Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Running in the Dandenong Ranges 3 - Puffing Billy Training

This mornings (Monday) run was pitched as 15kms of moderate to fast tempo with some hills to ascend and some others to stride out at pace. A perfect session to check my speed and stamina for the up and coming Geelong Half, The great train race - Puffing Billy on the first Sunday in May and also a reminder of how damn tough the hills will be next week when I tackle the quad burning, lung busting, calves demolishing 21km Roller Coaster Run next Saturday the 16th of March. 

So you've got your entries in and your scouting for tips on Puffing Billy or the Roller Coaster run... To save you the drama, here's this posts Puffing Billy training tip:

Get to know your local hills :) Learn to run them correctly - keeping a regular tempo and stride all the way to the top. It's a training run, do them harder and faster than you think you should. 

Value your rest at the peak. It's a training run so you need to condition yourself for race day. Gradually run at your race pace for a little longer each time - you have to know that you can do it come race day, but remember that you're not racing anyone during your training so build in adequate recovery. 

You wont be running quite as hard on race day (well, maybe you will...)  so you'll know that you can conquer the peaks. 

A small group of 4 met at the car park for our 7:00am departure and we set of at a brisk pace. The first 2 kms were at 5:10 pace and the 3rd was a sneaky 4:48. From here we hit a gradual incline and traversed from the tracks to road then tracks again. The pace was quick and I was working hard - 155-165 BPM, much harder than a usual run. Ah, but this was a power and endurance session so we would be taking adequate rest breaks to allow for recovery. Those were some words that I was happy to hear. 

At about 5km in we hit the first real incline - I think it was Glascow Road and it seemed to climb on and on. Each time you thought you had rounded the last bend another climb to the next bend was waiting. We reached the end point and took to the tracks again - this one about 400m of steady climbing. The terrain was quite a mix of rock and gravel: a bit of a gutter if you like so it was quite eroded. This was a part of the run I enjoyed. To come was the hill training part - What, I've just been running up hills for the last 3kms! 

The main hill in Puffing Billy is a section of gravel road that is about 2km long. I'm not sure of the degree of difficulty but do remember it being a killer. The next section of road that Peter had planned for us was at least 1.6km long and 12% incline - the road signs were there to prove it! Welcome to Old coach Road!

The same sign scares the living daylights out of me at the bottom! Had to prove I made it to the top...

This was going to be tough. The other 3 took off and I hit the road as well. They pulled away from me quite quickly, about 200m ahead for the length of this section. At 12% it's not the steepest hill I've done - cue Boundary and Darling roads near my house but at 1.6km or the imperial mile, it was certainly the longest. 

The final figures: 1 passing garbage truck (an insane driver on a gravel road), 13:24 minutes and an average HR of 171 BPM maxed at 177 BPM. I mastered the hill! The view at the top was worth the effort as was knowing that that was the toughest part of the run done.

Not a bad place to take a breather...

We had a further gradual incline for another 800m or so before we at the top of the mountain and ready for the return home. At Kalorama we hit the water taps and the conversation turned to running form. Is it stride length that matters? Is it the cadence of your legs? Is it both? From here it was to be a speed session, averaging a faster cadence and striding out on the down hill as we returned to the carpark via some really scenic trails. 

I really enjoyed this session. Although I let the others pull ahead, I was never too far behind. The GPS showed a good pace of about 4:15-4:30kms with a km section of 3:48 - that must have been the down hill. I focused on my form and felt really good. I found a great rhythm and was able to focus on my up lift and keeping the arms moving but keeping them straight up and down, not getting any body cross. Once again Peter gave some brilliant training tips - I'm leaning to training harder and faster but at the right distance. I need to call on this training on race day. 

The final 2km down Doongalla RD was to be a time trial, time to stride out and finish strongly. If' I'm going to beat that train it'll happen in the last 2kms. With watches checked we took off. How fast was I? The last 2km were about 3:55-4:00 min kms. Considering what I'd just been through I was really happy with that. 

End result of this weeks training - 14.8km in 1:29. My Max HR was 178 and averaged 156 over the course. It was certainly way up there during the hill climbs and faster sections, but as we had built in the recovery sessions it dropped back to 130ish at each break. 

So, The roller coaster run.... Goal time is a 2:20-2:30 over the 21kms. Fingers crossed....

Till next time, Lachie

Ah, the Roller coster course!

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