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Sunday, March 31, 2019

Training Recap Week 4 - Believing In Yourself!

Today marks the end of one month of the LHR (Luke Humprey Running) Plan and so far I've been able to cope with the intensity save for some days when I question why I keep doing this. 

The mileage this week capped out close to 75k, a slight increase from last week. Nothing much really change in the plan this week save for the 800m intervals on Tuesday. The Thursday tempo remained the same and I may have run that a tad too fast (dumb, Nick, dumb) and made the next day's easy anything but easy with the very, very tight and achy calves. 

But keeping things on a really, really pace the next two days after the tempo helped me recover enough to take on this Sunday's long run. While it's only 15km and might be nothing to some, to me, 15km can be daunting, especially mentally where I'm still pretty weak but have been working on being mentally stronger. 

As fate would have it, I happened to read a tweet from Hal Higdon that said "Do not expect every run to be perfect. If you try to run hard or fast every day, no wonder you struggle. Start gently. Pace yourself. Walk." and that set things into better perspective, especially for this morning's long run. The 15k this morning was spot on with the pace and what the plan called for, which was a faster second half paced run. A perfect way to end Week 4 and the month of March.

Week 5 will see a bump in mileage and also an increase in both Tuesday's interval and Thursday's tempo distances and also the weekend's long run will see an increase to 20km. Looks and sounds daunting but hardwork always is and I keep repeating this mantra over and over again when things look bleak - BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Training Recap Week 3 - Keep Showing Up!

Today marks week 3 or 21 days into the plan, depends on how you want to look at it. So far I've been coping with the exception of this morning's first long run of the plan. 

Week 3 was more or less the same intensity as the previous week but with one difference. This week saw the inclusion of a tempo run at marathon pace thrown in. That makes two SOS sessions for the week. Things are not going to get any easier from here on out. 

Overall, the week has been good. The easy runs were handled well, with the focus on keeping the runs real easy, after all it's called an easy run for a reason and even the older aunties and uncles in my neighbourhood have been seen running faster than me ... hahaha!

I've in the past made the mistake of not taking these easy runs seriously and have been running at anything but an easy pace. This time around keeping the easy runs slow has been beneficial to my recovery and also be able to have enough to take on the intervals and tempo sessions. I guess we all learn from our past mistakes and impatience.

The interval on Tuesday called for a 8 x 600m session and I managed to handle that with the pace spot on save for one rep towards the end where the pace dropped from a lack of focus. Overall though, the session was a success. Next week's 6 x 800m will be 'fun'!

The first 10km marathon paced tempo of the plan was a little tougher to handle though. The haze that morning which was not very apparent in the dark morning made the session a little tough on the lungs. While I managed to hit paces that were a little faster than my planned pace, I won't lie, the going was tough, so much so that I had to stop to walk at least three times for a few metres. But in the end, I'm happy that the legs still remembers how to run at that pace. I was a little apprehensive even before the session whether I could pull this off though, truth be told.

Week 3 also saw the first long run of the plan at 15km and boy, did I suck at it. It was easily one of my worst runs since I started the plan. Right from the start I knew it was going to be tough going. The route, one which I totally despise, didn't help much. I could hardly keep going, the legs felt like they were lined with lead and I made the mistake of forgetting to bring along any hydration or even cash and I paid for that dearly. 

I was grateful for the company of Choon Yuen though, otherwise I probably would have just given up. The chatter and jokes along the way kept the mind occupied and somehow, I still managed to just keep at the threshold of the pace requirements and squeeze in a faster session on the way back which was what the plan called for anyway, so I guess that's something. But I was totally drained and there was nothing left in the tank!

I considered the run a failed session but my wife told me that if you ran and completed it without giving up, then that's not considered a bad run or failed session. A failed session according to her is giving up and not finishing what I started. That makes me feel a little bit better though. I guess I just have to keep showing up every single day!

Next week will more or less be about the same mileage and same intensity as this week so theoretically I should be able to pull it off without too much trouble. I'll let you know how it went next Sunday but one thing's for sure, I'm not giving up and believe I can only get better from here on so here's to Week 4!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Training Recap Week 2 - A Step Up!

Another easy 13km to end week two on a route I totally abhor for its infamous rolling hills. The training has been going according to plan so far. I've stuck with the schedule religiously, kept to the required paces and the body and legs were coping real well. There were times though when I was tempted to up the easy paces a little but that would have been foolhardy on my part. The easy's are meant to give the body enough recovery and build up for the harder weeks that will no doubt come real soon. 

