Thursday, August 29, 2013

Yurrebilla Trail 56k - Preview

My next race is the Yurrebilla Trail 56k which will be held on September 22, and winds its way through a series of national parks on the western face of the Adelaide Hills in South Australia. Already acknowledged as one of the most beautiful ultras in Australia, runners pass gorges and waterfalls as they make their way from Belair Railway Station to Linear Park, Athelstone.

The course is point-to-point and has 10 aid stations, with major stations at 20km & 37km, where drop bags can be delivered to. An interesting aspect of the race is that they start in three waves, with the fastest runners going off last at 8:30 am, two hours after the first wave.

This is my first time running Yurrebilla, but a look at the course profile tells me I am in for a grueling race. It climbs 1785m (5856 ft) and descends 1972 m (6469 ft), and that last drop looks like it will be murder on the quads!

Adelaide is my home town (I moved to Melbourne in 1996), and I am looking forward to having friends and family there at the finish. I will be driving over with my 6yo son, Sullivan (Sully), which will be lots of fun as well. We will stay overnight in Horsham on Friday, then complete the drive on Saturday morning, so I will have plenty of time to rest before the race on Sunday.

My brother TJ will be crewing for me, and Mum & Dad will take Sully and my niece Poppy to the various spectator spots along the way, and meet us at the finish. I am super excited to be running a race back in Adelaide. It will be my first organised run there since the 1984 Greenbelt half marathon, when I ran 1:21 as a 15yo.

I have trained really hard for this, and while not quite at my peak yet, If everything goes right, I may be a sneaky chance for a top ten finish. 24 days to go!!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Mini Taper

After six 100km weeks out of the past 7, I am starting to feel a little weary, and was pretty spent at the end of a hard 40km on Sunday. The image at right shows the last 5 weeks training, with the Tue-Thu runs mostly being hard tempo hit outs, leaving me fatigued for the weekend long runs, which is the way I have planned it. The red 0's were my abductor injury.

This week I am going to have a mini-taper down to about 75km, with no long run on Sunday, and my mid-week runs will be just above easy pace instead of tempo. Following that, I will have two more hard weeks of training at 120km+, before my two week taper into the Yurrebilla 56k on September 22.

I have no idea if this mini taper fits into standard race lead up, but I can feel my body needs it, and I am hoping the freshen up will give me an idea of where I sit pace-wise on my first long run back. Constantly running on fatigued legs has made it difficult to determine what my race pace could be, and I want to go into Yurrebilla with a clear idea of how fast to start.

My brother TJ in Adelaide has offered to crew for me, which should really help. I am using drop bags for the first time, and have been worried about what will happen if the bags are not at the major aid stations when I arrive. TJ will be able to carry spare gels, etc in a backpack, which will give me a lot of peace of mind.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Treadmill

Moving to the new serviced office has been great, not only because the onsite showers allow me to run at lunchtime, but the gym has a couple of treadmills which I can use when the weather is too crappy to run outside.

I have learned quickly though, that the treadmill is also great for experimenting with, and adjusting running style. Running at a constant pace lets me fine tune my technique where I can now cover ground more efficiently, and expend the minimum amount of energy.

I don't want to get into any debate about the various merits of bio-mechanics, minimalism, or forefoot striking, other than to say that forefoot striking seemed to use more energy, and I have settled on a mid-foot strike, and try to move with quick, light feet.

This seems to cover the ground for me in the most efficient way, and I try to keep all parts of my body relaxed, except for my core, which I keep strong and stable. Keeping the legs relaxed, while maintaining a high turnover, I feel is the one of the keys to seeing out an ultra distance.

On the injury front, I resumed running last Tuesday after 4 days off. I still had some pain, so was very careful to ease into it, only running at 6:40 pace on my first run, then gradually increasing tempo later in the week.

By Saturday, the pain was nearly gone, and I ran 21km at 5:15 pace, then backed up pain-free on Sunday for 32km at 5:39 pace. With a solid base behind me, I will now start to bump up my Sunday long run distance. 34km this Sunday, then 40km the week after. 7 weeks until Yurrebilla!