Thursday, 28 February 2008

Life's Treadmill

Work conspired against me this week in my attempt to keep to my marathon programme, which is the peak week in the current 4 week cycle. (i.e. 14 x 400m @ 3k pace on Tuesday and 5 x 1 mile @ 10k pace on Thursday) While Monday is a scheduled day off I had it in the back of my mind to get a few easy miles in but I woke too late to go out in the morning and did not get home from work until after 8 in the evening. Work had me on the 0740 flight to Dublin on Tuesday morning with a drive across the country and an overnight stay in Nenagh for an early morning meeting. I attempted to find a quite stretch of road with public lighting to complete my 14 x 400m but after a mile warm up decided to return to the hotel gym to complete the session. I had set my polar to 400m auto laps. I set the gradient to 1% and off I went - "beep" cranked the speed up to 16 kph (06:00 pace not quite the 05:48 target) "beep" dropped the speed to 8.5 kph and so on I went cranking the speed up and down like a fiddlers elbow until I had cranked out 14 x 400m (except that it turned out to be 13 x 400m as I had lost count somewhere in the middle) The 400m turned out to be closer to 450m as the fast reps took 109 secs to complete as opposed to the targeted 90 seconds - in my mind this made up for the slightly slower speed and the missed rep. This session was certainly tougher than the track equivalent. (longest run to-date on a treadmill). Following a late night on Tuesday (Client entertaining - some Guinness involved) and an early start on Wednesday morning I was pretty shot Wednesday evening but still planned an easy run from the gym after work. On discovering that I had left my reflective bib in the hotel in Nenagh I was again consigned to running on a treadmill cranking out about 6.7 miles in 55 minutes. I decided to sleep-in this morning and to leave my 5 x 1 mile @ 10k pace to the track after work. I found this session very difficult over the last 2 weeks (3 x 1 mile & 4 x 1 mile) and felt that it would be somewhat easier to complete in the evening and on the track. As I was running in lane 3 I adjusted for the extra distance 4 laps would give me and set a target of 06:24 (01:36 laps or every 200m in 00:48, 01:36, 02:24, 03:12, 04:00, 04:48, 05:26 @ 06:24). Breaking the distance down into 200m chunks really helped. The 2 minute active recoveries consisted of walking the 200+m around the track in lane 5/6 to the start line. (time, start HR, avg HR, end HR) 06:26, 101, 138, 160 06:20, 118, 157, 163 06:23, 126, 158, 163 06:24, 118, 159, 165 06:24, 111, 160, 163 The session proved much more manageable than last weeks road equivalent (I suspect last weeks mile may have been longer - that, and the early morning start/lack of pace feedback that a track session gives made the session more physically and mentally demanding) Mon 25th Feb Day Off Tue 26th Feb 8.1 Miles in 01:16:17 (09:25 pace @ 147 HR) incl 13 x 400m @ 06:00 pace - Suspect overall distance (& avg pace) is well off. Wed 27th Feb 6.7 Miles in 55:00 (08:13 pace @ 132 HR) Treadmill Thur 28th Feb 9.3 Miles in 01:13:29 (07:54 pace @ 138 HR) with 5 x 1 generous mile @ 06:20 to 06:26.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Running Longer

