The Road To Melbourne – Week 5

First week of block 2 completed and it’s been a good one. Starting to get into the marathon specific workouts, the short and sharp sessions are being replaced with longer tempo type interval runs which I think will bear fruit come October.

 

Monday – Rest Day

 

Tuesday – 50 Minutes Easy

10.1kms in 51:03 @ 5:03/km Ave HR 129

Most of my Tuesday runs are a bit dusty, but this one was reasonable from the start. I listened to the TMYT interview with Andy Allison, he spoke about some of histraining and how every workout had a purpose, one of which was trying to run more efficiently at different heart rates and that is something i’m really trying to concentrate on, particulalrly on my easy runs – give it a listen – https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/017-andy-allison/id1116511977?i=1000385549503&mt=2

Yoga – Once a month I take the Shep Runners Club along to see Kath Payne for a yoga session. We got 22 there tonight which was a good roll up and did a more active session tonight. Most of the poses had a balance or strength element to it which I enjoyed, always good to squeeze an extra yoga session in.

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Wednesday – 9 x 1km @ 10k Pace – 1 Minute Recovery (40 Seconds Standing, 20 Seconds Jog) 4km Warm Up & 3km Cool Down – 3:26 ave for km Reps

I was trying to be conservative with this one, knowing full well there will be some sessions that will smash me about this month, there isn’t much to be gained by being completely blown up by the end of this one. In saying that I felt really good this morning, the yoga loosened up the hips and back nicely and had perfect conditions (cool and still)

Splits for the 9 reps were 3:27.6, 3:26.6, 3:26.6, 3:26.0, 3:25.0, 3:26.6, 3:25.6, 3:27.2, 3:22.7, I ran a bit harder on the last one, still controlled though.

Myotherapy – It was nice to head along for my fortnightly visit with Kirsty and not have anything that was overly bad that needed immediate attention, I have crap posture so today Kirsty worked on fixing this (which will also hopefully help improve my breathing when i run) by trying to release my diaphragm, at first it felt like she was trying to remove my soul….and I couldn’t breathe, I’m skinny and thought for a brief moment that my heart and lungs were about to be shown to me.

But once I eventually was able to breathe and relax a bit, she let me keep my soul and was able to do some work, I did feel better after it and hopefully it has improved my posture. I’m more conscious of it now, if nothing else so I don’t need to feel that pain again haha!

Everything else was good although we did find some tight spots in the hips, have to keep on top of that.

 

Thursday – 60 Minutes Easy

12.2kms in 61:22 @ 5:01/km Ave HR 128

This one took a little bit longer to settle into, the legs felt a bit heavy from the km reps and the Myo treatment, was just one of those ones that you’re pretty happy to get it done, tick the box and move onto the next one.

 

Friday – Rest Day

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Saturday – 4 x 4km @ 3:50/km 1km Recovery (4:20-4:30km) = 20kms

2km Warm Up & 3km Cool Down

20kms in 1:17:34 @ 3:53/km Ave HR 161

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Early start at Victoria Park Lake so I could be out of the way of the parkrunners. Started out a bit hard but relaxed into a pace and felt good, I knew I was going faster than scripted, but thought as long as the HR didn’t get above 165 we were going well. The HR stayed 161-165 during the 4km sections, and dropped to just below 150 during the recovery and was consistent with each rep. Towards the end I would of enjoyed a drink or a gel if there was more reps in store, but got through without any and pulled up well. Later in the day I felt pretty buggered though and had a good sleep for a couple of hours.

Splits

4km @ 3:45/km

1km @ 4:16

4km @ 3:47/km

1km @ 4:21

4km @ 3:47/km

1km @ 4:22

4km @ 3:46/km

1km @ 4:21

Yoga

Mentally I was out of it by this stage so can’t really remember much of the class other than it felt like it went really quick and we spent some quality time doing back, hips and glutes towards the end.

 

Sunday – 60  Minutes @ 130 Ave HR

12.7kms in 63:58 at 5:01.km Ave HR 131

I felt pretty flat going into this one, knowing it wasn’t going to be a real long one. Headed into Shepparton to join a few members of the runners club and it really helped having the company to get it done mentally today. The legs came good and ticked over at a nice relaxed pace. Early taste of spring with no clouds or breeze, it was brilliant running in some sunshine with some good mates, loved it!

 

Week 5

Distance: 77.4kms

Time: 5 Hours 51 Minutes

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Chocolate Watch – Orange Intense Dark Chocolate

Wow… this stuff is amazing, only 100g in a block and you could nearly make it disappear in one go if you felt like it. If you haven’t tried it, give it a go, I highly recommend it!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

The Road To Melbourne – Week 4

Recovery Week

I always enjoy the recovery week and has been pretty important to have these for me to help assist in not only absorbing the hard sessions from prior weeks, but also in avoiding injury. Lots of easy stuff this week, with a solid long run today.