This week has also seen the start of the SOS session, a 12 x 400m speed intervals on the road. I was a little apprehensive about it. The previous Hansons plans I've been following has never seen me starting any SOS sessions at least until week 5 or so. Having to do it so early (week 2) of the plan had me doubting myself on whether I could pull it off. I've not done an interval or even attempt the pace required for the session in a long while, months even, so the skepticism was apparent. 

But I was surprised when the legs and lungs actually remembered what it was like to run at that pace. The paces were spot on consistent throughout and the pace alerts I set up on my Garmin were quiet all through the session, not once beeping to tell me I was too slow or too fast. Suffice to say I was pretty happy after the session. But there's still a long to go so I'm not being too overly optimistic but it's a good confidence booster for week 3 where I'll be facing two SOS sessions in the form of a 8 x 600m interval and a 10K tempo.

While the going is going to get tougher and demand a lot more from me, I'm taking it all in stride and just going one mile at a time. Onward to week 3!

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Skechers GOrun Razor 3 Hyper Review

With Nike being all the rage these days (and with good reason too) but I'm a shoe geek and I simply love getting my hands on any brand out there that catches my fancy. One such shoe was the Skechers GOrun Razor 3 Hyper. It's probably common knowledge among those who know me that I'm a Skechers fan boy so when news of the Razor 3 came online, I was wide eyed.

Now, hoping that Skechers Malaysia will bring this in or that someone will magically say that they have the shoe for sale over here is like hoping for it to snow. So I turned to the online market as usual and managed to snag one from Running Warehouse on a slightly reduced price, I was ecstatic, yeah the postage and tax would make the shoe a little more pricey but heck, it would still be pretty reasonably priced.

The shoe arrived within a week or so and I couldn't wait to get them on. What really caught my eye about the Skechers GOrun Razor 3 was the overall look of the shoe. It screamed fast, what with the huge "SPEED" emblazoned on either side. I've both the GOrun Ride 7 and the GOrun 6 and in all honesty, they were very subdued visually. I like my shoes loud and the Razor 3 was all that. But then, that's not really what makes a shoe good though looking good does help in some teeny weeny way.

I've read so much about the shoe and its new super springy, ultra lightweight Hyper Burst midsole. That's where Skechers has concocted some magic with the shoe. I'll get into that a little later. I've not had the pleasure of running in its previous versions so I really can't make any comparison with its older siblings. 

Taking it out of the box, I was in awe at how lightweight it was. My size US8 was in the range of a little over 6oz and looking at the shoe you might not believe the weight. I know I didn't at least until I picked it up. That's when I wondered how would they keep the shoe cushioned enough, what corners did they cut to make it this light? After all, they touted this shoe as being more light weight and more cushioned than the Razor 2. Light weight and cushioning doesn't really go well together.

But Skechers Performance managed to pull it off without sacrificing anything. Like I said earlier, the magic was in the new Hyper Burst midsole technology, a super springy, ultra lightweight and long lasting midsole. The Hyper Burst feels like a spongier BOOST but is a heck of a lot lighter that the BOOST. It's 15% lighter, 30% more durable and more resilient than Ultra Flight, which succeeded FlightGen on current models.

The Skechers GOrun Razor 3 is really light. It's amazing how the new Hyper Burst material has managed to increase the amount of cushioning while decreasing the overall weight of the shoe without compromising anything in the process. I absolutely love the energy return from the midsole. You'll get just the perfect amount of give on your landing with enough rebound to make your stride feel livelier. For a shoe with more than enough cushioning for use daily, the weight is short of insane!

Instead of the knit material found on the previous models, the upper of the Razor 3 consists of a seamless, non stretch light mesh material. The ripstop mesh provides good breathability and basic support for a snug fit, maybe a tad snug. Will come to that in a bit. This shoe screams Speed and is built for the faster paced runs and the very minimal tongue and laces support that statement. The overlays are printed on and the heel collar is lightly padded with a simplistic design that keeps things uncomplicated. 

Like I said earlier, the Razor 3 run a little narrow and snug. I'm a US9 for most other brands except Skechers where I have to size down to a US8 for all their models. Strangely though, the US8 for my Razor 3 felt a tad too snug and the first time I ran in them, I felt a hot spot on both my outer small toes. Granted, I was in pretty thick socks but it made the run a little uncomfortable. The second run in them with way thinner socks felt a whole lot better but they somehow still felt a tad too snug though no more hotspots were apparent. This is a little strange and sizing up by half a size would have been perfect. 

