Adapting your race strategy on the go – Lisa Krumnikl’s one on one coaching call

Adapting your race strategy on the go – Lisa Krumnikl’s one on one coaching call

We welcome Lisa Krumnikl onto the podcast today for her one on one coaching call with Coach Markus. Lisa is currently headed for her second Comrades so we help her put a plan in place to help her reach her goals.

Markus also advises Lisa on what her average heart rate should be using the 'math method' and they discuss how it's better to take it easy on the up run and go harder on the down.

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Transcription

 

BRAD
Welcome on to the next edition of RUN with Coach Parry. My name is Brad Brown. It's great to have you with us. Thank you so much for joining us today. And thank you for downloading and listening to this podcast that is massively, massively appreciated. As last week, if you do get anything out of this podcast, you wouldn't mind leaving us a review on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to your podcast. We do massively appreciate it.

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We've got another one of our one on one coaching sessions on today's podcast. We're joined by coach Markus van Niekerk, our running coach and we are going to be chatting to Lisa Krumnikl who is based in Johannesburg, Midrand I think, and yeah, we're going to be chatting about her experience and what she's been training for and what she needs help with. That's all coming up on today's show. Lisa, welcome on to RUN. It's great to have you on and yeah, I love these chats because we get to chat to people within our community. And thanks for joining us today.

LISA
Thank you so much Brad.

BRAD
Lisa, before we dive into our chat with Markus and let me just say how's it to Markus while we're on the subject, Markus good day to you as well.

MARKUS
How's it Brad.

BRAD
Lisa, let's talk a little bit about your sort of running history and your sort of backgrounds. How long have you been running and what got you into the sport?

LISA
I've probably been running on and off for the last 10-15 years. I used to come from a cycling background but you go through phases and then you're over it and then you try find something else and then you run and then you think okay, let me go back to cycling. So there's always something going on and currently it's running.

BRAD
Do you still ride a bit as well? Or is it just running at the moment?

LISA
It's purely running.

BRAD
And I'm guessing part of that is just from a time factor. It's just there's just not enough hours in the day to get everything done.

LISA
Definitely time and also I think a safety aspect at this point in time. Yeah, absolutely. Living in Joburg. It's not the easiest of places to to cycle, often it's a case of you need to hop in the car and head to the cradle or hit South disciples run but unfortunately time doesn't always allow for that. And and talk to me about life outside of running. I know you you've got a little one. What do you do for a living and tell me a little bit about about what you do?

BRAD
Yeah, absolutely. Living in Joburg. It's not the easiest of places to cycle, often it's a case of you need to hop in the car and head to the Cradle or head south so Suikerbosrand but unfortunately time doesn't always allow for that. And talk to me about life outside of running. I know you've got a little one. What do you do for a living and tell me a little bit about what you do?

LISA
Quality control. So I'm the Quality Manager at a manufacturing plant. Otherwise, I'm pretty much an outdoorsy person, we water ski, wind surf, hike, go on a lot of holidays, travel internationally, that's pretty much it.

BRAD
And from a running perspective what are some of the goals? What are you hoping to achieve in your in your running career?

LISA
I think Comrades obviously for a lot of runners is the big goal. And then just improve on overall running experience. I think the biggest thing I would love to do is run a Bill Rowan, do a couple of trail runs. Yeah, I think that's it for now. Let's see what comes next.

BRAD
Have you run a Comrades before?

LISA
Yes, I did last year.

BRAD
So you going back for your back to back this year?

LISA
I am.

BRAD
Not too long to go now, how you feeling ahead of it?

LISA
I'm feeling great actually right now. But you know it might change within 10 minutes

BRAD
As it does in the final run into Comrades.

LISA
Runner's doubt, runner's strategy, every time I think of how my strategy is going to be it changes 25 times.

BRAD
Well I'm glad we've got you on this call because it's not too long to go now and I'm sure we can solidify it and hopefully it's one that will last until Comrades and get you through race day as well. Markus, let me bring you in here as well, I know you've got the questionnaire that we normally send to all our athletes when we do these sorts of one on one calls so you've got Lisa's sort of running background in front of you. Your initial thoughts before we get into some Q&A and help Lisa put a plan in place.

MARKUS
Yeah so I think first and foremost, I think obviously it's great having a chat to athletes like Lisa but it makes it tricky so few weeks out from Comrades but I mean if there's one thing that you can get from this call is if I take some of your past running information as well as your most recent time trial that you did, you said you ran a, was that a 37 minute over eight kilometres?