 

Monday – Rest day

 

Tuesday – 30 Minutes Easy

6kms in 30:32 @ 5:05/km Ave HR 129

Just getting it done, legs were a bit stiff to start of with but nothing too bad. Felt ok energy wise, was just good to turn the legs over and clear a bit of rust from Sunday’s Half Mara.

 

Wednesday – 45 Minutes Easy with 5 x 20 Seconds Strides

9.2kms in 45:40 @ 4:57/km Ave HR 135

Legs were feeling reasonable today, settled into a decent enough rhythm early. This one felt a fair bit easier than yesterday and was good to do some strides. Again nothing special, just turning the legs over and absorbing the previous few weeks work

 

Thursday – Rest Day

 

Friday – 30 Minutes Easy

6kms in 30:26 @ 5:02/km Ave HR 128

Feeling good today, once again into a comfy rhythm early and just focusing on keeping the HR low. I knew the Sunday long run was going to be a solid one so wanted to be feeling ready to tackle that one. Sensing a pattern in the recovery week? Nothing flash, get it done, tick the box etc… As dull as it sounds, these weeks are important and just as good to recharge the mind as well as the body.

20621200_675442212648789_7012645298648959873_n – New Shepparton Runners Club Kit

 

Saturday – 5km Tempo Shake – 4km Warm Up & 4km Cool Down

5km in 18:31 @ 3:42/km Ave HR 171

Not long enough to be a tempo so will call it a tempo shake out type run. Trying to average around 3:45/km and felt pretty sluggish and flat today. HR was higher than it should be for that kind of effort. Just wasn’t really feeling it today, still got it done and another one in the books.

Yoga Session– Got to do wall yoga today which is awesome because just about all of it I can do at home, so always paying attention to try and learn as much as I can about the proper technique and moves to progress through. Longer holds today and focusing mainly on legs whilst on the wall. Floor work for a bit afterwards was mostly hips and back.

 

Sunday – 32kms – Aim to Keep HR between 145-150

32kms in 2:24:13 @ 4:30/km Ave HR 146

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Early start with this one in Shepparton so could get down to the Shepparton Runners Club handicap and support all the team in their 10km event today.

I’d been nervous about this one due to the efforts in week 1 where the body began to really crash on the long run from about 26km on-wards and that was at a lower HR. I’d spoken to Brady during the week about was it worth doing drinks and gels for this one, but we decided it was best to keep training the body to use fat instead of glycogen as the fuel, had the option of taking an emergency gel, but decided against it as really wanted to see how the body would handle everything.

Overall I was really pleased with how it went. It was raining pretty steadily for the first 45 minutes or so, after that it was just light rain, bit of wind but nothing worth whinging about. The HR sat around 143-146 for most of the first 25km, (Got to see a massive Kangaroo in the bush) last 7k it spiked a little to stay around 148-151 and the pace didn’t drop too much. It would be interesting to do this one after a big week of training and compare the results.

Roger-the-KangarooNot actual Kangaroo, or bush land or near Shepparton.. just thought this was cool.

 

Weekly Totals

Distance: 66.5kms

Time: 5 Hours 11 Minutes

 

That’s it for the first training block on the road to Melbourne. Received the next 4 weeks from Brady today and there’s going to be some sessions in there I will find quite challenging but looking forward to giving them a go. Recovery will be super important and communicating if the body doesn’t feel right and not just doing a session because it’s on the program.

 

Petrol watch also having a recovery week, but will be back next week, likely along with chocolate watch.

 

The Road To Melbourne – Week 3

This week was a solid week, the main goal was to get the legs heavy to try and do a marathon workout as part of Run Melbourne in the half marathon on the Sunday. That being said, I still wanted to make sure all the little thing’s I’ve been doing for recovery still got done, didn’t want to feel like death out there!!

Here’s the story of this week. There’s some stuff on recovery, some shout outs to a few people, stuff on the sessions from the week, petrol watch and also something a little delicious at the end.

 

Monday – Rest day

 

Tuesday – 55 Minutes Easy

11kms in 55:14 @ 5:01/km Ave HR 131

Awesome morning today, an early taste of spring! It was nice to leave the beanie and gloves behind. Settled into a groove and felt comfy. Pulled up well from Sunday’s long run, feeling good.

Wednesday – 14km Alternating kms between 10k pace and 4:00/km Float – 4km Warm Up & 4km Cool Down

14kms in 52:11 @ 3:43/km ave Ave HR 166 – 10k Ave 3:27/km, Float Ave 3:59/km

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Making the legs heavy part 1. For this session I felt it was pretty important to be somewhere where I could consistently check the watch to make sure I was within the splits we wanted to hit without needing to surge or drop pace heavily, so I got up stupidly early and made the 30 minute drive into Shepparton to do the session at Victoria Park Lake. Took a bit to wake up but once I got into the session I felt good, towards the end I could feel the brain losing concentration a bit, it was nice to see a familiar face in Nat Hicks doing some early morning laps as well. By the time I finished the cool down I felt ready to go back to bed.

