Ohtawara Marathon – 5 days to go!

Week           12 ~ 18 November 2018

Runs:           8

Distance:    86km

It is fair to say that this week went much better than last week. I got over my cold, I ran 2 quality workouts and I continued my running streak to 50 days. I am now 5 days out from the 31st Ohtawara Matharon. I do not think that I will run it as fast as I did in 2012, 2015 or 2016, but I am a lot more confident than I was 2 months ago when the Matsumoto Marathon got cancelled. I am really just looking forward to getting out there and running my best race. Thank you all for reading. Next week’s blog will contain the race report, assuming a typhoon does not rip through Japan and wreck everything.

Monday 12th November

Resting Heart Rate:          56

Heart Rate Variability:    91

Run:                                       10 km

Avg Pace:                             4:35/km

Avg HR:                                 168bpm

Avg Cadence:                     190

After being sick for the previous week and only 11 days out from the Ohtawara Marathon, I wanted to go out and do my best to hold a fast pace for 10km. I was hoping that I could run 10km at 4:30/km pace and that that would give me some confidence. As it turns out, I couldn’t but I was not too far off.

I jogged down to the river and completed a 3km warm up and was ready to start. All along the Tamagawa River, there are markers spaced 200m apart. I calculated that if I kept the time between markers at 54 seconds, then I would be able to maintain a 4:30/km pace. Of course, the first one went by too fast but after that, I fell into a rhythm and managed to keep them all in range until the turn-around point at 5km. The second half was much harder. I pushed as hard as I could but my pace began to slip and by the end of the run, I was running at 4:40/km. I was not too disappointed as I was getting over a cold and my average pace was 4:35/km.

Tuesday 13th November

Resting Heart Rate:          65

Heart Rate Variability:    74

Run:                                       2.8km

Avg Pace:                             6:34/km

Avg HR:                                 126bpm

Avg Cadence:                       163

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Tuesday morning I was still sore after Monday evening’s effort and just got up to do one lap around the neighbourhood to keep my streak going. My Heart Rate Variability had dived down by 16 points from Monday and all the advice was to take it easy. My pace was slow and my heart rate was low and I did not feel too bad.

Tuesday evening I was back at Bikram Yoga for the first time in 15 days. It really is something that you have to keep doing and when you take a few weeks off, it is very hard to go back. All my friends had gone on Monday night so I was by myself. I managed to get through the class but during one of the rest periods I was forced to look in the mirror, literally. It was only then that I realized how much was being taken out of me by the class.

Wednesday 14th November

Resting Heart Rate:          66

Heart Rate Variability:    69

Run:                                       10.3km

Avg Pace:                             6:04/km

Avg HR:                                 136bpm

Avg Cadence:                     169

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Wednesday morning and my HRV was still crashing. Maybe the 10km Tempo on Monday was not the smartest thing to do returning from a cold. I decided to give Namban Rengo Track Intervals a miss and headed home after work for an easy 10km down the Tamagawa to Todoroki Stadium, home of Kawasaki Fontale. I felt fine during the run and managed to get to bed earlier than I had recently.

Thursday 15th November

Resting Heart Rate:          56

Heart Rate Variability:    92

Run:                                       5.3km

Avg Pace:                             6:10/km

Avg HR:                                 131bpm

Avg Cadence:                     171

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Thursday morning and my HRV had made a return of sorts. I headed out before work and continued my streak with another easy 5km around the neighbourhood. I was beginning to feel better.

Friday 16th November

Resting Heart Rate:          60

Heart Rate Variability:    87

Run:                                       8km

Avg Pace:                             5:07/km

Avg HR:                                 150bpm

Avg Cadence:                     184

Friday I woke early and managed to increase my regular run to 8km by doing 3 laps of the neighbourhood instead of 2. I was a little bit sore afterwards but happy that I had put that run behind me as I was hoping to go to Bikram Yoga that night.

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I finished all my calls at work by 6pm and got to the Bikram Yoga in time for the class. All my friends were already there and chilling out outside the room because it was too damn hot. Who would have thought? As it was my second class of the week, it went a little better than Tuesday and I did not look so decrepit in the mirror. Afterward, we headed to DevilCraft in Hamamatsucho for some choice craft beer and wonderful veggie pizza. You really cannot go wrong.

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Saturday 17th November

Resting Heart Rate:          57

Heart Rate Variability:    92

Run #1:                                   13.2km

Avg Pace:                             5:13/km

Avg HR:                                 149bpm

Avg Cadence:                      178

Run #2:                                Namban Hill Repeats            

                                              8 x 200m

 

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I had another good run on Saturday morning. First I met Nick at the lockers in Aoyama Itchome station and we ran 4 laps around the Akasaka palace, each one a little bit faster than the last – 17:23/ 17:16/ 17:05/ 16:57. It was a great jaunt topped off with a couple of coffees courtesy of Nick in Starbucks.

Afterwards, I headed back across the road and joined the Namban Rengo Hill Repeats from 10am. More than 22 people were out and we had a very enjoyable, although tough, set of hills around the same course. I managed some of them OK, but others were a complete disaster. Then it was back to Starbucks for more coffee and banter with these great people.

Sunday 18th November

Resting Heart Rate:          57

Heart Rate Variability:    92

Run:                                       23.3km

Avg Pace:                             5:48/km

Avg HR:                                 140bpm

Avg Cadence:                     172

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My HRV was still looking reasonable on Sunday morning as I headed out for my last long run before the Ohtawara Marathon. I had planned to do 23km at a very easy pace in order to bring me up to 180km for the month on the 18th day. It may sound stupid, but I like to try and maintain 300km per month as much as possible and if I can keep a 10km per day average throughout the month, I know that I can do it.