On friday morning I completed my first "barefoot" run in over a month over 8.6 miles of road (longest barefoot run todate) and am glad to report no issues at all. I had stopped using the "barefoot" shoes as I had picked up some tenderness in both feet following the last run in them - probably coincidental.
Yesterday morning I headed out before 0800hrs on my long run (20 miles planned). I mixed up a carbohydrate drink I had picked up in a goodie bag after one of last years marathons and ate a cereal bar before I headed out (to alleviate the hunger pangs experienced during last weeks long run). While the first 3 miles were a bit stressful as I sweated the cereal bar out through my pores (legs and HR fine) the run overall was much less tiresome than last week (carb drink certainly did it's job) so I decided to lengthen it a bit (need to build up a bit of endurance) by adding a mile on the way back (2 miles from home) and then a further 2.1 mile loop from the house after ditching my running belt, MP3 etc - giving me 23.1 miles with more or less the same pace as last weeks run (and none of the pain).
Saturday afternoon was a family day in town (annual trip to McDonalds - also took in an expo from the college of art and design with some hands on painting projects for the kids). I took the opportunity to get a free gait analysis and buy a new pair of runners at the other specialist running shop in town (well tri shop really). I'm a neutral runner with a slight overpronation on my right foot (explains the recent tenderness in my right arch I felt when running in my high mileage shoes - time to chuck them out). I tried on a few pairs of cushioning shoes (New Balance, Muzino and Saucony as alternatives to my usual Asics Nimbus) - it was a toss up between the Muzino "Waverider" and Saucony "pro-grid triumph 5" - I settled for the Saucony as the extra €15 for the Muzino wasn't worth it.
I tried out my new shoes this morning on an 8.6 mile recovery run. Funnily enough I still felt the slight tenderness on my right arch - nothing to be concerned about though. The run was at an easy pace and my legs felt fine after yesterdays long run.
After my run it was time to serve as volunteer at the annual Eagle AC 5 mile road race in Carrigaline. My job was at the finish line taking down the finishing numbers of competitors in the order in which they finished with pen and clipboard in hand. 229 runners in total finished the run in what turned out to be a fine sunny morning. The winning time was 27:33 or thereabouts (quite a hilly course). It's great to see the business side of a race - There as a strong battle for 2nd place with less than a foot separating the runners.
Fri 23rd Feb
8.6 Miles in 01:10:10 (08:10 pace @ 124 HR) - Barefoot.
Sat 23rd Feb
23.1 Miles in 03:06:44 (08:05 pace @ 131 HR)
Sun 24th Feb
8.6 Miles in 01:13:40 (08:34 pace @ 116 HR)
Week 10/24 - 73.4 Miles

Thursday, 21 February 2008

"Why do I do this?.......

Just one of the thoughts that entered my head sometime around 0620 this morning during my 2nd of 4 mile repeats @ 10k pace (06:18) into a strong headwind.......... "I could be at home in bed, I don't need this to keep fit, easy paced runs would be enough". Maybe it's the early hour and the fact that my legs are pretty dead towards the end of the week after the 20 miler on sunday and 12 x 400 reps on tuesday evening but I find these mile reps very difficult to complete without thoughts of giving up long before they're over. It wasn't helped this morning by the fact that I ran the first rep in 06:07 with the wind behind me (must have been blowing at the same speed as me as it felt surprisingly calm - I could have heard a pin drop). Not so when I turned around and faced a strong breeze heading into my 2nd mile - counting down the paces to keep my mind off the effort - 06:22 (took about 20 paces more that the 1st rep - 643 to 623). Eventhough mile 3 was with the wind my legs felt like jelly quarter of the way in but I persevered (perseverence is the name of the game with these mile sessions) finishing in 06:15. My attitude towards the last mile into the wind was to run within myself so that I wouldn't blow up half way through - so what if it turned out to be 07:00. 640 paces later i pressed the lap button to read 06:24.5 - that'll do. Legs failry dead - it's funny how the brain lets you do what you have to do and then decides "no more". Next week i'll need its permission to add a further mile but enough for now that's a week away (Thank God). Mon 18th Feb Complete day off Tue 19th Feb a.m. 8.6 Miles in 01:08:23 (07:57 pace @ ??HR - No HRM) to make up for monday. p.m 8.0 Miles in 01:02:02 (07:45 pace @ ??HR - No HRM) incl 12 x 400m Ints @ 85 to 87secs Wed 20th Feb 8.6 Miles in 01:14:07 (08:37 pace @ ??HR) - legs dead as a doornail - no energy. Thur 21st Feb 8.0 Miles in 01:04:10 (08:01 pace @ 139HR) incl 4 x 1 mile @ 06:07 to 06:25 pace. At least I won't be entering the club 5 mile race on Sunday as I have volunteered to help at the finish line. It'll be great to see others suffer for a change and I will be able to get another 20 miler in on Saturday. Have a good weekend.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