Recovery – Since listening to the Recovery episode on TMYT, I’m really making the effort to get food in within 15-20 minutes after a session even though I don’t normally feel like eating much. Got a banana down and have been eating a mix of tuna, corn, kidney beans, capsicum and chilli – it just comes in a pack from John West and seems to be doing the trick.

Another thing i’m doing is booking in fortnightly maintenance sessions at Myoworx which is a Myotherapy place in Shepparton. I’ve been going to Myoworx for about 6 years now and they are great. Kirsty has been looking after me the last few months and doing a great job ( I think i’m addicted to cupping – it frees up my back so good!) It’s great to have someone local that you feel confident in to take good care of you, and both Kirsty and Felicity are lovely people. (They don’t sponsor me FYI, just reckon they deserve a bit of praise)

 

Thursday – 30 Minutes Easy

6kms in 31:10 @ 5:11/km Ave HR 127

Ugh this run felt like crap…. loosened up a bit in the last 5 minutes but pretty much felt heavy and like i’d been hit up the middle by the pain train. Got it done, thank god for a rest day

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Friday – Rest day

Had a sleep in today and felt heaps better for it. We were fortunate enough on Thursday night to have a presentation from Tim Crosbie and Kirstin Bull (current world champion in the 100km). Tim coaches Kirstin and is heavily involved with his run group Crosbie Crew, Athletics Australia and Athletics Victoria, he also coaches among other people Sinead Diver (representing Australia in the World Champs in London in the Marathon) and Anna Kelly (represented Australia earlier this year at World Cross Country) It was great to listen to them and Kirstin’s journey from playing a bit of netball and running a couple of 5k runs on a treadmill per week, to joining Crosbie Crew, moving up the distances and how she juggled full time shift work in an emergency room at a hospital in Melbourne as well as getting her training done.

 

Saturday – 20kms – Aim to Keep HR 135-140

20kms in 1:33:52 @ 4:41/km Ave HR 136

Making the legs heavy part 2. Got out nice and early and did this one around Numurkah, wanted to head over to parkrun, but logistically couldn’t make it work. Fortunately though, heading out early meant I missed most of the wind which smashed through most parts of Victoria, it was really only the last 20 minutes where it whipped up. Felt pretty comfy during this one which was a relief after Thursday’s little trundle. Got home and packed the bag for the weekend and headed into Mooroopna for some yoga.

Yoga

It was awesome to be able to go from a longer run straight into some yoga. Poses were held for a bit longer – about 3 minutes which was nice and learned some new stretches for the hips.

 

Sunday  – Run Melbourne – Aim to Average 3:56km Marathon Simulation on heavy legs, 5km Warm Up & 4km Cool Down

21.1kms in 1:19:37 @ 3:47/km Ave HR 170

On the surface this was a really good workout. I got to try out the shoes I want to run the marathon in, practice drinks and gels and had a good workout. The first 10k felt real easy (course was either flat or down hill in this bit), The last 10k was a bit more undulating, pace stayed consistent but the heart had to pump a bit harder up the hills to make it happen. HR at 170 Ave is probably a bit high of a work rate than desired, in hindsight a 165 Ave and 3:52-3:56/km would of been a bit more sensible, thankfully though I’ve pulled up well, and this week is a recovery week. Will give it a tick, but will need to be really diligent with the recovery this week to make sure everything absorbs properly to avoid over training.

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Today was an awesome day for many reasons, not just having a run. I was fortunate to see Brady run and win the event today and have a catch up. We probably only see each other a few times a year, so I always look forward to a chat and a run if the chance comes up.

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Also got to meet up with a few of my good mates from Echuca in Jacinda, Chris and Carley. We probably wouldn’t recognize each other if we were all in work clothes as we always seem to catch up at a parkrun or other running event, it’s cool how running can bring everyone together.

Also got to meet Megan who I follow on Strava and twitter, she ran a PB in the half marathon today and was awesome to have a chat afterwards (she also contributes to petrol watch!!)

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We had just over 10 members from Shepparton Runners Club competing in different events, it was great seeing them out on course and having a chat afterwards hearing about how they went. One of our younger members that i’m lucky enough to coach is Dylan. He’s a great kid with a lot of ability, he loves running and it’s great to see him doing his thing.

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Weekly Totals:

Distance – 91.6kms

Time – 6 Hours 49 Minutes

 

Petrol Watch

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This week’s edition is brought to you by Megan who lives in Lara down near Geelong, she filled up at APCO earler in the week – not a bad price at $1.19, Brady also let me know that in Bendigo you could fill up yesterday at $1.12 and Melbourne was still at $1.19. Still cheaper at Matilda at Gold Coast though!

