Sunday, 7 February 2010

A Totally Different 10 Miler

The Week That Was
My left Achilles looked like it was giving trouble during Tuesday's track session, despite cutting the mile repeats back to 6:40 pace. It was still aching during the early miles of Wednesday's 15 miler which tempted me to cut the run short but I persevered and the pain subsided and was all but gone by the end of the run. Still I took the precaution of taking Thursday off and I was as good as new on Friday for an easy 7 mile run in the Vibrams. In fact the last 4 miles were at 7:30 pace or less and I had no issues afterwards. Saturday's long run with Pat was over a reasonably flat 23 miles over which we pushed the opening pace (8:00 for the first 5 miles) to eventually end up with an average of 7:30 for the 23, which wasn't a bad test of endurance. Pat cut his run short to 21 as he was saving something for Today's 10 miler in Mallow. Looks like he exceeded his target of running the 10 miles in a sub 3-hour MP of 6:45 and came in at 6:30 average. I, on the other hand, had an entirely different 10 miler around the roads and park of Ballincollig averaging 8:30 pace in the Vibrams. I joined Adrian for the first 6.5 miles as he was heading out for his 21 mile long run. The ball of my left foot had been tender for the last few miles of Saturday's long run (I have now taken the insoles out of my cheap runners which now have 540 miles in them) so I took the precaution of carrying a pair of runners in a backpack in case I needed them. While there was some discomfort in my feet I ran the full 10 miles without changing footwear and actually the pain subsided - all part of getting used to minimalist shoes. It's certainly not a sign of impending injury as i've felt this pain before and it has always subsided. It's all part of the adjustment as the load from the ground is transferred up through my legs by muscles and tendons in my feet that probably never had to do a days work in their life, well not since I was first shod, shortly after I rose up on my hind legs. I've spend the last 4 years challenging my body to see what it is capable of doing now it is time to challenge my feet as they are far more technically advanced than any running shoe with 2 million years of development behind them compared to 30 odd years or so for cushioned running shoes. I don't think I'm ready yet for my first race though. I still have to undo a lot of bad learning. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
Training Thoughts
A few of you asked what was different about my training that resulted in a breakthrough in Dungarvan last Sunday. The primary reason I think is that I continued to train after Dublin in October and my body did not breakdown (i.e. I remained injury free). After my injury last April I scaled back my running until the late summer before ramping up for Dublin. Therefore I have been able to train beyond Dublin without my body requiring a long break. If I can get through Barcelona in 4 weeks time I will give my legs a bit of a break, especially from speedwork, before Connemara. The only thing that I can think of that has changed in my training is that I am doing less speedwork. In particular tempo runs have all but disappeared from my schedule, the very session that I would have thought would be crucial to improving times from 10k to 15 miles. After all tempo pace is anything from 10k to HM pace. I read somewhere that us Master runners could do with less speedwork as recovery takes longer and the risk of injury is greater. Certainly, a fair number of my calf strains/tears happened during tempo runs. I also have strengthened my calves adding calf raises to my gym session. One more thing - I am not following a program out of a book. I am loosely following a programme given by the Club coach - i.e. I follow the track session every Tuesday and the coach keeps an eye on my log and advises me if I am doing anything wrong. Mon 1st Feb 5.11 miles in 43:11 (8:28 pace @ 119 HR) Recovery run Tue 2nd Feb 8.17 miles in 1:13:31 (9:00 pace @ 126 HR) with 5 x 1 mile @6:40 pace Wed 3rd Feb 15.04 miles in 2;00:56 (8:02 pace @ 128 HR) Fri 4th Feb 7.04 miles in 53:49 (7:39 pace @ no HRM) Vibrams Sat 5th Feb 23.29 miles in 2:54:17 (7:29 pace @ no HRM) Sun 6th Feb 10.03 miles in 1:25:05 (8:30 pace @ 116 HR) Vibrams Training Week # 11 68.68 miles.


  1. Hi Grellan. I like your blog. Found you via Scott.
    Agree about not needing hard tempo runs. It seems that in the past 2 weeks I have read in about 5 places - Once a Runner (great book, read it if you never have), Running Times magazine (US, interview with Ed Whitlock), blogs (Younger Legs for Older Runners) - that the "secret" to becoming the best runner you can be is to run lots of miles (at a decent pace) and to run them day after day, year after year. (I take one day off a week, but I think that is allowable.) Intervals, hills, tempo runs, etc. not necesssary. Just build up the miles, and be consistent.
    It seems to be working for me - I'm doing easier intervals and fewer tempo runs and am up to 75 miles a week and feeling good. (My last marathon was almost the same time as yours.)
    Bob in Tokyo

  2. Grellan

    Bob certainly knows better than me/I. But I'll say that in my experience getting faster/better is a case of staying off the injury list and on the road as Bob says.

  3. I was surprised not to see you in the Mallow results.

    The improvement despite (because of?) the lack of tempo runs is surprising. Like you I would have thought they are the key workouts for that distance. Then again, not getting injured tops any particular training.

  4. I think you've hit it on the head Grellan. Consistency and don't get injured (easier said than done).

    My definition of tempo runs is they're not speedwork. I call intervals and fartlek speedwork. Having said that, 'slower tempo' work where you build up the pace in a long run would seem plenty of this type of running. Also, you're racing fairly regularly too.

    Barcelona should be something special the way you're running. Maybe don't decide to run it in Vibrams on the day ;)