Week 18 Training Ohtawara Marathon 2016

And so ends my 6 months of training for the Otawara Marathon. It starts in 2 and a half days and I would like to think that I am as ready as I ever will be. Of course that is not true. The amateur runner with a job and children and other commitments will never be as ready as he ever will be but he can be as ready as as he could hope to be. There have been many real life events that have interrupted my training over the last few months. Some I could not have avoided, some I chose not to avoid. At the end of he day, the overall choice was my mine and I will live with it. I have trained as hard as I wanted to and not as hard as I could have and I when I out my toe on the line on Wednesday I will know that this is my race.

Now all I need to do is to get three good nights sleep and eat well. There is no more running to be done until 10am on Wednesday.

Week Total

  • Number of runs: 5
  • Distance: 40.3km km
  • Time: 3 hour 35 min

It was good to complete five runs and 40km in the week before the marathon even if three of the runs were 5km. Last year I completed 3 runs and 28km but I don’t think that you can compare one single week. However, I have always been lax the week leading up to a race and I feel that this has been a problem. We will soon find out if the extra runs will have had any benefit.

Monday 14th November

  • RHR: 45
  • HRV: 67
  • Weight: 83.6kg

Although Monday is generally a rest day, I had hoped to run as I was getting over a cold and had not run over the weekend. However, when I got back from work on Monday night it was raining. I generally don’t care if it is raining or not, but this time it was too close to my race and I was afraid that my cold would start up again. So I took some extra rest and hoped that I would get better.

Tuesday 15th November

  • RHR: 43
  • HRV: 72
  • Weight: 83.4kg

Tuesday I had a real life event after work so I could not run. My cold continued to improve.

Wednesday 16th November

  • RHR: 53
  • HRV: 61
  • Weight: 83.7kg
  • Run: Easy
  • Distance: 5.3km
  • Time: 29 minutes
  • Avg HR: 146
  • Avg Cadence: 175

Autumn in Chiba

On Wednesday I woke up feeling terrible. Life had eventually caught up with me and I was miserable. Unfortunately after waking at 5:45 I could not go back to sleep so I went out and did an easy 5km. This was my first run in 7 days. Totally unplanned and unpexpected I made it out the door just after 6am and broke the spell.

Thursday 17th November

  • RHR: 47
  • HRV: 72
  • Weight: 84kg
  • Run: Easy with 8km at goal HR
  • Distance: 14km
  • Time: 1 hour 13 minutes
  • Avg HR: 154
  • Avg Cadence: 173

On Thursday I was feeling a lot better so Harrison gave me this workout to see how I was fixed for the race.

  • 3km easy warm up with 3 x 15 sec strides
  • 8 km @ 165 ~ 175 heart rate which was the same as Ohtawara 2015
  • 3km easy cool down


This was my first hard run in over 10 days and it went well. I was able to run the 8km portion in 36:31 which is at a 4:34 pace and with an average HR of 169. The first half was  better than the second half as I was wearing too much clothes and I started to heat up when I was running into the wind on the way back. However, my right foot was sore right after I had finished the 8km part and I had to take my shoe and sock off to massage it. I then ran home very gently.

Friday 18th November

  • RHR: 47
  • HRV: 72
  • Weight: 83.4kg
  • Run: Easy
  • Distance: 5.4km
  • Time:  30 minutes
  • Avg HR: 133
  • Avg Cadence: 171

Friday was another easy day with 5km around the neighborhood. I was finally winding down.

Saturday 19th November

  • RHR: 50
  • HRV: 72
  • Weight: 83.3kg
  • Run: Easy with strides
  • Distance: 5.3km
  • Time:  29 minutes
  • Avg HR: 140
  • Avg Cadence: 172


Saturday was an easy 5km run with 30 seconds of strides at the end of each 1km. It went well and I was finished before lunch. I made myself a whooping big juice with beets, curly kale, apple, turmeric and wheatgrass to celebrate before heading out to see the art exhibition by my friend George and meet my other friend Alan who was over from London.