 

Hmmmmm Chocolate (Chocolate Watch)

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I love chocolate and this has been finding it’s way into the shopping basket the last few weeks. We have been breaking it up into little bits and adding it to a mix of cranberries, dried apricot, sultanas, and a mix of grains and nuts as a snack for during the day at work. It’s only a 100g block so wouldn’t last long in our house normally, so at least with it mixed in with other stuff it helps it last a week.

Got any chocolate that you prefer or a submission for petrol watch? Flick it through on twitter so I can add it in for next week.

The Road To Melbourne – Part 2

Week 2 in the books and so far so good. Managed to go over 2000 kms for year to date and I’m feeling in much better shape than this time last week, I was pretty stuffed after last weeks long run but have pulled up well today (more on that later) and looking forward to a big week coming up.

Lets take a look at what Week 2 involved.

 

Monday – Rest day

Tuesday – 55 Minutes Easy:
10.5kms in 55:04 @ 5:12/km Ave HR 130

I enjoyed this one, I’m doing more runs now on bike paths and roads so really noticed the difference on the softer trail surface along the lake and around the wetlands at home. The legs were a little heavy to begin with but towards the end everything felt pretty comfy and no tight spots.

Wednesday – Mona Fartlek – 4km Warm Up & 4km Cool Down

5.65kms in 20:00 @ 3:33/km Ave HR 177

Mona fartlek is my favorite quality type session to do, I love the variety of the intervals how it’s constantly changing, and the whole session only lasts 20 minutes which is essentially broken up into 10 minutes of work, and 10 minutes of float. The best I’ve recorded for this session is 5.68kms. Good solid effort today and bit of a confidence booster that the Half Mara from Gold Coast has hopefully been absorbed into the body.

Thursday – 60 Minutes – Aim To Keep Heart Rate Between 135-140

12.7kms in 60:06 @ 4:43/km Ave HR 136

Back on the trails with the headlight again, managed to figure out that you can alter the direction of the light, so I could shine the light on the watch, instead of needing to lift my arm up to eye level which would of looked weird if anyone could have seen me. Today was the first morning where this pace started to feel a bit more natural and was able to run more to feel and check the watch as reassurance that the HR was stable, where previously it had been a little bit of a yo-yo getting the hang of it.

Friday – Rest Day

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Saturday – Deeks Quarters during Shepparton parkrun (8 x 400m Hard with 200m Float Recovery + 200m effort to make up the 5km) 4km Warm Up + Strides & 4km Cool Down

5km in 16:50 @ 3:22/km Ave HR 177

If Mona Fartlek is my favorite session, this is a close second. I love being able to do this as a part of parkrun, it makes a nice distraction to do it around people and as most of my sessions are alone, it makes for a nice change.

Overall i’m happy with the overall result but honestly not sure if I executed the session the right way. I decided to do the 400s as hard as I could while maintaining good form, and keep the recoveries at an honest float.

To compare it to the last time I did this on May 20th it looks like this:

July 22 – 5km in 16:50, 400s ave 75.7, 200m Floats ave 45.5 – 400s were 71.4, 72.2, 74.2, 76.9, 77.8, 77.4, 78.4, 77.2

May 20 – 5km in 17:14, 400s ave 75.8, 200m Floats ave 47.6 – 400s were 74.1, 75.0, 78.1, 78.0, 74.6, 77.6, 74.5, 74.5

So really the difference overall was the floats were a fraction quicker and the average of the 400s ended up being essentially the same despite going out as hard as I could. Tick for the session and I guess that’s the real goal.

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60 Minutes of Yoga – Straight to yoga after the cool down, good stretch, more of an active one so not as long in the poses but covered most of the body, the legs and back got a good going over which is always a plus!

Sunday – 31km Long Run – Aim To Keep Heart Rate Between 135-145

31.1kms in 2:26:06 @ 4:42/km Ave HR 140

I was pretty nervous about this one, just hoping that it didn’t end up with the body wanting to crash over the last 15-20 minutes. Really wanted to make sure that I stuck to the guideline of the session today and be a bit more conservative than last week during the first 15-20kms hoping that would make a difference. This week the HR sat around 138-140 during that time and was able to keep it pretty constant. Last 10km much better today 4:40, 39, 36, 34, 40, 47, 41, 44, 47, 38 with HR staying between 141-145 during the last 6km.