The Long Long Long Run

The most important part of my marathon training is certainly my long run. I feel that it is endurance more than anything else that I am and have generally been lacking. While I certainly have been racing quite a bit over the last 2 months and there are a few more "unnecessary" races to come I should be concentrating on my endurance training. Having said all that I have completed all the marathon training programmed endurance runs to-date with a few extra miles thrown in. My marathon training programme endurance run for week 9 out of 24 called for 14 miles - I did 20 because I forgot what it was like. Now that I know I wonder why all that preparation is put into one race when I could train at relatively lower mileage and compete more often in shorter races up to 15 miles that don't require carb-loading, energy gels, nipple plasters, blister packs, walking down stairs backwards .....the list goes on. Maybe it is for those very reasons that I do! Fri 15th Feb 2.5 miles in 19:45 (07:54 pace @ ??HR) Treadmill at the Gym at lunchtime. Nice sleep-in. Sat 16th Feb 11.4 Miles in 01:25:34 (07:30 pace @ 138 HR) RHR @ 37 bpm. Not bad after a late night (in bed for 0250 hrs). Sun 17th Feb 20.0 Miles in 02:42:23 (08:07 pace @ 130 HR) - return of the long run => Fatigue - mental more than physical. (well both really). I was so hungry when I got home (could think of nothing else for the last 4 miles) I wolfed down my breakfast so fast I got a bad stomach cramp - doubled over in pain for a few minutes.
Week 9/24 - 66.9 Miles

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

The long and the short of it.

This week I've swapped the hills and fartleks for short (400m) and long (mile) intervals. This will be my lot for the next 4 weeks. Tuesday's at the track churning out 400m reps @ 3k pace (05:48) and thursdays on the road with mile repetitions @ 10k pace (06:18) ouch. Monday was a 6.7 mile recovery run from sunday's race. Tuesday evening at the track was 10 x 400m reps with 3 min active recoveries, between 1.5 mile warm-up and warm-down. As I was running in lane 3 I was aiming for between 87 and 90 seconds for the lap (416 m). The reps went according to plan except for the first which saw me pass the 200m mark in 38 secs......... waaaaay too fast. The recoveries lasted as long as it took me to jog a lap in the outer lanes, avoiding other runners and holding back on the start of the next rep, where necessary, so that I didn't run into the back of others doing longer slower reps. 82 (159HR) - 2:42R 88 (156HR) - 2:36R 89 (156HR) - 2:38R 89 (159HR) - 2:37R 88 (148HR) - 2:43R - HR anomaly 87 (156HR) - 2:50R 89 (153HR) - 2:42R 87 (157HR) - 2:41R 88 (153HR) - 2:41R 86 (155HR) Wednesday morning was a slow recovery run as the legs were heavy from the track session. This morning saw me head out for 3 x 1 mile intervals with 2 min active recoveries and 2 mile warm-up/cooldown. As the recorded distance on my Polar running watch seems to vary with pace (the faster I go the more it under records) it is unreliable for measuring out mile reps. Instead I measured out a mile on google earth between two landmarks on the "straight road" - from Inchagaggin Lane (City Limits) to the forecourt of the Nissan Garage. I was tired getting out of bed at 0530hrs but as I was awake running was a better use of my time than staring at the ceiling. The temperature was hovering just below freezing (-1C) but the roads were dry. Following the short drive to the Lee Fields car park on the "stratght road" I warmup over two miles turning at Inchagaggin lane and heading into my first rep. Without relying on my watch I ran by feel counting out my strides knowing that @ 100 per minute at this pace I would need to count 600+ before the end would be in sight. I needed something to do as looking at the long never-ending straight in front of me would have slowly done my head in. Mile 1 in 06:18 - spot on. 2 min slow jog (1 min out and back) and I headed into mile 2 back out to Inchagaggin Lane. The cold breeze was against me but I kept to counting down my strides and finished Mile 2 in 06:13. I paid for this by walking my 2(:14) min recovery and headed into the last mile with a feeling that I wouldn't last the pace (Brain talk) - but I kept counting out my strides and eventually the end was in sight and I stopped the watch at 06:12. Over the next 2 weeks I have to add a mile a week to this session so I'll have to make sure I don't over do the early miles if I want to complete them all. Next month's programme calls for similar miles (up to 5.5 miles) @ 10k pace but without the recoveries - sadistic programme if you ask me - one step at a time. Mon 11th Feb 6.7 Miles in 56:57 (08:30 pace @ 123 HR) Tue 12th Feb 7.9 Miles in 01:03:39 (08:03 pace @ 138 HR) with 10 x 400m @ 05:48 pace Wed 13th Feb 8.6 Miles in 01:14;04 (08:37 pace @ 121 HR) 2.5 Miles in 19:45 (07:54 pace @ 134 HR) - treadmill Thu 14th Feb 7.3 Miles in 57:37 (07:54 pace @ 138 HR) with 3 x 1 Mile @ 06:12-06:18 pace Happy running & valentines.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Pain Training

