Open Source Athlete - October Edition

Tuesday, 4th October 2011

I thought that I would take the opportunity to introduce a new blog to my website called the Open Source Athlete. The aim of this blog is to share my views on training and racing, and hopefully even get some feedback on some of the topics presented. The blog will be published on the first Monday of each new month (despite today being Tuesday - a late first entry, off to a great start!).

The topic to be first cab off the rank: Using local races as easy training runs with aid stations.

I found myself in this situation a few weeks ago prior to the Glasshouse 100 mile run. I had a few weekends left to cram in some big runs. One being a 4 hour run, the other a 7+. For the large majority of the year I have trained solo. A buddy of mine from Canada joined me 5 weeks prior to the Challenge Cairns, and we managed to rack up some decent mileage together. This broke up the monotony of training solo for 12 months of the year. 

Having just returned from the Angeles Crest 100 in late July, I had just 6 weeks to recover and ramp up again for the Glasshouse 100 miler in September. As you can imagine, being the third 100miler for the year, as well as an iron distance triathlon in the mix, I was starting to feel punch drunk. 

Earlier on in the year I had signed up to race the Great Pyramid Race in Gordonvale, and now the time had come to toe the line. However, it fell on one of the only two weekends that I could get in my first long run. The race is only 12kms in distance but ascends the mine shaft known as Walshes Pyramid. A 12km mountain race is not my ideal scenario. Despite being picked as a potential favorite for the win, I chose to run to the race start which was 28km from home. I had also agreed to carry a headcam for the Cairns Post to film the race enroute. Arriving just 40 minutes before race start after a 2 hour 45min run in the sun is not generally recommended as setting yourself up for a win. However, my focus was elswhere. The gun fired and I maintained 3rd position until the top of the Pyramid, and ended up finishing 4th overall. I was pretty pleased with the result considering the lead up.

The following weekend I needed to crack a 7+ hour run. The dilemma was, should I run it alone as I had done countless times before, or should I keep a good mate company in the 64km Kuranda to Port Douglas race. The problem is that I feel an enormous amount of pressure to perform once I have paid an entry fee, and I'm likely to be feeling great out on the course and get that competitive spirit going and not want to be passed. Did I need to justify to anyone why I wasn't running hard that day, that in fact I wasn't having an off day and that I was just using it as a training run. So much so, I ran 40km the day before just so that I couldn't run hard, and that I had another excuse in which to defend my choice to cruise.

In the end, the pressure was self-inflicted and unwarranted. The run was awesome. Roy and I chewed the fat on every conceivable topic, I managed to get in the easiest 7 hour 20 min long run taking advantage of race aid stations, meaning that I didn't need to carry anything as I would have done when running alone. The time flew.

I think using local running races as training tools for other goals, no matter what intensity you decide to race at, is perfectly cool. Get away from the concept that entry fees mean competitive running, and don't worry about the fact that some of the runners you always beat, now beat you! You have bigger fish to fry.

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