The outsole, where I've always questioned the durability of all my Skechers Performance shoes sees a lot of rubber added on. While this outsole rubbers doesn't nearly look thick or durable enough but in true fact, they're actually pretty durable. The normal wear I see on all my Skechers shoes are non apparent on the Razor 3 and I'm guessing the Skechers GOrun Razor 3 Hyper will see a lot of miles before any apparent wear is noticeable. 

I've run with the Razor 3 in both slower and faster paces and while the shoes works just as well when you're out smelling the roses, it's when you take it up a notch is where the Razor 3 excels. One of the most notable feature of the Skechers GOrun Razor 3 is the midsole consistency, the same fresh springiness is found underfoot, no matter if you're on mile 1 or mile 15. 

A good shoe elevates your performance regardless of how fast you run. Much lighter shoes with extremely responsive midsoles will make any stride all that much more efficient and the Razor 3 does just that. The Razor 3 is a 4mm drop shoe is the perfect option for someone who needs a lot of cushioning but likes their shoes light and as speedy as possible. At RM480.00 and with no fancy carbon plates or crazy overlays, this makes the Razor 3 an affordable cushy light weight daily trainer that will shave some seconds off your pace.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Training Recap Week 1 - The Easy Peasy Stage

Today's group run with the GCM Team Malaysia crew concludes week 1 of the advanced Hansons Plan. The going has been surprisingly easier than I thought it would be. I was a little intimidated choosing the advance plan cos it looks a little daunting, but what's life without some challenges thrown in.

Waking up early to start the plan this week wasn't too much of a bother because I've never really stopped running and have been waking up early consistently every morning during maintenance and base building. In fact I was enthusiastic to start the plan (ask me if I still am enthusiastic in a few week's time and I might reply differently ... hahaha!).

I had a wide pace spectrum for the easy runs and I mostly kept my paces on the slower end of the spectrum which made the runs pretty easy but a little boring. I've ditched running with music for quite a while now and running at a much slower pace than I'm used to can take some doing. But I wasn't about to deviate from my plan one bit. 

There were days though when it got mind numbing but there were days when I was joined by a regular runner around my neighbourhood who kept me company with some chit chat for a few kilometers or so, which was much welcomed. 

Always nice seeing the all green highlight for the week :D

Overall it's been a pretty good week and sticking to the plan was beneficial for my daily recovery, what with having only 1 midweek break. Week 2 looms and the first of the SOS session comes on Tuesday next week in the form or a 12 x 400m speed interval session which in all honestly I'm kinda looking forward to.

Here's looking to a successful week two!

Monday, March 4, 2019

A Leap Of Faith

Today marks the first day of a brand new 18 week plan that will lead me down the road to the Gold Coast Marathon in July. This will be my 6th continuous year that I'll be returning for the marathon there and hopefully, it'll be a more successful year.

After the perplexing, strange and unexplained malady that struck me on the last week of training last year which resulted in a DNS an hour before race start for me, the road back hasn't been without its own set of troubles and issues. I lost all self confidence in my running. I ran without a purpose and was too afraid to even sign up for races which in turn was affecting my recovery back.

It took a lot out of me to purge the past and with some help from the wife and my running buddies, I slowly put all that self doubt behind me and finally moved on from holding on to the past. And what a relief it was. The running slowly improved from day to day and the confidence and motivation levels were slowly but surely coming back, just right on time to take on a fresh new challenge.

A little tweaking with the nutrition plan which I felt was not nearly good enough the last time round and taking a leap of faith, I switched from the Hansons beginner plan and opted for the advanced plan after a little prompting from the wife who kept saying, "how long are you planning on being a beginner?".

I'm as ready as can be and the next 18 weeks will undoubtedly be tough, what with work and family life thrown in but then success doesn't come easy and you have to work for it. Sacrifices will have to be made and hopefully it'll bear fruit come July 2019 in the Gold Coast.

Speaking of the Gold Coast Marathon, this will be my sixth year there. I've grown to love the place ever since I first stepped foot there. With the race falling mid year, every year, it's the perfect mid year break for the wife and me. I mean, what can't you not love about the Gold Coast Marathon? The perfect winter weather with lots of sunshine, the PR capable flat race route, a certified Gold Label marathon, running by the pacific ocean, lots of crowd support along the way and the excellent volunteers from start to finish.

That's just the race alone, I haven't even even touched on the beautiful and exciting places to visit or just chill after the race. To really experience what the Gold Coast Marathon has to offer, you really need to experience it yourself. Early bird entries are still open till end April 2019, so there's still time for you to sign up. Take it from me, once you experience the Gold Coast Marathon, you'll want to go back for more!