I know that while I’m a relative newbie to running, motiviation can be provided in the form of regular PB's. I'm certainly in this period at the moment but know that the day will come, not too far away, that the ubiquitous PB’s will become that much more elusive and will eventually be the subject of fond memories. At least I can look forward then to age related PB’s as I move into the 5 year age categories until the sun sets on my life or until I have a revelation, give up running and find some other all consuming pastime. What has this to do with “pain training” you may well ask. Well according to Matt Fitzgerald in “Brain Training for Runners” we need to practice suffering so that we can habituate ourselves to fatigue-related discomfort so that our brain is less likely to conclude that we are about to die and tell our systems to slow down (desensitizing your brain). The secret to this is to experience suffering and survive it. Tune-up races are ideal for this and if the pain is experienced in sufficient quantities and intensities such races may give you a PB. With this in mind I headed off this morning to run the local Business Houses ESB 5k race at Mahon. 5k’s give me more pain than the longer distances as the pain starts from the off. While I am still a month away from my scheduled 5k race in my marathon training program I thought I’d give this a shot (a before and after look at the impact of the next months training – famous last words). The race is primarily run on a 6’ wide walkway along the shores of Cork Harbour, very popular with walkers, cyclists, dog owners etc. especially on a Sunday morning. So I was wondering how the organizers were going to deal with “traffic issues”. I was expecting a relatively slow race as a result. The course is flat except for a pedestrian bridge up and over the south ring road at about mile 2.5 (while short the grade is about 9%) Following a 2.7 mile warmup with Brendan from work we headed for the start area. About 200 runners in all. I placed myself close to the front (about 3 rows back) as I knew that there would be a lot of jostling in the middle of the pack. The Load Mayor and the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (the local Mr Michael Martin) started the race (neither of them finished) The first few hundred yards were on the road before we turned back on ourselves and headed out along the estuary walk. By this time the pack had spread out a little and Sunday strollers stood back to allow us pass, so passing wasn’t too difficult. My effort was reasonably steady as I prefer to go at my pace rather than tagging onto others. Just before the 1 mile mark Brendan from work passed me by and as he is generally faster than me I was not unduly concerned. Mile 1 in 06:06. “If I keep this pace that would be 3 miles in 18:18 which would get me just under 19:00 for the 5k” – keeping in mind that the first mile of my 5k PB of 19:20 was run in 05:51 (albeit downhill) So far so good. Brendan was about 5 yards in front with 3 or 4 runners in between. I kept running at my own pace (autopilot