 

Weekly Totals:

Distance – 81.6kms

Time – 6 Hours 18 Minutes

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Petrol Watch

This is about giving the people what they want! After the shout out Brady gave this petrol station during TMYT  (Matilda Petrol in Miami) – also briefly sighted on the Gold Coast Marathon Recap last week. This is where you can send in a picture of your local petrol station and see how it stacks up to the cheap petrol up north which based on this picture was 102.4

This one is from myself and features Woolworths/Caltex Petrol out next to the Shepparton Marketplace – VERDICT – Not Cheaper than Matilda

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If you want your local petrol station featured, send me a tweet to @CJArmstrong15 on twitter, first one this week I receive will be chosen for next week! Do you have cheaper petrol than Matilda at Miami?

The Road to Melbourne – Part 1

I’ll say it up front, this is a blatant copy of the idea from “The Road to Berlin” podcast with Brady Threlfall, Julian Spence and Brad Croker that Brady Threlfall hosts via his “Tell Me Your Tales” podcast – give it a listen, it’s informative and the banter is good for a laugh as well.

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https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/tell-me-your-tales/id1116511977?mt=2

(Disclaimer: Brady coaches me so I’m slightly biased, but the podcast really is fantastic)

I really just want to put something together that I can hopefully look back on in around 3 months time after the Melbourne Marathon and reflect on what went well, what maybe didn’t and perhaps what needs tweaking for the next effort.

Last year training was going great till I developed a niggle about 4 weeks out that I couldn’t shake and unfortunately wasn’t fit enough to get on the start line. The aim with this blog will be to put down my weekly training and also add a random thought for each column about something I might have found interesting that week that isn’t running related.

Anyway, let’s have a look at week 1…

Monday – Rest Day

Tuesday55 Minutes Easy: 11kms in 56:19 @ 5:06/km ave HR 125

This was my first early start for a few weeks and it was a cold one that’s for sure. The HR monitor didn’t really capture properly early on so I think it was probably closer to low 130s ave. Most of my training won’t be anything special, mainly getting the session done, ticking the box and moving on to the next one.

Wednesday – 4 x 1k & 1 x 2k @ 10km pace (1 Minute Recovery – 25 Seconds Standing, 35 Seconds Jog) 4km Warm Up and 4km Cool Down

First session back after the Gold Coast Half Marathon about 10 days earlier. I was conscious of not pushing too hard and trying to run as close to 3:30/km pace as possible. There wasn’t much pop in the legs and felt like a bit of a controlled grind. Splits were 3:27, 3:28, 3:26, and 3:29 for the 1ks and 6:59 for the 2k (3:29 & 3:30) I was pretty happy to get this finished. I pulled up pretty tight in the hamstrings after this session but was fortunate enough that my myotherapist could fit me in for some maintenance later that day. Got some massage and cupping done and the body was back to normal by the end of the day.

Thursday – 50 Minutes – Aim to keep HR between 135 & 140:  10.4kms in 50:06 @ 4:47/km ave HR 136

Legs felt pretty good after the treatment yesterday. I wore a head torch for the first time so I could keep a bit more of a closer eye on my HR (all my weekday sessions usually start before 6am) I’ve got some flat trails I run on around Numurkah which is good for the legs and to avoid the cars.

Friday – Rest Day

Saturday – 4km Warm Up into 6km @ Marathon Pace, 1km Float, 6km @ Marathon Pace – 5km Cool Down

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This was done around Victoria Park Lake in Shepparton prior to parkrun starting. I love running around there, it’s flat, well lit, and I normally find it pretty easy to settle into a groove. First marathon type tempo and felt more comfortable in the second 6km, I found it a bit hard to settle in the first 6k while trying to run well within myself. It was encouraging to see the HR around 160 for the tempo sections as this will be the type of effort i’ll eventually be looking to sustain for 42kms come October. Once again, it was nothing fast, but ticked the box of what we are trying to achieve.

Yoga – completed a yoga session in Mooroopna with my friend Kath Payne after the cool down which I try and incorporate every Saturday, it’s really benefited me physically and mentally and also taught me heaps of stretches that I can do at home. Kath’s a great teacher and if you’ve ever contemplated giving yoga a go, I highly recommend it.

 

Sunday – 30km – Aim to keep HR between 135-145: 30kms in 2:21:00 @ 4:42/km ave HR 143

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Unless a Sunday run is marked as a race specific session, I don’t take any gels or drinks with me and try and get the body to run depleted. I make sure I’m well hydrated before I go out, but breakfast normally consists of a handfull of sultanas and nuts before I head out.

Most of my Sunday long runs have been easier efforts, typically keeping the HR between 130-135, so was a bit nervous about how this one would go. I went into Shepparton and ran with some members of the Shepparton Runners Club. It was good to have the company which helped the time fly by, however realistically i was going a fraction harder than I wanted during the first 20k (HR was sitting constantly 140-145, I was planning on sitting 138-142) and paid for this from about 24kms onward. The last 2km turned to crap as the body began to rebel against what I was wanting to do, splits over the last 10k tell the story – 4:40, 4:40, 4:43, 4:44, 4:51, 4:55, 4:53, 4:59, 5:03, 5:08. I just had to back the effort right off to keep the HR at 145 and that last 10-15 minutes was pretty miserable. In saying that, I’m looking forward to next weeks long run and see if I can do better by being a bit smarter in that first 20km.

