Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Track session - brain training

I've had a great last 3 runs to kick start my training for the Fellsman ultra at the end of April. This replaces the MK marathon that I've ditched. As part of my trainig I have decided to adopt a back to back long runs strategy at the weekend. So with this I got in two 14 milers on Sat and Sun. One on trails and one on the road. With a young family this is really the only way I can get in the mileage needed to train as I can't be out for 5-6hrs+ . So instead I'm up and out the door both days before 7am and back at a reasonable hour to join the family for breakfast. Has anyone else adopted and had success with B2B weekend runs as part of their training? Would be interested to know of they think it's as beneficial or more so than a single long run?

Anyway that was the weekend. I had Monday off then hit the track today. When I say track - think concrete oval in middle of an estate park but pleasant nevertheless and within a stones throw of my house so very handy. Any further way that this and I know I wouldn't have the motivation or see the need to run around in circles but as it there it seems a waste not to utilise it from time to time.

I didn't set out with any real intent on this run other than to run around the track for an hour. I wore the garmin but as usual I do this to look at the data after rather than during the run. I find the feedback on the effort you are putting into a particular run e.g. Mpm pace can actually effect your ability to continue at a said pace once you know especially when it's faster than you were expecting. This was certainly true today. So I ambled around the track not hanging about but in my mind perhaps clocking 7:30-7:00 mpm miles. I had the foo fighters blasting out on the mp3 which was a nice distraction as I'm not a fan of tracks generally. But I got in the zone and cranked out the laps (1/4 mile each). 

I resisted checking the Garmin until I was quite certain I could be nearing the hour but without knowing exactly. I did a deal with myself to run another 4 laps (1 mile) before I checked. After those 4 laps I checked the numbers...  Holy crap I was averaging 6.35 mpm and was 50 minutes. Unbelievable. Had I known the pace I was running earlier in my run I'm certain that my brain would have intrepreted this information as 'you are working too hard so slow down' but instead I was none the wiser. So then with 10 minutes remaining on the clock I put the hammer down and chased down both my furthest ever 1hr run and my quickest 10 miler. I felt great and it was effortless (why can't every run feel like this!!??). Whatever it was I want to bottle it! I hit 9.25 miles on the hour mark and completed 10 miles in 1:04.11. Two PBs in one run that I only decided to do on a whim because a meeting in London finished early. My mile splits were: 6.42 6.57 6.33 6.40 6.20 6.27 6.34 6.23 5.55 5.39. You can see where the hammer went down ;-D

The reason for this post is really to highlight the affect that external factors can have on our performance. These external factors include feedback from the garmin. Sometimes they are a blessing but most of the time I think they can actually hold you back and stop you reaching your full potential. The scientific evidence for this also backs up this theory - what's called the 'Central Govenor theory' which has demonstrated the huge control and influence that our brains have on our ability to push ourselves physically..... We all know that running is both a physical and mental game but i think we rarely put this knowledge into practice during training and probably only apply it in the race situation. 

Ok I think I'm rambling now... Time to switch off the central govenor before it shuts down! Good night.


  1. Could do with some of your speed Stu :)

    Would be at the Fellsman myself again, but for the fact I'd already entered the Woldsman (50m trail run in East yorkshire) the same day before I realised what the new date was.

    I had good progress in knocking up my mileage with back to back's at weekend in 2010. I did less last year and think my progress probably stuttered because of this. I'm fairly sure its the way to do it as part of a mix of weekend activities, I try to alternate back-to-backs with organised long events. its a commitment, but worth it in my experiance, although I don't have the family commitments, so have no excuse really.

  2. Hi Stu - Very solid session on the track, those are very quick miles, especially the last 2!! Re: B2B, I also have a young family so this is my strategy, also you recover much quicker from say a 24 + 16 than you would from a straight off 40miler, so your ability to then train the following week is less compromised. I do believe there are also various studies suggesting that running twice a day is also benificial for performance improvement. I do 2 x 9.5milers on a Tuesday, about 1hour30mins apart and this seems to leave me less tired and keeps the mileage where I want it to be and fits in with family life. Hopefully see you on the trails, said hello on NDW100 (I was only doing the 50). David