LISA
No, I ran a 35. Last year I ran a seven and then this year now a couple of weeks back, I ran a 35.

MARKUS
Okay, sorry you put 37 here didn't Yeah. Was that okay? Okay. So a couple of weeks back, you did a 35. But before that it was 37, right?

LISA
Yes.

MARKUS
Okay. Awesome. So I just quickly need to recalculate that but sorry, Brad, I'm just going to go, just keep the momentum here. So with regards to what you're capable of then, I see you wanted to do a 9:40 at Comrades this year?

LISA
Well, I did a 9:40 last year, so technically I would have to improve and the distance is four kilometres shorter. So definitely a lot less.

MARKUS
Okay, perfect. And what was your qualifying time last year?

LISA
Also 3:56/3:58, somewhere around there.

MARKUS
100%. And then do I have my facts right if your current PB this year for a marathon is 3:59?

LISA
Yeah, but I wasn't racing at that stage.

MARKUS
Okay, perfect. So I don't know if you will be able to recall what your time trial times were like more or less last year this time. But just to put things into perspective, if I take that 35 minutes that you said you did a couple of weeks ago, you on par for a sub 3:30 marathon, okay, and that'll definitely allow you to go sub 9:40 on Comrades, granted that everything goes well on race day. It's very important that obviously you need to focus on what went well last year, and obviously try and exclude the things that didn't work for you. Do you still have one last long run left?

LISA
No, no, I have a three and a half hour run left.

MARKUS
Okay. Okay, but that's perfect. And tell me is there anything in those runs that's bugging you or are you very comfortable in what you're doing there?

LISA
So from a feeling aspect, I'm really feeling great on my runs at the moment. The only concern, I don't know if it's a concern, I ran on a very high heart rate on my 60 long run. And it wasn't bugging me, it wasn't a problem but looking back on the stats I go, you know, maybe I'm running on too high a heart rate, which could possibly be a problem at Comrades.

MARKUS
Okay, and tell me what was the average pace with that?

LISA
I finished an average of 6:20.

MARKUS
Okay. So taking it really easy. If we work on that 35 minute 8km that you did.

I mean, the paces that I've calculated here for you, your recovery runs can be anything between a 5:35 to 6 minutes, your long runs 4:58 to 5:45, and then your easy runs 4:55 to about a 5:30. Put it this way, did you have any other symptoms, maybe flu like symptoms or anything in that line that maybe you know, pushed up your heart rates a bit?

LISA
No.

MARKUS
Okay, perfect. And Lisa, just one, which programme are you currently on? Are you on one of the time based programmes.

LISA
Yes.

MARKUS
On the sub 10, I presume?

LISA
Yeah.

MARKUS
Okay, perfect. And everything's been going according to plan there?

LISA
Actually, they have, I've been tracking improvements on all my distances. Okay. So from on the 21, I had the improvement, on the time trial I had improvement, on that 60 long run, I mean it wasn't a race, but I still had an improvement.

MARKUS
That's awesome. Okay, so the improvements are definitely coming through, which is great. So, I don't know, if you look, like I said, once again, it's tricky with so few weeks left before race day, but I don't if you want to take down the paces that I gave you earlier, just for reference purposes, it will just help you, if the paces that you've been running on is way different to this and you try and run with these new paces and it's difficult, having said that, then rather stick to the old paces, but if it's similar, and it just narrows down the pacing zones, if I can call it that, and makes your training a slight bit more efficient for the last four weeks leading into race day or before we hit that last week's taper, then I think it will obviously benefit.

LISA
Could you give me those paces again? I didn't write them down, sorry.

MARKUS
No worries, no worries. So your recovery run pace should be between a 5:37 and a six minutes. Long run 4:58 to 5:45. And your easy 4:55 to 5:30. Now those are big brackets. So, and I don't mind at all if one runs at the upper end of that bracket. Another nice thing to always use as cross reference is your heart rate. But I find especially with ladies over the age of 35, they think their heartrates tend to be slightly higher. But what I generally follow as a rule of thumb is the math method. So you do 180 minus your age, and that should be your average heart rate after easy runs. So in my case, my average heart rate needs to be 145.

