Saturday, May 30, 2015

Week #8: Bring On The Night

In Week #8, the NightHawks were tasked to go the full distance (21km for HM) and 33km for the Full Marathoners in a trial of sorts to see how far they can sustain Marathon Pace.

The routes were similar to last week's, just a tad longer with an additional 3km to cover.  The humid night was to provide an additional challenge to the NightHawks in spite of the warm winds blowing in from the sea.

As we go past the 30km mark for the Full Marathon, fueling (pre and in-run) becomes a strong determinant of whether Marathon Pace can be maintained past 25km - and it did give some NightHawks a good feel of what it was like to be insufficiently fueled and trying to maintain good paces.

The group started the run promptly by 7:30pm, and those who were caught up with work or traffic were to play catch up given that they are familiar with the routes.  The first half of the run went well for all the groups, maintaining good training pace and running form.

After the pit-stop at the 14km mark, the NightHawks were mostly able to reach back to Parkland Green save for a few who 'hit the wall' very early into the run.  The groups took the opportunity to have a refreshment break with Gatorade and bananas at Parkland Green before proceeding onwards in the direction of F2 CarPark.

Quite a number of NightHawks were already feeling the effects of the warm and sweaty night, and with the bigger loss of water for such a humid night, the challenge was to rehydrate well to avoid overheating and having the engines start failing.

With the encouragement of the NightHawk trainers and pacers, the trainees were able to extend further in spite of their tiring bodies and higher discomfort levels.  Some groups decided to turn back slightly earlier in order to complete as much distance as possible without compromising target pace.

The NightHawks also applied what they have learnt from the previous 2 weekend long night runs to help them persist to the finish of 28km-32km.  With the encouragement of the training crew, all NightHawks returned to the start point by 11:30pm, slightly ahead of the maximum time allowable for the session.

Overall the NightHawks did well for this training session, and as we progress to the longest run in week #9, all will be bracing for the most challenging session in the whole program, and the training location will not make things any easier.

The NightHawks Survived The Night

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Week #7: Scaling the 30ks

The second half of Ops NightHawk marathon programs started with the participants breaching the psychological 18km (HM) and 30km for the Full Marathoners (FM).

It was yet a humid night and ECP was buzzing with weekend activities with lots of merry making as well as cyclists, runners and walkers doing their fair share of healthy exercising.  

The FatBird marathon trainees were all pumped up to do their longest run to date, and having the flattish route was meant to provide a more conducive environment for pace training and gauging of our pace sustainability.

Since we had done a similar route just 2 weekends ago, the briefing was kept short to allow for more time to cover the longer distances.  With the faster marathon pace targets, the expected end of training would be just over 11pm, allowing ample time for the participants to catch public transport home.

The first half of the run went well with smooth pacing all the way to Gardens By The Bay, Marina Barrage, Marina Bay Sands, rounding off from the Promontory before making our way back to ECP again.  The trusty trainers and pacers kept the trainees humming along steadily at target paces with planned water stops along the way to ensure that proper hydration protocols were observed.

The HM groups completed their 19km of night run at marathon pace back at Parkland Green in about 2 hours or so, giving their confidence and morale a strong boost.  The FM groups did well too, with just a small water/banana break at Parkland Green before moving ahead in flocks to complete another 9-11km.

The air was humid and many of us were sweating buckets, with swishing sounds of wet socks in our running shoes echoing in the rather quiet and serene night.  A few of the FMers experienced fatigue and symptoms of 'low sugar' after the 23-24km mark, evident that there were no top up of the fuel tanks with gels or sugar mixes.

It was another good experience with takeaways for practicing hydration and fuel plans for possibly the next few long runs of 28km-35km.  Without proper replenishment of the depleting glycogen stores at timed intervals, the likelihood of eroding performance and inability to sustain pace will occur especially past the midway mark of the FM.

All NightHawks completed the night's targeted distances in good form and many happy faces could be seen sharing their stories and how strong they felt during the run.