Halfway through my run, I crossed the bridge from Tokyo to Kawasaki near Noborito. I was greeted by 100s of white and black birds (don’t ask me to name them) here trashing about in the middle of the Tamagawa River. I guess that it was feeding time but it looked like they were having great fun. You can see a sample of the activity here.

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Ohtawara Marathon 2018 – 40 days to go!

Week           8 ~ 14 October 2018

Runs:           8

Distance:    91km

It’s been a hot summer. Here in Tokyo and everywhere else in the world. It really impacted my motivation to run for the past few months. While I was able to get out the door, it was very hard to do any quality runs and I found it tough. On top of the heat, Tokyo and Japan were hit by several storms and typhoons which made running seem unbearable. By the end of September, I felt I had had enough. The only problem was that I was due to run the Matsumoto marathon on 30th September. I had run it last year and enjoyed it so I signed up again for the 2018 event. But my heart was not in it. I traveled up to Matsumoto on the Saturday with fellow Nambanner, Andrew. He had been training well with a new coach despite a hectic schedule and was clearly excited at the prospect of earning a new PB.

With Andrew at Matsumoto Castle.

With Andrew at Matsumoto Castle. He is clearly excited. I am carefully hiding the fact that I am not.

That evening we met up with the rest of the Namban crew who had planned to run the marathon. We knew that there was a typhoon approaching Japan but it looked like it would pass through on Sunday night and that there would be no rain or strong winds on Sunday morning so we expected the race to go ahead. Therefore, it was a bit of shock at around 7:30 pm when Banno san told us that the race had been canceled. I felt that a life sentence had just been lifted. I knew that I was in no condition to run a marathon and the prospect of Andrew getting a PB and beating me in the process was very real. We did the only thing that we could do and ordered another round of drinks.

It was already too late to get a train back to Tokyo, and as we had paid for our hotels and checked in, we decided to make the most of it and go for a run in the morning before heading back. As it turns out, Sunday was a lovely day for running and we had a nice trot around Matsumoto while trying to find the best route on our iPhones and hardly ever getting lost. I felt sluggish and slow and it reaffirmed my feeling that this was not to be my day.

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Matsumoto Morning Run instead of running a marathon.

On the train back to Tokyo, I was not in great form. I knew that I had dodged a bullet but also that I could not continue to do so forever unless I decided to give up entering races. I was lacking in motivation and willpower and needed something to jump start my engine – so to speak. My saving came in the form of an email from Richard. He described his own recent dissatisfaction with his running and how he planned to sort it out by going on a running streak. This would involve running at least 1 mile per day for the month of October, and then maybe longer. He invited anybody who was interested to join him.

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The motivational email

I thought to myself that that sounds like just what I need. Achievable. Goal Oriented. Group Related. Relative. Perhaps I have been on one too many Leadership Courses but I was sold on the idea. The next day, 1st Oct, I started and managed to complete the first week without too much stress by getting up 15 minutes earlier than normal and running the 2.8km loop around my house most days.

The other thing that has gotten me motivated it again was this blog. I had expected to be writing my Matsumoto Marathon Race Report around this time, but as luck would have it, I never got to run the race. In previous years, I had written each week about my training for the Ohtawara marathon, but recently my enthusiasm had fallen off. It was a chance encounter with an old Namban friend, Arnaud, in Starbucks that made me want to write again. He was over from Singapore and having coffee with Jay when I bumped into him one lunchtime. He told me how he enjoyed my blog and how he was interested in how I fitted everything in with life and kids and work and running. It really got me thinking about how much I enjoyed writing it myself and how it motivated me to run. I decided there and then that I would restart it, at least until after the Ohtawara Marathon this November.

So armed with my daily run and my weekly blog, I am going out to try and recapture all my motivation and run a good race in Ohtawara on 23rd November. At least, that is the plan.

Monday 8th October

Resting Heart Rate:          47

Heart Rate Variability:    107

Run:                                       5.3km

Avg Pace:                             5:45 min/km

Avg HR:                                137 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     180

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Monday was a National Holiday in Japan. Normally, I would try to take advantage of this and go out and do a long run. However, we had plans to go outlet shopping in Gotemba, so I sneaked out for a couple of laps of Mizonokuchi before we left. Had I not been on the running streak program, I would never have gone. I was happy with the run as I managed to keep my HR under 140 and get some points on the board at the start of the week. The outlet was not too packed and I got a nice pair of Nike Odyssey React for half price. These have turned out to be a great investment and I have worn them on almost every run since I bought them.

Tuesday 9th October

Resting Heart Rate:          50

Heart Rate Variability:    97

Run:                                      5.3km

Avg Pace:                             5:00 min/km

Avg HR:                                153 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     187

I was pleased that my Resting Heart Rate and Heart Rate Variability were in the correct ranges. My average RHR is around 56 bpm so anything below that means that I am well rested. Likewise, any HRV above 90 is a good sign that I am not too stressed. I use the ithlete app first thing every morning to record these. I woke before 5:45 and was on the street by 6:03. I felt I could run a bit faster than Monday in my new Nike’s and my pace improved in the second half of the run. I was in good condition and enjoyed weaving through people on the pavement heading to work early.