George’s Art


Alan in Japan

Sunday 20th November

  • RHR:
  • HRV:
  • Weight: 83.7kg
  • Run: Easy with pace work
  • Distance: 10.3km
  • Time:  53 minutes
  • Avg HR: 150
  • Avg Cadence: 177

On Sunday morning I got up at 5am to bring my son to the train station for his rugby game. I got up as soon as I woke up so I had no chance to take my heart rate or HRV. After dropping him off I went back to bed for 3 hours before heading out for my last training run just before lunch.  Harrison hag given me the following:

  • 3k easy, 500m @ 4:05, 1000m @ 4:15, 3k @ 4:25 ~ 4:30, WD

and it went  to plan. I ran it at

  • 500m in 2:00
  • 1km in 4:09
  • 3km in 13:01

with no serious impact. I then went home and spent the rest of the day getting my car tested. I finally succeeded sometime after 6pm.



Week 13 Training Ohtawara Marathon 2016

Week 13 was rather tough as I had a sore foot at the end of week 12 and several real life events impacting on my training. I was only able to run 3 times, but 2 of these were key workouts and should be of benefit. At the end of the week the soreness in my foot seems to have gotten better and I hope to have 5 good runs next week.

Week Total

  • Number of runs: 3
  • Distance: 53.3km
  • Time:  4 hours 40 mins

Monday 10th October

  • RHR: 45
  • HRV: 71
  • Weight: 82.8kg


Monday was a National Holiday in Japan called Sports Day, so we went and had a BBQ with some of my Irish friends. It was a beautiful day down by the Tamagawa and I enjoyed hanging out and resting my foot. I also had a beer or two …

Tuesday 11th October

  • RHR: 44
  • HRV: 89
  • Weight: 82.8kg


Tuesday I had a real life event after work so I missed my run but I was happy to wake up with a HRV of 89. I think that using the Sleep Cycle app helps me wake up easily with our a sudden start.

Wednesday 12th October

  • RHR: 43
  • HRV: 75
  • Weight: 83.2kg
  • Run: Hard Intervals
  • Distance: 16.2
  • Time 1 hour 26 minutes

Wednesday was my first hard run since I hobbled home on Sunday with a sore foot. I was a little worried but also hopefully that it had healed after 2 days rest. These hard intervals was always going to be tough:

3k Warm Up
Warm Up Drills
3 x 400m 1:50/1:40/1:30 w/ 60 sec between & 2 min rest at end
Actual 1:41/1:40/1:29
(400m @ 3:50 1:32
1,400m @ 4:05 5:43
3,400m @ 4:30 15:18)
Actual 1:31/5:27/14:34
4 min easy jog
(400m @ 3:50 1:32
1,000m @ 4:30 4:30
400m @ 3:50 1:32
1,000m @ 4:30 4:30
400m @ 3:50 1:32
1,000m @ 4:30 4:30
400m @ 3:50 1:32
1,000m @ 4:30 4:30)
Actual 1:33/4:13/1:38/4:23/1:42/4:26/1:42/4:22
Warm Down
As you can see from the Actual Times that I ran, I did OK at the start but struggled on the 400m in the second half. Harrisson said that I ran the first part too fast and he had a point. For the 1,400m I ran 5:27 instead of 5:43 and for the 3,400m I ran 14:34 instead of 15:18. It is hard to tell how these differences impact latter intervals but I can only assume that there is some impact.
I ran all the intervals without any pain in my foot, but as soon as I stopped and started to warm down my left foot got sore again. I did my usual trick of taking off my shoe and sock and massaging my foot but it had no affect. I was left with no choice but to walk home slowly and hope that it would get better by my next run.

Thursday 13th October

  • RHR: 49
  • HRV: 71
  • Weight: 81.9kg

Bob Dylan – My all time hero. Seriously!

Thursday was my annual health check so I could not drink alcohol on Wednesday or eat after 9pm. This is always a good thing and I wish I could do it everyday. I don’t really. I enjoy drinking and eating everyday. However, I do enjoy waking with a clear head in the morning after not drinking. Not being able to eat breakfast, not so much. I will say that Starbucks at 9:45 after the health check, has the greatest food in the whole wide world. Mainly because I can reach it in 3 and a half minutes.

Obviously the results of the blood tests will take some time to come out but I am the same height, and more or less the same weight, as I was this time last year and my sight seems to have not deteriorated. So Yeah!

Thursday evening I had a real life event so I could not run. Even if I could run I needed to rest my foot. I was delighted to find out during the event that Bob Dylan had won the Nobel prize for literature from the BBC notification on my phone. I was really shocked as I did not even know he was in the running. Despite what many people have said, I believe that it was well deserved, although I am biased, and I enjoyed reading all the nostalgic articles online.

