Iten: Week 3

My normal training week involves six days of running and a day of rest. After two weeks in Iten I had run for fourteen straight days. With a life focussed around training, but with an important focus on eating and recovery I didn’t feel the need for my usual weekly day off. But I decided to start my third week with my only rest day for the four weeks I would spend in Iten.

On Tuesday I headed down to the track to run a pyramid session, running intervals of 400, 600, 800, 1000 and 1200 metres, before working back down the pyramid to 400 metres. The recovery periods between each interval was just over half the length of the preceding interval. I had set target times that would be challenging, and they turned out to be slightly too challenging, but I enjoyed a good session where I managed to get close on all of the splits.

Most Kenyan runners head out 2-3 times a day to run. After using double sessions in the first half of 2012 when starting to seriously build my mileage I had returned to longer single run sessions after a few months due to the time taken to fit in two runs around a working day. But with no work to get in the way I included three double sessions in a row. The plan was to run an easy shake-out run each afternoon after a hard morning session.

For my morning run on Wednesday I joined a recent arrival who had also run Boston Marathon last year, finishing just 3 minutes slower than me and we worked out that I would have passed him in the second half of the race. In his preparation to run at Boston once again this year he had planned a point-to-point run from Iten towards the nearest large town of Eldoret, since it features a net downhill similar to the first half of the race.

On Thursday morning I headed down to join the weekly fartlek session. Drawing as many as 200 local runners, the fartlek session starts a few kilometres outside town and follows a set pattern of hard running and recovery. A period of either 1, 2 or 3 minutes of hard running is followed by 1 minute of recovery, with the length of hard running being specified by the leader of the session before commencing. I was lucky enough to join for a session involving 1 minute of hard running, but after a couple of intervals I still found myself with few people behind me. But I pushed through the entire session, and in the second half started to overtake those who had set out too hard and fallen off the back.

On Friday I went for an easy run through the local forest, and Saturday involved an easy 10 km run in preparation for a challenging Sunday run.

In place of a standard long run on Sunday I instead headed down to the old track. After jogging to the track and running a few laps with some strides I started a session of 5 x 5000 metres. The final 5000 metres would be completed at marathon pace, with each preceding 5000 metres run 30 seconds slower. The result was to run 25 km at an average pace 12 seconds per kilometre slower than my marathon race pace. In between each set I jogged approximately 200 metres, but most importantly I also turned around in order to switch directions around the track. It was an incredibly tough session, but I was pleased to push through the final 5000 metres on target, although I then still needed to jog a couple of kilometres back to my accommodation.

It was a great week of training involving three quality workouts and 157 km of running.

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