Wednesday 10th October

Resting Heart Rate:          54

Heart Rate Variability:    92

Run #1:                                5.3km

Avg Pace:                             4:43 min/km

Avg HR:                                162 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     188

Run #2:                                11.2km

Avg Pace:                             5:38 min/km

Avg HR:                                148 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     178

I managed a double on Wednesday. This time I was on the street at 5:55 to do my 2 laps of Mizonokuchi and I also managed to run in Yoyogi Park with Bob J on Wednesday night. I was very pleased with the morning run as I was able to push my pace a lot more again. It was no surprise that I was a little tired by the evening run and ran at much more relaxed pace. Bob had started early but stayed around to help me through my first 3 laps of Yoyogi Park.

Thursday 11th October

Resting Heart Rate:          63

Heart Rate Variability:    81

Run:                                       5.3km

Avg Pace:                             5:56 min/km

Avg HR:                                133 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     175

It was no surprise that I was tired again on Thursday morning since I got home late on Wednesday and did not get enough sleep. This was reflected in my RHR and HRV. I still managed to get up at 5:45 and plod around Mizonokuchi for 5km at an easy pace and low heart rate. I was just happy to get the run done.

Friday 12th October

Resting Heart Rate:          55

Heart Rate Variability:    93

Run:                                       2.8km

Avg Pace:                             5:43 min/km

Avg HR:                                134 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     178

I had a meeting at work from 7 pm on Friday, so I knew that it would be challenging to get in a run after I got home at 9 pm. The plan was to get up again at 5:45 and do my usual 2 laps before work. However, I totally slept in and missed my run. That meant I was out on the streets at 9:20 pm running around the neighborhood to ensure that I got the run done when I should have been sleeping and getting ready for the long run in West Tokyo early on Saturday morning. This is when the streak gets tough but the challenge is all part of the fun.

Saturday 13th October

Resting Heart Rate:          56

Heart Rate Variability:    89

Run:                                       30.6km

Avg Pace:                             5:44 min/km

Avg HR:                                145 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     176

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On the banks of the Akigawa River in West Tokyo.

The plan for Saturday morning was to meet Namban running legend, Mark Feeley, at his home in Haijima and do a long hilly run around the Akigawa river. We both plan to do the 55km charity run with Knights In White Lycra (KIWL) in November in aid of Mirai no Mori and the Ohtawara Marathon is not exactly flat so we this run was the start of my preparations.

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Elevation

It was great. Mark dragged me up and down lots of hills as we ran around his neighborhood greeting his neighbors. It is very enjoyable to be out of the city and running past rice fields and beehives while herons stood still in the river waiting to pounce on unsuspecting fish. The run was long and hard as I requested and afterwards, we retired to the local Ishikawa Brewery for some delicious craft beer.

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Alan in Tokyo

Saturday evening an old college friend, Alan, was in town for one night and we met up for some more craft beer in the Taproom in Nakameguro. I knew that I had another long run on Sunday and that Alan would probably be back in Tokyo in a few months, but the call of the Teikoku IPA was just too strong.

Sunday 14th October

Resting Heart Rate:          58

Heart Rate Variability:    90

Run:                                       25.4km

Avg Pace:                             5:53 min/km

Avg HR:                                138 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     177

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Tamagawa Ohashi Bridge

Despite going drinking twice on Saturday, my RHR and HRV were still in a good range on Sunday morning. I was still tired from Saturday’s hilly long run so I decided that a nice easy run, trying to keep my heart rate well under 140, would be a good idea. I headed off to the Tamagawa, turned right and then down to Kawasaki. The temperature was cool and the run turned out well. My HR stayed under 140 until I was about 75% done. At around that point, I switched from the Rich Roll Podcast to Bob Dylan’s Blood On The Tracks and my heart rate started to creep up as I made my way home.

All in all, a good week of running. I kept my streak going and I feel that I have gotten some of my motivation back.

40 days to the Ohtawara Marathon.

 

 

Week 17 Training Ohtawara Marathon 2016

So Week 17 was not a very good one for me. It started off fine and I was expecting to do two hard runs to cap off my training but I felt sick on Wednesday, got worse on Friday and hopefully am making a recovery on Sunday. Anyway, this is how it went. 10 days to race day.

Week Total

  • Number of runs: 2
  • Distance: 10.8 km
  • Time: 1 hour 12 mins

Monday 7th November

  • RHR: 47
  • HRV: 73
  • Weight: 83.4kg

Again a rest day and I was feeling fine just chillin’ at home. Nothing to see here.

Tuesday 8th November

  • RHR: 46
  • HRV: 76
  • Weight: 83.4kg
  • Run: Easy run with Michael
  • Distance: 5.3km
  • Time: 37 mins
  • Avg HR: 115
  • Avg Cadence: 164

Harrisson had put Tuesday down as an extra rest day but as my boy was going for a run about the time I got home from work, I decided to go with him as it would be nice and easy. It was an easy run and I finished it feeling great although the boy refused to get into any photos with me.

Wednesday 9th November

  • RHR: 42
  • HRV: 75
  • Weight: 82.9kg
  • Run: Easy run as it happens
  • Distance: 5.5km
  • Time: 34 mins
  • Avg HR: 130
  • Avg Cadence: 162

I am not saying that it had anything to do with my run and condition, but all day Wednesday we spent every available minute checking in on the US Presidential results. It really captured everybody’s imagination in Japan. Even my wife was texting me as it became more clear that Trump would win. It was quite a shock.

