Category Archives: Marathon

Tasmanian Trail – Summer 2013-14

I have just booked my end of year adventure. From Christmas Day 2013 until 11 January 2014, I’ll be bike packing the Tasmanian Trail. The Tasmanian Trail is a 480km multi-use horse-riding, walking and MTB track from Devonport in Tasmania’s north to Dover, which is the southern-most town in Australia.

I will actually be riding from Launceston to the start point in Devonport and then from the finish in Dover back to Hobart, making my trip closer to 700km than the trail’s official 480km length.

I’ll be riding the 400km from Devonport to Hobart (on my way down to Dover) as an Audax Raid (Raid Tasmania). The maximum time allowed for this section of the ride will be 10 days and I won’t be allowed to ride any of it at night.

I’ll be finishing my ride by running the Cadbury Marathon in Hobart on 12 January before I fly home on the 13th.


Touch the sign and turn around

My marathon training program wants me to be running distances of 24+km at this stage of my preparations but I’m nowhere near ready to do that yet. Not that I’m worried – I knew when I signed up for the marathon that I am not going to be breaking any records.

This morning my alarm went off at an ungodly 4:30am. It was dark and cold but the stars were beautiful as I set off down the road.

I didn’t have a distance or destination in mind today. I just wanted to run slowly for about two hours, walking when I needed to. I followed the gravel road out to the new estate near my house. I climbed the fence they’ve put up and continued to follow the road south-west.

The road is so familiar that, despite the darkness, I knew I was passing bushland, dams, wallabies and a miniature pony farm. Onwards I continued past the more horses, houses and paddocks until I reached a good spot to turn around. I’d been running / walking for just under an hour and was feeling better with every passing minute.

As I turned for home, the horizon was starting to glow the familiar colours of dawn. Before long the sun had risen and was warming my skin.

The run wasn’t fast or spectacular; but I enjoyed the time daydreaming about the ultras I want to attempt later this year and the 100km trail run I want to run in 2014. I thought about how I will run them differently to those I’ve done in the past and how, rather than being my goal, the Brisbane Marathon will be a step towards my ultra dreams.

Total: 15km road run

5km run

After two weeks off, I returned to my marathon training program this morning.

The run I went on this morning was lovely. I just did a slow 5km. I’m not aiming to break any records or run any PBs at the Brisbane Marathon so my approach to training is quite relaxed.

I enjoyed the run. It felt good to be out sucking in oxygen and watching the morning go from dark to light.

Total: 5km mixed terrain run

Long slow run

Perfect day for running

Perfect day for running

It was a perfect morning for running. The skies were blue. The air crisp but not cold. Pockets of fog hung in the low lying paddocks I ran past. A friendly dog came to greet me for a pat and a sociable horse neighed gently to greet me.

Beyond the farm gate

Beyond the farm gate

Friendly staffy

Friendly staffy

Friendly horse

Friendly horse

The 19km was the farthest I’ve run in a single session since the City to Surf Marathon in August last year. I felt strong and fairly comfortable the whole time. I think the long 2XU compression pants I bought for $15 last night (marked down from $179.95 – yes, you read that correctly) helped a lot with keeping my legs comfortable.

The run was fantastic and now I’m looking forward to the next one.

Paperbark forest

Paperbark forest

Total: 19km road run

5km run

I had a busy weekend so didn’t get a chance to get out and do much in the outdoors. I even withdrew from the 200km Audax cycling event I was meant to do on Saturday. Between babysitting my sisters’ kids and starting the first of two assignments that I have due this month, I decided that trying to train would not be sensible. So I stayed indoors (other than a 5km walk with my partner on Saturday) behind my laptop letting my body recover from all the extra running I’ve been doing lately.

This morning I went for an easy 5km trot. It’s amazing how I’m finding 5km to be short now that I’ve started doing some longer runs in my preparation for the Brisbane Marathon. Not that I’ve done anything seriously long yet, but I have mapped out a 19.5km route for Friday morning.

This month I just want to stick to the marathon training schedule, get my assignments done and stay sane. I think that trying to do much more than that would set me up for a miserable time or burn out. Though I do have a very cool weekend coming up with Scout camp on Friday night and Saturday, then the Adventure Race Australia on Sunday. I just better get my assignment done first (I work full-time so it’s going to be a challenge).

Total: 5km road run

Scenic run

Running at Mt Cotton by Andrew Gills
Running at Mt Cotton, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

I am currently doing most of my running on the road for two reasons.

Firstly, it means I can use Google Maps to create a route of specific distance so I don’t have to use Map My Run to measure the distance. This means I don’t pressure myself about the speed at which I am traveling; I haven’t even been wearing a watch.

Secondly, it means I can wear my minimalist zero-drop shoes without having to worry about rocks jabbing into my feet. After running six times in the past fortnight, I haven’t had any leg pain and the biggest change I’ve made is wearing minimalist shoes. I really want things to stay this way as I prepare for the Brisbane Marathon.

This morning my training run took me past the mansions in the really expensive part of Mt Cotton before I dropped down Seaview Rd to run to the base of Mount Cotton proper. If you don’t focus on the chicken factory, Seaview Road is picture-perfect. It is the kind of place that makes road running a delight.

Total: 11.5km road run

Morning run

Autumn dawn

Autumn dawn

The days are getting shorter as the cooler months start to set in. It’s no longer light when my alarm goes off and soon I will need to use a headlamp for my morning training sessions. But for now, the dawn is just breaking as I walk out the house. I turn around and enjoy the sight of the moon’s sliver in the sky above our house. The sky is split between a deep navy blue that’s being pushed out of the sky by the yellow light of day.