Weekly Totals:

Distance – 88.1kms

Time – 6 Hours 44 Minutes

 

Random Thought This Week: Roger Federer

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How good is this guy! I’m not a huge fan of tennis, but Roger Federer is amazing. At 35 years of age, Federer is still one of the best players in the world and tonight will attempt to win his 19th career Grand Slam singles title at Wimbledon (Next best is Rafael Nadal on 15, and of other current day players, Novak Djokovic has 12) It’s not just his talent, he comes across as extremely likeable and humble, and arguably the greatest male tennis player of all time.

Howzat? Not Good….Let’s Fix Australian Cricket

The fall from grace has been as swift as has it has been ugly, gone are the days of the 2000s where we were blessed with generational talents like Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Ricky Ponting dominating summers on end and making Australian test cricket must watch viewing.

Fast forward to today and I’d honestly barely muster up the effort to cross the street to watch this Australian team let alone make the trip to Melbourne or anywhere else to see what appears on the surface to be a disorganised group of batsman who struggle with the moving ball and are unable to consistently produce big scores. How can things be fixed?

Well here’s how I’d do it, and it’s not as simple as just picking a different group of players, the damage runs much deeper than that, merely replacing the current line up is akin to shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic, I’m sure it would look nice but the end result won’t change much….

Domestic Cricket Scheduling

Problems – Playing the  One Day competition in bulk at the start of October over 4 weeks gives it a preseason practice match feel, the spectators don’t really care and a week after its done nobody remembers much about it – can you remember who won the final and the standout performances along the way without using google? The packed schedule limits the opportunity for injured players or players on National duty to represent their states in one day cricket, without some of the big name players, its hard to get excited about it. Lack of tv exposure hurts the chance to learn about future stars and see their development.

The big bash competition is too long – currently 6 weeks

Not enough Shield games before Test Series starts – only 1 this season

The gap between Shield Cricket over Christmas is too long – December 9th to February 1st

Solutions – Sheffield Shield starts October 4th,  games would be scheduled so that they run for 4 days Tuesday to Friday, players get a rest day and then play a One Day game against the same team on the Sunday, televise the best game of the round and pump it up. Nobody cares about the AFL preseason competition, but when you put on a big game in the middle of the season, everybody takes notice.

3 Shield  and One day games played before the First test of the Summer in first week of November, let’s find out who is and isn’t in form before we get 2 Tests into a series and wonder what is going on?

6 Shield  and one day games played before December 18, this gives 13 weeks to play the games and allowing the Big Bash window to open.

Big Bash for as successful at generating money as it is, I feel it takes up too much time on the calendar and by the time the final comes around it feels like the tournament is dragging a bit. Sometimes less is more and I feel by shortening the competition that it would create even more interest in it, bigger crowds and TV audience due to the “watch now or miss out” factor, much the same as the NFL in America – 32 teams only play 16 games in a season and the fans can’t get enough.

Shield games recommence by mid January with 4 rounds to play with the Finals to be played for both the One Day Competition and Sheffield Shield to be completed in early March.

This gives plenty of games before the test series, a look at the one day specialists at regular intervals before the Big Bash and One Day Internationals commence and a chance for any injured or international players to play in all 3 formats if good enough.

 

2nd XI Cricket

Problem – Currently there are age restrictions in 2nd xi state cricket, only 6 players per team are allowed to be over the age of 24 – some of the best cricketers are being lost to the game too early,  thus handing out games to undeserving players.

Solution – No age restriction  on players, pick the best team that is available form the players left over from the state team, if a young kid misses an opportunity… well bad luck, make more runs and take more wickets, reward performance, not a birth certificate.

 

Games Against Touring Nations

Problem – The bulk of practice games played against touring nations are against state second XI’s or against a squad called “Cricket Australia XI” this is a squad of junior players who have potential but haven’t been good enough to be picked in the current round of state games…. what message does this send? You’re not good enough to play for your state yet, but how about you go see if you can stand up against South Africa and show us what you can do?

Solution – Touring countries play against Australia A or full strength State teams, not Cricket Australia XI or a mix of state second and third XI’s- this also gives us more of an indication of which players can stand up at international level without having to use a test match as a guessing game. This would also help the public get exposure to see who are the next group of International players are and help create more interest in the game, playing for Australia A would be something to strive for and a reward for strong performance, as opposed to some 19 year old being given a Cricket Australia game because he has potential to play for his state in the next few years.