LISA
Yeah. Okay, but now, I would also be a 145. I was reading up on it. Okay. But then there was also a podcast from Lindsey about, you know, not relying too much on your heart rate zone, and especially during Comrades.

MARKUS
I know, but that's during the race because obviously as you start, okay, so as you start running, you start sweating, and majority of your blood is made up of water. So the more you sweat, the less blood in theory you have in your system. So your heart rate tends to go higher and higher, because it needs to work harder to circulate, the less blood you have in your system. So that's what they call cardiac drift. Or that's where the term comes from.

So your heart rate generally tends to, the graph tends to pick up your heart rate becomes higher at the same or even less effort than you would have two hours before. So it just makes sense to not pay too much attention to your heart rate especially during you know runs I'd say more than four hours and obviously you'll be way over that come Comrades.

LISA
Okay.

MARKUS
Perfect. So yeah, I think with regards to your most recent time trial, like I said, it is definitely on par for a 3:30 marathon and that should comfortably get you to a sub 9:40. What was your strength and what was your weakness in last year's race?

LISA
Um, my strength was'the last 20 kilometres.

MARKUS
Wow, okay, did you run a faster pace over the last 10/20 kilometres?

LISA
The last 20 kilometeres actually my closest to my fastest split.

MARKUS
Wow, okay.

LISA
But I had major dip [***13:52]

BRAD
Lisa, if I can just ask you a question there. Why do you think those last 20k's were so strong? I mean, looking back at your race, did you find that you started really conservatively that allowed you to run that at the end? What do you think it was?

LISA
You know what, in my club we actually quite competitive. So I was running with a whole bunch of club members, we were actually really nicely paced and we trained for a long time together. And it was the living fear of getting dropped by them. I promise you, I was so scared that they are going to drop me so I said, Okay, I'm not going to walk anymore. I'm not going to stop and say hello to everyone. I'm just going to keep running and then when they catch me because I'm so tired, they will catch me and I just kept running, running, running and they never caught me.

BRAD
I love that, what a cool story.

LISA
Thanks. But yeah, it's different factors, you're in a good space and then you start running again. And I had great support along the way. So I knew my partner and my little one were going to be at the finish line. And that was in essence, my drive. And to get over with it a little bit.

BRAD
Just to have it done. As they say, in South Africa, you were gatvol.

LISA
Yeah, absolutely.

BRAD
As many of us are. And weakness, what do you think you struggled with on race day last year?

LISA
Okay, so I wasted a lot of energy, there was a lot of, you know what, there's always so much chatting in the beginning. And then you don't have a consistent pace because you're running with a group and sometimes you run faster and then you walk and then you see so many people that you want to greet because, in essence they need to support you and you want to give them you know, a heads up some time of your day. And it's actually a lot of time wasting.

MARKUS
From when to when was that, from which kilometres, from the start?

LISA
Oh no, the whole Comrades. I stopped quite a lot, I saw my partner about 12 times so that's 12 hugs.

MARKUS
Yeah, so look I mean that in a way is actually, look you can turn that into a really big positive as opposed to being a negative, instead of stopping I mean he can run 50 steps with you. But what I'm trying to get to is seeing people that you love or someone that, obviously you want to see that person next to the route, it obviously gives you energy...

LISA
It absolutely does. So they're both back on the side of the road this year.

MARKUS
Okay, perfect. But I mean, like I said, it doesn't need to be a stop. But having said that, it could also be that your legs just had a nice short break 12 times during the route, if he wasn't there, it wouldn't have happened. So instead of taking walk breaks, you just had a little stop, exchange a few words and then you moved on.

LISA
It's very possible. I think from one Comrades, you cant always draw those hundred percent conclusions. I'm too novice for that probably.

MARKUS
Did you go out and try to run a specific time last year?

LISA
No. So the morning of I wasn't feeling 100%, I was a little bit tight in my hamstrings. So we just said, you know what, let's just go out easy and, but it was definitely a sub10. I wasn't gonna budge on anything else.

MARKUS
Okay, perfect. Yeah, I've got a gut feeling that you'll be able to go well under that. So the only pity is that you weren't able to run a hard marathon to get close to that 3:30 marker because I think that would have been a very big mental boost for you. But look, if you want to go out on the, definitely the sub10 bus or even the 9:30 bus, I wouldn't, you know, I'm very cautious to make suggestions like that because I actually said it on the forum the other day. These buses only work for some people. For me, I'm sorry to say it, but they're super annoying because I just want to have my, it's my race and I don't want people around me singing and cheering and look, it's lekker seeing people next to the road that you want to see. But sometimes you just want some peace and quiet. You just want to focus on your pacing. If I want to take a walk break, I take a walk break. I don't want to walk when someone else feels, okay, now the whole group needs to take a walk.

