Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ops SunBird #5: Pace Training & Heat Conditioning

Attentive Sunbirds @ Session #5

It was the day just after the Nike Human Race 10km, and the gruelling NorthFace 100 Challenge of 25km, 50km and 100km distances. A number of the Pacers were taking a rest, whilst the Sunbirds were set to do a recovery 18km-28km run, or was it? The turnout was not bad considering that many were coming to do back-back LSDs.

Coach Ben Pulham came in place of Jonathan who was nursing a bad stomach. The Marathon Pacers were out in good numbers though, although a number of us had races on Saturday. This morning saw us kick-starting Pace training, with the various Pace Groups running along with the trainees. The various groups were dispatched one after another, ending with the 21km and 10km runners. All were faithfully adopting a steady pace, which was indication of the good base the runners have built up over the past 4-6 weeks of training.

I ran along with the 4:15h group, then the 4:30 group, before heading back to join the 4:45 and 5:00h pace groups. It was nice to see the various groups running as a bunch, with the pace group leaders providing guidance on the direction and pace to the runners. There were also good sharing going around the runners, who have got to know one another over the few weeks. The 10km group turned back at F2, while the 21km and 42km runners proceeded on to NSRCC. It was cloudy at first, but the sun was threatening to rear itself. It was fun and motivating as the various timing groups clapped and provided encouragement as we run past one another.

The group gathered at NSRCC (9km mark) for a pit stop, and was generously offered iced cold drinks by the SAFRA Toa Payoh runners who were also doing their LSD. The Sunbirds and Pacers were thankful for the nice gesture, especially when the sun was already out by then. The various timing groups then proceeded back towards The PlayGround for lap 1. Along the way, I had a good chance to run along the various pace groups, and get a sense of their spirit of cooperation. The 21km runners of SC, Rose and marcob were the epitome of motivation as they trotted along in their slow but very steady pace, with no walking.

Spoke with Li Lian and Annie who were running the 4:15 timing, and then Nigel, Fang Jie and their 4:30h group. All looked strong for the trip to F2, and I soon moved ahead to wait for them. Saw a Sunbird who wasn’t feeling well, and advised him to cut short the run. I was surprised to see him later on, covering 20km+, as he mentioned he would go on after feeling better....such was the resolve of these Sunbird trainees to put their worth of training in, without looking for any excuses to shorten the runs nor slack....I am always impressed and heartened by them.

After 23km, I spent some time at the F2 toilet point welcoming the various groups, and cheering them on. They ran much stronger this morning in spite of the heat. Annie was commenting that it was one of the hottest runs she has encountered. After realizing she just did a 15km on Saturday, I advised her to be happy with another 28km, no more . Nigel joined the 2 ladies to complete the final 5km. The rest of the groups, esp. the 4:45h group led by Terry also came on strongly. K3 was full of smiles after 23km. Ramesh said he felt stronger after banana and isotonic replenishment. I turned back along with Nicholas, Beverly, Irene, Patrick, and the 5hr group.

The final 5km run was filled with lots more chats with the Pacers, and encouraging some of the slowing runners. I was able to maintain to BaseBuild zone for 95% of the 28km run. The heat provided some very good conditioning, as hydration and refuel became important factors affecting the trainees’ performances. DO, Wee and Darren welcomed the runners back to The FatBird Nest with shouts of ‘Job Well Done’ and ‘Isotonic Drinks & Bananas’. I downed a few cups of 100plus and an apple before continuing to speak with the Pacers about their training and gear.

As we progress to cover even longer LSDs over the next few weekends, we will be starting earlier to allow runners sufficient time to complete their runs before taking severe beatings from the heat. Pace Training will go into overdrive as we encourage runners to test themselves at certain paces over longer distances and varying conditions. Pace Group & Section Leaders will monitor the progress and performances of all Sunbirds and Pacers, hopefully to advise them to make incremental enhancements to form, distance and pace. Things should get even more interesting and fruitful, and I will strongly urge all Pacers and Sunbirds to avoid missing training sessions from now.

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