By giving this added incentive to players I believe it would help in development but also showing cricketers that by performing you will be rewarded and given a platform to represent your country it would lead to better results.

 

Earlier today I mentioned the squad I would pick for the next test and I’d keep this squad barring injury or until someone from Shield cricket was performing to the level where they demanded a spot and one was available due to injury or poor form. Here it is again:

  1. D.Warner – Automatic selection
  2.  U.Khawaja – Automatic selection
  3. S.Smith (C) – Automatic selection
  4. K.Patterson – 222 runs @ 55.5 this summer, good temperament and at 23 has already played 32 first class games, not smashing the door down but worth the gamble in my eyes
  5. J.Lehmann – 18 first class games 1322 runs @48.96 including previous winter playing county cricket, 24 years old and has impressed me with ability to build an innings and score to all parts of the ground, and scores 100’s ( 5 already)
  6. T.Head – almost went with Nic Maddinson here, but i feel he plays a bit too loose currently for test cricket, Head reminds me of Steve Waugh, took a long time to reach potential, but was worth the investment, Head is the current SA captain and has shown flashes of brilliance, i’d take the chance that he will become more consistent as the competition gets hotter
  7. P.Handscombe (wk) – has kept well for Victoria when required and is arguably the most deserving batsman outside of the automatic selections 258 runs @ 86 in Shield, I’d bat him at 7 to add depth to the batting bat also allow him enough rest from keeping – arguably good enough to bat at 4
  8. M.Starc – Automatic selection
  9. P.Siddle – You know what you get from Siddle, does the hard yards and creates pressure for others to capitalize on, would love to have Pat Cummins here but his body hasn’t shown it’s strong enought o stay injury free for any length of time
  10. J.Hazlewood – Automatic selection
  11. N.Lyon – Currently out of form but has enough credits to continue and there is no other spinner  consistently producing big performances, on notice though

12th A.Agar – If he continues to produce results like his last match with a 10 wicket haul, Agar could be a very valuable addition to the line up, currently bats at 5 for WA, it’s his bowling that will win him a place in the line up and would allow Handscombe to bat at 6 and play an extra pace bowler. He is missing the current round of Shiled cricket due to a calf injury and has had injury problems in his young career

 

Happy to discuss your thoughts and opinions, i’m sure we all want the same thing to see Australian cricket return to it’s previous glories, what would you do? Do you agree, disagree? Let me know!

 

 

 

 

Melbourne Marathon 2015

Firstly a warning – this post contains disturbing content about public toilets, if you’re easily grossed out then it’s probably best not to read on… In saying that I absolutely loved the Melbourne Marathon, it’s my favorite race and i’ll continue to do it each year while my body lets me. I really want to become a Melbourne Marathon Spartan – you need to have completed 10 to reach “spartan status” and after this year i’m now at 6. How did this year go? Read on and you’ll find out.

I had 3 goals for this race, to not get injured, to finish and to be able to run the whole way. It had been since 2013 since I’d been able to run the whole way at a marathon, so time to let go of the PB chasing and get back to basics.

image6 – The calm before the storm

The day before the big race I was able to catch up with Paul Adams who is a great friend from twitter along with his friends Andrea and Karen whom I hadn’t met face to face before. We sat down and had a great feed in Lygon Street and shared lots of laughs as well as swapping stories of other events and how our training had gone. It was brilliant to sit down and have a catch up and really got the excitement going for the next day. Conditions were tipped to be perfect – about 12 degrees, overcast with a slight cool wind. I just wanted to gt to the start line and experience the atmosphere of the event and see my favorite course again!

I had a good sleep and woke up feeling ready to go. Breakfast was a tin of rice cream ( I used to eat this about 3 hours before a game of AFL when I played at Finley, i’m not a huge fan of the taste but it gives me all the energy I need and i’ve never had an upset stomach from it) and sips of a new sports drink i’ve been using called tailwind which i’m also enjoying. As we drove into the MCG the excitement was building. The car was parked and the goosebumps had arrived. It was just before 6am and 1000s of people were already there buzzing around. With nerves building we decided it would be best to make the walk across to the start line and use the portaloo trucks as there were several there which would of meant minimal waiting time and they were along the Yarra River so I could jump straight into a warm up jog without much fuss.