But I mean, you must just really be clever about the way you approach your race, because based on the stuff that you've submitted on your online questionnaire, you should be able to run well under 9:40 and the more calculating you approach this race, the better. But also keep in mind that races change and so does race plans or strategies. I always tell my athletes, there will come a time in the race where your pacing chart will probably become insignificant and you will need to then adapt and say okay, right. I'm so far in. This is the time, this is what I need to do to get to my goal, what am I going to do? So for me last year, I said 24 kilometres left, I'm going to walk for one minute for every kilometre marker I get. And I had to make sure that my pace, including with that one minute walk was still around a 5:25/5:30 in order to achieve my goal, and luckily, I managed to do that.

But you're really going to have to be, I always tell my athletes, they need to be in the moment. So, I'm sure you've experienced it, there comes a time in any endurance race where stuff tends to become a blur, and not many people are able to still be in the moment and be able to adapt there race strategy. So that's just one thing that you possibly need to keep into consideration, or take into consideration.

LISA
So from my long run that was now at a pace of 6:20 and I actually felt really great, I could have continued running if I had to, not that I wanted to but you know if it was another 10, 20 or 30, I probably could have done for it. Does that mean I could go out at an average of 6:20 for the first 60 kilometres and at 60 kilometres, see how I feel and then...

MARKUS
Look if you go out on a 6:20 you are on par for a 9:10 okay. I always say that for me it's better to go out slightly slower and control the process closer to the end.

BRAD
If I can just jump in there as well. Lisa, the up run is very different to the down run. And in my experience, the first 60k's are what make and break your Comrades. If you err on the side of caution in the first 60, if you can get to the top of Inchanga, and I say this all the time, if you can get to the top of Inchanga feeling, you're not going to feel great, but if you feeling okay and you can run, if your legs are still feeling good, you can make up so much time from 60 K's to the bottom of Polly Shorts because it's really nice, gentle running. And the reason people hate that part of the race is because they've blown their Comrades in the first 60k's, they've gone out way too hard thinking they're going to try and make up some time so that they've got it in the bank for later on in the race. If you can start out slightly more conservative and get to that point in the race. I'll tell you what, not many people will pass you from the top of Inchanga.

LISA
What kilometre mark is that?

BRAD
It's about 60.

LISA
Okay, that's fine, but that means I'll only have 27 kilometres left. I don't know if I'll be able to up the pace to 6 min/km from a 6:30 then.

MARKUS
Yeah, but the risk that you face, Lisa, is that if you overcook it ever so slightly and the thing is you don't really realize it because the majority of the climbing happens in the first 28 kilometres. And that's the beauty of the Comrades route is that you feel so fresh and you overcooking it and you don't really realize it, until you hit the Inchanga. Inchanga is 43 kilometres in and that's about 44 to go so it's just short of the halfway mark, or let's call it the halfway mark. And I'll tell you what, if you didn't take it, well didn't approach the first 28 kilometres with caution, then the chances are you're going to pay for it later in the race. So I'd go out even at a 6:30 pace, that's a 9:24 total time.

LISA
I can live with that.

MARKUS
Yeah, so if you go out on that, and then trust me, I think where the most people lose their time is going up and Little Polly's and Polly's. Because once you get there, your legs feel the way they do, it doesn't look like a hill, it looks like a wall. And if you can get there, in a condition where you can still implement a firm run walk strategy, or even, you know, just have one or two planned walks in that long climb, and then it's downhill from once you go over the top of Polly's. It's mostly downhill, you've got a few rolling hills and then it's home time.

And I'll tell you what, I've always said this, if you control the process from the beginning to the end, and what I mean by that is starting slightly slower, as opposed to starting slightly faster, but then after a while the process starts controlling you. You've got absolutely no saying what you or how you want to finish, because you're just going to have to nurse yourself home. Whereas if you start slightly more conservative especially on Comrades Up run. Trust me you're going to thank yourself for it later in the race.

