Saturday, April 10, 2010

ONH #6: The second cycle

More than 60 turned up for the 3rd night session of Ops NightHawk. It was a good turnout, considering the number who have stayed away to rest for the weekend OSIM Triathlon and 2XU Compression races. As the FatBird Nest was a hive of activity (full of diners) by the time we arrived at 9pm, we moved the gathering point nearer to the alternate meeting point.

Coach Kien Mau gave his sharing session on the importance of rest and sufficient sleep in preparation for training and races, as well as the rationale for the multi-cycle progression training injected into the Ops NightHawk sessions. After progressing to 31km last weekend, we were onto our second progression cycle, restarting with 25km for the full marathoners, and 17km for the half marathoners.

In spite of the afternoon showers, the air was still 'heavy'. Many of the trainers and Running Guides don their 'quick dry' Ops NightHawk Trainers top to lead the runners into their various groups in terms of pace and distances. As pace training will begin from session #7, runners who have been regular at the training sessions were by then able to run in their respective 'time zones' and planned paces. ECP was lit up with the many street lamps installed all along the stretches, although we did not notice too many campers by the seaside this evening.

The front group of trainees went out at a rather quick pace, while the rest of the packs followed diligently from behind, and attempted to set more sustainable paces. Good that some of our RGs from the RRS have fully recovered, and were back to help the trainees along. As I was still carrying a mild 'gastric flu', and with the weekend 2XU race ahead, I decided to go easy and chat along with the trainees in the 6:00min/km pace. With well rested feet, and the knowledge of a not-too-long distance for the night, everyone's spirits were pretty high.

After about 10km, the effects of running in the night (after 10pm) were being felt by most, as the fight to keep the body awake and preventing it to go to sleep started. That will always subject runners to a mini-surprise if they have not done much night distance running in the past. It is also a fact that one tends to run slower in the night because of visibility and the inability to see farther compared with the day. As such, some of the trainees were finding out that it wasn't as easy as they were anticipating.

Because of the cooler weather in the night, many of us were able to enjoy the run better, and the need for taking walk breaks was almost absent. It has become a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for trainees to bring hydration in the form of fuel belts or hydra packs, with isotonic mixes for distances over 20km. At the U-turn of the first shelter along Changi Coastal, most of the runners were still 'alive' and cheering one another on. It was evident that many of the runners who have been consistent in their attendances at training have built up their bases, and were running a lot more comfortably even at rather 'hard' paces. That would set the stage for them to transition smoothly into the second half of the program, involving pace training and tempo runs.

With the targeted mid-point to be 1.5hrs, most of us made it back to the end point within 3.5hrs. Many had that satisfied look on their faces as they did stretches, sat around, chatted in their mini groupings, talking about the differences of night running, and their preparations for the Sundown Marathon. Many of the trainees have expressed that they took these training sessions as the key for Sundown preparations, and their attendances at the mini races and special training sessions were complements and time trials to gauge their levels of readiness.

The second half of Ops NightHawk will be laden with interesting and challenging routes and more specific training targets. In order to maximally benefit from these remaining 6 sessions, rest and recovery will become even more important for all to observe. Those who have been ramping up too much mileage on their own will be advised to moderate the excesses, and stick withing the recommended weekly mileage. If all go according to plan, we should be seeing a number of PBs for the impending Sundown Marathon in May. When Dusk Cometh, The NightHawks Emerge....yet again!

Facebook Photos from FatBird acleong

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