image5 – Hmmmm breakfast

As I approached the portaloo trucks, I saw that 3 of them had no line and the other about 15 people lined up, here I am thinking YES! no line for me!! I walked up and a burly person in hi vis informed me the toilets had yet to be hooked up to any water and couldn’t be used… I accepted this but walked away thinking WHAT THE HELL MAN, THERE’S GOING TO BE CLOSE TO 30,000 WANTING TO USE THIS THING IN THE NEXT FEW HOURS AND YOU’VE GOT NO WATER, LOOK AT THE YARRA RIVER, IT’S FLOATING WITH…. urgh never mind…. anyway I was glad I found out now and not in 20 minutes time. Eventually it was my turn to go, the burly man had the misfortune to tell all the other runners about the no water situation and he was copping some unpleasantness… I’m a pretty resilient person and an experienced user of public toilets when it comes to athletic events who has experienced all kinds of smells and what not – BUT nothing and I mean nothing prepared me for this (apologies in advance)… have you ever gone to use a toilet straight after someone has taken a dump and forgotten to flush? Having played team sports for nearly 15 years it’s happened to me and it’s disgusting… well imagine having to use a toilet that can’t flush and approximately 10 people have already used this toilet and have effectively built a big brown turd castle smattered with used toilet paper, the bowl was about 3/4 full and is easily the most toxic,disgusting thing i’ve had the misfortune of smelling. I quickly found out this wasn’t isolated to the cubicle I was using as the comments from other users in the other cubicles were quite disturbing as well. I finished up, came down the stairs and the line for this one truck was now back at least 40-50m. I’m not sure if or when the water was set up or what caused the delay, but i’m sure the people responsible were given plenty of constructive feedback.

I quickly filled in Nick and Norah in on my adventures and they weren’t sure whether to laugh or cry, I decided to go on my warm up alongside the Yarra River knowing there was a public toilet about a km further up towards the train station that would actually have water as I’d probably need to go again and no way was I lining up again at the trucks. I jogged off and the legs felt good as i was trying to clear my mind of the filth earlier… I got to the toilet and lined up behind 3 others for a couple of minutes… we waited and eventually the door opened and out popped a man and a woman who looked like they hadn’t slept, they seemed very startled and the woman hurried off while the man – a slender african gentleman hung around for a chat….

Him – “you guys running the marathon today”

Us – “yep”

Him – “Back in Africa we used to have to outrun the lions, I could run 100m in 11.6 seconds”

Us – ……..

Him – “Good luck today mon, you have a good run”

Us – “thanks mate”

For a few minutes I totally forgot what the hell I was even in Melbourne for and was in shock thinking… what the hell is going on, is the apocalypse coming or something? I did what I needed to do and jogged back towards the start line. I was hoping to find Paul to run with him but with the 1000s of people around and time running out, I joined the start line which was buzzing, the weird start to the day began to fade.

The national anthem was played, the countdown begun and then BANG… we were off! I felt good and settled into a good rhythm early. The weather was as good as predicted, overcast and about 12 degrees, there was a slight breeze which was going to mean a nice little tailwind for about 7kms coming back up Beach Road on the way back to St Kilda. I was able to spot some familiar faces on course and got some cheers as well from a couple of the guys that I used to play footy with at Finley which was a huge boost for me, not only because it’s nice to have someone yell encouragement for you, but I was really happy to see them doing so well – thanks Evo and Jules, it meant a lot!

image4 image3 image2

The race was a bit of a blur really, I stuck to my game plan well and was able to negotiate the tricky sections where the race merged with the half marathon well, The last 12km at Melbourne are the toughest on the course but the most enjoyable, the crowd support is fantastic as well as the encouragement from the volunteers. The one thing that excites all the participants and one of the main reasons why Melbourne is Australia’s biggest Marathon is the finishing lap inside the MCG. Nothing compares to this for me and it never fails to disapoint, as I entered the stadium it felt like a roar as the announcer was calling names of finishers and the crowd noise was being pumped through the stadium speakers, I looked up at the giant scoreboard and could see myself running, I was pushing hard but started giggling for some unknown reason, I crossed the finish line in a time of 3:14:47 and had managed to run the whole way. I was stoked and hung around the finish shute for a good 5-10 minutes to soak up the noise and achievement. My legs also took this time to relax and turn to concrete so movement became pretty ordinary. I waddled over to collect my finishers medal and begun the search for familiar faces. By luck I bumped into Paul again and we swapped stories of how the day had gone, Paul ran a massive PB which was an amazing achievement given the obstacles he has faced during the year, the smile on his face was amazing and so richly deserved! we picked up our show bags and then had the good fortune to meet another couple of twitter mates in Sal Morrison and Bill who are both lovely people and very talented athletes in their own right. Bill (who is 78) won the 10km for his age group and running his farewell race had been accompanied by Sal for the run as she was in the first stages of her running comeback from a stress fracture in her leg. We swapped stories and had a few laughs including Sal acting as bodyguard for Bill and stopping him from getting into fisticuffs after he got cut off by a rude runner! After posing for some happy snaps it was time to leave and make the long journey home.

image1 Paul, Myself, Bill and Sal

It was a memorable weekend filled with highlights (and some shitty ones too haha) I’ll be back for the 2016 version, hopefully so too will be all the familiar faces.

image7 – Celebration time!

 

Have you had any strange race experiences?

What is your favorite event?