with the pain) ignoring the pace of those around me and gradually pulled Brendan (and others) back and eventually passed him, which I had not expected. I thought he would come with me as I certainly had not upped the pace and he is competitive. I kept the pace strong and fairly steady, which was easier to do given the flat terrain. I continued to reel in runners in front without being passed myself. I was beginning to feel the lactic acid building up in my calves but kept the leg turnover going – changing gears in the painometer (The brain must have been here before because it allowed me to continue on without reducing muscle recruitment) Mile 2 in 06:12. “Ok – fairly steady – those I passed were obviously slowing down”. I did not do the mental math to project finishing time – I had enough to deal with and there was that bridge still to come. I passed 2 guys shortly after the 2 mile mark but one of them remained more or less on my shoulder (A GAA player by the look of his shorts and jersey). Another guy I had passed farther back came up on my other shoulder and passed me out. “Well done” I said as he passed. However he didn’t get too far ahead and soon enough my pace caught up with him and carried me past him with Mr GAA still on my shoulder. The bridge came into view – “how good will my hill training benefit me now” I thought as I shortened my stride and kept the leg turnover going. Not good appeared to be the answer as Mr GAA and another runner I had not seen before passed me out on the way up. However the run down the other side (I used gravity to assist – no braking) saw me pass Mr GAA (he must have put too much effort into the “up”). I maintained a steady pace after the bridge and managed to pass the other guy who had passed me on the bridge. The next guy was well ahead – difficult to concentrate in no-mans-land. I was now moving up another gear in the painometer and my brain wasn’t too sure whether it had been here before. I started counting strides to distract it “just 150 strides and I’ll be closer to the finish”. Mile 3 in 06:09 Still counting strides. “Less than 1 minute to go”. Under a road underpass and I could see the clock ahead – “18:51” it read – I couldn’t do much to increase the pace (my brain would hardly allow me maintain the pace I was at) – 19:00, 01, 02, 03, 04 ….19:05 it read as I crossed under it. 15 seconds off my PB. The sub-19 minute 5k would have to wait for another day. That was some good pain training. Brendan came in at 19:30 (he had tried to stay with me but his brain said otherwise) With a recent 24:32 4 miler under his belt I was a little surprised that I had been faster than him. Tony, our third team member came in in 23:xx. Which gave us the 3rd prize in category C (a long way off the best) a milkshake maker – something to bring home for the kids. A 2.9 mile cooldown gave me 8.7 miles for the day and 49.7 miles for the week. Fri 8th Feb 2.5 miles in 19:45 (07:54 pace @ 132 HR Sat 9th Feb 11.4 Miles in 01:30:44 (07:58 pace @ 130 HR) Sun 10th Feb 9.7 Miles with 5k in 19:05 (06:09 pace @ 169 HR)

