One of the hardest parts of running is training when you know you’re not at your best because every run is hard, mentally and physically. It’s mentally tough because you know where you were and what you’re capable of but there’s nothing you can do about it besides put in the hard work and be patient. It’s physically tough because it’s physically tough! Every run hurts and you just need to grind it out to get into the physical shape you know you are capable of.
Like all athletes, we experience highs and suffer setbacks and it’s particularly frustrating when we suffer setbacks that are not even running related. My recent setback started as a funny story but escalated quickly! I was on school camp at Yarra Junction which is something I really enjoy as I like training on the rail trails; it’s actually the perfect training camp if there weren’t any kids! I was walking with a group of students and the laces on my hiking boots got stuck on the hook on the opposite boot, I went from mid stride to my feet being instantly tied together and after a quick unsuccessful shuffle to gain my balance, I hit the deck hard. Everyone got a good laugh out of my fall, which I was happy to entertain, until I ended up at the doctors having to take 10 days off running to let the inflammation subside in my knee. Back to the grind!
Along with the mental and physical grind of training, another challenge is achieving consistency. Our training group, @zenithrunning, is all about consistency and routine, week in week out, getting the miles done. My routine is so reliable that I found myself standing in the water at the beach post session at exactly the same time to the minute from the previous week. Every session I do has a purpose and leads towards the bigger picture but there are some key weekly sessions that I find super important to grind out each week.
Sunday long run – this is a staple of every distance athlete’s weekly program and arguably the most important; I am a big fan of Ferny Creek and frequent the trails weekly. Running at Ferny is tough but is made all that more enjoyable with the company and banter of the crew up there of late. Between the Christmas and New Year period and weddings, (congrats Tooma and Bridey), I found myself having to complete some of my 2 hours runs solo. It’s funny when I’m running by myself for this long I can think of all the reasons why it’s crazy to be running for this long by myself; I’ve had a hard week, everyone else is enjoying a coffee in the local cafes, its hot, the parks are closed because of fire danger (this one’s a bit more legit), my friends are sleeping in after a night out and the list goes on. But despite all the reasons why it’s crazy, reminding myself of my goals gives me the boost I need to get it done.
Gym session – its seems to be becoming more and more common to see runners post on social media about gym sessions they integrate into their weekly running program, (I am guilty of this too)! I first realised the need to supplement my running with core and stabiliser strength and conditioning after my first marathon in 2013. Since then, I have incorporated a weekly session at The Sports Injury Clinic, @TSICpeninsula, with an Exercise Physiologist, Jamie Barnes @jamiebarnes.exercisephyiology. We focus on building my strength to help maintain form for a longer period of time. This session is a 1%er, or perhaps a 5%er, but is vital for overall performance.
Fartlek – I had trouble deciding whether to write about a track session or fartlek session. I decided to go with the fartlek as I feel it’s more accessible for all levels of runners and locations which mean there are no excuses when you’re on holidays or traveling to get your run done! I alternate between the Mona fartlek and Schuwalow fartlek (see below). This session can be as easy or as difficult as you choose to make it depending on your tempo in the effort and the float. These fartlek sessions simulate, to an extent, a race situation where you start hard, find a rhythm in the middle and then finish strong. I find they are good to complete in the week leading up to a race and also to indicate where fitness is at as it’s easy to compare week to week, venue to venue.
It is important to tick off each individual session but it’s the sum of completing all sessions consistently that sees the biggest improvements. I read a quote recently that went something like, ‘self-discipline is not what you don’t do, but is what you chose to do day after day’. I liked this because whilst it is important to not eat chocolate every day, you need to be grinding it out and doing the running and 1%ers that make you a better runner.
2 x 90 sec
4 x 60 sec
4 x 30 sec
4 x 15 sec
Same recovery after each effort
Total 20 minutes
Same recovery after each effort
Total 20 mins