Friday 14th October

  • RHR: 55
  • HRV: 62
  • Weight: 83.9kg
  • Run: Easy
  • Distance: 7.2km
  • Time: 41 mins
  • Avg HR: 131
  • Avg Cadence: 167


On Friday I went out to test my right foot for the first time since Wednesday. My boss from the UK was in town and he was keen on getting in a run while he was in Tokyo so we ran from Tamachi up to Hibiya and back. It was a very pleasant evening and I had no adverse impact on foot so I consider it a success.

Saturday 15th October

  • RHR: 52
  • HRV: 69
  • Weight: 83.6k

Saturday I was driving up to Nikko in Tochigi Prefecture so there would be no running. Although the changing of the colors had not started in earnest we had a good day viewing the waterfalls, going for a walk in the woods, visiting Toshogu shrine and eating tofu for lunch. Although there was a bit of driving, it was a great day.


Sunday 16th October

  • RHR: 49
  • HRV: 69
  • Weight: 82.4kg
  • Run: Long with intervals and goal paced segments
  • Distance 30km
  • Time: 2 hours 33 minutes
  • Avg HR: 161
  • Avg Cadence: 175


Sunday was the big run of the week. After missing so many runs during the week, I needed to make Sunday count. Harrisson had put a very complicated workout on the schedule and I had no choice but to write it on my hand least I forgot it.

This week, substantially more time spent at Goal pace, we’re getting into serious business.
3k WU @ MAF (include a 4 x 20s strides randomly @ HM pace during that)
2k @ 4:05 + 6k @ 4:30
9k @ 5:30 (you can take a water/gel break between the 2nd and 7th kilometer here)
1k @ 4:00 + 6k @ 4:30
WD as far as you want to end up in the 28~32km range


I think that you can see what I mean. There was no rain but I had sweated a little and by the end, the instructions were illegible. As you can see below, things were going fairly OK until I hit the last 6km which was supposed to be run at 4:30 pace. I couldn’t do it. I pushed the 1km at 4:00 pace as hard as I could and after that I needed to take a break before I got back to 4:30 pace. It took a lot longer than I expected and when I got there, I could not sustain it. I tried and tried but my pace kept slipping and by the end I was running at 4:50 pace. My legs were just too tired. Hopefully they will be better next week.

  • Target 8:10 Actual 8:02
  • Target 27:00 Actual 26:58
  • Target 49:30 Actual 49:09
  • Target 4:00 Actual 4:03
  • Target 27:00 Actual 28:26

The good news is that my foot did not hurt me and I was able to run home pain free. I want to get back to 5 runs next week and up to 80km.

Week 1: 29th June ~ 5th July

Distance 82.4km

Time        7:49:37

So this is the start of my 17 weeks plan to run the Dublin Marathon on October 26th. Why 17 weeks? Who knows? It is as good as any other number of weeks. 119 days has a nice ring to it. It is always nice to start a training plan in the middle of the Rainy Season as you can get some nice cool days in the middle of summer, although they might be a bit wet.


HRV 77 

RHR 41

Rest Day

Monday was a rest day. I thought about going swimming but as it was raining a lot here in Tokyo I did not fancy carrying my swimming gear around all day so I just went home after work and had a couple of beers. It worked out fine. Not the most exciting start to a training plan, but trust me, it will get better.


HRV 76

RHR 41

Leg Speed 20 x 30 seconds with 1 minute jog

Good to see no real damage to my HRV this morning due to my slow start to training. Today the plan calls for Leg Speed and  I duly obliged. I had planned to run it around my house after work but road works starting at 9pm meant that is was not possible so I headed down to the Tamagawa. This turned out to be much better and I was pleased to be able to do all 20 reps.


HRV 75

RHR 44

Namban Rengo Intervals 6 x 1000m

This is where things get complicated. Both Greg McMillan’s plan  and Coach Stan tell me that I don’t need these intervals on a Wednesday and they may be right. 4 key workouts a week is too much. But the problem is I love running with Namban. I love the banter. I love the competition with my friends and I love the sento and the beers afterwards with great conversation and a wonderful bunch of people. And I am afraid of Bob, our President for Life. So I have decided to keep going with the intervals for as long as I can. This Wednesday was the first day of July and I really felt the change in humidity. It was raining all day so it was not so hot but it was really humid. I did an easy 6km warm up with Keren, Bob, Bob J and Teri and I was soaked at the end of it. I believe this led to my interval times being all over the place – 3:50/3:43/3:41/3:48/3:46/3:51. Normally I can keep them all within a second or two of each other but this time I couldn’t. Until this session, I had been getting better each week but now I feel the summer slog coming on.


