Saturday, 19 March 2011

Mental preparation for my second 20+ mile run

Today is the day I am meant to be doing another 20+ mile run.  I plan to do it 3 times in total in my training.  I have already done it once, today will be my second and the third and final will be in 2 weeks time.  Then after that I will start tapering down for 2 weeks prior to "the big day".

I have already done my pilates lesson this morning.  I was quite stiff and achy before the lesson but I am much less stiff now.  My core is feeling a little tender though, as when you do pilates correctly you eliminate the large muscles like the quads and hamstrings and start using your core to do them.

Before I can take on the 20+ mile run I will take a muscle soaking bath.  Then I will be ready to go.  My mind is set.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Taking on the hill

Tonight was my elected hill training night.  This is meant to be between 30 and 45 minutes at a heart rate of 147-150bpm according to my training schedule.

I took the tram down towards the Limmat and then got out and ran 2 minutes on the flat before starting the long climb up towards the Dolder.  I knew that it would take roughly 30 minutes to get to the top so it was an ideal route.   As soon as I got to the bottom of the incline just past Central I started to step on the gas.  I wasn't sure how much gas I would need to give it to get my heart up to above 147bpm as I am not used to training at this intensity.  I was zipping along and thought it would be hard to keep up the pace for 30 minutes.  But as the hill started to get steeper the heart rate stayed within the target zone even at a fairly low speed.

Basically the whole of the planned 30 minutes on the hill I was right at the top end of the target zone - just over 150bpm.  I was constantly monitoring it and making adjustments as necessary.  Another day of following the plan to the letter.

Tomorrow the day starts at 9am with my private pilates lesson and then after a quick break it will be time to tackle the 20 mile barrier for the second time.  I will try to do Zurich to Rapperswil again.  The great thing is I don't have to push it and need to try and keep my heart rate below 131bpm.

A clever way to allow Mencap to benefit from GiftAid and to allow UK taxpayers to enter my general draw without breaking the rules

I have been having a dilemma the last few days.   Companies are starting to offer prizes for my draw, and I don't want to exclude my UK sponsors from this draw, yet at the same time I have been told that GiftAid cannot be reclaimed if incentives are being offered to donate.

Those who don't know what GiftAid is, it is a scheme for UK taxpayers where the income tax that has been paid on the value of the donation can be reclaimed by the charity.  In other words you donate x and the charity gets x plus y.  Obviously this is a great thing for the charity.

What I have come up with is that any donations of £10 or more without GiftAid will mean the sponsor is entered automatically into my draw to win assorted prizes.  But this general draw will not be amount based - in other words someone who donates £10 has the same chance of winning as someone who donates £100.  This means that if you want to sponsor me £50 and you are eligible for GiftAid then all you need to do to be entered into my draw, and to allow the charity to benefit from GiftAid, is to sponsor me £10 without GiftAid and then sponsor me £40 with GiftAid.  In other words you make separate donations if necessary.

This should keep everyone happy and the draw will be backdated so anyone who has already donated up till now will be eligible if their donation is £10 or more and it doesn't have GiftAid claimed on it.  If you have already donated with GiftAid but would now like to enter the draw then you need to go on my site and donate a further £10 without GiftAid.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Mission successful - found a publicly accessible 400m track in Zürich

Activity link

Today in accordance with the training plan I was given yesterday, I decided to do some anaerobic threshold training.  The suggested plan was either 3 x 800m or 6 x 400m, with a target heart rate of 150-154bpm.  As you can see by going to the link above I was almost spot on in terms of my heart rate.  Talk about following a plan to the letter.

It is great to find a publicly accessible 400m track in Zürich.  In so many cities the tracks belong to schools and are behind locked fences, inaccessible to the public.  This track near Sihlcity is open to all.  I am not sure whether technically you are meant to pay or not, but with the fence being only being 1m high I doubt that very much.  I also found a post on the English forum about it being open to the general public.

There were about 3 other people on the track at the same time I was there.  Most of them were just running laps at a steady pace, which personally I don't see the point in.  If I am doing steady training I would much rather choose a route where I actually go from A to B rather than from A to A.  Of course the track does have the advantage of being softer on your joints, and this was quite noticeable.

The 400m bursts felt quite tough and I am sure I will notice a substantial improvement in my fitness after doing a few more of these sessions.  The first 200m each time was just fine, but then the last 200m I was blowing harder than a steam train.  Now folks it is time to take a relaxing bath.  Another job well done.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Lactate test results are in...

At 3pm today I had an appointment at the Sports Clinic in Zurich for a lactate test.  Apparently this is much more informative than a VO2 max test alone, and can be used to come up with a good training plan to increase your performance.