As we dispersed for our wash-up and making our way home, the night had only begun for the patrons at the restaurants and cafes around the Parkland Green area.  Yet another session of training was successfully completed, and most trainees achieving the set training targets of the night with a number surpassing their own expectations...Well Done NightHawks!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Week #6: Hills Night Delight

The NightHawks went back to the Mt. Faber region for hills LSD, only this time it is made more challenging by the high humidity levels and poor visibility of the night.

In the interest of time, the pre-training briefing was done chop-chop, allowing all the runners to be flagged off by 7:45pm.  Although there were a number of latecomers, they were able to make it down to meet the main group based on the scheduled routes in their training plan.

With the start of Marathon Pace training in this Phase 2, the NightHawks were pushed up one level with additional difficulty of the hills repeats at Labrador Park.  Strangely, many of the NightHawks found themselves liking the hills so much that they exceeded the time allowed and completed more than their requirement at the hills workout.

After 60-90min of hills repeats, the NightHawks progressed on with their second half of the night's training trying to sustain Marathon Pace, and the rolling terrain did not make things simpler.  

With the foundation of 5 weeks worth of basebuilding under their wings, the NightHawks met the night's challenge head on with confidence and strength.  After the exhausting hill loops, all the pace groups were able to maintain Marathon Pace with smiles on their faces, alluding to their ability to manage their fuel and hydration resources.

The Half Marathon (HM) NightHawks completed their night's training successfully by 10pm, followed with a good round of static stretches and some light yoga routines.  The Full Marathoners (FM) went on for another 5-8km of undulating terrain after hitting the ClubHouse with 21km, for a good night's total of 27-29km.

Even after all the NightHawks were back, there were a number staying back to recover from their run, some sharing their night's adventures, and a few exchanges of running form and how to overcome challenges of running long distances at night.

With Ops NightHawk halfway done, the trainees are all looking forward to an exciting second half of training with pace work and fine-tuning important aspects of marathoning, as well as tapering nicely for a good performance outcome on July 4 night (Sundown Marathon).

The NightHawks Are Looking Positively Strong

Photos by FatBird Chin

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Week #5: Transition from BaseBuild to Marathon Pace

The NightHawks progressed into week #5 with a new route and challenge - transition from the BaseBuild pace into Marathon pace (which will set the tone from weeks 6-8).

This being another night conditioning long run made it even more challenging, although the route along ECP along Gardens By The Bay and MBS is overall pancake flat.  The weather looked threatening 1 hour prior to the training, but a check with our weather app showed we had a good chance of avoiding the rain, which we did eventually.

In view of the long 17km-28km distance, we had a quick briefing before starting off by 7:50pm as planned.  The respective group Trainers, Pacers and Trainees were all excited to test their paces along the new route, and also to put the night's training objectives into practice.

The whole route from ECP into Gardens and then MBS was well lit to our pleasant surprise, allowing us smooth access along the route.  The only hazard was the myriad of night cyclists dashing about which we had to be vigilant about.

The NightHawk trainers set very steady paces which prevented trainees from starting too fast in the first half, leaving room for a highly negative split in the second half of the run.  Although the night was windy, there were stretches that were humid.  It was good that most of the trainees had hydration with them as advised.

The Half Marathon trainees had a good run of 17km and met their targets of returning with a faster Marathon Pace after 8.5km of BaseBuild run.  The Full Marathoners were good through to 18-22km before some found the Marathon Pace harder to sustain in the final 5-6km.

Still it was a good training run for all, with many trainees having gone their longest distances for the first time.  From the funny way some were walking, it can be seen that the trainees were indeed stretched.  From the smiling faces when asked, it could be seen that all of them were proud and happy that they completed the mission and have advanced to the next level of conditioning.

The NightHawks will advance into Phase 2 (Marathon Pace) from weeks 6-8 with more night conditioning runs of 30km+.  This will set the stage for bringing all into the final phase (Optimal Pace) in weeks 9-12 with a couple of 20km+ (HM) and 30km+ (FM) to ensure sufficient distance and pace conditioning for a fruitful race.

The NightHawks Progressed Into Phase 2

Photos from FatBird Chin