HRV 74 

RHR 51

Hill Repeats 6 x 750m

The plan called for 10 ~ 12 Long Hill Repeats but I am afraid that my hill was too long, or I was just not up to it, and I could only manage 6. When I got back I checked with McMillan and he recommends hills of 2 ~ 3 minutes at medium effort. My times were 3:16/3:15/3:18/3:17/3:21/3:19. I think that next time I will cut the hill down to 600m and try to push it a bit more. My Heart Rate only went up to 178 and my max is 199 so I had a bit more in me.


HRV 74

RHR 50

Rest Day

Rainy Season

Rainy Season



It was fortunate that today was a rest day as it was miserable. It rained all day and I sat in my desk in wet socks the whole time. Fortunately Paddy called me out for a Pint of Plain in the evening so all was not lost.


HRV 81

RHR 44

34km Long Run

I was pleased to see my HRV bounce up to 81 on the back of a rest day. It set me up nicely for a Long Run which was actually due to be run on Sunday but Real World events were already getting in the way so I took the opportunity and ran it a day early. The plan actually called for a 90 ~ 105 minute run but the last time I called that a Long Run I got a lot of comments from Harrisson and Phillipe so I thought that I would not chance that again and went and did 34 km in 3:24 along my beloved Tamagawa river. I hope that they are satisfied. For my Long Runs I am going to try and keep my Heart Rate under 138 and I managed to average this today. However, there were times when it went over 140 and for the last 5 or 6km it was in the 142 ~ 144 range. I let it go as at that point I just wanted to get home.


HRV 69

RHR 55

Easy Run – 8km

ithlete Pro

ithlete Pro

Today’s plan called for 40 ~ 50 mins run. Yesterday I had thought that I would do a bit more and run down to Marukobashi for my standard 12.4km run. However this morning I was was feeling a bit sore from yesterday and as ithlete Pro was telling me to take a rest, I just ran an easy 8km around the block in the rain, keeping my Heart Rate in the low 130s.

It was good to complete 5 runs and get over 80km for the week. The challenge is  to continue to do this for the next 16 weeks without getting injured but continuing to increase my stamina.

Week 14 9th to 15th September

Runs           2

Distance    24.8 km
Weight       77.0kg
I guess I saw some green shoots of recovery today – Thank you Arthur G. I did the same 12.4km route as I did yesterday morning and my time reduced by 7 mins, my average HR went decreased from 140 to 139 and Time In Zone increased from 50% to 62%. All good indicators but it might take a while to get back to doing the Marathon Paced Sessions. Next week I plan to keep running aerobically while increasing my distance and hopefully getting back to where I was a few weeks ago. I have the Watarase Half Marathon in 2 weeks and my A race in 10 weeks.
Yesterday I listened to this episode of Endurance Planet about HRV. It was very interesting and afterwards I went back and read the ithlete app user guide and realised that I was doing it wrong. It states that if your resting Heart Rate is less than 60 bpm, you should take your HRV standing up. Granted Philippe had told me this last week but I did not heed him. Anyway, I deleted my data and started again this morning. I will show the data again after a week.
Saturday Aerobic      12.4 km
Sunday Aerobic         12.4 km

The Power of Guinness

First pint in 6 weeks

First pint in 6 weeks

I suppose that the first indication that something was going wrong was when I got my blood results back two weeks ago. I did my annual health check in June and my LDL cholesterol was at 141, just high enough for me to be brought back for a recheck. The second test at the start of September showed that it had gone down to 124, but my hematocrit had also dropped form 40.1 to 37.9. As Tyler Hamilton would tell you, that is way to low to win the Tour De France.

 As I wrote, I have not been feeling great since last Saturday’s run and I have been resting and trying different things to restart my engine:

Eating red meat everyday

Tiger Balm

Japanese cold straps (シップ)

New work shoes

Vitamin B supplement

Iron supplement

and when all else failed,


I had a few pints last night, my first in 6 weeks, and I finally got out a 12.4km slow jog this morning. The real proof of whether or not I am on the mend will be how I feel tomorrow and if I can run again.

My wife is suggesting Qigong (気功) so that may be the next step.

Stay tuned!