The lactate test involved taking an initial measurement using a drop of blood from the earlobe, then running on a treadmill for 3 minutes at a given speed, followed by 30 seconds rest during which time another blood sample is taken and then the speed is increased to the next level and so on until you have reached your maximum.  The initial speed was 7km/h and this was increased by 2km/h at a time.

The table below shows the results:

Speed (km/h)   Heart rate (bpm)    Lactate (mmol/L)   Perceived effort (scale of 6 to 20)
Rest                 60                          1.08                        -
7                      113                        1.10                        6
9                      124                        1.18                       11
11                    135                        1.24                       12
13                    147                        2.04                       14
15                    156                        4.16                       17
17                    162                        7.48                       19


Based on these results the anaerobic threshold occurs at a speed of 13.69km/h, corresponding to a heart rate of 150bpm.  This gives a relative VO2 max of 53.8ml/min/kg.

In terms of comparisons with other males of my age this puts me at the 92nd percentile (in other words I am better than 92% of people in this group).

In terms of comparisons with all middle and long distance runners of my age group (this includes pro athletes) this puts me at the 31st percentile (in other words I am better than 31% of people in this group).

In terms of current predictions for race times the results indicate the following:

Marathon (42.195km)              3:21:22h
Half marathon (21.1km)          1:32:43h  (my current PB is 1 hour 35)
10km                                        40:07min
5km                                          18:49min
1.5km                                       4:53min

The following training has been recommended to me in order to increase my performance at the marathon distance:

1/week long jog (2 - 2:20h) at between 7 and 10.3km/h                                   (heart rate < 131bpm)
2/week middle distance (1 - 1:30h) at between 10.3 and 13km/h                     (heart rate 132 to 146bpm)
1/week hills/speed training (30 - 45mins) at between 13 and 13.8km/h            (heart rate 147 to 150bpm)
1/week intervals (e.g. 6 x 400m or 3 x 800m) at between 13.6 and 14.6km/h  (heart rate 150 to 154bpm)

In addition it was recommended to do twice per week strength training as well as regular stretching.  My twice per week yoga and once per week pilates fits perfectly with this.

Now all I have to do is to get out my diary and start planning the training sessions as well as the tapering period to take me up to the Zurich marathon on the 17th April.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Starting the week with a gentle half marathon

Well folks, I usually do what I say I am going to do and last night was no exception.  As soon as I got back from work I put my running gear on, GPS watch and heart monitor included, and headed out of the door ready to do a half marathon.  I debated a while which route to follow, as I prefer running out into the countryside, but the problem with doing that at night is there are no street lights and you can easily sprain an ankle or two.  On top that that if there is no pavement then you are at risk of becoming flattened by passing traffic.

In the end I decided that following the lake shore towards Thalwil would be a good move, as that has a pavement and is lit the whole way.  Unfortunately it is pretty flat (or fortunately depending on your preference), but you can't have it all.  The streets were pretty quiet but I like the silence that running at night affords you.  It is just you, the pavement and the cool crisp air.  And maybe the boogie monster if you believe in that kind of thing.

It wasn't a record breaker but then a training jog isn't meant to be.  The final result was 22.19km in 2 hours 3 minutes and 51 seconds, with an average heart rate of 129bpm.  Job well done.

Pete here is the link to the Garmin data

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Hiking in the Uster area and evening run

Negrita as usual keeping me on my toes
Yesterday I had to skip running as I have had a continuous headache since Friday morning.  Although saying that it didn't stop me from doing my 1 hour private Pilates class and doing some balance board training and skipping in Holmes Place on Saturday morning.  I woke up this morning feeling pretty bad too. However, Anny was kind enough to do a Shiatsu type massage on my back and that helped it a lot.  I haven't had any headaches caused by back tension in ages, but at one point I was getting them every week, so it seems this may well have been another one of them.

We decided to go for a hike from Uster to Wetzikon, taking Negrita along with us.  We really enjoyed the views and stopped for a nice pub lunch in a small village along the way.  At a couple of points I took Negrita for a quick sprint as she loves outrunning me.  The photo above shows just how much fun she thinks it is to be ahead of me.  Talk about competitive nature.

In the evening when we got back I wanted to get in a proper run.  I was thinking to do a half marathon but I had a few other things to take care of, some work and some non work related, and so in the end I did 11km.  Tomorrow I shall try to do the half marathon that I wanted to do today, as I don't have anything else planned tomorrow evening other than my training.

On an aside note I have started taking Spirulina supplements, as I have heard many reports of how great a superfood it is.  Let's see if I notice any effect from that.  In addition I still take Maca, and whenever I feel even slightly off I take some Echinacea drops and some Goji berry juice.  I am rather the experimenter when it comes to supplements.