I got home at a reasonable time and headed out the door to do my run. At the beginning I was feeling great as I bounded down the road and made the second corner in extra quick time. It was shortly after that that things started to go wrong. I started feeling dizzy and lightheaded. The plan was to run 5km at 4:15 ~ 4:20 pace but when I got to the river I knew that I was not up to  it and just turned back for home, stopping at a Convenience Store to get an energy bar. I don’t know what had gone wrong, but I really felt out of sorts.

Thursday 10th November

  • RHR: 49
  • HRV: 65
  • Weight: 82.7kg

On Thursday morning my HRV had dropped 10 points to 65 and turned yellow. I did not feel too bad and still had hopes of doing the hard run that evening when I headed out for work. Even as I was walking home from the station, I was trying to talk myself back into it. However, when I reached home I was admitted to myself that I was just too tired and needed to rest more.

Friday 11th November

  • RHR: 46
  • HRV: 68
  • Weight: 82.9kg

My HRV had recovered a little my Friday morning but I was feeling cold with a runny nose and sneezing as I headed out the door. I felt OK during the morning but after lunch my sneezing and runny nose just got worse and worse and by 3:30pm I had to accept defeat and head home to bed. My wife collected me at the station and 10 minutes later I had drunk a Hot Lemon drink and was in bed shivering.

Saturday 12th November

  • RHR: 44
  • HRV: 73
  • Weight: 83kg

Saturday my HRV was back to normal but I was still feeling weak and I spent most of the day in bed.

Sunday 13th November

  • RHR: 44
  • HRV: 72
  • Weight: 82.9kg

Sunday and you are probably glad that this blog post has to end. Hopefully I will be  fully recovered in the next couple of days able to get in a few more runs before my race on 23rd November.

Week 14 Training Ohtawara Marathon 2016

Week 14 was a hell of a week, and not in a good way. I saw my HRV tank the day after my long run, recover a little and then drop again. I couldn’t complete my midweek hard intervals as I was just too tired and had to turn around and head home. My long run was miserable but at least I completed the distance. The only good news is that my foot pain did not return and I am nearly finished. My race is in just over 4 weeks which means that I can start to taper soon and hopefully recover some badly needed energy.

Week Total

  • Number of runs: 4
  • Distance: 58.2km
  • Time:   5 hours 17 mins

Monday 17th October

  • RHR: 58
  • HRV: 55
  • Weight: 82.6kg

I had a hard run on Sunday and woke Monday to see my HRV plummet to 55 and my resting Heart Rate shoot up to 58. It is very unusual for my RHR to be above my HRV and even if Monday was not a rest day I would have taken one.

Tuesday 18th October

  • RHR: 48
  • HRV: 73
  • Weight: 83.5kg
  • Run: Easy
  • Distance:  8.4km
  • Time: 48 mins
  • Avg HR: 136
  • Avg Cadence: 171

On Tuesday morning my HRV and RHR had returned to normal territory and I congratulated myself on only needing one day to recover from such a hard run. I got up at 5:30 and headed for the Tamagawa River for an easy run. The run went to plan but my legs felt very tired for the rest of the day which is very unusual for me.

Wednesday 19th October

  • RHR: 48
  • HRV: 67
  • Weight: 83.6kg
  • Run: Hard Intervals – FAIL
  • Distance:  7.2km
  • Time:  46 mins
  • Avg HR: 128
  • Avg Cadence: 153

I spent Wednesday walking around Data Centers which, while very interesting, is not the best preparation for Hard Intervals. I got home and took a 30 minute nap and then headed for the Tamagawa again. I knew from the beginning that I was not in good form. I was lumbering along and every step felt heavy. I got to the river and did my warm up drills and then 3 x 400m. By the end of them I knew I was done. Sometimes I feel bad after the 400ms but once I start the intervals I feel fine again and can continue. I knew immediately that this was not one of those days and I finished my isotonic drink and started my slow jog for home.

Thursday 20th October

  • RHR: 45
  • HRV: 72
  • Weight: 83.2kg
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With my former colleagues talking about old times

Thursday I had a real life event and had not planned top run. As with Monday, even if I had nothing on I would not have been able to run. I still feeling tired and glad I could rest.

Friday 21st October

  • RHR: 52
  • HRV: 66
  • Weight: 83.5

Friday was another real life event and no running. I was feeling a bit less tired and got the results of my health test from the previous week. All the results of my blood tests were virtually the same as last year which is very good news as I have not eaten any meat all year. Maybe this vegetarian life is not so bad after all.

Saturday 22nd October

  • RHR: 52
  • HRV: 61
  • Weight: 83.5
  • Run: MAF with 8 x 40 sec strides
  • Distance: 12.4km
  • Time: 1 hour 7 mins
  • Avg HR: 139
  • Avg Cadence: 178
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Low HRV on my ithlete Pro and the overall trend (Blue Line) is continuing to drop

Saturday morning saw another drop in my HRV and a clear indication that the trend was heading south. I took an extra rest in the morning and headed out around noon for my MAF run with some strides thrown in for good measure. The run went fine and I enjoyed the strides and trying to complete 200m for each 40 seconds. I never did.

I was rather tired at the end of it so I made myself a large Beet juice with carrot, lemon, ginger, turmeric, celery and spinach. I then had a nice nap hoping to prepare myself for Sunday.