LISA
But a 6:30 for a 9:24, I think that sits okay with me, that sits quite nicely with me.

BRAD
Yeah Lisa, and if you do that first, I mean what Markus was saying, I think the bottom of Inchanga, once you've gone through Drummond and you start climbing that's just past the halfway, but to the top of Inchanga, that's a long climb out of that valley and if you can get there feeling good I'm telling you now, I mean my experience and the one I always talk about was 2013 when it was really hot on that up run, it was terrible, but I was helping a mate through who hadn't done much mileage and I was running much slower than I would have generally been running and we got to the top of Inchanga and I was feeling fantastic.

And I only realized how hectic it was after the race when I realized how many people didn't finish because of the heat. And I think the reason we had such a good day that day is because we paced that first half perfectly, we started out slower than what we ordinarily would have. And I'll tell you what, it paid us back in spades in the second half of the race.

LISA
And just quickly tell me, on the variances, obviously, the whole thing of averaging actually I find quite tricky. So at 6:30 average do I vary between a 6 and a 7 per k? A 5:50 and 6:40 minute a k, how do I get to that perfect 6:30 without having those big variances in my pace?

MARKUS
So I think it also, that's what I spoke about earlier, where you're going to get to a point in the race and you're going to need to adapt your strategy or your plan from, let's say from 60 to 87 kilometres, wherever you are in the race to say, okay, right, I'm either a few seconds before or ahead of schedule or a few seconds behind schedule. So you need to adapt then and say, listen, am I going to do the downhill slightly faster? Because it's no use, you know chasing yourself up or trying to make up for lost time on the up hills. But it's also obviously risky doing it on the down hills. But when you can, steal a few seconds per kilometre if you are behind schedule.

The pacing chart, I'm not too sure, I think Lindsey will have pacing charts at the expo this year. But those should take the different hills into account. So yeah, I know it's tricky, because you also need to take into consideration how much time you're going to take to cross the line, one can never be able to give you the exact time that you're going to do that. But it's definitely something that you're going to have to adapt during your run and what I just normally do I just have an average pace visible somewhere on my watch on one of the data screens. And then I just need to plan the rest of my run according to that.

BRAD
Lisa, what I'll do as well is I will get Lindsey to, I think the pacing charts have been done already because they've been sent to Comrades to get made because they sell them for charity at the Expo. But I will get the actual digital versions from Lindsey. And I will pop them up on the platform like we did for the Two Oceans ones. So they'll be under the Shared Files folder in the platform, I can't make any promises, how long it's going to take. But I'll try and get it up in the next week or two as soon as I get it from Lindsey, and then that will be able to give you, because what Markus said is each segment takes into account what the terrain is like. So obviously, that's stretch from the bottom of Field's Hill, right to the top of Botha's Hill, you're going to slow down because there's some major, major climbing there. And that does sort of come, or get taken into account on those pacing charts. So that'll definitely help as well.

LISA
Awesome because I mean, I've read a lot and I watch a lot of podcasts and Google takes over and it's just, they expect you to maintain that pace up all the hills, and I just go, I just won't be able to do it which means I'll have to run really fast [***27:55].

BRAD
Yeah, Lisa, one of the big issues too, and we saw this at Two Oceans, people are following a coach's training programme and then they come to Lindsey for a pacing chart or vice versa, they follow one of Lindsey's programmes and they go to someone else for pacing charts. So the entire picture is written with a certain philosophy in mind. So my suggestion would be if if you're following one of our training programmes, use Lindsey's pacing charts, and that will definitely then get you sort of on the right pacing to what you've been training for, what you've been used to, and you can just then slot that into race day, so I'll make sure that that happens.

LISA
Okay, awesome.

BRAD
Cool. Lisa, unfortunately, we are out of time, we've got another call scheduled, but I've thoroughly enjoyed that chat. And I think it was an important one to talk about, particularly now, getting that sort of race strategy in place. We've also got a Comrades webinar coming up on this coming Monday, we're going to be talking more about that. And then the one that happens two weeks out from Comrades race day, we talk specifically about race day, and how to sort of pace your race, what you need to do from a strategy perspective, you're not gonna want to miss out on that one as well. So thanks for your time today. Best of luck in the final run in. And yeah, we look forward to seeing how you go on race day.

LISA
Thanks so much guys. And good luck with your running as well.

MARKUS
Thanks so much Lisa, good chatting.

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