Friday, 8 February 2008


Thur 7th Feb No run today as I had to get up even earlier (0515hrs) than my usual running time to catch the early flight to Dublin for work. Fri 8th Feb 8.6 Miles in 01:05:14 (07:35 pace @ 142 HR) with 4 x 2 min @ 3k pace in the first 4 miles. (turned out slightly faster @ 05:30 to 05:40 pace). Felt tired at start but felt stronger once the fast reps were over. These fartlek runs will be replaced by 1 mile intervals @ 10k pace over the coming weeks. Went to physio before work - no issues. May do a few km on the treadmill this evening.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Rugby Season

While today is "Super" Tuesday Stateside (everything is "Super" stateside this weather - wasn't there a bowl or something on Sunday.) it is rugby season here with the start of the Six-Nations Championship last weekend. I was reminded of this this morning at 6 a.m. when I was warming up in town for my last session of hill repeats and a runner came against me clutching a rugby ball in his right hand - where he was going with a ball at that time of the morning I don't know. On the running front Monday was a welcome rest day. My 8.6 mile easy run on tuesday morning didn't feel as easy as it should - legacy of the crap feeling I had on Sundays long run - certainly my legs are the culprit as my HR was very confortable. So I headed into this mornings hill reps (5 x 2 mins - recovery week) with a sense of foreboding. I needed the alarm to rise at 0530 and felt like turning over and going back to sleep. However I dragged myself up and out the door for the short drive to the Lee Fields car park for the 2.2 mile warm-up to the chosen hill. As I knew I would reach the summit before 120 secs I decided to run the distance (0.25 miles or thereabouts) whatever time it took and off I went - 1:51 - 157 HR (161Max) 1:50 - 158 HR (164Max) 1:50 - 158 HR (164Max) 1:51 - 158 HR (165Max) 1:50 - 157 HR (166Max) 1:48 - 160 HR (168Max) - thrown in to compensate for shorter reps. Surprisingly my legs felt fresher when I finished and the times show that I did not suffer on the last reps. Although I will admit the pace was nowhere near the recommended 3k pace - closer to 42k pace (07:20) Looks like my dead legs have been resurrected - physio arranged for friday morning just in case. It's always good to get a rub down - I haven't had one in months (that fact and the recent hike in race participation could be the cause of the dead legs) Next week sees me swapping the hills for the track on tuesday evenings for 400 reps over the next month. Mon 4th Feb Rest day Tue 5th Feb 8.6 Miles in 01:09:03 (08:02 pace @ 131 HR) Wed 6th Feb 7.4 Miles in 01:03:56 (08:38 pace @ 137 HR) w/ 6 x 1:50 Hill Reps. 2.5 recovery Miles on the treadmill @ 11.5 kph (08:24 pace @ 130 HR)

Sunday, 3 February 2008


Week seven of my marathon training programme did not go according to plan with only 34 miles on the clock and more than half of those clocked in today's long run. My first run wasn't until thursday, and easy 5.84miles or so at lunchtime with a colleague from work. I felt fine considering I was still recovering from a cold. Things were a bit tight workwise on friday and I was too lazy/tired to rise at 0530 hrs to get in my scheduled 7 miles with 8 x 2 min @ 3k pace (05:48). I did manage to get 30 minutes on the treadmill in the evening with 5 x 2 min @ 14.5 to 15.5 kph (06:14 to 06:40 pace) falling back to a base pace of 11 kph (08:47 pace) - that was all I could manage before I headed out on the town with the team from work for a bite to eat and a few drinks. Satruday's run involved running the 7 miles into town before 1100hrs to pick up my car which I left in a car park overnight. Long run postponed until sunday - boy was I gald to get to the car as I was getting progresslvely tired - a pace of 07:42 partly explains the tiredness, that and a late night (to bed @ 0250hrs) usually does it for me.
This mornings long run got postponed for 2 hours as the rain was coming down when I first poked my nose outside the door. When it cleared I headed out for 17.7 miles (1 mile up on last week) of steady running. I felt tired and sluggish from mile one which stayed with me pretty much throughout the run - not a pleasant experience. Despite not feeling the best I still managed to churn out the miles - it was like I was on autopilot. I could have cut it short by 1 mile on the way home but decided that the discomfort would be no greater if I stuck to my planned distance.
A rest day tomorrow hopefully will leave my legs fresh for next weeks schedule (week 8 is a cut-back week so it should be manageable)
Thur 31st Jan
5.84 miles in 48:17 (08:16 pace @ 130 HR)
Fri 1st Feb
3.8 miles @ 30:00 (07:54 pace @ 150 HR) with 5 x 2 min @ 06:14 to 06:40 pace
Sat 2nd Feb
7 miles in 54:04 (07:43 pace @ 145 HR)
Sun 3rd Feb
17.7 miles in 02:18:44 (07:50 pace @ 139 HR)
The higher than usual HR says it all - recovering from a cold and burning the candle at both ends.
With January 2008 down I have 230 miles on the clock and two races (and PB's) under my belt.