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Sunday 23rd October

  • RHR: 45
  • HRV: 79
  • Weight: 83.1
  • Run: Long Run w/ goal paced segments
  • Distance: 30km
  • Time: 2 hours 36 mins
  • Avg HR: 160
  • Avg Cadence: 176

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I knew things were not going well his week. My HRV was on a steady decline, I had failed to complete the hard intervals on Wednesday and I missed runs . I had to put things back on track. So I decided not to drink my usual beer(s) on Saturday night and head to bed early, get up early and do the run early. Of course the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. I did manage to not drink beer and to go to bed early, but I had not reckoned on not being able to sleep and as I checked the half-time scores of the English Premier League on my phone, I knew things were not going to be easy the next day.

I eventually dragged myself out of the scratcher sometime after 7am and after dropping the Missus off at the station, I started to get ready. Harrisson had told me that he would meet me somewhere along the Tamagawa so I did not want to hang about. This week’s run was even more complicated than last week and I wrote it on my hand again as there was no way that I would remember it.

3k WU @ MAF (include a 2 x 30s strides randomly @ HM pace during that)
2k @ 4:05
6k @ 4:30
8k @ 5:30 
4k @ 4:25
1k@ 5:30
4k @ 4:25
WD as far as you want to end up in the 30~33km range

 

I got down to the Tamagawa River without any hassle and started the first section. It was hard enough as I ran up to Futakobashi and then turned around to run all the way down to Tamagawa-Ohashi. I knew that things were not getting any better as I thought that I had been running into the wind only to turn around and think the very same thing. I kept going and managed to keep the pace within range.

It is always difficult switching from 4:05 pace to 4:30 pace as I instinctively want to take a rest. Today was no different and I was playing catch up until the end of the 6km and just managed it with one second to spare. Moving from 4:30 pace to 5:30 pace is a dream and I began to feel good again. I stopped at the rest station just before Tamagawa-Ohashi and had a gel and a sports drink. After a couple of minutes Harrisson came along and we continued along together over the Tamagawa and up past Gasubashi where we turned around again and retraced our steps back to Tamagawa Ohashi where the next hard section started.

This time I suffered miserably and could not keep up with Harrisson as he gracefully ran back up the Tamagawa. My pace kept dropping and during the 1km @5:30 I stopped for water and another gel. Harrisson told me to cut this one to 2km and I readily agreed. I could not keep 4:25 even for 2km and was very glad when it was over.

  • Target 8:10 Actual 8:02
  • Target 27:00 Actual 26:59
  • Target 44:00 Actual 44:20
  • Target 17:40 Actual 18:45
  • Target 8:50 Actual 9:36

All in all a very miserable day despite Harrisson’s good company and encouragement. However I can take some solace from the fact that I have now completed four 30km runs in October with some crazy ass goal pace segments thrown in. I always say that four 30km + runs the month before a marathon is a must and now I have completed that.

I said goodbye to Harrisson at Kita Mikata and began the slow jog home (again). He told me that the good news was that I was near the end of the hard stuff and I could start the taper in the next week or so. And I am not injured so it is not all bad. I won’t do any running for the next two days and I might try to reacquaint myself with the local swimming pool which I have been neglecting for several months.

Week 8 Training Ohtawara Marathon 2016

This week did not go so well. I was rather tired at the start of the week but recovered in time to do my hard intervals on Wednesday. I then got a cold on Saturday which meant  I was not able to do my long run on Sunday. Still, as I type this on Sunday evening, I am feeling much better and looking forward to my trip to Ireland on Thursday and all the running I will do there.

Week Total

  • Number of runs: 4
  • Distance: 37.3km
  • Time: 3 hours 47 mins

Monday 5th September

  • RHR: 52
  • HRV: 76
  • Weight: 83kg

Monday, as usual, was a rest day so I did a lot of walking and little else.

Tuesday 6th September

  • RHR: 45
  • HRV: 81
  • Weight: 83kg
  • Run: Easy
  • Distance: 8.3km
  • Time: 52 mins
  • Average Heart Rate: 132
  • Average Cadence: 167

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Tuesday I got up early again and did my 8km easy run. I still had no pain in my right hamstring so I was feeling confident to Wednesday’s hard intervals.

Wednesday 7th September

  • RHR: 43
  • HRV: 74
  • Weight: 82.8kg
  • Run: Hard Intervals
  • Distance: 10.3km
  • Time: 1 hour 2 mins

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I have been finding it difficult to do the hard intervals in the morning so I decided to do this one after work at GaienMae. Each lap of the Gaien Oval is 1,325m and the plan was as follows:

Lap1: 3 x 400m (1:50 / 1:40 / 1:30) with 60s rest between them, jog to the start and walks for 2min

Lap 2, 3: 5:30 per lap (~4:09 pace) -> if you feel you cannot hold the pace after the first lap, jog 200m very easy and finish the rest at 4:10 pace or faster

Lap 4: recovery jog

Lap 5: 5:30 total time
Lap 6: Sudden death: hold 4:10 pace as far as you can, check every 100m. Each 100m
has to be run under 25s, at the first 100m under 25s, game over, and you jog back to the
start and do your WD

 

Harrisson came along just as I was warming up and gave me lots of encouragement throughout the workout. It was not a very hot night but it was very humid and I was soon sweating profusely. I managed to do the 400ms in time and then started on the laps. I completed the first in 5:23 and the second in 5:27 but after that things started to get hard. Lap 5 was 5:32, just outside the 5:30 target, and when I started the sudden death I could only hold the 4:10 place for 400m. Harrisson said that we would call this a benchmark and try to improve on it going forward.

Thursday 8th September

  • RHR: 45
  • HRV: 82
  • Weight: 82.6kg
  • Run Easy: 8.3km
  • Time: 49 mins
  • Average Cadence: 168

I managed to drag myself up early again on Thursday morning and do my easy 8km before work. Again it was a beautiful morning and it was good to get along the Tamagawa.