I enjoyed my 5km run. I found myself overstriding at about the 2km mark, which irritated my calves and ITB. While in the past this would have angered or frustrated me, today I slowed down to a walk for about 200m to reset myself before setting off again at a run. When I started to run again, I took smaller quicker lighter steps, rather than trying to push my body to run faster. It felt really good and I was disappointed when I got home at the end of the loop because I could have kept running a bit more.

Total: 5km road run

Marathon training: Long run

Mt Cotton church by Andrew Gills
Mt Cotton church, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

So far this week, I’ve run more kilometres than I ran in the entire month of April. And five of those kilometres this week formed part of my April mileage.

Tonight I enjoyed my longest run in months: a 16km trot through my local area. I felt surprisingly strong given my recent lack of running training. Once I got through the first 2-3km, I felt like I could run all night. I even had to keep slowing down to force myself not to overstride (which I think aggravates my shins and ITB).

One of the reasons I’ve been running less is because my legs were getting sore while I was running. But this week, when I started my marathon campaign, I switched back to my Merrel Trail Gloves after running in the Adidas Kanadias for a while. I think that did the trick because I the ITB pain I was getting has stopped. I noticed in photos of me wearing the Kanadias that I roll my foot outwards a lot in them; perhaps that’s not happening in the Trail Gloves. The only problem with the Merrels is that I think I need a little more padding under my toes, so I might get a pair of the New Balance Zero-drop Minimus road shoes to wear for my road running. Being zero drop, they should work for me.

Anyway, I had a magnificent 16km trot around the streets of my suburb. I ran down a long road flanked with huge mansions, some with lit-up fountains in their front gardens. Then I crossed over the road to pass the Mt Cotton church before heading out along a farm road in the darkness (I had a head torch) before turning around and running home.

Total: 16km road run

Back into the running

It’s been a while since I did much running but yesterday I made the bold move of entering the Brisbane Marathon on 4 August. There’s nothing like a crazy goal to kick me into gear.

I have been wanting to get back into running for some time now but wanted to give myself time to rebuild my fitness and endurance after last year’s forced break. I always knew that, when the time was right, I would re-enter the running arena. Suddenly, the time feels right. Sure, I could have done the sensible thing and taken a staged approach of entering a 10km, half marathon (or two) and then a marathon. But regular readers of my blog will have worked out that the sensible thing isn’t something I do.

The City to Surf Marathon in Perth last August was my first marathon. I ran it in 4:17 but didn’t prepare properly so paid a heft price. For the Brisbane Marathon, I’m taking a different approach. I have a training program that only requires me to run three days a week, which is about the most I am willing to run because I need to leave space in my life for the various forms of cycling that I love. Especially now that I’ve scored a steel frame and forks, and a few other bits and pieces with which to build a single speed road racer.

But back to the running. My goal for the Brisbane Marathon is to run a 5:00 – 5:30 time. That’s right. I don’t want to run fast. My goal for the marathon is to soak up the experience of running in a massive crowd of runners in my home city. I want to come home with loads of photos. And, most of all, I want to remain injury free both pre- and post-race.

So today, I kicked off my return to running with an easy 5km trot through my neighbourhood. I didn’t wear a watch or carry a GPS device with me. I just went for a nice easy relaxing run. And that’s how I hope to continue my marathon training. I know I have the base fitness to keep moving for 42.2km so now I just have to build the confidence that I can run most of the distance comfortably enough to make the most of the day. My training won’t be about building speed or running hills. I gave that type of training up when I quit triathlon. Nope, I hope my running training will be an extension of the pleasure I am getting from my other “training”.

Total: 5km run

Post marathon stuff

Holiday snap: Fremantle Markets

I thoroughly enjoyed my marathon on Sunday and am still on holidays in Western Australia with my partner. I’ve not been blogging because I’m spending quality time with my partner.

I’m feeling really good after my marathon. Immediately after the race I stood thigh-deep in the icy cold ocean and then I sat in a cold bath when I returned to my hotel. The cold water treatment seems to have helped a lot because I have none of the leg soreness that I had after my first 50km trail run. The next morning after the marathon my body felt great again.

The only exception is my right hamstring. I have a light strain in it so am resting this week to give it a chance to recover. I bought an ice brick so have been using that yesterday and today to try to speed the recovery of the strain. I’m keeping off the hamstring as much as I can but we’re driving around for a few days and I need my right leg to operate the car’s controls, so I can’t totally rest it.

Holiday snap: South Beach, Fremantle

If it weren’t for the hamstring strain I’d be back out running already today, just two days post marathon. But perhaps this is my body’s way of making sure I rest to fully recover from my effort before preparing for my next 12-in-12 Challenge event, which is just 17 days away. I’m not too concerned about the hamstring strain. It’s only light and there’s no swelling. Besides, my physio is a miracle worker so he’ll get me right as rain.

Holiday snap: Swan Valley

I’ll probably not post a lot until I return back home to Brisbane next week unless I go out running. But don’t fear, I’m still alive. I’m just enjoying my vacation with my partner. We’ve been eating lots of delicious food and finding a few geocaches while we’re out driving.

Holiday snap: Canola fields near Williams

Enjoy your weeks and I will be back blogging either when I am able to run again or when I am back in Brisbane on Monday, whichever comes sooner.