing scene, and also how beneficial it was when I was climbing hard. It’s this style of self-talk that I value from my climbing background over the style of running self-talk (‘go faster’) and I believe a lot of it comes from the differences between the two sports at event level.
This difference in encouragement and verbal cues between athletes and athletics fans and climbers was evident to me when I attended the Adelaide Invitational athletics meet after Robe the other weekend, and watching the World Cross Country Championships livestream the other day. At athletics meets, everyone is just yelling ‘go such and such’, ‘keep with such and such’ at them. It’s a lot of noise and it does help having been on the receiving end of it but I also seem to think ‘of course they know to ‘go’ and ‘run fast’, you yelling at them isn’t groundbreaking news’.
When it comes to climbing commentary it’s slightly different. There’s lots of slower calls of ‘come on such and such’, ‘hang in there mate’, ‘fight!’, ‘that’s it, you’ve got it’. There’s just a little bit more to it, a higher level of encouragement if you may. As the supporter, you’re trying to both not break their concentration, keep them focused and relaxed, but also remind them to keep pushing to the next hold like their life depends on it. It’s this type of commentary and self-talk I lean more on when geeing myself up for hard sessions or workouts. I think I like the more relaxed nature of it because the more relaxed and comfortable an athlete is in high-pressure moments the more they’ll be able to execute their performance (in my opinion). Kind of like a tiger ready to pounce. I can’t see a tiger enjoying being yelled at just as they’re about to get some lunch.
I’m not quite ready to pounce like a tiger yet but I am going to continue crouching along and keep my consistency with my training and racing over the next few months. I’ve got a busy period planned as the pool season winds down and outdoor ed season winds up. One idol I’ll be looking towards for inspiration during this time as I continue working hard is Japanese runner Yuki Kawauchi. Yuki rose to fame, and prominence in my consciousness, due to his ability to string together 130-140km training weeks (about my current level), work commitments and hard races every fortnight. He just loves racing hard and knows no other way it seems, something I hope to emulate with races every fortnight until the end of April from now on. The best example of Yuki’s approach to running is his all guns blazing effort at winning the 2018 Boston Marathon. While he didn’t appear to have the smartest race plan, he repeatedly surged from the front away from the leaders in pouring rain and strong wind, he did hang in there until the end as the more fancied runners dropped out and in the end he was a surprise winner. Maybe Yuki was a master of the climbing self-talk. Maybe he’d had a really good training block. Or maybe he was just the toughest athlete out there on the day and that’s always going to make you a hard person to beat. And for that reason, he’s a good idol to have as the year and temperature starts to heat up…
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