Friday 9th September

  • RHR: 52
  • HRV: 67
  • Weight: 82.8kg

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Friday I had to leave early for a business trip to Hamanako and I could not get any runs in.

Saturday 10th September

  • RHR: 46
  • HRV: 72
  • Run: Easy
  • Distance: 10.3
  • Time: 1 hour 2 mins

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On Saturday, I got up early and met my colleagues for a 6am run around Hamanako. It was a gorgeous morning and we had a great run. That day a massive concert called One Rock was taking place around Hamanako and we ran into thousands of kids queuing up at 6am to gain access for a concert that was staring at 3pm. Now that is dedication. Unfortunately I caught a cold either out on the run or in the air con at night and for the rest of the day I was either sneezing or blowing my nose. At 7pm, I realised that I would not be able to make the long run on Sunday and told the people that I was to meet that I would have to take a rain check.

Sunday 11th September

  • RHR: 43
  • HRV: 80
  • Weight: 84.1kg

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On Sunday I spent most of the day in bed trying to get rid of my cold. Around 5pm I started to feel better but did not get up and run as I decided that I needed to get back to full strength before I started to do anything.

 

Week 7 Training Ohtawara Marathon 2016

Week 7 was an easy week where I recovered from the previous hard 6 weeks and also took care of my sore hamstring. I did one hard workout and 4 easy ones and saw my weight drop another kilo as I continued to avoid the snack vending machine at work.

Week Total

  • Number of runs: 5
  • Distance: 61.2km
  • Time: 6 hours 4 mins

Monday 29th August

  • RHR: 42
  • HRV: 74
  • Weight: 83.3

Monday was a rest day and I took it easy and continued to apply Tiger Balm to my leg.

Tuesday 30th August

  • RHR: 41
  • HRV: 81
  • Weight: 83.1
  • Run: Easy w/ 6×15 sec strides
  • Distance: 8.3km
  • Time: 50 minutes

On Tuesday Harrisson asked me to just do an easy run with some strides to judge if my hamstring had healed sufficiently to do a hard workout on Wednesday. That morning I had seen the best RHR and HRV in a while and I felt very rested. The run itself went well so we decided to give the hard intervals a proper go the next day.

Wednesday 31st August

  • RHR: 48
  • HRV: 74
  • Weight: 83.4
  • Run: Hard Intervals
  • Distance: 16km
  • Time: 1 hour 29 minutes

I found the description of Wednesday’s workout a little hard to understand.

Lap1 to 3: do for each lap, 800m @ 3:52 pace or faster (3:05 total time), 525m @ 4:30 pace
(2:22 total time), 3min rest (the rest comes only after you’ve done 3 continuous laps).
Lap 4 and 5: same as lap1,2,3 but only 2 laps, 3min rest
Lap 6 and 7: same as lap 4 and 5
I e-mailed Harrisson several times to make sure that I understood what he was asking. It seemed that I did understand. He was asking me to do back to back intervals are different paces and with no rest. The key point was that the second interval was at my race pace of 4:30/km so he was training me to run at this pace on tired legs.
I had a real life event that evening so I got up at 5am on Wednesday and headed over to the Tamagawa river.I won’t lie, it was very tough and I never made the pace for the 800m interval. I did however make it for the seven 600m intervals which was of some comfort. My hamstring was sore from the start but it did not get any worse so I get going. Along, with the soreness, it was very hard to run all those intervals without a drink. I was running up and down the Tamagawa river and stopping to rest at different locations so there was nowhere to leave a bottle of water. By the time I was running the 6th and 7th lap by mouth was completely dry and vigorously rubbing my tongue off the insides of my cheeks to try and generate some saliva. It was not a really hot morning, but it was very humid and I was drenched in sweated when I finished. Normally I won’t buy a drink after a morning workout but this time I could not get to the vending machine fast enough and the Postonic Water never tasted so good.

Thursday 1st September

  • RHR: 45
  • HRV: 67
  • Weight: 83.9kg
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Tokyo after the storm

As my hamstring had been a little sore on Wednesday, Harrisson told me to take Thursday off. I only had easy days left and he wanted to see my leg settle down before we started the next cycle the following week.

Friday 2nd September

  • RHR: 51
  • HRV: 71
  • Weight: 83.2kg
  • Run: Easy
  • Distance: 8.1km
  • Time: 51 minutes

I continued to apply Tiger Balm to my leg and by Friday night it was feeling OK again. Even still, I just went out for an easy 8km MAF run with no strides. Everything went well and I reported back to Harrisson. I told him that I might not have time to do a long run on Sunday and that I wanted to do it on Saturday morning. The schedule was for 20 ~ 25km but he told me, in no uncertain terms, to keep it to 20km to make sure that there was no impact on my hamstring.

Saturday 3rd September

  • RHR: 47
  • HRV: 74
  • Weight: 82.8kg
  • Run: Easy
  • Distance: 20.2km
  • Time: 2 hours 4 minutes
IMG_5494

Saturday Lunch – Humus and Avocado on Wholegrain Toast

It is now getting bearable to run in Tokyo in the mornings although the afternoons are still too hot, and when I headed out on the Noborito loop at 6:20am it was only 25 degrees. It felt like a good temperature to run in, but 4 months ago it would have killed me. I guess that this is what Philippe means by temperature adaptation over the summer. The only purpose of this run was to get through it without soreness and I managed to do that. So far I have only felt the pain in my hamstring when doing hard intervals and I am hoping that that is now going away. I got back from the run and reported to Harrisson that I was fine in  soreness department but my legs were feeling tired, although I had had a good night’s sleep the night before.

Sunday 4th September

  • RHR: 50
  • HRV: 74
  • Weight: 82.7kg
  • Run: Easy Run with 6 Variable Strides
  • Distance: 8.3km
  • Time: 49 minutes

So what are Variable Strides, I hear you ask. And I had asked myself the same question. Apparently they are strides until it just starts to feel hard and your breathing starts shooting up. I am not sure that I did these correctly as I am no good at this subjective feeling stuff and I may have run them longer that I should have. I much prefer to be told to run a distance, or a time, or a pace and I concentrate on that.

Regardless I did all 6 strides and had not soreness. I got home and reported to Harrisson that everything was fine except that I was still feeling tired, despite getting 7 hours in the scratcher the night before. He said that he had been looking at my log on myfitnesspal.com and that he was wondering if I was getting enough protein. Normally I was recording 20g per day when it really should be 70g. Of course vegans and vegetarians always laugh at people who say “where do you get your protein” as we do not believe that there is any shortage of protein in the world today. However, you cannot argue with how you feel and if you are tired for no reason, you should try to do something about it. Except kill an animal who never did anything to you.

Anyway, I decided that I did not want to go the whey protein route as I am trying to eat mainly whole foods so Harrisson suggested that I eat more black beans and legumes. So  I headed off to Caldi and stocked up

IMG_5496

Beans and more beans

and the had a good old fashioned vegetarian lunch when I got back.

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So this is what 25g of protein looks like

Ohtawara Marathon 2016 Base Training Week 5

Week 5 is where things started to go well. I managed to run over 100km for the week and ran on 10 consecutive days. I have not been able to run like this since May 2013. I also managed to do some strength training on 2 days, get out for a run at 5:20am and run/walk a 1,300m mountain. Well let’s call it a mountain for now. My weight started going down mid-week, but came back to where it had been before by Saturday morning. I ate well during the week  but I may have celebrated my distances more than I should have. Now let’s see if I can repeat this again, once Ireland’s games start in the Euro 2016.

Week Total

  • Number of runs: 7
  • Distance:  101.7km
  • Time: 11 hours  10 minutes

Monday 6th June

  • RHR : 51
  • HRV: 70
  • Weight: 84.2 kg
  • Run: MAF Test 9:31/9:46/9:45/9:46/9:50
  • Distance: 15.2km
  • Time: 1 hr 31 mins
  • Average Heart Rate:  135
  • Average Cadence: 174

Monday I woke feeling a little sore after the 10km the day before. A 10km race run hard is supposed to take it out of you. I may not have posted a great time in the Munatsuki 10km but I  did run my best and I felt the effects on Monday morning. Although my HRV was around my normal number, my Resting Heart Rate was slightly elevated. Still, I got out in the evening and ran 90 mins at MAF while concentrating on my cadence. As I was running down to the Tamagawa I decided that I would do a MAF Test as the track is long and straight and marked at every 200m. The idea of a MAF Test is that you warm up and then run 5 miles and mark off the time after each mile. What you should see is that each consecutive mile is a little slower. However, if you practice MAF correctly and you repeat the MAF Test every week or every month, the time for each mile should start to reduce. I had not not run a MAF Test since 2013 and I was interested to see how it would go. At the end of the day I was happy to keep both my heart rate and steps in the required range while I ran up and down the Tamagawa. When I got home I did the strength exercises that Harrisson had given me. All in all, a good day.

Tuesday 7th June

  • RHR : 46
  • HRV: 75
  • Weight: 83.8 kg
  • Run: MAF w/ 5×15 sec strides
  • Distance: 15km
  • Time: 1 hr 31 mins
  • Average Heart Rate: 136
  • Average Cadence: 174

I was very happy with my numbers on Tuesday morning. My weight and RHR were down and my HRV was up. I woke to see a note from Harrisson to add some strides into my MAF runs. When I asked what are strides, he said to run fast, but not too fast that you lose your form. It made perfect sense so I went back out on the Tamagawa that night. I have a 2.7km run down to the Tamagawa so once I reached there I did my strides. I found it cumbersome trying to time 15 secs and decided that next time I would just count the time rather than trying to get it exactly right. The run ended up very similar to  Monday night and I went home and did the strength exercises again. Later that night there was a note from Harrisson to try and do the strides after the MAF Run when you legs are tired. I filed it away.

Wednesday 8th June

  • RHR : 44
  • HRV: 71
  • Weight: 83.7 kg
  • Run: Namban Intervals 2000m/1000m/1000m/1000m/500m/500m
  • Distance: 12.5km
  • Time: 1 hr 12 min

Wednesday morning and my RHR and weight had dropped again. I was on a roll and already writing this blog in my head. That night I made it out to Namban intervals for the second consecutive week for the first time this year. It was tough, particularly the first interval of 2,000m. Still, I got through them OK but with a little soreness. Although I am in a base building phase, I do value these intervals a lot as they give me a lot of perspective when I compare myself with other runners in the group. At the moment it is not favourable but that will hopefully change over the next few months.

Thursday 9th June

  • RHR : 47
  • HRV:  72
  • Weight: 83.6kg
  • Run: Aerobic
  • Distance: 10.7
  • Time: 1 hr 2 mins
  • Average Heart Rate: 136
  • Average Cadence: 165
IMG_4774

Hardcore

Thursday I was sore after the intervals but my numbers were in a good place. Thursday night was Rainbow Bridge night. The previous 2 weeks we had 9 people running the Rainbow Bridge on each night but this week there was a chance of rain in the weather forecast and it was just Bob, Naoko and myself. The hard core members. It was a good run and we got back in just over an hour. I had an appointment the next morning so I skipped the dinner and righteously when home to get some sleep.

Friday 10th June

  • RHR : 51
  • HRV: 69
  • Weight: 83.6 kg
  • Run: MAF (sort of)
  • Distance: 10.7
  • Time: 1 hr 34 mins
  • Average Heart Rate: 140
  • Average Cadence: 171
IMG_4750

We drank them dry! Literally. 

The reason that I had to leave early on Thursday night was that I was meeting Jeremy at 6am on Marukobashi on Friday morning. Jeremy will be getting married next Friday and has recently moved close to the Tamagawa so I had wanted to get in one run with him before the Big Day. As I had an appointment on Friday night, I knew that it would have to be Friday morning. Unfortunately, Marukobashi is the best part of 7km from my house and I had to be on the road by 5:20 to be on time.

Jeremy arrived at 6am on the dot. He was looking well and we headed up the Tamagawa on the Tokyo side towards Futakotamagawa. It was interesting to see the difference between the Tokyo side of the Tamagawa and the Kawasaki side. Although Kawasaki is reputed to be the rough side (the side I live on) but once we started running on the Tokyo side we soon saw lots of people clearly the worse for wear. The sun had started to come up and Jeremy was not feeling well. He told me that he had had several classes of water before he left the house and despite this and going to bed early, he was parched. I found him a vending machine at Futako, bought him a bottle of water and he was on the mend again. We ran over the Futakobashi bridge and onto the Kawasaki side. At Daisan Keihin I turned off for home and Jeremy kept going down the river. I heard from him later, so don’t worry, he made it.

On Friday night I went out to dinner with some of my friends who just happen to combine fatherhood and running. We had a lovely evening in a Palestine restaurant where they made a special vegetarian meal for me. I was very happy with the whole menu as it can be very difficult to get vegetarian food while out in Japan. Also, we can say that we drank the place dry of all Palestine and Lebanon beer. OK, there was only 7 bottles as you can see in the photo. After the meal I skipped the third party as I had a special event planned for Saturday morning.

Saturday 11th June

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Okutama Trail

  • RHR : 55
  • HRV: 65
  • Weight: 84.6 kg
  • Run: Mountain Trail
  • Elevation Gain 1,303m
  • Distance: 15km
  • Time: 2 hrs 29 mins
  • Average Heart Rate: 145
  • Average Cadence: 136
IMG_0001

All smiles at the start

Even though, I had skipped the third party and had went to bed early, I woke up with all my numbers in the wrong place. Stan was taking Meg and myself out to Okutama  to run a mountain. I got up at 6am and met them on the Holiday Express from Shinjuku at 8:11 in Tachikawa. Stan had run the course the week before and sent out his Strava link. I did not look at it close enough. If I had I would not have been in such good form as we headed out of the station. After walking about 200m from the station, Stan said OK, let’s start, turned right and started to run up something that look like a wall. I was soon behind as we negotiated steps before getting onto the road up to the trail. Finally, I got back to Stan but Meg was by that stage well ahead of both of us as we wondered “what the hell she was on”. Of course I knew that she was on a vegan diet and to see her fly up the hills just made me increase my commitment to doing the same.

We regrouped after about 4.5km where the road ended and the trail started. I had ideas that the trail would be nice and leisurely and easier that the road. These ideas where quickly dismissed as the trail was just as steep as the road and a lot more difficult to negotiate. Up and up we went through the forest, watching our feet in case we should trip over any roots and trying to maintain some form of pace. Eventually we came out of the forest and the hill just became steeper to the top. I had to stop 2 times and let my heart rate drop back down for 2 minutes. Finally we made it to the top in 1:24 and I took a few minutes to regroup mentally, and wring the sweat out of my shirt.

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Regrouping

I finished my last drop of water at the top. Stan had warned me that there would be no water on the way so I downed a 500ml bootle at the station and bought another one to bring with me. Meg had brought dates that we consumed on the summit and were fantastic. After a while I was beginning to feel human again. Stan brought us down a different route through a more dense and muddy forest. He told us before we started that some parts were a bit sketchy and we soon found out what he meant by that phrase, as we found ourselves ankle deep in mud and hanging on to the roots of trees for dear life.

I was the last off the trail and onto the road. I am naturally adverse to taking chances and took it very easy down the mountain. But once I hit the road, I felt safe again and ran as fast as I could down to the station. My quads are not thanking me the next day. The run was a great experience and I hope that Stan can lead another one in the near future.

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Sunday 12th June

  • RHR : 48
  • HRV: 79
  • Weight: 84.7kg
  • Run: MAF
  • Distance: 16.6km
  • Time: 1 hr 48 mins
  • Average Heart Rate: 131
  • Average Cadence: 168
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The Tamagawa River (and fisherman)

Sunday morning I woke with the pain of the trail in my legs. However, I knew that I needed to run 15km to reach my weekly goal of 100km. I probably should have headed out earlier but I eventually hit the road at 8:30am when the sun was in the sky and the temperature was 22 degrees. The sole purpose of the run was to get the miles in and keep my heart rate down. From time to time, I tried to get my cadence up over 170 but I could not maintain it. Eventually, I settled to get through the run in as little pain as possible and got home by 10:30 in one piece.